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EMERITUS NEWS CONSUMER

MAJOR RECALLS FOR CHRYSLER, G-M, HYUNDAI, MAZDA, NISSAN, V-W

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Chrysler Group LLC (Chrysler) is recalling 643,618 model year 2005-2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles manufactured February 11, 2004, to July 5, 2007, and 2006-2007 Jeep Commander vehicles manufactured January 31, 2005, to July 5, 2007. In the affected vehicles, the driver may accidentally hit the ignition key with their knee, unintentionally knocking the key out of the run position, turning off the engine. More on Chrysler recall, click here .

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling 57,192 model year 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 3500 HD vehicles manufactured October 1, 2013 to June 6, 2014, and 2015 GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 HD vehicles manufactured September 30, 2013, to June 6, 2014. The power steering hose clamp may disconnect from the power steering pump or gear, causing a loss of power steering fluid. More on Silverado/Sierra recall, click here.

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2014 Chevrolet Corvette vehicles manufactured November 20, 2013, to March 25, 2014, and equipped with optional sport seats. The seats do not meet internal specifications for injury protection in relation to an unbelted young child. More on Corvette recall, click here.

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2011 Cadillac CTS vehicles manufactured October 18, 2010, to June 2, 2011. In the affected vehicles, vibrations from the drive shaft may cause the vehicle's roll over sensor to command the roof rail air bags to deploy. More on Cadillac recall, click here.

Hyundai Motor Company (Hyundai) is recalling certain model year 2015 Sonata vehicles manufactured April 25, 2014, through June 16, 2014. Due to a manufacturing error, one or both of the front brake calipers may fracture. More on Hyundai recall, click here .

Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Volkswagen) is recalling certain model year 2015 Golf and GTI vehicles manufactured January 27, 2014, to May 12, 2014. In the affected vehicles, the stabilizer link fasteners may come loose and possibly interfere with the steering of the vehicle. More from VW recall, click here .

Mazda North America Operations (Mazda) is recalling certain model year 2003-2004 Mazda6 vehicles and 2004 RX-8 vehicles to address a safety defect in the passenger side frontal air bag which may produce excessive internal pressure causing the inflator to rupture upon deployment of the air bag. More Mazda recall, click here .

Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling 226,326 model year 2002-2003 Nissan Maxima, Pathfinder and Infiniti I35 and QX4; 2002-2004 Nissan Sentra and 2003 Infiniti FX vehicles to address a safety defect in the passenger side frontal air bag which may produce excessive internal pressure causing the inflator to rupture upon deployment of the air bag. This recall addresses both the passenger side frontal air bags that were originally installed in the vehicles, as well as replacement air bags that may have been installed as replacement service parts. A replacement air bag may have been installed, as one example, if a vehicle had been in a crash necessitating the replacement of the passenger side frontal air bag. More on Nissan recall, click here.

- 07/28/2014

CRUISE SHIP BUSINESS MAY FACE MORE REGULATIONS / SENATE HEARING FEATURES HORROR STORIES FROM PASSENGERS

More from Associated Press, click here - 07/24/2014

AIRLINES "A LA CARTE" CHARGES CONTINUE TO PROPEL PROFITS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A survey taken by Idea Works for CarTrawler, a car rental service company, shows the airline industry continues to stake its survival on services besides selling tickets. IdeaWorksCompany researched the financial filings made by 114 airlines all over the world, 59 of which disclose ancillary revenue activity, to reveal that ancillary revenue reported by airlines reached $16 per passenger in 2013, easily surpassing global figures for profit per passenger. The annual CarTrawler survey of global airline ancillary revenue shows growth to $31.5 billion for 2013─an increase of 1200 percent since the first such survey in 2007.

Airlines are increasingly more revealing about their approach to ancillary revenue. During the course of its global review of ancillary revenue activities, IdeaWorksCompany uncovered the following examples:

Aeroflot

sales of frequent flier miles to partners leaped to $173.6 million for 2013 from a 2012 result of $73.5 million.

Air Greenland

generated $8.1 million from the operation of its 100% owned Hotel Arctic, the world’s “most northerly 4 star hotel.”

