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    Amazon is getting an early start on Cyber Monday

    The online retailer is offering a sneak peek at what’s coming up after Black Friday

    Amazon isn’t even waiting for Black Friday to arrive before offering a peek at its Cyber Monday shopping deals.

    The online retail giant plans to mark down prices on a wide range of electronics products, including the Echo Dot for $22 and the Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote for $19.99.

    It’s knocking $100 off the PS4 PRO and taking up to 45 percent off on HAUS LABORATORIES by Lady Gaga Limited Time kits. Readers can also get up to 80 percent off on best-selling ebooks on Kindle.

    One giant shopping spree

    The name “Cyber Monday” harkens back to that quaint time about 20 years ago when most consumers had dial-up internet access at home but worked in offices equipped with broadband. It became a tradition to go back to work after the Black Friday weekend when the boss wasn’t looking and buy stuff online.

    With a growing percentage of holiday purchases moving to online channels and starting on Thanksgiving Day itself -- or even the day before -- the holiday period and the following Monday have all become one giant shopping spree.

    Still, Amazon and its fellow retailers are honoring the tradition by offering Cyber Monday deals. Besides electronic devices, Amazon Brands are being marked down as well. Shoppers will find up to 50 percent discounts on Amazon Essentials, Simple Joys by Carter’s, and Spotted Zebra.

    There will also be discounts on bedding & bath products; furniture from Rivet and Stone & Beam; luggage & travel from AmazonBasics; and kitchen electrics & housewares from AmazonBasics and Stone & Beam.

    Deals on apparel include:

    • Up to 40 percent off on jeans from AG, Hudson, and more;

    • Up to 35 percent off on Lacoste clothing, shoes, accessories, and home;

    • Up to 40 percent off on Champion, Puma and more;

    • Up to 40 percent off on New Balance shoes and apparel;

    • Up to 35 percent off on Reebok footwear and apparel;

    • Up to 45 percent off on Luggage sets from Columbia, Tommy Bahama, and Delsey;

    • Up to 40 percent off on Accessories from Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s and more; and

    • Up to 56 off on select Ross-Simons jewelry.

    Getting an early start

    The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that half of holiday shoppers had already started making purchases by the end of last week, further proof that specific shopping days are all merging with one another.

    “Thanksgiving is still a hallmark of the season, and there’s billions of dollars in shopping still to come,” said NRF CEO Matthew Shay. “But many consumers have already been shopping for weeks, and retailers are increasingly adapting to that.”

    Amazon isn’t even waiting for Black Friday to arrive before offering a peek at its Cyber Monday shopping deals.The online retail giant plans to mark do...
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      GM recalls Chevrolet and GMC trucks with carpet floor covering

      Hot gas may vent when the front seat belt pretensioners deploy

      General Motors is recalling 556,399 model year 2019-2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500s & GMC Sierra 1500s, and model year 2020 Silverado 2500s, Silverado 3500s, Sierra 2500s and Sierra 3500s with carpet floor covering.

      When the front seat belt pretensioners deploy, hot gas may vent through an opening in the pretensioner bracket, possibly igniting the carpet.

      A vehicle fire could result if materials ignite inside the vehicle.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will close off the opening in the pretensioner bracket free of charge.

      The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at (800) 222-1020or GMC customer service at (888) 988-7267. GM's number for this recall is N192270600.

      General Motors is recalling 556,399 model year 2019-2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500s & GMC Sierra 1500s, and model year 2020 Silverado 2500s, Silverado 3500s...
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      Central Valley Meat recalls ground beef

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella Dublin

      Central Valley Meat Co., of Hanford, Calif., is recalling approximately 34,222 pounds of ground beef.

      The product may be contaminated with Salmonella Dublin.

      Ten case-patients have been identified in six states with illness onset dates ranging from August 8 – September 22, 2019.

      The following items, produced on July 23, 2019, are being recalled:

      • 1-lb. chub packages of “STATER BROS. 100% PURE GROUND BEEF 96% LEAN 4% FAT” with lot 2049 on the retail label; lot 19204 on the case label; and Use By 08-14-19.
      • 2-lb. chub packages of “STATER BROS. 100% PURE GROUND BEEF 93% LEAN 7% FAT” with lot 2049 on the retail label; lot 19204 on the case label; and Use By 08-14-19.
      • 20-lb. cases containing “STATER BROS 93/7 Ground Beef 10# Chub 10 Lb. Chubs/ 2 Count” with lot 19204 on the case label and Use By 08-14-19.

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “EST. 6063A” printed on the retail labels next to the lot number and inside the USDA mark of inspection on the case labels, was shipped to retail locations in California.

      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 may contact Josh Bornemann at inquiry@centralvalleymeat.com.

      Central Valley Meat Co., of Hanford, Calif., is recalling approximately 34,222 pounds of ground beef.The product may be contaminated with Salmonella Du...
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      Winter home-shopping can pay off

      Some of the biggest discounts buyers can find are available in December

      People tend to purchase homes in the spring, which is why it’s called the “spring home-buying season.” They don’t call it the winter home-buying season.

      But maybe they should. A new data analysis from ATTOM Data Solutions suggests that winter is the best time to purchase a home if you want to secure the best deal possible -- and it makes sense. In the spring, buyers have the most competition for homes and might even encounter a bidding war, which could encourage sellers to hold out for their listing price. With less competition in winter months, buyers have a little more leverage.

      When ATTOM Data Solutions looked at home closings all year round, they found only three days in which buyers got homes priced below the estimated market value. All three days were in December.

      The day after Christmas is ideal

      The analysis shows buyers who closed the day after Christmas got the biggest discount from the full market value. Researchers reached that conclusion after looking at more than 23 million home sales over the last six years.

      "Closing on a home purchase the day after Christmas or on New Year's Eve can be one of the most financially beneficial holiday-season gifts you can get," said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. "While lots of folks are shopping the day-after Christmas sales or getting ready to ring in the New Year, our data shows that buyers and investors are buying homes on those days at a discount.”

      Granted, the discount isn’t huge. On December 26, buyers save about $500 on the purchase of a median-priced home. But when you’re buying a house, every little bit helps. On the other hand, buyers who wait until June to close on a house will end up paying a 7 percent premium, Teta says.

      Home experts at Nationwide Insurance agree that winter is one of the best times to buy a home, but they say autumn is also a good time. The approach of the holidays, they say, distracts potential buyers so that there is less competition.

      In the end, that reduced competition may be the biggest benefit from fall and winter home-shopping. It increases the likelihood that you’ll get the home you want without another buyer swooping in at the last minute and offering a higher price.

      People tend to purchase homes in the spring, which is why it’s called the “spring home-buying season.” They don’t call it the winter home-buying season....
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      Retailers are counting down to Black Friday

      The official holiday shopping season kicks off at the end of the week

      With Black Friday coming up at the end of the week, retailers are putting the final touches on their plans, competing for both online and brick-and-mortar sales.

      Target says it will offer early access to some of its best Black Friday deals on Wednesday -- if you happen to be a RedCard holder or belong to Target circle. The early access will begin at 6 p.m. CST.

      RedCard holders will get access to special deals on Target.com and in the Target app. RedCard holders will receive an additional 5 percent off all purchases.

      Walmart will also start offering some Black Friday deals on Wednesday, starting at 10 p.m. EST., on Walmart.com -- a prelude to the main event that will begin Thanksgiving evening. Some of the biggest deals will be on apparel, electronics, home furnishings, and toys. 

      Deals on toys include Disney Frozen 2 Fold & Go Arendelle Castle, Hover-1 All-Star Hoverboard, and LEGO Classic or Duplo Creative Box.

      Retro spin on toy shopping

      Putting a retro spin on toy shopping this holiday season, eBay is offering parents a way to stand out and maybe surprise their children. The online shopping site says it’s offering everything from collectible Star Wars action figures to new Kindi Kids dolls, from the My Size Barbie of yesterday to the Astronaut Barbie of today.

      Sam Bright, vice president and general manager of Merchandising at eBay, says if a toy was popular once upon a time, there’s a good chance it will be popular with today’s kids.

      "There's a revival of all things retro right now and we're seeing classic toys gaining popularity alongside the most coveted new offerings,” Bright said, “The thing is, it isn't always easy for shoppers to cross the vintage and hard-to-find gifts off their lists." 

      Toys for parents too

      Because collectors often use eBay to sell items Bright says it’s not uncommon to find toys that span the decades. And it’s not just children who might want some of these classic toys under the tree. Millennials often want to get their hands on remakes of the games they played with as kids, such as the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite.

      Meanwhile, Amazon is in the midst of a seven-day Black Friday Deals Week with new deals offered each day leading up to the big day itself. Recent deals have included Walker’s Razor Slim headphones for $27.29 to $39.79.

      With Black Friday coming up at the end of the week, retailers are putting the final touches on their plans, competing for both online and brick-and-mortar...
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      Amazon challenges the awarding of the Pentagon’s JEDI project to Microsoft

      The company has filed a lawsuit saying it should have gotten the contract

      It’s often said, “You can’t fight City Hall” -- but when you’re as big as Amazon, maybe you can. At least it’s going to try.

      Amazon, which also operates one of the world’s largest cloud services companies -- AWS -- has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, claiming politics played a role in its loss of a huge Pentagon contract to rival Microsoft.

      The company has taken its complaint to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims after expressing its displeasure at losing the $10 billion cloud contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, known as JEDI.

      It’s unusual but not unprecedented for a losing bidder on a government contract to go to court. In this case, Amazon believed it would land the deal because it is the biggest player in the industry and it has a track record with the national security establishment, having provided similar services for the CIA.

      But there may be another factor at work here -- at least Amazon thinks there is. Amazon’s CEO is Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, which is not one of President Trump’s favorite publications. In its filing, the company suggests that its loss of the contract has political overtones.

      ‘Free from political influence’

      “It’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence,” Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement to the media. “Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias -- and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”

      Amazon hasn’t commented beyond that initial statement and Microsoft hasn’t commented either, apparently preferring to stay out of it. Even Trump hasn’t mentioned it in a tweet -- at least not yet.

      Earlier this year, Trump did comment on the contract process, asking whether the Defense Department was fairly judging the bids. He pointed to complaints from Microsoft, as well as Oracle and IBM.

      Oracle has also gone to court to appeal a ruling from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that rejected its legal challenge to the contract process.

      The Jedi contract was awarded to Microsoft in late October.

      It’s often said, “You can’t fight City Hall” -- but when you’re as big as Amazon, maybe you can. At least it’s going to try.Amazon, which also operates...
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      T-Mobile hit with data breach affecting prepaid customer information

      The carrier hasn’t provided an estimate of how many customers were affected

      T-Mobile has disclosed that it recently suffered a data breach that allowed a malicious party to access the account information of some of its prepaid customers. The wireless carrier said it “quickly corrected” the security issue after discovering it. 

      “Our Cybersecurity team discovered and shut down malicious, unauthorized access to some information related to your T-Mobile prepaid wireless account,” the company said on its customer support page. “We promptly reported this to authorities.” 

      The carrier noted that no financial data or social security numbers were accessed in the breach, and no passwords were compromised. However, information associated with users’ prepaid wireless accounts -- including names and billing addresses -- was accessed. Other personal data that was revealed included phone numbers, account numbers, rate plans, and add-on features (such as an international calling add-ons). 

      Affected customers notified

      The company said it’s started the process of notifying all affected customers. Users who received a notification are advised to update their PIN on their T-Mobile account.  

      “We take the security of your information very seriously and have a number of safeguards in place to protect your personal information from unauthorized access,” T-Mobile said. “We truly regret that this incident occurred and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.”

      T-Mobile said some customers whose information was compromised may not have received a notification because their contact information is out of date. Customers who are worried that they may fall under this category are advised to contact T-Mobile’s customer support department for further assistance. 

      “If you are a T-Mobile customer, you can reach us by dialing 611 from your T-Mobile phone or by calling 1-800-T-MOBILE from any phone,” the company said. 

      T-Mobile has disclosed that it recently suffered a data breach that allowed a malicious party to access the account information of some of its prepaid cust...
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      Gas prices continue to drift lower as the holidays approach

      One of the week’s biggest declines was in California

      As motorists prepare to hit the road for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, they should find fairly stable gas prices. The biggest price fluctuations should be declines.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gas is $2.59 a gallon, a penny less than last week. That’s almost the same as it was at this time last year. The average price of premium is $3.19, two cents less than last Friday. The average price of diesel fuel is $3 a gallon, down one cent from seven days ago.

      Prices in most states remained stable over the last week but dropped by 10 cents a gallon in California. That state’s motorists were paying 23 cents a gallon more just one month ago. Consumers in Michigan faced an eight cents a gallon swing in the other direction, seeing the average price go from $2.46 to $2.54 a gallon in the span of seven days.

      Prices for premium and diesel fuel have been very stable over the past few weeks, with little to no movement. Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a tweet that’s especially true for diesel.

      “It's been a remarkably unremarkable year for U.S. diesel prices,” DeHaan wrote. “The range for the national average diesel price is just 19 cents a gallon so far in 2019, compared to a 42 cents a gallon range in 2018.”

      Growth in gasoline stockpiles during the previous week, reversing a couple of weeks of drawdowns, added to stability at the gas pump. The Energy Information Administration (EIA)  Reports total domestic gas stocks grew by 1.8 million barrels last week. 

      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 ($3.91)

      • Hawaii ($3.66)

      • Washington ($3.36) 

      • Nevada ($3.32)

      • Oregon ($3.23) 

      • Alaska ($3.17)

      • Idaho ($2.99) 

      • Arizona ($2.93)

      • Utah ($2.95)

      • Colorado ($2.80)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

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

      • Louisiana ($2.21)

      • Mississippi ($2.21)

      • South Carolina ($2.25)

      • Missouri ($2.27)

      • Texas ($2.25)

      • Alabama ($2.26)

      • Arkansas ($2.29)

      • Oklahoma ($2.29)

      • Tennessee ($2.30)

      • Virginia ($2.30)

      As motorists prepare to hit the road for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, they should find fairly stable gas prices. The biggest price fluctuations should...
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      Mercedes-Benz recalls SL450s, SL63 AMGs and SL550s

      The vehicle's handling may change unexpectedly

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 36 model year 2019 SL450s, SL63 AMGs and SL550s.

      Over time, the bolt connection at the front-left mounting point on the rear axle carrier casting may fail, possibly affecting the vehicle's handling and increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the front-left mounting point of the rear axle carrier.

      If a defect in the bolt connection of the rear axle carrier is found, MBUSA will contact the owner and offer a repurchase of the vehicle.

      The recall is expected to begin December 31, 2019.

      Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at (800) 367-6372. MBUSA's number for this recall is 2019100018.

      Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) is recalling 36 model year 2019 SL450s, SL63 AMGs and SL550s.Over time, the bolt connection at the front-left mounting point...
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      Creative Food Processing recalls raw chicken

      The product contains wheat, an allergen not declared on the label

      Creative Food Processing (Calperf) of Santa Clara, Calif., is recalling approximately 1,941 pounds of raw chicken.

      The product contains wheat, an allergen not declared on the label.

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following item, produced from April 16, 2019, to November 6, 2019, is being recalled:

      • 1-lb. sealed trays containing “GREEN MEADOWS PREMIUM MEAT CUTS Savory Chicken Boti Kebab” with use or freeze by dates from May 1, 2019 to Nov. 20, 2019 represented on the label.

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “P-6052” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to retail grocery stores in California.

      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 may contact Ananya Dasgupta at calperf.info@gmail.com.

      Creative Food Processing (Calperf) of Santa Clara, Calif., is recalling approximately 1,941 pounds of raw chicken.The product contains wheat, an allerg...
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      Apple defends its policies in response to Congressional antitrust probe

      The company refutes the claim that it engages in anti-competitive behaviors

      Apple has responded to questions raised as part of an antitrust probe launched in September. Lawmakers previously sent a letter to Apple officials asking, among other things, for the company to shed light on how much revenue it has generated from product repair services since 2009.

      Kyle Andeer, the company's vice president for Corporate Law, produced Apple’s responses to the Antitrust Committee. Andeer said the annual costs of providing repair services has “exceeded the revenue generated by repairs.” 

      The tech giant has previously been accused of making it difficult for users to get Apple devices fixed by making them go to its own stores or authorized repair centers and then charging high rates to fix faulty devices. 

      Repair service questions

      Asked if the move was a way for Apple to “elbow out competition and extend its monopoly into the market for repairs,” the company said no. Andeer said Apple’s goal is to “achieve a safe and reliable repair for our customers, whether that repair is done by Apple or a service provider designated by Apple.” 

      To that end, the company doesn’t allow independent repair stores to access its spare parts and repair manuals. He said it’s “not feasible to split products into its component parts without significant risk of damage to those components.”

      “Apple has spent time and money to make Apple devices incredibly user friendly—but they are still complex, very technical machines,” Andeer said. “And there are a number of factors that go into achieving the goal of ensuring repairs on these complex devices are safe and reliable.” 

      Andeer noted that Apple has set out to make user repairs easier to obtain in recent months by partnering with Best Buy to offer user repair services at many of the retailer’s stores. The company has also established a new system to verify independent third-parties. 

      Default browser questions

      In response to a question regarding why Apple doesn’t allow iPhone users to assign a third-party browser as their default choice and whether that move is anti-competitive, Andeer pointed to security and privacy reasons. He said Safari is “an essential part of iPhone’s functionality.” 

      “Safari is one of the apps that Apple believes defines the core user experience on iOS, with industry-leading security and privacy features,” Andeer said. “Safari is an ‘operating system app,’ like the Phone, Camera and iMessage, which are designed to work together.” 

      In the company response, Andeer noted that there are many apps that compete with Apple’s services, such as web browsing, maps, music, and video. Overall, Apple argued that all of its policies are in the best interest of users and that it doesn’t engage in anti-competitive behaviors. 

      Apple has responded to questions raised as part of an antitrust probe launched in September. Lawmakers previously sent a letter to Apple officials asking,...
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      Amazon reportedly plans to open a chain of cashless supermarkets early next year

      The move would be a major expansion of the Go Store concept

      Amazon reportedly plans to expand its cashless Go Store concept to supermarkets next year and could even license the technology to other chains, changing grocery shopping the same way it has altered the retail landscape.

      Bloomberg quotes sources with knowledge of the project as saying the first cashless supermarkets could open in the first quarter of next year.

      After years of planning, Amazon opened the first Amazon Go convenience store in early 2018 in Seattle. The company’s Just Walk Out Technology allows shoppers to scan their phones when they enter the store, grab what they want, and walk out without having to stop at a cash register to pay.

      Artificial intelligence charges the customer’s credit card every time an item is picked up. If you change your mind and put it back on the shelf, the software removes it from your account.

      There have been rumblings that Amazon is moving to enlarge the scale of its cashless stores. A report in September suggested the company could open as many as 3,000 cashless stores by the end of 2021.

      Ambitions beyond convenience stores

      But Amazon apparently has ambitions beyond the small convenience store concept. Bloomberg reports that the company is testing the technology in a 10,000 square foot supermarket in Seattle.

      Amazon owns the Whole Foods Market supermarket chain, but it isn’t clear if or when the Go technology might be deployed there. Amazon said last week that it intends to launch an entirely new supermarket brand with the first stores opening in upscale Los Angeles neighborhoods in 2020.

      Consumers generally have a favorable reaction to the Go technology, praising it for its ease of use and allowing consumers to skip the checkout lines. But not everyone is a fan.

      Earlier this year, city officials in San Francisco discussed banning cashless stores, claiming they discriminate against low-income consumers. To use a cashless store, a consumer would need both a credit or debit card and a mobile device. Low-income consumers, the officials argued, usually have neither.

      Shortly afterward, Amazon announced its Go Store in New York would be the first to accept cash. According to an Amazon official, a consumer who wants to pay with cash will be able to get the help of a store employee who will scan their purchases for them.

      Amazon reportedly plans to expand its cashless Go Store concept to supermarkets next year and could even license the technology to other chains, changing g...
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      Ford recalls model year 2018-19 Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks

      The daytime running lamps do not function properly

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 100,000 model year 2018-19 Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks with LED headlamps.

      When the daytime running lamps are illuminated and the master lighting switch is moved to the low-beam position, they do not revert to parking lamp intensity as required by federal law.

      Ford has not received any reports of accident or injury.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will update the body control module.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at (866) 436-733. Ford's reference number for this recall is 19C10.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 100,000 model year 2018-19 Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks with LED headlamps.When the daytime running lamps are illumi...
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      New York files lawsuit against Juul

      The state accuses the e-cigarette maker of willfully marketing to teenage users

      New York is following the lead of other states, counties, and school districts in suing Juul for allegedly marketing to teenagers through the use of a “deceptive and illegal” campaign. 

      The state’s Attorney General, Letitia James, announced the lawsuit on Tuesday and said she has no doubt that the company’s actions caused minors to become addicted to its products. In the complaint, James accuses Juul of marketing directly to teens by advertising its fruit flavored products on social media and downplaying the fact that the products contain nicotine. 

      "Juul is putting countless New Yorkers at risk and compromising the health of millions of young people," James said at a press conference. "There is no doubt that Juul ... has caused this addiction."

      Rise in teen vaping

      Lawmakers have previously said they believe e-cigarette manufacturers like Juul must be held accountable for their role in creating and fueling the youth vaping epidemic. 

      Meanwhile, Juul has said it’s just as concerned as regulators that its products are falling into the hands of underage users instead of its target demographic, “the world's 1 billion adult smokers.” James claims in the lawsuit that Juul “took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook” when it allowed young consumers to purchase its products.

      “JUUL’s advertising and social media posts misled consumers about the content of its products by failing to warn that they contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical that is particularly dangerous for adolescents,” the complaint alleges.

      Similar lawsuits

      Earlier this week, California filed a similar lawsuit against Juul. The state’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, accused the e-cigarette maker of targeting minors through its marketing tactics and product design. 

      The suit also accuses the company of using a “flawed” age-verification process for online sales and failing to properly warn consumers of the fact that they would be exposed to chemicals associated with cancer and birth defects.

      “We’ve worked too hard, committed our hard-earned money for too long combatting harmful tobacco use to stand idly by as we now lose Californians to vaping and nicotine addiction,” Becerra said in a statement.

      In May, North Carolina also filed a lawsuit against Juul, accusing the company of employing “deceptive and unfair” marketing practices to drive sales to minors.

      In an effort to appease regulators and minimize its appeal to youth users, Juul recently stopped sales of fruit and mint-flavored vape products and suspended all broadcast, print, and digital product advertising in the U.S. 

      Juul says it’s committed to “earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes.” 

      New York is following the lead of other states, counties, and school districts in suing Juul for allegedly marketing to teenagers through the use of a “dec...
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      NTSB urges Boeing to redesign engines on 7,000 aircraft

      The recommendations follow the investigation of a 2018 fatal accident

      Boeing is dealing with a safety issue that has nothing to do with the grounded 737 MAX aircraft.

      The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that the aircraft manufacturer redesign the engines on 7,000 planes to prevent a repeat of a 2018 fatal accident.

      In April 2018, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 on a flight from New York to Dallas had to make an emergency landing after one of the engines exploded and metal shrapnel broke one of the windows over the wing of the aircraft.

      The passenger sitting next to the window, 43-year old Jennifer Riordan, was nearly sucked from the depressurized cabin and died from her injuries. As a result of its investigation of the accident, the NTSB has issued seven safety recommendations.

      Conclusions

      The NTSB concluded that a fractured fan blade from a CFM International CFM-56-7B engine, powering a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, led to the engine inlet and fan cowl separating and subsequently damaging the fuselage, resulting in a rapid cabin depressurization.

      “This accident demonstrates that a fan blade can fail and release differently than that observed during engine certification testing and accounted for in airframe structural analyses,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “It is important to go beyond routine examination of fan blades; the structural integrity of the engine nacelle components for various airframe and engine combinations needs to be ensured.”

      Of the seven NTSB recommendations, five were issued to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), one was issued to the European Aviation Safety Agency, and one was issued to Southwest Airlines.

      Structural integrity of the fan cowl

      The recommendations stress the need to ensure the structural integrity of the fan cowl on the Boeing 737 next-generation aircraft. They also call for an assessment of whether other airframe and engine combinations have critical fan blade impact locations.

      Of material concern to Boeing, the agency also recommended that Boeing redesign part of the outer covering of the aircraft’s engines to prevent it from striking the fuselage if a fan blade breaks free in the future.

      The NTSB said all of next-generation Boeing 737 aircraft should be retrofitted with a suitable fix.

      The issue has no bearing on the 737 MAX, which remains grounded following two crashes in five months. The 737 NG jets are much more numerous in airline fleets than the 737 MAX. They have also faced other issues, including the formation of cracks on some of the older aircraft.

      Boeing is dealing with a safety issue that has nothing to do with the grounded 737 MAX aircraft.The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has rec...
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      Ford recalls model year 2016-17 Lincoln MKXs

      The battery cable could overheat or melt

      Ford Motor Company is recalling about 60,000 model year 2016-17 Lincoln MKXs with 3.7-liter engines.

      The battery cable harness may have substandard clearance, which could allow the harness to contact the transmission shifter cable bracket.

      Contact between the battery cable harness and the transmission shifter cable bracket could wear through the insulation of the cable, resulting in the cable shorting to ground, increasing the risk of overheated or melted wiring, as well as fire.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will remove the four battery harness clips at the battery tray and one elbow guide, then install a wire channel shield and protective sleeve to the battery cable harness free of charge

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at (866) 436-733. Ford's reference number for this recall is 19S41.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling about 60,000 model year 2016-17 Lincoln MKXs with 3.7-liter engines.The battery cable harness may have substandard clea...
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      Model year 2019 Dodge Grand Caravans recalled

      Some seats or seat belts may not adequately restrain the occupant

      Chrysler is recalling 30,354 model year 2019 Dodge Grand Caravans.

      The welds on the outboard rear seat strikers for the second row bench and second row bucket seats may fail during a front impact crash. The front outboard seat strikers for the third row bench seats may fail in the event of a rear impact crash.

      In addition, the second row bench and bucket seats may not withstand the required loads.

      If the seat strikers fail, the seat or seat belt may not adequately restrain the occupant, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will weld in a striker reinforcement bracket on the second and third row outboard seat strikers free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 13, 2019.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at (800) 853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is V91.

      Chrysler is recalling 30,354 model year 2019 Dodge Grand Caravans.The welds on the outboard rear seat strikers for the second row bench and second row...
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      Taher recalls veggie & ranch cups with cauliflower

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Taher is recalling 7.5-oz packages of Fresh Seasons Kitchen Veggie & Ranch Cup.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      No illnesses or injuries have been reported to date.

      This recalled product, sold between October 30, 2019, and November 4, 2019, in select cafeterias and vending machines in Minnesota, has a UPC number of 8 10106 020334 and a sell by date of November 11, 2019.

      What to do

      Customers who have questions about the recall may contact the firm at (952) 945-0505 or by email at communications@taher.com.

      Taher is recalling 7.5-oz packages of Fresh Seasons Kitchen Veggie & Ranch Cup.The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenesNo illne...
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      What stresses you most during the holidays?

      For most consumers, stress revolves around money

      The holidays can be a stressful time for many reasons, but one overriding concern may be the money that’s involved. Gift-giving can put a strain on any budget if it’s not properly managed.

      A new survey by Union Bank focuses on how consumers -- especially young people -- view their spending around the holidays. Previous surveys have shown mixed results when it comes to the projected total spending this holiday season, but it’s likely that some things will remain constant -- we’ll probably end up spending more than we planned.

      A surprising 44 percent of millennials say they will use the amount of money they are spending on the holidays as an excuse not to travel home for the holidays. They plan to tell Mom and Dad they just don’t have money for airfare after purchasing and shipping all the gifts.

      More than half of millennials say they feel pressure when it comes to making out a gift list and buying gifts for people they aren’t that crazy about. They’re not alone in that regard, with 40 percent of consumers generally feeling that way.

      Gifts for Mom and me

      Twenty percent of GenZers, the generation right behind millennials, are allocating the biggest portions of their gift budgets to Mom -- and themselves, spending up to $500 on the two gifts.

      Holiday spending issues can also add stress to relationships. Half the consumers interviewed admit to not being on the same page with their significant other when considering gifts for one another.

      "While many of us enjoy spending time with family and friends during the holiday season, it can also be a stressful time of year for many," said Pierre Habis, head of consumer banking at Union Bank. "In fact, we find that people feel pressure to overspend and may make poor financial decisions at this time of year, the repercussions of which can linger for months into the New Year.”

      Habis says couples, especially, should use the holidays as an opportunity to talk about money and learn to adopt better financial habits.

      Six months to pay for the holidays

      The survey shows that two-thirds of consumers will set out with a holiday spending budget that they’ll overshoot. Researchers say that these consumers will take six months to financially recover so they can pay off the resulting credit card debt. Thirty percent admit to overspending just to impress family and friends.

      Even though a lot of holiday purchases have already been made, it’s still not too late to control spending through the end of the year.

      Cambridge Credit Counseling, a non-profit credit counselor, advises its clients not to use credit cards for holiday spending since it easy to run up huge bills. If using cash is not always practical, consider purchasing a gift card from one of the credit card companies preloaded with a set amount of cash. Once the balance reaches $0, your shopping is done.

      The holidays can be a stressful time for many reasons, but one overriding concern may be the money that’s involved. Gift-giving can put a strain on any bud...
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      Amazon is providing an early look at its Black Friday deals

      Discounts cover a range of categories, from home furnishings to toys

      Amazon is doing a slow reveal of some of its Black Friday bargains after Walmart and Target have also begun to whet shoppers’ appetites.

      Like last year, the online retailer plans to stage a “Black Friday deals week,” with daily deals starting Friday, Nov. 22 and running through Black Friday itself, Nov. 29.

      Deals cover several different categories. Deals on Amazon devices include:

      • Echo Dot is $27.99 off – $22.00 or a 3-pack for $64.97;

      • All-new Echo Dot with clock is $25 off, taking the price to $34.99;

      • Echo Show 5 is $40 off, reducing the price to  $49.99;

      • All-new Echo is $40 off –  $59.99; and

      • Echo Input is $20 off – $14.99.