Allegiant

has an exclusive agreement with Enterprise Holdings for rental cars packaged with air travel. The relationship generated 844,858 car rental days during 2013.

Hawaiian

realized revenue of $6.6 million from the sale of preferred seating for a 12 month period during 2013.

Norwegian

donated 1 krone from the sale of each water bottle sold onboard to UNICEF.

The carrier sold 1.3 million bottles during 2013 and donated $212,000

to UNICEF.

Southwest

realized $195 million during 2013 from its Early Bird check in feature which provides earlier boarding and better access to overhead carry on space.

Spirit

gained $28.5 million from the sale of Free Spirit mileage credits to loyalty program

partners, such as the issuer of its co-branded credit card.

Volaris

a low fare airline in Mexico, generated $1.8 million from the sale of memberships in its V-Club, which provides access to members-only low fare deals.

Full text of IdeaWorks survey, click here - 07/22/2014

OREGON ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES MAKER OF "5 HOUR ENERGY" DRINK FOR DECEPTIVE MARKETING

More from Associated Press, click here - 07/18/2014

KIA RECALLS 52,000 SOUL MODELS FOR POTENTIAL STEERING FAILURE

More from Associated Press, click here- 07/18/2014

VEHICLE RECALLS: GM, CHRYSLER, HONDA, HYUNDAI, SUBARU / HARLEY-DAVIDSON RECALLS 66,000 CYCLES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Two recalls from GM involve millions of their vehicles.

GM is recalling 6,729,742 for a potential defect in the airbag system. Until this recall is performed, customers should remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the ignition key. The key fob (if applicable), should also be removed from the key ring. General Motors LLC (GM) notified the agency on July 3, 2014, that they are recalling 6,729,742 model year 2000-2005 Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu, 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero, 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue, 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am and 2004-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix vehicles. In these models, the weight on the key ring and/or road conditions or some other jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position, turning off the engine. If the key is not in the run position, the air bags may not deploy if the vehicle is involved in a crash, increasing the risk of injury. Full text of recall announcement, click here.

ALSO, GM is recalling 28,789 model year 2004-2011 Saab 9-3 Convertible vehicles manufactured July 30, 2003, to February 15, 2011. In the affected vehicles, the driver's side front seat belt retractor may break, causing the seat belt webbing not to retract. In the event of a crash, a seat belt that has not retracted may not properly restrain the seat occupant, increasing their risk of injury. Full text of recall announcement, click here.

Chrysler Group LLC (Chrysler) is recalling 651,130 model year 2011-2014 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles manufactured January 5, 2010, through December 11, 2013. In the affected vehicles, the wiring for the vanity lamp in the sun visor may short circuit, after a service repair is performed.
If the vanity lamp wiring shorts, there is an increased risk of fire. Full text of recall announcement, click here.

Subaru of America, Inc. (Subaru) is conducting a recall of 8,557 model year 2003-2004 Legacy, Outback, and Baja vehicles as well as certain 2004 Impreza (including WRX/STI) vehicles, equipped with Takata-brand front passenger air bag inflators. Upon deployment of the passenger side frontal air bag, excessive internal pressure may cause the inflator to rupture. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the passenger side frontal air bag, the inflator could rupture with metal fragments striking and potentially seriously injuring the vehicle occupants. Full text of recall announcement, click here.

Hyundai Motor Company (Hyundai) is recalling 2,138 model year 2015 Sonata vehicles manufactured May 2, 2014, through May 23, 2014. A poor connection within the vehicle's wiring harness may result in a reduction of steering assist from the vehicle's motor driven power steering system or the inability to move the vehicle's shifter from the Park position. The reduction of power steering assist can increase the steering effort needed, increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall announcement, click here.

American Honda Motor Co., Inc (Honda) is recalling 14,078 model year 2013 Acura ILX vehicles manufactured January 16, 2012 to March 1, 2013, ILX Hybrid vehicles manufactured January 12, 2012 to February 7, 2013, and certain model year 2014 ILX vehicles manufactured May 2, 2013, to May 31, 2014, and ILX Hybrid vehicles manufactured October 18, 2013 to February 19, 2014. Excessive heat temperatures around the headlight bulb and reflector unit may diminish the output of the headlight and cause smoke, melting, and fire. Thus, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, "Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment." The diminished light output may decrease the driver's visibility, increasing the risk of a crash. Additionally, the excessive heat coming from around the bulb and reflector could cause the headlights to overheat, increasing the risk of a fire. Full text of recall announcement, click here.