      Amazon is marking down several products among its own brands. Some of them are:

      • Up to 50 percent off on men's and women’s clothing from Amazon Brands, including Amazon Essentials, Goodthreads, Daily Ritual, and The Drop;

      • A 30 percent discount on bedding & bath for the family from AmazonBasics, Stone & Beam and Rivet;

      • Up to 30 percent off on furniture from Rivet and Stone & Beam;

      • Up to 30 percent off on office furniture and supplies from AmazonBasics; and

      • Up to 30 percent on phone accessories from AmazonBasics.

      A lot of toys made the list of daily deals. They include up to 40 percent off on:

      • The LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Millennium Falcon;

      • Tricycles and the 3-in-1 Wagon from Radio Flyer;

      • The KidKraft Cinderella Royal Dream House; and

      • The Little Tikes Bake n’ Grow Kitchen.

      The retailer is marking down select strategy games, Glitter Girls fashion dollars and accessories, Barbie toys, and Hot Wheels by up to 30 percent.

      Free music expansion

      Amazon has also announced that its free music service, previously playable only on the Amazon Echo, will now be accessible on more devices. The ad-supported music streaming service can be played on iPhones, Android devices, and Fire TV.

      The free music service can be used to play radio stations or create playlists, much like Pandora’s free service. Amazon also provides a music streaming service that is part of its Prime membership.

      For other gift ideas and discounts, the shopping monitor website BestBlackFriday.com has published Black Friday ad scans for other major retailers.

      Amazon is doing a slow reveal of some of its Black Friday bargains after Walmart and Target have also begun to whet shoppers’ appetites.Like last year,...
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      Juul faces lawsuit in California over marketing to teens

      The suit accuses the company of launching a ‘systematic’ and ‘wildly successful’ marketing campaign targeting youth users

      California has filed a lawsuit accusing Juul of deliberately targeting minors through its marketing tactics and product design. 

      The complaint accuses the e-cigarette maker of failing to adequately warn consumers of the fact that they would be exposed to chemicals associated with cancer and birth defects. Additionally, Juul is accused of using a “flawed” age-verification process for online sales.

      “We’ve worked too hard, committed our hard-earned money for too long combatting harmful tobacco use to stand idly by as we now lose Californians to vaping and nicotine addiction,” California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

      “JUUL adopted the tobacco industry’s infamous playbook, employing advertisements that had no regard for public health and searching out vulnerable targets. Today we take legal action against the deceptive practices that JUUL and the e-cigarette industry employ to lure our kids into their vaping web. We will hold JUUL and any other company that fuels a public health crisis accountable.”

      Teen vaping crisis 

      The suit comes as lawmakers attempt to combat a surge in teen vaping. The Trump administration has proposed banning flavored e-cigarette products and/or bumping the minimum vaping age to “21 or so.”

      Becerra noted that the number of high school students vaping in 2019 is 27.5 percent, up from 11.7 percent in 2017. He attributed the rise in teen vaping to the array of fruit-flavored products that were created. 

      “JUUL has systematically targeted the teen market with everything from the design of their products to their advertisements,” said Supervisor Hahn. “With this lawsuit we are going to hold JUUL accountable for their hand in this public health crisis and do what we can to stop this company from creating a new generation of nicotine addicts.”

      Juul has previously said it shares regulators’ concerns about its products getting into the hands of minors. In a statement, the company said it hasn’t yet reviewed the latest complaint but remains “focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes.” 

      Juul noted that it recently stopped sales of fruit and mint-flavored vape products and suspended all broadcast, print, and digital product advertising in the U.S. in an effort to minimize its appeal to youth users. 

      “Our customer base is the world's 1 billion adult smokers and we do not intend to attract underage users,” Juul said. 

      The lawsuit, which was announced on Monday, seeks monetary damages based on violations of California laws related to false advertising and unfair competition.

      California has filed a lawsuit accusing Juul of deliberately targeting minors through its marketing tactics and product design. The complaint accuses t...
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      GM recalls model year 2019-2020 Buick Regals

      The driver or passenger front seat may not provide adequate crash protection

      General Motors is recalling 341 model year 2019-2020 Buick Regals.

      The driver or passenger front seat frames may have a lower crossbar that was improperly welded.

      Seats with improper welds may not provide adequate protection in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of an injury.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the crossbar welds on the front seats. If the crossbar is improperly welded, the seat will be replaced free of charge.

      The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Buick customer service at (800) 521-7300. GM's number for this recall is N192278300.

      General Motors is recalling 341 model year 2019-2020 Buick Regals.The driver or passenger front seat frames may have a lower crossbar that was improper...
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      Russ Davis Wholesale recalls vegetables

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Russ Davis Wholesale is recalling multiple vegetable products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following products are being recalled:

      UPCProduct Name:
      Retail Items
      Brand Name
      on Label
      PackagingSELL BY Date
      795631808148Broccoli, Cauliflower & Carrots with Butter - 18 ozSmall Generic clear label on Q & E Steamer bagSteamer Bag10/13/19 to 11/08/19
      795631808131Broccoli & Cauliflower with Butter - 16 ozSmall Generic clear label on Q & E Steamer bagSteamer Bag10/13/19 to 11/08/19
      795631808186Tomato, Carrot, Broccoli & Snap Pea- 13 ozCrazy Fresh/ Quick&Easy/ Plain LabelClear Plastic Container10/10/19 to 11/10/19
      795631808193Tomato, Radish Broc & Cauli - 13 ozCrazy Fresh/ Quick&Easy/ Plain LabelClear Plastic Container10/10/19 to 11/10/19
      795631808299Veggie Tray w/ Dip-1.75 lbsCrazy Fresh/ Quick&Easy/ Plain LabelPlastic Container10/10/19 to 11/08/19
      795631809312Veggie Tray W/ Ranch Dip - 3#Crazy FreshPlastic Container10/10/19 to 11/08/19
      795631810011Riced BroccoliCrazy Fresh/ Quick&Easy/ Plain LabelPlastic Container10/10/19 to 11/10/19
      795631810097Short Cut Stir Fry Blend - 12 ozQuick&Easy/ PlainPlastic Bag10/10/19 to 11/10/19
      795631812008Short Cut Stir Fry Blend - 12 ozCrazy FreshPlastic Bag10/10/19 to 11/08/19
      795631818611Veg Tray W/ Dip- 1.5 lbsCrazy Fresh/ Quick&Easy/ Plain LabelPlastic Container10/10/19 to 11/10/19
      795631827095Fresh Veggie Value Bowl -2.5#Crazy Fresh/ Quick&Easy/ Plain LabelPlastic Bowl10/10/19 to 11/10/19
      795631827149Veggie Blend With Dip- 12 ozCrazy Fresh/ Quick&Easy/ Plain LabelPlastic Container10/10/19 to 11/10/19
      795631827200Vegetable Tray with Veggie Dip-3#Crazy Fresh/ Quick&Easy/ Plain LabelPlastic Container10/10/19 to 11/10/19
      795631827309Veggie Tray With RadishesCrazy Fresh/ Quick&Easy/ Plain LabelPlastic Container10/10/19 to 11/10/19

      The recalled products were delivered to retail stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume, but discard them.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at (877) 433-2173 between 8:00 am and 5:00pm (CST) or by email at customerservice@russdaviswholesale.com.

      Russ Davis Wholesale is recalling multiple vegetable products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.No illnesses have been reported to d...
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      Nissan recalls Nissan Muranos, Maximas, Pathfinders and Infiniti QX60s

      Brake fluid may leak onto an internal circuit board

      Nissan North America is recalling 394,025 model year 2015-2018 Nissan Muranos, model year 2016-2018 Nissan Maximas, and model year 2017-2019 Nissan Pathfinders & Infiniti QX60s.

      These vehicles were previously recalled and unrepaired, or inspected and determined to not need a repair, under an earlier recall.

      In addition, this recall expands the previous population. The Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) actuator pumps may allow brake fluid to leak onto an internal circuit board.

      A brake fluid leak on the circuit board may result in an electrical short, increasing the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      If the ABS warning light remains illuminated for more than ten seconds after engine start up, owners should park the vehicle outdoors away from other vehicles or structures and not drive it.

      Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will replace the ABS actuator free of charge.

      Interim notices informing owners of the safety risk are expected to be mailed beginning December 2, 2019. Owners will receive a second notice when remedy parts become available, currently expected to be during summer 2020.

      Owners may contact Nissan customer service at (800) 867-7669.

      Nissan North America is recalling 394,025 model year 2015-2018 Nissan Muranos, model year 2016-2018 Nissan Maximas, and model year 2017-2019 Nissan Pathfin...
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      Ford recalls model year 2019-2020 F-150s

      The vehicle's instrument panel displays and braking assist could malfunction

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 135,725 model year 2019-2020 F-150s.

      The fastener securing the Power Distribution Box (PDB) 12V cable and Battery Monitoring System (BMS) eyelets to the positive battery terminal may loosen and affect the vehicle's systems such as instrument panel displays and braking or steering assist. The engine could also stall.

      Inoperative vehicle systems or an engine stall can increase the risk of a crash. Reduced braking and steering efforts can also increase the risk of a crash. This condition could also create a resistive short, increasing the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the positive battery cable/BMS/PDB joint for excess sealant adhesive and remove any excessive adhesive, reassemble the joint, and retorque the fastener, as necessary, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin November 25, 2019.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at (866) 436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 19S40.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 135,725 model year 2019-2020 F-150s.The fastener securing the Power Distribution Box (PDB) 12V cable and Battery Monito...
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      BMW recalls model year 2020 330i and M340i vehicles

      The interior trunk release cable may have been installed improperly

      BMW of North America is recalling 325 model year 2020 330i, 330i xDrive and M340i vehicles.

      The interior trunk release cable may have been improperly installed, preventing the opening of the trunk from the inside.

      If a person were in the trunk compartment, he may not be able to get out, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      BMW will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the interior trunk release cable and properly install the cable, as necessary, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 16, 2019.

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

      BMW of North America is recalling 325 model year 2020 330i, 330i xDrive and M340i vehicles.The interior trunk release cable may have been improperly in...
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      Apple removes vaping apps from App Store

      The moves follows dozens of deaths and thousands of injuries that have been linked to the habit

      Apple has pulled all vaping-related apps from its App Store amid widespread concern over the health impact of the products. 

      In a statement to Axios, the company said its App Store guidelines have been updated to prohibit software that encourages or facilitates vaping. 

      "Experts ranging from the CDC to the American Heart Association have attributed a variety of lung injuries and fatalities to e-cigarette and vaping products, going so far as to call the spread of these devices a public health crisis and a youth epidemic," an Apple spokesperson said. "We agree, and we've updated our App Store Review Guidelines to reflect that apps encouraging or facilitating the use of these products are not permitted."

      iPhone users who have already downloaded a vaping app will be able to continue using them, the company said. 

      Vaping illnesses on the rise

      The number of vaping-related lung illnesses has risen sharply in recent months, and investigators from the CDC, FDA, and elsewhere are still trying to figure out what exactly is causing the illnesses. 

      To date, there have been 2,172 illnesses and 42 deaths tied to vaping. Health officials reported last week that vitamin E acetate has emerged as the likely culprit causing the lung illnesses, but investigations are ongoing. 

      "Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive in the production of e-cigarette, or vaping, products," the CDC said in a report. "This is the first time that we have detected a potential chemical of concern in biologic samples from patients with these lung injuries."

      CDC officials continue to recommend that consumers avoid any e-cigarette or vaping product that contains THC, “particularly from informal sources like friends or family, online dealers or the illicit market.” 

      Apple has pulled all vaping-related apps from its app store amid widespread concern over the health impact of the products. In a statement to Axios, th...
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      Gasoline prices are falling again

      An increase in supply is taking a lot of the pressure off the price at the pump

      The price of gasoline reversed direction in the last week, falling slightly. One of the biggest declines took place in California, where the average price has finally fallen below $4 a gallon.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gas is $2.60 a gallon, down two cents from last Friday. It’s only six cents less than at this time last year. The average price of premium is $3.21 a gallon, a penny less than last week. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.01 a gallon, the same as last week.

      In California, the statewide average price of regular has fallen to $3.99 a gallon, the highest in the nation. But it’s a lot lower than a month ago when the average price shot up to $4.17 a gallon due to supply bottlenecks.

      Prices have been slow to fall because of heightened demand, but a growing stockpile of fuel last week is taking some of the pressure off prices. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports total domestic stocks of gasoline grew by 1.9 million barrels last week, bringing the current stock level to 219.1 million barrels. While it’s an improvement, the total is 7.5 million barrels less than last year at this time.

      “This growth in stock levels, amid robust demand, has helped to push prices down and will likely continue to do so if the trend continues,” AAA said in its latest market update.

      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 ($3.99)

      • Hawaii ($3.66)

      • Washington ($3.40) 

      • Nevada ($3.37)

      • Oregon ($3.29) 

      • Alaska ($3.19)

      • Idaho ($2.99) 

      • Arizona ($2.94)

      • Utah ($2.92)

      • Colorado ($2.80)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

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

      • Louisiana ($2.21)

      • Mississippi ($2.22)

      • South Carolina ($2.27)

      • Missouri ($2.29)

      • Texas ($2.26)

      • Alabama ($2.27)

      • Arkansas ($2.30)

      • Virginia ($2.31)

      • Oklahoma ($2.31)

      • Tennessee ($2.33)

      The price of gasoline reversed direction in the last week, falling slightly. One of the biggest declines took place in California, where the average price...
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      Ezzo Sausage recalls sausage and pepperoni

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      Ezzo Sausage Company of Columbus, Ohio, is recalling approximately 25,115 pounds of sausage and pepperoni.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      A list of ready-to-eat items, produced on October 29 – 30, 2019, and November 5, 2019, may be found here.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 1838A” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to distribution centers in Indiana and Ohio.

      What to do

      Restaurants and institutions that purchased the recalled products should not serve them, but discard or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact Darryl Thompson at (614) 445-8841.

      Ezzo Sausage Company of Columbus, Ohio, is recalling approximately 25,115 pounds of sausage and pepperoni.The products may be contaminated with Listeri...
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      Facebook fixes iOS bug that activated the cameras of app users

      The company also announced the removal of over 3 billion fake accounts

      A Facebook bug that allowed the Facebook app to activate the cameras of those running iOS 13 has now been fixed. 

      Web designer Joshua Maddux spotted the bug and posted about it on Twitter earlier this week, saying it “lets you see the camera open behind your feed.” A Facebook official responded thanking Maddux for noticing the glitch and promising to get to work on a fix. 

      “This sounds like a bug, we are looking into it,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, said Tuesday. 

      Facebook said Wednesday that it was submitting fixes for the bug to Apple. According to The Verge, the Facebook iOS app has now been updated and is available in the App Store. 

      Removing problematic content

      Facebook has been attempting to mitigate a number of issues directly affecting users as of late. The company recently paid a record $5 billion fine to the FTC over its handling of user data in the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal. 

      Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it recently became aware that a subset of app developers had retained data from user groups on the platform. The disclosure came just a few weeks after Facebook revealed that it suspended “tens of thousands” of apps, citing various privacy concerns. 

      On Wednesday, the company announced that it removed 3.2 billion fraudulent accounts from April to September. Facebook said in its latest transparency report that it has improved its ability to proactively “detect and block attempts to create fake, abusive accounts.” 

      "We can estimate that every day, we prevent millions of attempts to create fake accounts using these detection systems,” the company said. 

      Facebook said it removed more than 11.6 million instances of content depicting child nudity and sexual exploitation of children on Facebook and 754,000 pieces on Instagram during the third quarter.

      "While we are pleased with this progress, these technologies are not perfect and we know that mistakes can still happen," the company wrote in a blog post. "That's why we continue to invest in systems that enable us to improve our accuracy in removing content that violates our policies while safeguarding content that discusses or condemns hate speech.” 

      A Facebook bug that allowed the Facebook app to activate the cameras of those running iOS 13 has now been fixed. Web designer Joshua Maddux spotted the...
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      Inflation remains tame, but not for everyone

      A new survey shows women are pressured by rising prices more than men

      The latest report from the government on consumer prices shows inflation remains tame, but a survey of consumers shows something different. Many consumers, especially women, don’t think they’re keeping up.

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose in October by 0.4 percent, creating an inflation rate of 1.8 percent over the last 12 months. That’s slightly below where the Federal Reserve would like to see prices.

      The official inflation rate rose last month largely because of higher gasoline prices, which have begun to slowly come down -- except in California. The index covering all forms of energy jumped 2.7 percent last month. The cost of medical care, recreation, and restaurants also rose.

      More than half don’t think they’re keeping up

      The prices consumers paid for clothing, household furnishings, new cars and trucks, and airline tickets went down in October. But if you didn’t buy any of those things, it might not feel like inflation is so tame.

      That’s the conclusion of a survey of consumers conducted by CPI Inflation Calculator, a private online tool that analyzes inflation trends using official government data. A survey of 1,500 consumers between the ages of 18 and 65 found 56.1 percent don’t believe they’re keeping up with the rising cost of living.

      Women were even more likely to say inflation isn’t so tame, with more than 63 percent of female respondents giving that response. Women 18 to 24 years of age feel the pinch even more, with 75 percent saying they aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. Fewer than 60 percent of men in that same age group gave that response.

      Only 30 percent of the consumers participating in the survey said they are able to keep up with inflation. But again, when broken down demographically, more men than women declared that inflation is not a problem. Forty-two percent of men between the ages of 45 and 64 were not concerned about rising prices.

      It often depends on what you buy

      Whether a consumer is affected by inflation often comes down to where the individual consumer spends their money. If they have health problems or a child in college, they are most likely to think inflation is a problem. The costs of both of those categories are rising much faster than the rate of inflation.

      Geography may also have something to do with it. Consumers who live in large coastal cities likely encounter a generally higher cost of living than people living in small- to medium-sized cities.

      The latest report from the government on consumer prices shows inflation remains tame, but a survey of consumers shows something different. Many consumers,...
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      Rastelli recalls organic ground beef

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials

      Rastelli Foods Group of Swedesboro, N.J., is recalling approximately 130,464 pounds of raw ground beef.

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials -- specifically pieces of plastic.

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following items produced from October 3 – 15, 2019, are being recalled:

      • 16-oz vacuum sealed packages containing “NATURE'S RANCHER 100% GRASS FED ORGANIC GROUND BEEF 85% LEAN, 15% FAT” with case code 9276, 9283, 9287, or 9288 and use or freeze by dates of 10/24/19, 10/31/19, 11/04/19, 11/07/19, and 11/11/19.
      • 16-oz vacuum sealed packages containing “NATURE'S RANCHER 100% GRASS FED ORGANIC GROUND BEEF 93% LEAN, 7% FAT” with case code 9276, 9283, 9287, or 9288 and use or freeze by dates of 10/24/19, 10/31/19, 11/04/19, 11/07/19, and 11/11/19.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. 7877-A” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to distribution centers and further sent to retail locations in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois and Maryland.

      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 Mike Kelly at (856) 803-1100.

      Rastelli Foods Group of Swedesboro, N.J., is recalling approximately 130,464 pounds of raw ground beef.The products may be contaminated with extraneous...
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      Google may offer checking accounts next year

      The company looks to be aiming to expand its digital service offerings through the launch of a financial services product

      Google is reportedly working toward launching a checking account product for consumers, according to The Wall Street Journal

      A Google executive told the publication that the company’s “Cache” project could launch as soon as 2020. It will operate in partnership with Citigroup and the Stanford Federal Credit Union. Checking accounts will be branded with the names of the financial institutions rather than Google’s own name. 

      Google executive Caesar Sengupta noted that customers’ financial data won’t be sold to advertisers; the new venture is simply intended to expand Google’s digital service offerings, he said. 

      “If we can help more people do more stuff in a digital way online, it’s good for the internet and good for us,” Sengupta told the Journal. He added that the service could be used to offer loyalty card programs. 

      Tech firms branching out into financial services

      Google joins other big technology companies that have expressed an interest in offering financial services. Last year, Amazon was said to have been having discussions with J.P. Morgan about a potential checking account. 

      In August, Apple launched its own credit card in collaboration with Goldman Sachs. The company is currently facing accusations that it assigns higher credit limits to men who apply for the card. 

      Facebook is attempting to expand its presence in the financial services sector through the launch of a proposed cryptocurrency called Libra, but it is struggling to get lawmakers and financial backers on board with the venture. Facebook has also announced that it’s launching a new payments service called Facebook Pay, which offers a way for users across its services to make payments to one another. 

      Regulatory skepticism

      During a Wednesday interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Senator Mark Warner (D- Va.) expressed concern about problems that could arise in regulating big tech companies that are experimenting with financial service offerings. 

      “I’m concerned when we got, whether it’s Libra or the Google proposal, ... these giant tech platforms entering into new fields before there are some regulatory rules of the road,” Warner said. “Because once they get in, the ability to extract them out is going to be virtually impossible.” 

      Google is reportedly working toward launching a checking account product for consumers, according to The Wall Street Journal. A Google executive told t...
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      Job loss is increasingly common among patients who leave the ICU

      Researchers suggest more work should be done to help patients transition back into their day-to-day lives after the ICU

      Going back to work after a serious medical condition comes with obstacles, as recent studies involving both cancer and heart attack survivors have revealed. 

      Now, researchers from the University of California at San Diego have discovered that patients recovering from a stint in the intensive care unit (ICU) are facing similar struggles returning to work. 

      “We already know that more than 50 percent of patients surviving critical illness experience impairments in cognitive, physical, and/or mental health after ICU stays,” said researcher Dr. Biren Kamdar. “We now can add delayed return-to-work and joblessness to the potential adverse outcomes.” 

      Job struggles

      To understand the effect that time in the ICU has on later job prospects, the researchers analyzed previous studies that included 10,000 patients who spent time in the ICU. All of the patients were employed before their hospital time, and the researchers worked to determine how their employment status was affected by their illness. 

      As Dr. Kamdar explained, patients often still struggle with health concerns after they leave the ICU. The researchers’ study revealed that those concerns are often compounded by stress related to newfound unemployment. 

      “Survival is not enough,” said Dr. Kamdar. “We are seeing that many patients get discharged from the ICU and then experience disabilities that significantly affect their quality of life. We need to shift the paradigm of care in the ICU to include early and effective interventions aimed at helping patients get back to a normal life, including returning to work.”  

      The largest proportion of ICU survivors were affected by unemployment in the first three months after their time in the hospital, a window that the researchers discovered left two-thirds of ICU patients without jobs. The longer the patient was out of the ICU, the less likely they were to be unemployed. But even after one year, over 30 percent of patients were still out of work. 

      “Impacts ranged from unplanned job changes to complete job loss to early retirement,” Dr. Kamdar said. “Survivors frequently required ongoing disability benefits with rates of 20 to 27 percent at one year, and 59 to 89 percent at 76 months.” 

      The researchers are putting the onus on hospitals because they say more can be done to help patients while they’re still in the ICU. They hope that future interventions can help patients get in the best shape possible upon discharge so they can make a return to their daily lives as seamlessly as can be expected. 

      “Designing and evaluating novel ICU-based interventions is necessary to give patients a chance of having better long-term outcomes,” said Dr. Kamdar. “In coordination with employers, patients may be able to return to their chosen vocations.”  

      Going back to work after a serious medical condition comes with obstacles, as recent studies involving both cancer and heart attack survivors have revealed...
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      Honda recalls Pilots and Passports

      Body welding may be incomplete

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling ten model year 2019-2020 Pilots and model year 2019 Passports.

      The front frame left and right side upper members may not have been welded completely to the unibody.

      Incomplete body welding may provide inadequate protection to occupants in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the vehicle for missing welds free of charge. If the vehicle is missing welds, the dealer will offer to repurchase the vehicle or provide a similar replacement vehicle.

      Owner notification will begin December 13, 2019.

      Owners may contact Honda customer service at (888) 234-2138. Honda's number for this recall is X6J.

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling ten model year 2019-2020 Pilots and model year 2019 Passports.The front frame left and right side upper members m...
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      Disney+ is here, large and in charge

      Consumers are in for a long couple of years with all the video streaming launches and changes about to unfold

      The Mouse is officially in the house. 

      Say hello to Disney+, the new subscription video on-demand (SVOD) streaming service from the Walt DIsney Company. The service is making its debut Tuesday in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands.

      All in all, Disney+ will have at its fingertips close to 7,000 television episodes and 500 films. To kick-start the service, the company will lean heavily on five properties: 

      • Star Wars: Included will be the first six films of the Star Wars franchise, plus The Force Awakens and Rogue One

      • National Geographic: Since Disney owns 73 percent of National Geographic Partners, it’s a no-brainer to include all that National Geographic already has on the shelf and in current production. National Geographic will also be producing the documentary series Magic of the Animal Kingdom and The World According to Jeff Goldblum.

      • Pixar: The animation studio is a motherlode of its own with 21 feature films, including all the Toy Story movies, Finding Dory, Coco, and The Incredibles.

      • Marvel: Most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films will all be available from day one; however, seven films -- Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Spider-Man: Far From Home -- won’t be available for a while because the rights to many of those were previously licensed to Netflix. In other cases, the distribution rights for some films are shared with different studios (e.g., Sony Pictures for the Spider-Man films).

      • Disney: As any video-consuming person knows, this is a goldmine of its own. The entire Disney film library, including films currently in the "Disney Vault" -- Pinocchio, Fantasia, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, etc. -- will eventually find their way into the channel. And for the D'oh!’ers among you, Disney+ also owns the rights to the first 30 seasons of The Simpsons, and those are expected to be part of the lineup at launch. 

      To sweeten the deal for Disney-loving consumers, the service has also created a boatload of new original -- and exclusive -- series and movies. Those include High School Musical: The Musical: The Series; Forky Asks a Question (Forky, by the way, is a character in Toy Story); a new version of Lady and the Tramp; and the video version of the young adult novel Stargirl.

      How do you get Disney+ and what does it cost?

      Out of the chute, Disney+ will be available on the web, so consumers can use their computers to watch its content. Offerings can also be found on certain apps -- like its own Disney+ app, Android TV, and Apple TV -- and devices such as Roku, PlayStation 4, a variety of smart TVs, and both Amazon’s Fire HD and Fire TV.

      The company deserves kudos for going the distance for consumers with disabilities so they can also enjoy the service. The app will offer support for closed captioning, descriptive audio, and navigation assistance.

      Cost-wise, it appears to be a good deal -- or at least a competitive one. Sandwiched in between AppleTV+ at $4.99 a month and Netflix’s basic service at $8.99 a month, Disney+’s initial price will be $7 per month. And because Disney now owns Hulu and already had ESPN in its portfolio, consumers who add in services from either of those two channels will get an extra $5 off, creating a $13 a month bundle for Disney+, Hulu (with ads), and ESPN Plus.

      Goodies galore -- and one little bump in the road

      With all that will be taking place over the next year or so with NBC-Universal’s new streaming service, changes at Hulu, and the recent roll-out of AppleTV+, Disney+ is starting out gloves off and in full bravado, daring competitors to match its consumer offerings and allowing subscribers to:

      • Get it for free -- or close to free, anyway. CNET reports that Verizon is giving away a whole year of Disney+ with its Unlimited plans;

      • Watch commercial-free;

      • Concurrently stream video content on up to four registered devices with no up-charges;

      • Have access to unlimited downloads of shows and movies on the Disney+ app to watch offline later on up to 10 mobile or tablet devices, with no constraints on the number of times a title can be downloaded per year; and

      • Share with up to seven other people. Interestingly, at least as far as ConsumerAffairs’ report on Netflix, HBO, and other SVODs going after consumers who allow others outside their household to use their subscription, Disney+ says that subscribers “can set up to seven different profiles.” There’s not one mention of “household,” “family,” or finger-wag warning that users better not let others ride on their subscription’s coattails. 

      The bump in the road? CNN reported that as many as 8,415 site visitors experienced issues as soon as the service launched. Users were greeted by error pages starring Disney's own Wreck-It Ralph.

      "Unable to connect to Disney+," said the error page, with Wreck-It Ralph holding a WiFi signal, reading, "There seems to be an issue connecting to the Disney+ service." 

      However, the issue turned out to be temporary. EntertainmentWeekly reported that it was able to get the service going after a few restarts of the Disney+ app.

      Around and around and around we go…

      ...and where this streaming service merry-go-round stops, nobody knows.

      With all the buy-outs, shake-outs, and roll-outs in the streaming service game, the next couple of years will be interesting to say the least. 

      “While competition is generally considered a positive thing for consumers, and rightly so, there can be too much of a good thing, as subscribers of video streaming services may soon come to learn,”  says Statista’s Felix Richter. “The industry that was once dominated by Netflix could become too fragmented for its own good.”

      What Richter is essentially saying is that all the little pieces that Netflix had licensing deals for and could lose in the shake-out might force consumers to piecemeal their perfect world of shows together by subscribing to multiple services to get all they want. Cases-in-point are Friends, The Office, and the Disney and Marvel movies -- all of which consumers could find inside Netflix.

      However, that smorgasbord is closing down: Disney is pulling its content out of Netflix; Friends will move to HBO Max in 2020; and shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation will eventually be exclusive to NBC-Universal’s new Peacock service.

      “For consumers this means either limiting their content choices or subscribing to multiple streaming services rather than just one,” Richter says. “For existing streaming services, Netflix in particular, the situation is also highly dangerous. According to a survey conducted by Morning Consult and the Hollywood Reporter earlier this year, many Netflix subscribers would cancel their subscription in case the service loses some of the aforementioned content.”

      The Mouse is officially in the house. Say hello to Disney+, the new subscription video on-demand (SVOD) streaming service from the Walt DIsney Company....
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      Boeing optimistic 737 MAX will return to service in January

      The company says the grounded aircraft type may gain recertification in December

      Boeing says it expects the grounded 737 MAX aircraft to be recertified to return to commercial service next month.

      The aircraft type has been grounded globally since March after two fatal accidents in five months that had similar characteristics.

      In a statement on Monday, the aircraft manufacturer said it expects the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to give the green light in December and for commercial aircraft to resume service in January. Southwest, American, and United are the three domestic carriers that fly the 737 MAX.

      Once the aircraft is recertified, pilots will need to undergo retraining because of changes made to the automated flight control system. The system was a suspect in both recent crashes of the 737 MAX and the software has been updated.

      Flights may not resume until March

      American and Southwest have announced they don’t expect to begin flying the grounded jet until March at the earliest. The airlines say they need at least a month to train flight crews and install the new system. Boeing, however, is more optimistic.

      “We expect the Max to be certified, airworthiness directive issued, ungrounded in mid-December. We expect pilot training requirements to be approved in January,” Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe told Reuters.