And finally, in a very rare announcement, Harley Davidson is recalling 66,421 model year 2014 ABS-equipped Touring and CVO Touring motorcycles, models FLHTK, FLHTKSE, FLHTKSHRINE, FLHTCU, FLHTCUTC, FLHTP, FLHX, FLHXS, FLHXSHRINE, FLHR, FLHRC, FLHP, and FLHRSE, manufactured July 1, 2013, through May 7, 2014. The affected motorcycles may have been assembled with the front brake line positioned so that it can be pinched between the fuel tank and frame causing the front brake fluid pressure to increase. A pinched brake line will increase the front brake fluid pressure, possibly resulting in a front wheel lock-up, increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall announcement, click here.

07/14 2014

CHRYSLER RECALLS 525,000 VEHICLES FOR IGNITION SWITCHES / SUBARU RECALLS 660,000 VEHICLES FOR BRAKE LINE DEFECTS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Subaru of America, Inc. (Subaru) is recalling certain model year 2005-2009 Outback and Legacy, 2008-2011 Impreza and 2008-2014 Impreza WRX/STI, and 2009-2013 Forester vehicles, currently, or formerly, registered in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. Salt water could splash on the brake lines through a gap in the fuel tank protector, resulting in excessive corrosion of the brake lines. Full text on Subaru recall, click here .

Chrysler Group LLC (Chrysler) is recalling certain model year 2009-2010 Dodge Journey vehicles manufactured June 29, 2007, to June 17, 2010, and 2008-2010 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country vehicles manufactured January 26, 2007, to June 17, 2010. Road conditions or some other jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position, turning off the engine. This defect can affect the safe operation of the airbag system. Until this recall is performed, customers should remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the ignition key. Full text of Chrysler recall, click here.

07/07/2014

GRACO ADDS MORE INFANT CAR SEATS TO LARGEST SEAT RECALL IN U-S HISTORY

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - After recalling 4.2 million child car seats earlier this year, Graco announced today it is adding 1.9 million more seats to the recall concerning a buckle which could be difficult to release in an emergency.

The company announced today it is recalling an older model of harness buckle used on infant car seats manufactured between July 2010 and May 2013. As a solution, Graco says it will offer a free updated replacement buckle.In reviewing the matter further with NHTSA, we found that an older buckle design used on select infant car seats was difficult to open. Although they might look the same from the outside, the other buckles used on our infant car seats have been mechanically redesigned to make them easier to open. However, Graco says it will offer a free replacement buckle to any consumer who has an infant car seat not included in this recall, but would like to update their buckle to Graco’s current buckle design. In the meantime, the company claims the old buckles are safe to use until the replacement buckles are attached. You can order a replacement buckle by completing the online order form, and we will ship you a replacement kit at no cost in Summer 2014. To help you replace your harness buckle, our customer service team will include detailed instructions in your replacement kit and you can also find helpful videos at GracoBuckleRecall.com.

Full text of Graco recall statement, click here - 07/01/2014

FEDS ACCUSE T-MOBILE OF MAKING MILLIONS FROM BOGUS CUSTOMER CHARGES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - In a complaint filed today, the Federal Trade Commission is charging mobile phone service provider T-Mobile USA, Inc., with making hundreds of millions of dollars by placing charges on mobile phone bills for purported “premium” SMS subscriptions that, in many cases, were bogus charges that were never authorized by its customers. The agency is seeking refunds for customers, though the total amount has not yet been established.

The FTC alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers for subscriptions for content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip that typically cost $9.99 per month. According to the FTC’s complaint, T-Mobile in some cases continued to bill its customers for these services offered by scammers years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent.

“It’s wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “The FTC’s goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges.”