      In its statement, Boeing said there are five milestones that must be met before the 737 MAX can return to the sky:

      1. Multi-day flight simulator evaluations must be carried out with the FAA to ensure the software is performing as it should.

      2. A separate session between pilots and the FAA to make sure the software system performs its intended function.

      3. FAA pilots will conduct certification flights using the final updated software.

      4. After completion of the FAA certification flight, Boeing will submit the final certification deliverables and artifacts to the FAA to support software certification.

      5. The Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB), a multi-regulatory body, will conduct a multi-day simulator session with global regulatory pilots to validate training requirements. Following the simulator session, the Flight Standardization Board will release a report for a public comment period, followed by final approval of the training.

      Boeing says it worked with the FAA last week to complete the first step on the list. The company says it is now working toward the FAA line pilots evaluation and the FAA certification flight test. 

      Boeing says it expects the grounded 737 MAX aircraft to be recertified to return to commercial service next month.The aircraft type has been grounded g...
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      Facebook bug allows app to open users’ cameras while in use

      The bug appears to affect devices running iOS 13

      A Facebook bug is allowing the Facebook app to activate iPhone users’ cameras while it is active. 

      The bug was discovered by web designer Joshua Maddux, who posted on Twitter that it “lets you see the camera open behind your feed.” Other users of Facebook for iOS have also reported the issue, with the earliest incident occurring on November 2. 

      Users have said they are able to see the camera feed on the left side of their screen when they open a photo in the app and scroll down. The Next Web notes that the camera feed is only live if the user has given the app permission to access their camera.

      Maddux said he spotted the same glitch on a handful of other iPhone devices with the iOS 13.2.2 operating system, but the bug didn’t appear to surface on iOS 12 and has not been reported among Android users.

      “I will note that iPhones running iOS 12 don’t show the camera (not to say that it’s not being used),” he said.

      Privacy issues

      The camera activation bug comes as Facebook attempts to regain users’ trust following a string of privacy incidents. The company recently paid a record $5 billion fine to the FTC over its handling of user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

      Earlier this month, Facebook disclosed that as many as 100 app developers retained data from user groups on the platform. That disclosure came just a few weeks after the company informed the public that it had suspended “tens of thousands” of apps, citing various privacy concerns. 

      Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, posted on Twitter that the company is now aware of the bug affecting the app’s use of some users’ cameras.  

      “Thanks for flagging this,” Rosen tweeted on Tuesday. “This sounds like a bug, we are looking into it.”

      A Facebook bug is allowing the Facebook app to activate iPhone users’ cameras while it is active. The bug was discovered by web designer Joshua Maddux,...
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      GHNW recalls stir fry products

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

      GHNW of Clackamas, Ore., is recalling 10-oz. Mushroom Stir Fry Blend trays and 16-oz. Stir Fry Blend trays.

      The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

      No illnesses have been linked by health officials to this recall.

      The recalled products with “Sell By” dates of October 27, 2019 to November 8, 2019, which are printed in black ink on the front label of the product, were sold at QFC and/or Fred Meyer in Oregon and Washington State.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should discard them.

      Consumers with questions may call (888) 449-9386, Monday -- Friday, 9 am to 4 pm (PST).

      GHNW of Clackamas, Ore., is recalling 10-oz. Mushroom Stir Fry Blend trays and 16-oz. Stir Fry Blend trays.The products may be contaminated with Lister...
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      Model year 2019 Dodge Challengers and Chargers recalled

      The front tire may contact the steering knuckle, causing tire damage

      Chrysler is recalling 173 model year 2019 Dodge Challengers and Chargers.

      An incompatible front wheel and brake package was installed and may allow the front tire to contact the steering knuckle, causing tire damage.

      A damaged tire can suddenly lose air pressure and increase the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front wheels and inspect and replace the front tires, as necessary. Dealers also will inspect the wheel alignment, adjusting it if necessary. The repairs will be performed free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 13, 2019.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at (800) 853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is VB0.

      Chrysler is recalling 173 model year 2019 Dodge Challengers and Chargers.An incompatible front wheel and brake package was installed and may allow the...
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      Simmons Prepared Foods recalls various poultry products

      The products may be contaminated with extraneous materials

      Simmons Prepared Foods of Gentry, Ark., is recalling approximately 2 million pounds of poultry products.

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

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      A list of recalled items, produced from October 21, 2019, through November 4, 2019, may be found here.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number “P-1949,” “P- 486” or “P-5837” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to institutions in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

      What to do

      Institutions that purchased the recalled products should not serve them, but discard or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact Donald Miller at (888) 831-7007.

      Simmons Prepared Foods of Gentry, Ark., is recalling approximately 2 million pounds of poultry products.The products may be contaminated with extraneou...
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      Amazon to open a new grocery store in 2020

      Job listings for ‘Amazon's first grocery store’ were posted on Monday

      Amazon will continue to expand its brick-and-mortar footprint through the addition of a grocery store that will exist as an alternative to Whole Foods and Amazon Go, CNET reports. 

      Four job listings for the grocery store were posted on Monday for “Amazon’s first grocery store,” which is set to open in Woodland Hills, California in 2020. The company has leased a 35,000 square-foot location that was previously a Toys ‘R’ Us. 

      Amazon was rumored to be working towards the opening of a new grocery back in March, when a Wall Street Journal report cited sources as saying Amazon would be opening grocery stores smaller than traditional supermarkets but larger than a typical convenience store. 

      The company has now confirmed that the new grocery store format is on the way, but it hasn’t provided details on what the store will be called or what pricing consumers can expect. 

      Won’t compete with Whole Foods

      Last month, the Journal reported that Amazon’s new stores will sell prepared foods and "mainstream groceries such as soda and Oreos." Amazon told CNET that its new stores won’t compete against Whole Foods, which it acquired in 2017. 

      "When it comes to grocery shopping, we know customers love choice, and this new store offers another grocery option that's distinct from Whole Foods Market, which continues to grow and remain the leader in quality natural and organic food," a company spokesperson told the publication. 

      The e-commerce giant has taken other steps toward expanding its presence in the grocery sector. In late October, Amazon announced that it would start giving Prime members free grocery delivery through its Amazon Fresh service, which previously cost $14.99 per month.

      Amazon will continue to expand its brick-and-mortar footprint through the addition of a grocery store that will exist as an alternative to Whole Foods and...
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      Cay Thi Queentrees Food USA Recalls slow-cooked black chicken

      Cay Thi Queentrees Food USA Recalls slow-cooked black chicken

      Cay Thi Queentrees Food USA of Garden Grove, Calif., is recalling approximately 43,848 pounds of slow-cooked black chicken.

      The products were imported from Vietnam and distributed in the U.S., without undergoing government inspection.

      In addition, Vietnam, is ineligible to export poultry products to the U.S.

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following items, which entered the U.S. on January 2, 2019, and January 25, 2019, are being recalled:

      • 454-g packages containing “SLOW-COOKED BLACK CHICKEN GA AC TIEM CORDYCEPS SINENSIS DONG TRUNG HA THAO” with lot code H9007 and a sell-by date Jan/02/2020 or Jan/25/2020.
      • 454-g packages containing “SLOW-COOKED BLACK CHICKEN GA AC TIEM FIVE SPICE NGU V!” with lot code 8324/T8352 and a sell-by date Jan/02/2020 or Jan/25/2020.
      • 454-g packages containing “SLOW-COOKED BLACK CHICKEN GA AC TIEM GINSEN NHAN SAM” with lot code A8328 and a sell-by date Jan/02/2020 or Jan/25/2020.

      These recalled products were shipped to retail stores in California and sold via internet/catalog sales.

      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 Nguyen Le at (714) 230-5554.

      Cay Thi Queentrees Food USA of Garden Grove, Calif., is recalling approximately 43,848 pounds of slow-cooked black chicken.The products were imported f...
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      T-Mobile promises three new programs if Sprint merger happens

      The carrier says it will offer a $15 per month plan and other new programs once the deal closes

      In an effort to drum up support for T-Mobile’s upcoming merger with Sprint, the carrier has promised to roll out three new programs if the deal takes place. 

      At an event on Thursday announcing T-Mobile’s plan to launch 5G in early December, the carrier gave details on three new programs that will join its roster of services if the $26.5 billion merger happens as planned. 

      T-Mobile said its “first planned Un-carrier moves for the proposed new T-Mobile” will include new programs that will rely on the new company’s “transformational network.” 

      Should the merger take place, the following initiatives would be cleared to move ahead, bringing “accessibility and connectivity to the most deserving and underserved consumers across the country,” according to T-Mobile: 

      • Connecting Heroes Initiative. A pledge to offer free 5G access — including unlimited talk, text, and smartphone data — to every first responder at every public and non-profit state and local police, fire, and emergency medical technician location across the U.S. for the next decade.

      • Project 10Million. A new program designed to “eradicate the homework gap that exists for millions of children by offering free service and hotspots and reduced cost devices to 10 million households around the U.S. over five years.” 

      • T-Mobile Connect. A new $15-a-month phone plan option which T-Mobile says is for “everyone, especially lower-income consumers.”

      Combined 5G network

      CEO John Legere has been making a case for the merger ever since it was first proposed a year and a half ago, saying that joining forces with Sprint will enable the creation of a “spectacular” 5G network. 

      Legere noted on Thursday that the deal “has taken longer to close than we thought it would.” He added that critics of the deal “have yet to realize that what they want is what we want.” The company says that combining T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks will create "ridiculous amounts of network capacity” and will enable the creation of several enticing and competition-increasing programs for consumers. 

      “Only the New T-Mobile’s transformative 5G network will FINALLY have the capacity and reach to make the BOLD moves we announced today that are squarely aimed at SOLVING inequities that have huge impacts on our society,” Legere said in a statement. 

      The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department have each given official approval for the merger. However, the deal is still opposed by 18 state attorneys general who argue that it will harm competition and raise prices for consumers.

      In an effort to drum up support for T-Mobile’s upcoming merger with Sprint, the carrier has promised to roll out three new programs if the deal takes place...
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      Gasoline prices tick higher in the last week

      Supplies are tight, but consumers haven’t stopped hitting the road

      Gasoline prices were very stable over the last seven days, but on a national basis, the price at the pump is moving higher, not lower.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gas is $2.62 a gallon, a penny higher than last Friday. The price is 11 cents cheaper than a year ago. The average price of premium is $3.22, also a penny higher than last week. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.01 a gallon, compared to $3 last week.

      For much of the country, it’s been the best of times and the worst of times when it comes to gas prices. In California, the price at the pump has remained stubbornly above $4 a gallon for several weeks. But early in the week, the average price in Michigan was at a 2019 low. In the last few days, it’s risen 11 cents a gallon.

      In most states, tight supplies have kept gas prices from falling, but at least they haven’t gone up very much. In its latest report published Thursday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed that gasoline supplies fell for a sixth straight week. The current fuel stockpile is nearly 11 million barrels less than at this time last year when gasoline prices were higher.

      “Reduced stock levels, amid robust demand, helped to push the national gas price average higher this week,” AAA said in its latest market update.

      AAA says demand remains high but has fallen from the 9.78 million barrels a day that consumers were using in the previous week.

      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 ($4.07)

      • Hawaii ($3.66)

      • Washington ($3.42) 

      • Nevada ($3.37)

      • Oregon ($3.33) 

      • Alaska ($3.20)

      • Idaho ($2.98) 

      • Arizona ($2.93)

      • Utah ($2.87)

      • Colorado ($2.78)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

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

      • Louisiana ($2.23)

      • Mississippi ($2.23)

      • South Carolina ($2.27)

      • Missouri ($2.27)

      • Texas ($2.28)

      • Alabama ($2.28)

      • Arkansas ($2.31)

      • Virginia ($2.32)

      • Oklahoma ($2.33)

      • Tennessee ($2.35)

      Gasoline prices were very stable over the last seven days, but on a national basis, the price at the pump is moving higher, not lower.The AAA Fuel Gaug...
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      Model year 2020 BMW X3 M40i and X4 M40i vehicles recalled

      The vehicle may suffer a loss of steering control

      BMW of North America is recalling 20 model year 2020 BMW X3 M40i and X4 M40i vehicles.

      The steering rack pinion teeth may break under load, resulting in a loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      BMW has notified owners, and dealers will replace the steering gear free of charge. Owners may contact BMW customer service at (800) 525-7417.

      BMW of North America is recalling 20 model year 2020 BMW X3 M40i and X4 M40i vehicles.The steering rack pinion teeth may break under load, resulting in...
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      Feds issue public health alert for raw pork sausage

      The products contain sesame seed, an allergen not declared on the label

      The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a public health alert regarding the sale of 77 pounds of raw pork sausage by New York Style Sausage Co., of Sunnyvale, Calif.

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

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      A recall was not requested because it is believed that products are no longer available for consumers to purchase.

      The following items, produced on October 15, 2019, are subject to the public health alert are:

      • 16-oz. plastic wrapped packages containing “SHANNON VALLEY IRISH BRAND Jumbo Pub Style PORK BANGERS.” The product is labeled “Re-freeze or keep refrigerated” and does not bear a use by or sell by date.
      • 16-oz. plastic wrapped packages containing “SHANNON VALLEY TRADITONAL IRISH BRAND PORK BANGERS.” The product is labeled “Re-freeze or keep refrigerated” and does not bear a use by or sell by date.

      The products subject to the public health alert, bearing establishment number “EST. 9027” inside the USDA mark of inspection, were shipped to a distributor for direct sales to consumers in California.

      What to do

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

      Consumers with questions may contact Pasquale Bitonti at (408) 745-7675.

      The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a public health alert regarding the sale of 77 pounds of raw pork sausage by New...
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      Honda recalls Accessory Rear Carriers for Monkey motorcycles

      The carrier may fail when the carrying weight is below the stated limit.

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 645 Genuine Accessory Rear Carriers designed specially for model year 2019-2020 Monkey motorcycles.

      The rear carrier may fail when the carrying weight is below the stated limit.

      An operator may unknowingly overload the rear carrier, which may cause the rear carrier to break and detach.

      If the rear carrier detaches while the vehicle is in motion, it can become a road hazard, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Honda will notify owners, and dealers will uninstall the rear carrier and provide a refund.

      The recall is expected to begin December 16, 2019.

      Owners may contact Honda customer service at (866) 784-1870. Honda's number for this recall is KK5.

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 645 Genuine Accessory Rear Carriers designed specially for model year 2019-2020 Monkey motorcycles.The rear carri...
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      Target reveals its Black Friday plans, along with a peek at the deals

      The retailer has a Black Friday preview sale planned for this weekend

      With Black Friday 22 days away, Target has begun to roll out what it calls its “HoliDeals,” with sale prices on merchandise like home furnishings, electronics, and toys.

      As part of the rollout, the retailer offered a preview of its Black Friday ad. In years past, stores went to great lengths to keep this ad under wraps. Target stores will also hold a two-day Black Friday preview sale this weekend with an increased number of bargains.

      Members of its Target Circle loyalty program will get first crack at the deals as the company is providing early access to consumers who have signed up for the new promotion. RedCard holders will also be included.

      “This is the busiest time of year for our guests, and with the shortened season, we want to make it as easy as possible for them to cross everything off their holiday list at Target,” said Rick Gomez, executive vice president, chief marketing and digital officer, Target. “And with our biggest investment ever in guest service, our teams will be ready to help guests shop and save with ease this holiday season.”

      Target is increasing its seasonal staff

      In September, Target announced it would hire more than 130,000 seasonal workers to help it meet the Christmas rush. The company said about 125,000 workers would fill in-store positions and about 8,000 would be placed in distribution and fulfillment center jobs. Target will pay workers a minimum starting wage of $13 per hour.

      The Black Friday Two-Day Preview Sale will run Friday and Saturday, November 8 and 9. Target shoppers will have access to some of the Black Friday sale items during the event that will last all day both days.

      The sale items will include:

      • TCL 40” 1080p Smart LED Roku TV for  $169.99 

      • Nikon D3500 18-55mm Camera $399.99 

      • Discount on top-selling mobile devices

      • $200 Target GiftCard with the purchase of the newest generation iPhones

      • Jetson Strike Hoverboard $95 

      • Beats Solo3 headphones $129.99

      The day before Thanksgiving, Target says its RedCard holders and Target Circle members will get early access to some of the best Black Friday deals. RedCard holders will get an additional 5 percent off purchases that day.

      Black Friday itself will start Thanksgiving morning on Target.com. Target stores will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and remain open until 1 a.m. Friday. Stores will reopen at 7 a.m. for the main event and the 2019 holiday shopping season will officially be underway.

      With Black Friday 22 days away, Target has begun to roll out what it calls its “HoliDeals,” with sale prices on merchandise like home furnishings, electron...
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      T-Mobile to launch nationwide 5G network next month

      The carrier will initially offer two phones that work with the network

      T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced Thursday morning that his company’s nationwide 5G network will be activated on December 6. 

      The carrier had already launched its 5G network in a few markets, but the nationwide rollout will bring the network to 5,000 cities and towns before the end of the year. Legere says the network will eventually cover 200 million customers and boast speeds ten times faster than current LTE speeds by 2024.

      At launch, T-Mobile will only have two devices that are compatible with the 5G network: the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G and the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G. 

      Seeking support for merger 

      The carrier is marketing its 5G initiative as “5G for Good” and using it as an opportunity to garner support for its upcoming merger with Sprint. 

      "This deal has taken longer to close than we thought it would,” Legere said. “Some people are still asking questions -- the right questions. But these people have yet to realize that what they want is what we want.” 

      T-Mobile President Mike Sievert said in the announcement that the carrier plans to combine its low-band 600MHz spectrum and its ultra-high mmWave holdings with Sprint's 2.5GHz mid-band signals to create "ridiculous amounts of network capacity." 

      “This is something we could never do if the merger doesn't happen,” Sievert added. 

      The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department have each given official approval for the merger. However, the deal is still opposed by 18 state attorneys general who argue that it will harm competition and raise prices for consumers. 

      T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced Thursday morning that his company’s nationwide 5G network will be activated on December 6. The carrier had already l...
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      Dorel China America recalls Babidéal Storm Booster Car Seats

      The label may not have the required safety warnings and instructions

      Dorel China America (DCA) is recalling 28,800 Babidéal Storm Booster Car Seats, model BC901BPXL, sold exclusively at Family Dollar Stores.

      The label attached to the fabric cover may not have the required safety warnings and instructions.

      Without the safety warnings and instructions, caregivers may not know the risks or how to use the child seat properly, increasing the risk of an injury in the event of a crash.

      What to do

      DCA will notify the registered owners, and will provide a replacement fabric cover that has a compliant warning label in place, free of charge.

      The recall is expected to begin December 9, 2019. Owners may contact DCA customer service at (877) 657-9546 or text (812) 373-6673.

      Dorel China America (DCA) is recalling 28,800 Babidéal Storm Booster Car Seats, model BC901BPXL, sold exclusively at Family Dollar Stores.The label att...
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      BMW recalls 330i and Z4 vehicles

      The counterbalance shaft could loosen

      BMW of North America is recalling 217 model year 2019-2020 330i, 330i xDrive, and model year 2019 Z4 vehicles.

      The needle roller bearings of the counterbalance shafts may have been improperly installed, potentially causing the counterbalance shaft to loosen.

      A loosening of the counterbalance shaft could result in severe engine damage, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

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

      The recall is expected to begin December 6, 2019.

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

      BMW of North America is recalling 217 model year 2019-2020 330i, 330i xDrive, and model year 2019 Z4 vehicles.The needle roller bearings of the counter...
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      AT&T settles claim that it throttled ‘unlimited’ data plans

      The telecom company will pay $60 million to make refunds to customers

      AT&T has agreed to pay $60 million to settle a five-year-old complaint by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which took issue with the company’s use of the word “unlimited” to describe data plans that reduced data speeds.

      In 2014, the FTC alleged that AT&T did not adequately inform consumers who signed up for “unlimited” data plans that their speeds were subject to throttling once they exceed a certain amount of data usage.

      The agency levied a $100 million fine that AT&T challenged in court. The two sides have settled on the lower amount of $60 million

      “AT&T promised unlimited data—without qualification—and failed to deliver on that promise,” said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “While it seems obvious, it bears repeating that Internet providers must tell people about any restrictions on the speed or amount of data promised.”

      The practice began in 2011

      The FTC said it traced the company’s throttling back to 2011 when mobile data was relatively new and networks were smaller. Both AT&T and Verizon marketed fixed amounts of monthly data for a set price.

      For a higher price, AT&T offered an unlimited data plan, but the FTC says the company began slowing speeds after customers used as little as 2 gigabytes during a billing period.

      A spokesman for AT&T said the company has not used that data management tool “in years” and that it agrees that the FTC’s position is in the best interest of consumers.

      That position calls for AT&T and other telecom providers to clearly state that “unlimited” data plans may be subject to slower speeds after a certain amount of data is used.

      AT&T’s latest unlimited plans

      This week, AT&T introduced three new unlimited data plans that contain no data caps. However, the company disclosed that in areas of high network congestion some data may be slowed.

      Under the terms of the settlement, AT&T is not allowed to make any claims about the speed or amount of its mobile data, including that it is “unlimited,” without disclosing any material restrictions on the speed or amount of data. 

      The settlement also requires that the disclosures be made in a way that consumers are sure to see them and not buried in the fine print.

      “For example, if an AT&T website advertises a data plan as unlimited, but AT&T may slow speeds after consumers reach a certain data cap, AT&T must prominently and clearly disclose those restrictions,” the FTC said in a statement.

      As for the $60 million AT&T is paying in the settlement, the FTC says the money will be used to provide partial refunds to current and former customers who signed up for unlimited plans before 2011. Affected consumers will not be required to submit a claim for the refunds. 

      AT&T; has agreed to pay $60 million to settle a five-year-old complaint by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which took issue with the company’s use of t...
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      White House may exempt vape shops from e-cigarette flavor ban

      Kellyanne Conway says the HHS ‘has jurisdiction over e-cigarettes but not over vaping and vape shops’

      Federal regulators are expected to unveil new restrictions on e-cigarettes in an effort to reduce youth use of the products. However, vape shops could be exempted from those restrictions, Bloomberg reports. 

      Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway noted that teenagers like vaping mint and fruit-flavored products, but tobacco and menthol flavored products remain unpopular among youth users — a claim supported by a National Institutes of Health-funded study published Tuesday. 

      “Kids report they use mint, and other flavors like mango, bubble gum, tutti frutti, unicorn milk -- pretty remarkable -- and that they don’t care for menthol,” Conway said Wednesday. 

      That said, the Trump Administration may not include menthol in the flavored e-cigarette ban it proposed in September. Conway noted that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has jurisdiction over e-cigarettes but not over vaping and vape shops. 

      “This is a burgeoning health crisis; the difference is between kids and adults,” Conway said, according to Bloomberg. “So HHS and FDA have jurisdiction over cigarettes and e-cigarettes under the Tobacco Control Act. They do not have jurisdiction over vaping and vape shops, for example. So, if we’re talking about e-cigarettes, the president, yes, he’s been discussing this with his team and he will, or HHS, will make an announcement soon.”

      Addressing teen use

      HHS Secretary Alex Azar suggested last month that the soon-to-be-announced ban on e-cigarettes would include mint, menthol, and all flavors except tobacco. 

      “These products are still getting to kids and we cannot let a whole generation get addicted to them through mint and menthol and other flavors,” Azar said when the ban was initially proposed.

      Conway’s comments on Wednesday “indicate there may also be some kind of a reprieve for vape shops, who’ve mounted widespread pushback to a ban and warned it could cost both jobs and votes in 2020,” Bloomberg said. 

      An announcement about the plan to restrict e-cigarette flavors to drive down youth use will be made by either the HHS or President Trump soon, Conway said. 

      Federal regulators are expected to unveil new restrictions on e-cigarettes in an effort to reduce youth use of the products. However, vape shops could be e...
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      U.S. consumers will drop more than $150 billion on holiday travel, study finds

      Consumers are being a little more judicial about travel spending than they have been in the past

      If you’re anything like your fellow Americans, you’re likely to spend some money on holiday-related travel.

      In a recent online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, NerdWallet found that nearly half of respondents (45 percent) say they’re willing to personally spend as much as $1,383 to do their holiday travel. In the company’s estimation, that comes out to a whopping $159 billion dropped on holiday travel from sea to shining sea.

      "Uncertainty about the economy isn’t stopping Americans from spending significantly on holiday travel this season: Travelers say they will spend almost $1,400 on flights and hotels," said NerdWallet personal finance expert Kimberly Palmer.

      Survey highlights

      In NerdWallet’s poll, they asked American consumers about what they’re planning to spend on holiday travel, how they’re going to finance it, and what steps they are taking to get a better price on things like flights and accommodations. Here are the highlights:

      Billions in credit card spending 

      Spending $159 billion on holiday travel is good news for everyone — grandma, airlines, hoteliers — but it’s especially good for credit card companies, which are ready to carry the average $1,105 travelers say they’ll charge to make their holiday travel plans happen.

      Using credit cards to finance travel works for both consumers and lenders alike: consumers get to build up some points and miles that they can use down the line, but it’s the lenders who can jump on the gravy train and amass billions in overall spending. If holiday travelers do nothing more than pay the minimum on that $1,105, the lenders can wind up with an extra $386 in interest per consumer by the time the charges are finally paid off.

      Travelers are being proactive about saving on their trips

      Ninety-one percent of all Americans who plan to spend money on flights and/or hotels for their holiday travel aren’t spending it willy-nilly. Rather, consumers are doing more planning to see where they can shave some of that travel-related debt. 

      “Many are opting for price over convenience when choosing flights (39 percent), or over amenities when choosing a hotel/motel (38 percent),” said NerdWallet’s Erin El Issa. “Others are using credit card points/miles (32 percent) and staying with family/friends instead of booking a hotel/motel (29 percent).”

      The more the merrier

      The study found that if someone is going to book a flight or room over the holidays, they’re inclined to make the most of it by traveling with someone else — a spouse, significant others, kids, pets, et al. 

      As a matter of fact, 72 percent of the respondents say they’ll be booking 3.4 round-trip tickets and 5.1 nights of hotel stays, on average. Again, this is a boon to both the travel industry and credit card companies, as those flights and hotel rooms will cost consumers somewhere between $1,633 and $1,916, depending on their travel dates.

      Money-saving holiday travel tips

      Going further than just publishing numbers, NerdWallet’s team took a step back to view how consumers might use the findings to their advantage.

      Prioritize 

      “It’s not always financially realistic to travel to see family and buy them extravagant gifts, so it’s important to prioritize what’s most important to you. If you love showering your family and friends with presents, it might make sense to ship the gifts and visit during a cheaper time of the year,” Issa says. 

      “Or maybe you can limit gift-giving to just the children in the family or not do gifts at all, and prioritize paying for travel so you can spend time with your loved ones. Figure out how much you feel comfortable spending on the holidays and decide how you want to spend it.”

      Reevaluate rewards

      Close to a third of consumers who are planning to travel over the holidays say they’re going to try to use points/miles to cover the costs. But, is holiday travel the best use of those rewards? 

      “In terms of value per point, you won’t get the most bang for your buck with peak-season domestic travel. If you have an overseas trip planned for next year, that may be the better place to apply your points and miles, while you use cash savings to pay for holiday travel,” deduces Sara Rathner, NerdWallet’s travel guru. 

      “But if your one big trip of the year is flying your family across the country for Christmas, then use those points. It’s always better to cash them in for something important to you than save them forever in hopes of planning the ‘perfect’ trip.”

      Start saving earlier

      As another study found, consumers are ready and willing to take on added debt for the sake of the holiday. And while it might be too late for 2019 travel plans, Rathner says that consumers should start saving earlier to avoid debt.

      Instead of going into the red to pay for travel expenses so close to the actual travel dates, Rathner suggests that consumers plan to start saving earlier for their holiday travel expenses earlier in 2020 so they can enjoy visiting their families without fretting about how they’re going to pay off those charges once they get home.

      If you’re anything like your fellow Americans, you’re likely to spend some money on holiday-related travel.In a recent online survey of more than 2,000...
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      Chrysler recalls Ram 1500 and 1500 Classic Pickup trucks

      Vaporized coolant may combust inside the intake manifold

      Chrysler is recalling 107,979 model year 2014-2019 Ram 1500 and 1500 Classic Pickup trucks equipped with 3.0L Eco Diesel engines.

      The Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) cooler may crack and allow pre-heated vaporized coolant to enter the EGR system. This mixture may combust inside the intake manifold.

      Combustion in the intake manifold can increase the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      The remedy for this recall is still under development.

      The recall is expected to begin December 13, 2019.

      Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at (800) 853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is VB1.

      Chrysler is recalling 107,979 model year 2014-2019 Ram 1500 and 1500 Classic Pickup trucks equipped with 3.0L Eco Diesel engines.The Exhaust Gas Recirc...
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      Laser pointers can trick smart speakers into following voice commands

      A team of researchers have found a vulnerability in the microphones of many popular smart speakers

      Researchers from Tokyo and the University of Michigan have found that laser pointers are capable of “hijacking” smart speakers. 

      In a paper titled “Light Commands: Laser-Based Audio Injection Attacks on Voice-Controllable Systems,” the researchers said they found that voice-enabled devices could be tricked into following voice commands by beaming a laser at them. 

      The team tested the effect of laser pointers on smart speakers that included Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Amazon Alexa. They found that these devices interpreted the light of the laser as sound. 

      “We have identified a semantic gap between the physics and specifications of MEMS (microelectro-mechanical systems) microphones, where such microphones unintentionally respond to light as if it was sound,” they wrote. “Exploiting this effect, we can inject sound into microphones by simply modulating the amplitude of a laser light.” 

      Privacy threat

      The effect produced “an attack that is capable of covertly injecting commands into voice-controllable systems” at distances of 230 to 350 away. In one instance, the team successfully commanded a Google Home device that was in a room in another building to open a garage door simply by shining a light that had the “OK Google” command encoded in it. 

      The list of devices that were tested and found to be vulnerable to light commands includes Google Home; Google Nest Cam IQ; multiple Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show devices; Facebook's Portal Mini; the iPhone XR; and the sixth-generation iPad.

      The researchers said they have already notified Tesla, Ford, Amazon, Apple, and Google about the weakness. They said that mitigating the flaw would require a redesign of most microphones. Lead author Takeshi Sugawara said one possible way to get rid of the vulnerability in microphones would be to create an obstacle that would block a line of sight to the microphone's diaphragm.