In a process known as “third-party billing,” a phone company places charges on a consumer’s bill for services offered by another company, often receiving a substantial percentage of the amount charged. When the charges are placed on the bill without the consumer’s authorization, it is known as “cramming.”

The FTC’s complaint alleges that in some cases, T-Mobile was charging consumers for services that had refund rates of up to 40 percent in a single month. The FTC has alleged that because such a large number of people were seeking refunds, it was an obvious sign to T-Mobile that the charges were never authorized by its customers. As the complaint notes, the refund rate likely significantly understates the percentage of consumers who were crammed. The complaint also states that internal company documents show that T-Mobile had received a high number of consumer complaints at least as early as 2012.

The FTC has made significant efforts to end mobile cramming. In the last year, in addition to holding a public workshop on mobile cramming, the Commission has filed several lawsuits against alleged mobile cramming operations Jesta Digital, Wise Media, and Tatto Inc. According to today’s complaint, T-Mobile billed its customers for the services of these FTC defendants as well as an operation sued by the Texas Attorney General.

The complaint against T-Mobile alleges that the company’s billing practices made it difficult for consumers to detect that they were being charged, much less by whom. When consumers viewed a summary of their T-Mobile bill online, according to the complaint, it did not show consumers that they were being charged by a third party, or that the charge was part of a recurring subscription. The heading under which the charges would be listed, “Premium Services,” could only be seen after clicking on a separate heading called “Use Charges.” Even after clicking, though, consumers still could not see the individual charges.

The complaint also alleges that T-Mobile’s full phone bills, which can be longer than 50 pages, made it nearly impossible for consumers to find and understand third-party subscription charges. After looking past a “Summary” section as well as an “Account Service Detail” section, both of which described “Usage Charges” but did not itemize those charges, a consumer might then reach the section labeled “Premium Services,” where the crammed items would be listed.

According to the complaint, the information would be listed there in an abbreviated form, such as “8888906150BrnStorm23918,” that did not explain that the charge was for a recurring third-party subscription supposedly authorized by the consumer. In addition, the complaint notes that consumers who use pre-paid calling plans do not receive monthly bills, and as a result the subscription fee was debited from their pre-paid account without their knowledge.

When consumers were able to determine they were being charged for services they hadn’t ordered, the complaint alleges that T-Mobile in many cases failed to provide consumers with full refunds. Indeed, the FTC charged that T-Mobile refused refunds to some customers, offering only partial refunds of two months’ worth of the charges to others, and in other cases instructed consumers to seek refunds directly from the scammers – without providing accurate contact information to do so.

The complaint also notes that in some cases, T-Mobile claimed that consumers had authorized the charges despite having no proof of consumers doing so.

The FTC’s complaint seeks a court order to permanently prevent T-Mobile from engaging in mobile cramming and to obtain refunds for consumers and disgorgement of T-Mobile’s ill-gotten gains.

Full text of FTC statement, click here - 07/01/2014

L'OREAL SETTLES FALSE CLAIMS CASE CHALLENGING ANTI AGING SKIN PRODUCTS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Cosmetics company L’Oréal USA, Inc. has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges of deceptive advertising about its Lancôme Génifique and L’Oréal Paris Youth Code skincare products. According to the FTC’s complaint, L’Oréal made false and unsubstantiated claims that its Génifique and Youth Code products provided anti-aging benefits by targeting users’ genes. 

“It would be nice if cosmetics could alter our genes and turn back time,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But L’Oréal couldn’t support these claims.

In national advertising campaigns that encompassed print, radio, television, Internet, and social media outlets, L’Oréal claimed that its Génifique products were “clinically proven” to “boost genes’ activity and stimulate the production of youth proteinsthat would cause “visibly younger skin in just 7 days,” and would provide results to specific percentages of users. 

Similarly, for its Youth Code products, L’Oréal touted – in both English- and Spanish-language advertisements – the “new era of skincare:  gene science,” and that consumers could “crack the code to younger acting skin.”

Charging as much as $132 per container, L’Oréal has sold Génifique nationwide since February 2009 at Lancôme counters in department stores and at beauty specialty stores. The company has sold Youth Code, which costs up to $25 per container at major retail stores across the United States, since November 2010. 

Under the proposed administrative settlement, L’Oréal is prohibited from claiming that any Lancôme brand or L’Oréal Paris brand facial skincare product targets or boosts the activity of genes to make skin look or act younger, or respond five times faster to aggressors like stress, fatigue, and aging, unless the company has competent and reliable scientific evidence substantiating such claims. The settlement also prohibits claims that certain Lancôme brand and L’Oréal Paris brand products affect genes unless the claims are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Finally, L’Oréal is prohibited from making claims about these products that misrepresent the results of any test or study.   

Full text of FTC statement, click here - 07/01/2014

ANOTHER EXECUTIVE PLEADS GUILTY IN MASSIVE AUTO PARTS PRICE FIXING CASE

Mroe from the Emeritus Newsroom - An executive of Japan-based Denso Corp. has agreed to plead guilty and to serve one year and one day in a U.S. prison in connection with the Antitrust Division’s investigation into a conspiracy to fix the prices of instrument panel clusters, also known as meters, installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere, according to the Justice Department.

A one-count felony charge was filed on June 27, 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit against Satoru Horisaki, a group leader in Denso’s Utsunomiya Branch Office.  According to the charge, Horisaki, a Japanese national, participated in the conspiracy from in or about 2009 to in or about February 2010, by agreeing upon bids and prices for, and allocating the supply of, automotive instrument panel clusters sold to Honda of America Manufacturing Co. Inc., in the United States and elsewhere.  In addition to the prison sentence, Horisaki has agreed to pay a $20,000 criminal fine and to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation.  The plea agreement will be subject to court approval.

To date, 36 individuals, including Horisaki, have been charged in the department’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry.  Additionally, 27 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of over $2.3 billion in fines.

Horisaki is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals.  The maximum fine for an individual may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

The charges arose from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the automotive parts industry, which is being conducted by each of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement sections and the FBI.  This case was brought by the Washington Criminal I Section and the San Francisco Office of the Antitrust Division, with the assistance of the Detroit Field Office of the FBI. 

IN ANOTHER CASE SETTLED LAST WEEK, three manufacturers of polyurethane foam used to create interior components for automobiles pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to fix prices to customers, the Department of Justice announced. Riverside Seat Co., Woodbridge Foam Fabricating Inc. and SW Foam LLC pleaded guilty to a one-count felony charge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.  According to the charge, the companies conspired with others to fix prices for polyurethane flexible slab stock automotive foam in the U.S. and elsewhere from at least as early as June 9, 2008 until at least April 20, 2009.  The companies have agreed to pay a total of $6,148,800 in criminal fines and to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation.

Full text of Justice Department announcement, click here - Full text of foam components case, click here - 07/01/2014

GM ADDS 8.2 MILLION VEHICLES TO RECALL LIST / SAFETY RECALL CRISIS DEEPENS

More from Associated Press, click here - 06/30/3014

AEREO HALTS SERVICE AFTER SUPREME COURT DECISION

More from Associated Press, click here- Press release from Aereo, click here - 06/28/2014

GM RECALLS ANOTHER 29,000 CHEVY CRUZE MODELS

More from the Boston Globe, click here - 06/27/2014

AEREO LOSES SUPREME COURT DECISION / COURT SAYS AEREO VIOLATES COPYRIGHT LAW ACTING LIKE A CABLE TV PROVIDER

More from Associated Press, click here - Actual Supreme Court decision, click here - Analysis of the Aereo decision from TV NewsCheck, click here - 06/25/2014

AIRBAG MAKER TAKATA FORCES RECALLS IN MILLIONS MORE CARS / DEFECT CAN RUPTURE AIRBAGS IN HUMID CLIMATES

More from Associated Press, click here- 06/24/2014

GM ANNOUNCES 3.16 MILLION CARS RECALLED FOR MORE IGNITION SWITCH PROBLEMS / ALSO ANNOUNCES MORE RECALLS FOR AIR BAG, DRIVE SHAFT, TRANSMISSION & STEERING ASSIST

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Just when you thought most of the GM recalls were over, another announcement from the company today on more than three million vehicles.