      Researchers from Tokyo and the University of Michigan have found that laser pointers are capable of “hijacking” smart speakers. In a paper titled “Ligh...
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      Hackers are exploiting the BlueKeep security flaw on older Windows PCs

      Security researchers urge those with unpatched Windows machines to apply a necessary update immediately

      A critical Windows vulnerability known as Bluekeep has been exploited by the hacking community. 

      Over the weekend, security researcher Kevin Beaumont found that the vulnerability was being used after creating several Windows machines that were vulnerable to BlueKeep and connected to the internet. Following a few months of inactivity, the machines created by Beaumont — nicknamed “honeypots” — were broken into by a cryptocurrency miner who was exploiting the vulnerability. 

      Earlier this year, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned that the BlueKeep vulnerability could pose security risks similar to the WannaCry attacks of 2017.

      Microsoft issued a warning about the vulnerability in May, but not all machines have been updated with a fix. According to recent figures, roughly 700,000 Windows machines that have the Remote Desktop Service feature activated — including Windows 7, Vista, and XP machines, as well as Windows Server 2003 and 2008 systems —  are still vulnerable. 

      The flaw is considered wormable “because malware exploiting this vulnerability on a system could propagate to other vulnerable systems,” CISA explained. “A BlueKeep exploit would be capable of rapidly spreading in a fashion similar to the WannaCry malware attacks of 2017.”

      Serious threat 

      After Beaumont’s analysis was published, the exploitations appeared to stop. However, security researchers say the threat is still present.  

      "So far the content being delivered with BlueKeep appear to be frankly a bit lame—coin miners aren't exactly a big threat," Beaumont wrote in a blog post. “However it is clear people now understand how to execute attacks on random targets, and they are starting to do it. This activity doesn’t cause me to worry, but it does cause my spider sense to say ‘this will get worse, later’.” 

      The finding serves as another warning to those who haven’t patched the flaw to do so as soon as possible. An attacker who exploited the BlueKeep flaw would be able to take control of the machine to view, alter, or delete data or to install new programs. 

      The National Security Agency (NSA) warned in June that a vulnerability of this nature could have a big impact. 

      "We have seen devastating computer worms inflict damage on unpatched systems with wide-ranging impact, and are seeking to motivate increased protections against this flaw," the organization said.

      Microsoft's website has links to the patches that can mitigate the flaw. 

      A critical Windows vulnerability known as Bluekeep has been exploited by the hacking community. Over the weekend, security researcher Kevin Beaumont fo...
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      Study finds homeowners are living in their homes longer

      A brokerage firm reports that aging-in-place may be driving the trend

      Homeowners are staying in their homes a lot longer than they used to, and aging-in-place may be driving the trend, according to a new report from real estate brokerage company Redfin.

      In 2010, the typical homeowner spent eight years in their home before moving on. Nine years later, the Redfin report found that the average homeowner was staying 13 years in one place. The measure of time spent in the median home went up in all 55 metros Redfin studied.

      Homeowners have increased the time they remain in their homes the most in Salt Lake City, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Dallas, with homeowners in those metros staying in their homes for more than 20 years on average.

      "In Dallas, there are many neighborhoods that were built in the 1950s and 1960s where most of today's residents are still the original homeowners," said Dallas Redfin agent Christopher Dillard. "Because prices have been going up, and folks are gaining more and more equity, it's hard to justify selling when there aren't many if any affordable options."

      And one reason there aren’t that many affordable options is the fact that people are waiting longer to sell their homes. That has contributed to declining inventory, which has hit first-time buyers especially hard.

      Older homeowners are reluctant to move

      The report indicates that older homeowners appear especially reluctant to move. Over the years, many local jurisdictions have enacted tax policies that have made it more affordable to retire in place.

      In Texas, homeowners over the age of 65 can defer property taxes until their home is sold. According to Redfin, that’s one reason Texas homeowners tend to move the least.

      Many baby boomers have expressed a strong desire to “age in place,” staying in their homes instead of moving into assisted living facilities. They’re invested in major renovations, such as enlarged bathrooms with safety features and amenities like walk-in tubs.

      That adds to the housing market’s acute shortage of homes. By Freddie Mac’s calculations, homeowners between the ages of 67 and 85 are holding onto their homes longer, creating a shortage of 1.6 million homes for sale.

      San Francisco is a case in point

      Redfin says the median homeowner in San Francisco, one of the country’s most expensive housing markets, has been in their home for 14 years. Not coincidentally, there are about half as many homes on the market in San Francisco than there were in 2010. That helps make the homes that are on the market a lot more expensive.

      Finally, homeowners who live in desirable neighborhoods are less likely to put their homes up for sale. Homes with walkable access to shops and parks are desired by young couples who would like to buy them for the same reason they are valued by the older people who still live in them. They’re convenient and add to their quality of life.

      Homeowners are staying in their homes a lot longer than they used to, and aging-in-place may be driving the trend, according to a new report from real esta...
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      Microsoft gives the four-day work week a trial in Japan

      The company said it boosted productivity and cut expenses

      Microsoft is among the employers experimenting with the work week and reported positive results by shortening it on a trial basis.

      Over the centuries, the time companies require employees to be on the job has gotten smaller and the five day, 40-hour week has been the norm for several decades. But in August, a Microsoft subsidiary in Japan closed its offices every Friday. Employees worked Monday through Thursday.

      Not only did employees not fall behind in their work, the company reports productivity rose nearly 40 percent over August of 2018. By reducing the number of days worked from five to four, the company hoped it could improve employees’ work-life balance and promote creativity.

      The company adopted other measures, including more flexible hours and won praise from nearly everyone by limiting meetings to 30 minutes.

      Microsoft is hardly the first firm to experiment with a four-day work week but different companies take different approaches. Some stay with the eight-hour day, reducing the work week by eight hours. Employees at other companies put in four 10-hour days, staying with the 40-hour week.

      Both seem to be popular with employees, with many pointing out they often end up putting in 10-hour days anyway. They say it’s a small price to pay for a three-day weekend every week.

      A way to attract talent

      “In this intensely competitive labor market, employers are figuring out that to attract talent, they have to start offering incentives that differentiate them from competitors,” Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter, recently told USA Today.

      But it’s possible this novelty could become standard in the not-too-distant future. In September, the AFL-CIO released a report containing the union’s “vision for the future of work.” It proposed a four-day week as standard — a total of 32 hours, not 40. Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, also believes businesses will eventually go along with it.

      “We are very serious about this,” Trumka told Vox. “If we’re going to free up jobs for more people, then we have to go there.”

      It sounds like Microsoft is becoming a believer in the shorter work week, especially after its trial run. The company said during its experiment in Japan it cut its electricity bill and preserved other resources. Paper consumption plunged as printing decreased by more than 58 percent.

      Microsoft is among the employers experimenting with the work week and reported positive results by shortening it on a trial basis.Over the centuries, t...
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      GM recalls vehicles with possible braking issue

      The vehicle may pull to one side unexpectedly, increasing the risk of a crash

      General Motors is recalling 638,068 model year 2015-2020 Chevrolet Suburbans, Tahoes, & Yukons, and model year 2014-2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500s and GMC Sierra 1500s vehicles equipped with a 5.3-liter engine, a 3.08-ratio rear axle and four-wheel drive.

      If a wheel-speed sensor fails, the Electronic-Brake Control Module (EBCM) software may activate the driveline-protection system.

      Unintended activation of the driveline-protection system will cause unintended braking on the wheel on the opposite side of the failed sensor, causing the vehicle to pull to one side unexpectedly, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the EBCM free of charge.

      The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at (800) 630-2438 or GMC customer service at (800) 462-8782. GM's number for this recall is N192261050.

      General Motors is recalling 638,068 model year 2015-2020 Chevrolet Suburbans, Tahoes, & Yukons, and model year 2014-2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500s and GMC...
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      Ford recalls model year 2019 Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators

      The rear toe link could become disconnected, increasing the risk of a crash

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 18 model year 2019 Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators.

      The rear toe link fastener may not have been tightened properly during assembly and become disconnected while the vehicle is being driven, increasing the risk of injury or crash.

      The automaker is not aware of any reports of accident or injury related to this condition.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will verify that the rear toe-link-to-frame fasteners are tightened to the correct torque, check and adjust the rear toe alignment and inspect the rear tires for abnormal wear and replace, if necessary, free of charge.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at (866) 436-7332. Ford's reference number for this recall is 19S36.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 18 model year 2019 Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators.The rear toe link fastener may not have been tightened prope...
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      Millennials are more willing to take on added debt during the holidays, study finds

      Parents with kids, men, and consumers already in debt are also willing to go further into the red

      A new study shows that more than half of millennial credit card holders (52 percent) believe that the holiday season a sufficient reason to go into debt. 

      The report from CreditCards.com also finds that older consumers -- both the Gen X’er and the baby boomer -- are less likely to think that piling up credit card debt during the holidays is acceptable, although those two groups still go into holiday debt, just not as far as millennials.

      Consumers taking on holiday debt

      As with other studies, a lack of financial literacy is at the core of many millennials’ thinking. 

      “Many young people have not been properly educated on how to deal with debt -- or even basic money management techniques -- so the consequences of accumulating debt don’t resonate with them because they probably haven’t had to deal with its fallout in their lives yet,” deduces Matt Edstrom, CMO of GoodLife Home Loans. 

      Drilling down further into the report’s metrics, other cardholder groups willing to take on extra debt are:

      • Consumers who already have existing debt. “Credit cards typically have some of the highest interest rates of any type of debt, meaning that the longer you maintain a balance, the larger the debt you’ll accumulate,” says Judith Corprew, executive vice president at Patriot Bank, who also notes that this kind of thinking is also prevalent with the younger demographics.

      • Men. Scott Gillespie, owner of SG Financial Coaching, said the reason men are more willing to add to their debt load than women is probably driven by the emotional need to feel like they’re the “provider” in the family. “But to go deeper in debt is to do the opposite of providing,” Gillespie said, “It’s taking away from their livelihood by loaning away their future for the novelty of a holiday.”

      • Parents with children under age 18. If you’re someone who buys holiday gifts to please your children, you’re not alone -- 38 percent of the survey respondents said they took on the added debt to make their kids happy as well.

      Consumers should think about the long term implications

      You know that old axiom about planning -- those who fail to plan, plan to fail? One credit counselor says that failure bites consumers where it hurts more than any other aspect.

      Mike Sullivan, director of education at Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit counseling service, says consumers who have a real plan to pay off their debt is an oddity, and that planning doesn’t come into play until the consumer realizes that paying the monthly minimum on their credit card debt is nearly impossible. 

      “Regardless of how they pay off this debt, few consumers seem to realize that carrying credit card balances is likely to increase the cost of holiday spending by 10 percent if they are very vigilant and way more if they are careless,” Sullivan said.

      A new study shows that more than half of millennial credit card holders (52 percent) believe that the holiday season a sufficient reason to go into debt....
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      Deadly Salmonella outbreak reported in six states

      Tainted ground beef may have killed at least one consumer

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a small outbreak of Salmonella poisoning that it hopes to keep small.

      The agency says that one person has died so far, and at least eight others have been hospitalized after eating tainted ground beef. The affected consumers live in California, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Iowa. The death occurred in California.

      The CDC said it has not yet been able to trace the outbreak to a single ground beef supplier, but it strongly suspects that is the case. It’s urging consumers to be cautious when preparing ground beef. While the Salmonella pathogen is highly toxic, it can be killed when exposed to high temperatures. Thoroughly cooking ground beef normally neutralizes the threat.

      “CDC is not advising that consumers stop eating thoroughly cooked ground beef, or that retailers stop selling ground beef,” the health agency said.

      In interviews with the CDC, the people who have gotten sick report eating different types and brands of ground beef purchased from a number of different locations. Lab tests have identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Dublin in repackaged leftover ground beef collected from an ill person’s home in California.

      Salmonella symptoms

      Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning can vary in severity depending on the strain. Most patients report diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness normally lasts up to a week, and people often recover without seeking medical treatment.

      Symptoms may be more severe in young children and people older than 65 because their immune systems may not be as strong as a healthy adult’s. The infection is dangerous because it can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then make its way to the body’s other organs.

      Medical professionals say that consumers should always keep raw meat separate from foods that won’t be cooked, such as salad ingredients. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after touching raw meat and before touching other things in your kitchen.

      It’s also important to thoroughly wash kitchen countertops, cutting boards, plates, and utensils with hot, soapy water or a bleach solution after they come in contact with raw meat or its juices to avoid contaminating other foods and kitchen items.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a small outbreak of Salmonella poisoning that it hopes to keep small.The agency s...
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      More shoppers are starting to prefer Walmart over Amazon

      A new report suggests the ‘novelty’ of Amazon is fading

      Consumers are increasingly shopping at Walmart instead of Amazon, according to a new survey by First Insight. The retail analytics firm polled 1,000 consumers and found that 55 percent prefer shopping at Walmart rather than Amazon.com. 

      In 2018, the same survey found that 47 percent preferred Walmart. First Insight found that the percentage of people who favor Amazon has fallen to 45 percent from about 53 percent last year. 

      “The excitement of the Amazon box coming to your house is kind of dwindling off,” First Insight CEO Greg Petro told CNBC. “I think the novelty of Amazon is wearing off.”

      Going head-to-head with Amazon

      Walmart and other retailers have been struggling to keep up with Amazon, which earlier this year promised even speedier deliveries. The company also recently announced plans to start delivering grocery products for free within a two-hour window to Prime members in regions eligible for its Amazon Fresh service. 

      Prior to the announcement that Amazon Fresh would become free for eligible members, Walmart announced that it had begun testing a program that delivered groceries directly to people’s refrigerators. The retailer has also established more than 2,700 grocery pickup locations for online orders across the U.S.

      ″[Walmart’s] speed is allowing them to leapfrog and get hyper-competitive with Amazon in a short period of time,” Petro told CNBC. 

      Holiday deal battle

      The publication noted that the “true test” could come this holiday season. 

      Walmart and Amazon have both already started offering deals ahead of the holiday season, which is a few days shorter this year due to a quirk in the calendar. Black Friday falls on November 29, leaving 25 days before December 25.

      Walmart unveiled its holiday shopping deals online on October 25 -- the earliest any major retailer has begun rolling out its discounts normally reserved for the days leading up to Black Friday.

      “Saving our customers time is also paramount at this time of year, especially with fewer days to get ready for big family meals, parties and gift-giving,” Steve Bratspies, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer of Walmart, said in a statement. “We’re making sure this season is the easiest yet for our customers with nine tech-enabled ways to shop for everyone on their list – when and how they want.”

      Amazon still preferred by some consumers

      While Walmart appears to be winning over -- or winning back -- many shoppers, some consumers have said Amazon’s online marketplace has an edge over Walmart’s. 

      ConsumerAffairs reviewer Martine of Hempstead, New York said last month that while Walmart has good prices, “their search engine is horrible and cannot seem to process more than 1 or 2 filters without messing up the search results.” 

      “Furthermore, better prices can often be found on Amazon and the items are often coming from the same third party seller,” Martine added. “Walmart is trying to compete with Amazon with their next day delivery, but I haven't been able to get my time right in terms of ordering early enough to get that option even if the items are marked 'next day delivery' eligible; also, Walmart's 2 day delivery isn't as good as Amazon's.” 