General Motors will rework or replace the ignition keys on about 3.16 million 2000 to 2014 model year cars in the U.S. because the ignition switch may inadvertently move out of the “run” position if the key is carrying extra weight and experiences some jarring event.

The use of a key with a hole, rather than a slotted key, addresses the concern of unintended key rotation due to a jarring road event, such as striking a pothole or crossing railroad tracks. 

Only one of the models included in the U.S. recall of 3,160,725 cars is still in production – the previous generation Chevrolet Impala, which is sold to daily rental fleets as the Impala Limited. The total North America population – U.S., Canada, Mexico and exports – is 3,360,555.

The safety recall follows a review of ignition issues following the recall in February of 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars. GM is aware of eight crashes and six injuries related to this recall.

If the ignition switch moves out of the “run” position, there is an effect on power steering and power braking. In addition, the timing of the key movement out of the “run” position, relative to the activation of the sensing algorithm of the crash event, may result in the air bags not deploying.

The cars being recalled are the:

Buick Lacrosse MY 2005-2009
Chevrolet Impala MY 2006-2014
Cadillac Deville MY 2000–2005
Cadillac DTS MY 2004–2011
Buick Lucerne MY 2006–2011
Buick Regal LS & GS MY 2004–2005
Chevy Monte Carlo MY 2006–2008

    
In these vehicles, the ignition switch may be unable to handle extra weight hanging on a slotted key. GM will add an insert to the ignition keys of the recalled vehicles to close the slot and leave a 4x6-millimeter hole through which the key ring could be attached. In vehicles where the key cover has been worn, new keys with holes instead of slots will be provided free of charge.

Rework of the keys – adding key inserts – at GM dealerships is expected to begin in the next few weeks. Until the rework or replacement is completed, owners of the recalled cars are urged to remove additional weight from their key chains and drive with only the ignition key.

In addition to the ignition key recall, GM also announced U.S. recalls for 165,770 vehicles in these five actions:

  • 68,887 model year 2013-14 Cadillac ATS and 21,863 model year 2014 Cadillac CTS sedans. In certain vehicles with automatic transmissions, the shift cable may not be fully secured to the shifter bracket or transmission bracket. If the shift cable comes out of the brackets, the driver may not be able to shift the transmission in or out of gear. GM is unaware of any crashes or injuries related to this condition.
  • 57,192 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500 HD and 2015 GMC Sierra 2500/3500 GMC Sierra HD to inspect for proper attachment of power steering hose clamps to the power steering pump. If the vehicle is driven with the clamp unattached, the hose may disconnect from the pump or gear, causing a rapid loss of power steering fluid. This will result in loss of power steering assist and Hydro Boost powered brakes without warning. The vehicle would revert to manual brakes and manual steering. GM knows of no crashes or injuries from the condition. Dealers are to inspect power steering hose clamps in two locations to ensure they are properly attached.
  • 16,932 model year 2011 Cadillac CTS sedans with AWD. On some vehicles, a gasket leak where the constant velocity joint meets the rear propeller shaft may cause the rear propeller shaft to separate or become loose, making contact with the vehicle floor above and causing the rollover sensor to deploy the roof rail air bags. GM is aware of 15 unintended deployments, but injury data is unclear.
  • 712 model year 2014 Chevrolet Corvettes with optional Competition Sport Seats, because an unbelted child and door trim may block the passenger seat side air bag vent in a deployment. Dealers will replace the current air bag with a redesigned version. GM is unaware of any crashes or injuries related to this condition, but advises customers to not allow small children in the front seat until the vehicle is serviced.
  • 184 model year 2014-15 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups with vinyl floors and accessory all-weather floor mats purchased new with the vehicle. The mats can slip under the driver’s feet because the vinyl floors have no attachments to secure them in place. Customers are advised take the floor mats to their dealer for a full refund. GM is unaware of any crashes or injuries related to the mats.

GM expects to take a charge of up to approximately $700 million in the second quarter for the cost of recall-related repairs announced in the quarter. This amount includes a previously disclosed $400 million charge for recalls announced May 15 and May 20.