      Consumers are increasingly shopping at Walmart instead of Amazon, according to a new survey by First Insight. The retail analytics firm polled 1,000 consum...
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      Report finds very little anonymity on the internet

      Most websites track your browsing habits

      If you’re doing anything online that you don’t want anyone to know about, you’re probably out of luck.

      The Washington Post reports a number of websites, from mainstream news outlets to porn sites, are using a hidden code to run a check to find out who you are. Accessing or deploying browsing features like “private browsing” may make no difference at all. In fact, because you’ve turned on a feature like “do not track” may make you more likely to be tracked, security experts say.

      Some of these programs that track you online don’t appear to be that intrusive at first glance. The programs extract mostly innocent-looking data about your computer, such as your screen resolution or the version of the operating system your device is running.

      It’s called “fingerprinting,” with the web taking a photograph of your browsing habits. With this information, a program can know what sites you’ve accessed in the past and create profiles of your behavior. It’s one of the reasons that ads seem to follow you around on the internet.

      The Post report says most of the sites it contacted said “fingerprinting” web users is now  industry standard practice. But one analyst told the Post that “fingerprinting” is user-hostile, with the fact that web users who ask not to be tracked become even more valuable tracking commodities.

      ‘Growing threat’

      According to the Post, Google, Apple, and Mozilla have all agreed that “fingerprinting” is a growing threat to consumers.

      It’s not that websites you’ve visited have your name, address, or any other personal information about you in a database. It’s all a matter of putting information into a pattern.

      As internet users access a website, the site’s code begins asking your computer for things that aren’t part of the usual process of pulling up a page. Knowing what operating system you’re running, what fonts you have installed or what your address is on your internal network distinguishing characteristics.

      If you have turned on “do not track” the site may take a special interest in you. Different websites use different data points to assemble your fingerprint, which is part of what makes it so hard to control. 

      Some websites say they use fingerprinting to protect their customers. They contend that fingerprinting lets them improve online security, such as fighting attempts to use stolen credit cards or passwords.

      If you’re doing anything online that you don’t want anyone to know about, you’re probably out of luck.The Washington Post reports a number of websites,...
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      OSI Industries recalls ready-to-eat beef patties

      The product may be contaminated with extraneous materials

      OSI Industries of Fort Atkinson, Wisc., is recalling approximately 4,218 pounds of ready-to-eat beef patties.

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

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The following frozen, ready-to-eat item, produced on August 10, 2019, is being recalled:

      • 38-lb. bulk lined boxes of frozen, ready-to-eat “CHAR-BROILED BEEF PATTIES (CARAMEL COLOR ADDED)” with lot code 22219.

      The recalled product, bearing establishment number “EST. 1300” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was shipped to firms that further process it in Iowa and Wisconsin.

      What to do

      Processing firms that purchased the recalled product should not sell it, but discard or return it to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact OSI Industries toll-free at (855) 206-1934.

      OSI Industries of Fort Atkinson, Wisc., is recalling approximately 4,218 pounds of ready-to-eat beef patties.The product may be contaminated with extra...
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      More issues with Boeing 737 aircraft emerge

      Affected airlines have been quick to take the planes out of service, but one engineering union says the carriers aren’t going far enough

      No sooner had Boeing conceded that there were imperfections in its safety audit of the 737 MAX, than the company is facing yet another 737-related issue -- hairline cracks in Boeing’s 737NG aircraft. 

      As ConsumerAffairs reported in early October, Boeing’s latest round of headaches began with Brazilian carrier Gol Transportes Aéreos grounded all 11 of its 737NG planes. Stateside, Southwest Airlines reported it grounded two of the planes, noting that it didn’t find any issues in the “vast majority” of planes.

      Now there’s news that Australian carrier Qantas has discovered the same cracks in three of the 33 aircraft it inspected. Those planes were immediately pulled from service and sent out for repairs.

      “We would never fly an aircraft that wasn’t safe,” said Andrew David, Qantas Domestic’s CEO. “Even where these hairline cracks are present they’re not an immediate risk, which is clear from the fact [that] the checks were not required for at least seven months.”

      Not everyone is in agreement

      The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) took exception with David’s position. It urged Qantas to ground its entire 737 fleet until checks were complete.

      "These aircraft should be kept safe on the ground until urgent inspections are completed," the ALAEA’s Steve Purvinas said in a statement. Purvinas primary reason behind his call for a total grounding started with Boeing’s original thinking that the cracks were occurring on aircraft with over 35,000 landings. However, in Qantas’ situation, the cracks were found on aircraft with under 27,000 landings -- a serious enough distinction that, in Purvinas’ estimation, warrants a system-wide grounding. However, Qantas’ David thinks Purvinas is off-base.

      “Unfortunately, there were some irresponsible comments from one engineering union yesterday, which completely misrepresented the facts. Those comments were especially disappointing given the fantastic job our engineers have done to inspect these aircraft well ahead of schedule, and the priority they give to safety every day of the week,” David said.

      What does Boeing have to say?

      In comments to CBSNews, a Boeing spokesperson said the company "regrets the impact" the issue was having on its customers and was "working around the clock" to fix the problem.

      "Boeing is actively working with customers that have airplanes in their fleets with inspection findings to develop a repair plan, and to provide parts and technical support as necessary.”

      Are you booked on a 737NG?

      The “NG” in Boeing’s 737NG name stands for “Next Generation,” and as of May 31, 2019, more than 7,000 aircraft of that model have been delivered to airlines around the world. Primary users of the 737NG include Qantas, Gol Transportes Aéreos, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Ryan Air, and United Airlines. 

      If a traveler is concerned about whether they’ll be on one of the potentially affected aircraft, they can always go to FlightAware, type in the flight number, and the “aircraft type” will be listed under “flight information.” The airline’s help desk can also provide pertinent information.

      No sooner had Boeing conceded that there were imperfections in its safety audit of the 737 MAX, than the company is facing yet another 737-related issue --...
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      Google warns users about two serious security vulnerabilities in Chrome

      Users are urged to update their browser immediately

      On Thursday, Google issued a Chrome security alert and urged users to update their browsers as soon as possible in light of the discovery of two high-severity security vulnerabilities. 

      In a blog post, Google engineers said an exploit for one of the two vulnerabilities has already been spotted in the wild.

      "Google is aware of reports that an exploit for CVE-2019-13720 exists in the wild," the company said in announcing the release of Chrome version 78.0.3904.87.

      Both vulnerabilities -- CVE-2019-13720 and CVE-2019-13721 -- were uncovered by Kaspersky researchers Anton Ivanov and Alexey Kulaev. They’re classified as “use-after-free” vulnerabilities, meaning they allow for “corruption or modification of data in the memory. This allows an unprivileged user to escalate privileges on an affected system or software,” according to the National Cyber Security website.  

      Manually check for updates

      Google added that public access to bug details and links “may be kept restricted until a majority of users are updated with a fix.” 

      Although Chrome users are notified automatically when the latest update becomes available, Google is recommending that users manually check for the update by going to “Help” and tapping “About Google Chrome” from the menu.

      The update rolled out by Google “addresses vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit to take control of an affected system," the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said in a statement.

      On Thursday, Google issued a Chrome security alert and urged users to update their browsers as soon as possible in light of the discovery of two high-sever...
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      Apple may be heading toward subscription-based iPhone payment system

      CEO Tim Cook says many consumers are interested in a recurring payment system

      During an earnings call with analysts this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook signaled that the company is open to the idea of launching a subscription-style model for paying for iPhones, CNBC reported.

      “We are cognizant that there are lots of users out there that want sort of a recurring payment like that and the receipt of new products on some sort of standard kind of basis and we are committed to make that easier to do than perhaps it is today,” Cook said. 

      During the call, Cook said Apple sees subscriptions as a major growth area and pointed out that it’s already catering to customers who want to bundle services.

      “In terms of hardware as a service or as a bundle, if you will, there are customers today that essentially view the hardware like that because they’re on upgrade plans and so forth. So, to some degree, that exists today,” Cook said in response to a question on the matter from analyst Toni Sacconagi. 

      Laying the foundation

      CNBC noted that Apple has been “laying the groundwork” for a subscription model for its iPhones for years.

      In 2015, the company began allowing its users to pay off their iPhones on a monthly basis. The tech giant also offers an iPhone Upgrade Program, which includes an AppleCare warranty and an option to upgrade to the latest iPhone once the user has paid a minimum of 12 monthly installments for the older model of the device. 

      Additionally, Apple currently offers trade-ins, which enable consumers to sell their older iPhone back to Apple in order to receive a discount on a newer model.

      “We also continued to see great results from our trade-in program with more than five times the iPhone trade-in volume we had a year ago,” Apple CFO Luca Maestri said. 

      Paying with Apple Card

      Cook announced on the call that Apple is also set to launch a program that lets consumers buy an iPhone with their Apple Card and pay no interest on the sum for two years.

      “I am very pleased to announce today that later this year, we are adding another great feature to Apple Card,” Cook said on the call. “Customers will be able to purchase their new iPhone and pay for it over it over 24 months with zero interest. And they will continue to enjoy all the benefits of Apple Card, including 3% cash back on the total cost of their iPhone with absolutely no fees and the ability to simply manage their payments right in the Apple Wallet app on iPhone.”

      The Apple executive added that “one of the things we are doing is trying to make it simpler and simpler for people to get on these sort of monthly financing kind of things.” 

      During an earnings call with analysts this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook signaled that the company is open to the idea of launching a subscription-style model f...
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      FTC reportedly looking into the sudden resignation of Juul’s CEO

      The e-cigarette maker remains under close regulatory scrutiny

      The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched an investigation into Altria and its role, if any, in the resignation of the CEO of Juul, its e-cigarette subsidiary that has come under close regulatory scrutiny in recent months.

      According to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, Altria has received a demand from regulators seeking information about any role Atria played in the resignation of Juul’s CEO. At the end of September, Juul announced it was replacing its CEO Kevin Burns with Altria executive K.C. Crosthwaite.

      Regulators are interested because within days of taking the top job, Crosthwaite hired Altria colleague Joe Murillo as Juul’s chief regulatory officer. 

      Juul has been at the center of controversy over its marketing efforts and whether it targeted underage consumers with its vaping products. The company has also been in the crosshairs of the government’s efforts to stop underage use of vaping products.

      In April, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb accused Juul of being largely responsible for the spike in teen vaping. The FDA has cited research that shows an estimated 37 percent of high school seniors have tried e-cigarettes. A quarter of youth users told researchers they didn’t realize the products contain nicotine.

      Attractive to minors

      The agency has said products manufactured by Juul have been shown to be especially attractive to minors because they come in fruity flavors such as mango, mint, and fruit and creme. In January, Gottlieb warned that e-cigarettes could be taken off the market unless marketers made efforts to stop sales to minors.

      Since then, Juul and its products have come under increasing scrutiny. In September, an official art the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called out Juul for allegedly using dangerous salts in its products.

      In its SEC filing, Altria disclosed that the agency is conducting an antitrust review of Altria’s investment in the e-cigarette maker. Specifically, the agency is seeking information about any Altria role in the resignation of Juul’s CEO and his replacement with a long-time Altria executive.

      In its filing, Altria also disclosed that the FTC and possibly other regulatory agencies are investigating Juul’s marketing practices. The company has been accused of targeting underage consumers -- something Juul vigorously denies.

      The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched an investigation into Altria and its role, if any, in the resignation of the CEO of Juul, its e-cigarette s...
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      Tight supplies are keeping gas prices from falling

      Consumer demand for fuel remains high

      The price of gasoline has leveled off in the last week -- higher in some places and lower in others. As a result, there was little change in the average of what consumers are paying at the pump.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular is $2.61 a gallon, the same as last week. Prices are still about four cents lower than they were a month ago. The average price of premium is $3.21 a gallon, a penny lower than seven days ago. The average price of diesel fuel is $3 a gallon, less than a penny a gallon more than last week.

      Consumer demand for gasoline remains high, even though the summer driving season is well behind us. That demand reduces supplies and keeps the price from going down.

      The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday that gasoline demand rose slightly during the previous week. Gasoline supplies fell for a fifth consecutive week and are now about 6 million barrels lower than at this time last year.

      But prices around the nation vary widely. Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, reported this week that Michigan gas prices are at their lowest level since early February. 

      The statewide average in Michigan has dropped to below $2.45 a gallon -- 11 cents lower than a week ago and 16 cents cheaper than at this time last month. However, prices are rising in neighboring Ohio. The statewide average is $2.56 a gallon, eight cents higher than last week. The spread between the most expensive and cheapest states is $1.83, skewed by abnormally high prices in California.

      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 ($4.06)

      • Hawaii ($3.66)

      • Washington ($3.43) 

      • Nevada ($3.37)

      • Oregon ($3.34) 

      • Alaska ($3.20)

      • Idaho ($2.93) 

      • Arizona ($2.89)

      • Utah ($2.81)

      • Colorado ($2.78)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

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

      • Louisiana ($2.23)

      • Mississippi ($2.24)

      • Texas ($2.25)

      • Alabama ($2.27)

      • South Carolina ($2.27)

      • Missouri ($2.28)

      • Arkansas ($2.30)

      • Tennessee ($2.30)

      • Virginia ($2.30)

      • Oklahoma ($2.32)

      The price of gasoline has leveled off in the last week -- higher in some places and lower in others. As a result, there was little change in the average of...
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      Taylor’s Sausage recalls ready-to-eat meat and poultry sausages

      The products contain a pork or sheep casing not declared on the label

      Taylor’s Sausage of Cave Junction, Ore., is recalling approximately 1,086 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry sausages.

      The products contain a pork or sheep casing not declared on the label.

      There are no confirmed reports of adverse reactions.

      The recalled items packaged from June 26 though October 10, 2019, are being recalled:

      • 16-oz. vacuum-sealed packages containing fully cooked, ready-to-eat, "TAYLOR’S Sausage Smoked Chicken and Apple Sausage" with lot code numbers 19217, 19176, 19282, 19273, 19259 and 19252.
      • 16-oz. vacuum-sealed packages containing fully cooked, ready-to-eat, “TAYLOR’S Sausage Cheddar Dogs” with lot code numbers 19247 and 19217.

      The recalled products, bearing establishment number "6172" or "P-6172" inside the USDA mark of inspection, were sold at retail locations in California and Oregon.

      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 Yvette Pendleton at (541) 592-4185.

      Taylor’s Sausage of Cave Junction, Ore., is recalling approximately 1,086 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry sausages.The products contain a pork...
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      GM recalls model year 2020 Cadillac CT6s

      The tire pressure monitoring system sensors do not function properly

      General Motors is recalling 81 model year 2020 Cadillac CT6s equipped with dealer-installed accessory 20" x 8.50" wheels (RPO 5JO or SHH).

      The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) sensors use the incorrect wireless radio frequency and cannot illuminate the low pressure warning light when the tire pressure drops below the recommended level.

      Drivers may drive the vehicle with low tire pressure without a low tire pressure warning, negatively affecting the vehicle handling and increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace all four TPMS sensors with the correct sensors free of charge.

      The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

      Owners may contact GM customer service at (586) 596-1733. GM's number for this recall is N192279200.

      General Motors is recalling 81 model year 2020 Cadillac CT6s equipped with dealer-installed accessory 20" x 8.50" wheels (RPO 5JO or SHH).The tire pres...
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