Full text of GM announcement, click here - 06/16/2014

EXPERIAN SUED BY MISSISSIPPI FOR WRONG INFORMATION ON PERSONAL CREDIT HISTORIES / 32 STATES ALSO PROBING COMPANY PRACTICES

More from Associated Press, click here- 06/16/2014

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION PROBES NETFLIX COMPLAINTS AGAINST CABLE COMPANIES DOWNLOADS

More from Reuters, click here - More from NY Times, click here - 06/15/2014

GM RECALLS 500,000 CAMAROS

More from Driving, click here - 06/15/2014

PF CHANG'S CONFIRMS CUSTOMERS CREDIT & DEBIT CARDS WERE HACKED

More from the Chicago Tribune, click here- 06/13/2014

FORD WILL REPAY CAR BUYERS FOR OVERSTATED GAS MILEAGE / CUSTOMERS TO BE REPAID UP TO $1050

More from the Reuters, click here - 06/13/2013

MAJOR BEEF RECALL INCLUDES WHOLE FOOD STORES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Fruitland American Meat, a Jackson, Mo. establishment is recalling approximately 4,012 pounds of fresh beef products because the dorsal root ganglia may not have been completely removed, which is not compliant with agency regulations that require their removal in cattle 30 months of age and older, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. The products subject to recall include:

  • 40-lb. cases containing two, roughly 20-lb. cryovac packages of bone-in “Rain Crow Ranch Ribeye” bearing the establishment number “EST. 2316” inside the USDA mark of inspection with the following production dates: 9/5/13, 9/10/13, 9/11/13, 9/26/13, 10/2/13, 10/3/2013, 11/8/13, 11/22/13, 12/17/13, 12/26/13, 12/27/13,1/16/14, 1/17/14, 1/23/14, 1/31/14, 2/13/14, 2/14/14, 2/21/14, 2/28/14, 3/8/14, 3/20/14, 4/4/14 or 4/25/14 printed on the box. 
  • Quartered beef carcasses stamped with the USDA mark of inspection and establishment number “EST. 2316.”   

The products were produced and packaged on various dates between September 2013 and April 2014. The bone-in ribeye roasts were the source material of concern.

Fruitland American Meat advises that the bone-in ribeye roasts were distributed to a restaurant in New York, NY, and a Whole Foods distribution center in Connecticut which services its stores in New England. The quartered carcasses were distributed to an FSIS-inspected establishment in Missouri for further processing and distribution, and to a restaurant in Kansas City, Mo. All products would have been processed into smaller cuts with no identifying consumer packaging.

The problem was discovered by FSIS during a review of company slaughter logs. The problem may have occurred as a result of the way some company employees were recording information and determining the age of various cattle. Dorsal root ganglia, branches of the nervous system located in the vertebral column are considered specified risk materials (SRMs) and must be removed from cattle 30 months of age and older in accordance with FSIS regulations. SRMs are tissues that may contain the infective agent in cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), as well as materials that are closely associated with these potentially infective tissues. Therefore, FSIS prohibits SRMs from use as human food to minimize potential human exposure to the BSE agent.

Every animal received ante-mortem inspection by an FSIS Public Health Veterinarian. This involves observing each animal at rest and in motion and there is no indication that any of the cattle slaughtered displayed any signs of BSE.

FSIS and Fruitland American Meat have received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify theircustomers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers and media with questions about the recall should contact company sales manager James Fortner at 573-243-3107.

Full text of recall announcement, click here - 06/13/2014

VEHICLE RECALLS / CHRYSLER, NISSAN, FIAT, TOYOTA, FORD

More from the Emeritusw Newsroom -Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling 740,878 certain model year 2008-2011 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner vehicles manufactured August 18, 2006, through September 11, 2010. The affected vehicles have a steering torque sensor that may not be able to properly detect driver steering input. As a result, the system could remove the Electric Power Steering (EPS) assist. If power steering assist is lost, greater driver effort would be required to steer the vehicle at low speeds, increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here. ALSO, Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling 179,027 certain model year 2011-2013 Ford Explorer vehicles manufactured May 17, 2010, through February 28, 2012. The affected vehicles may experience an intermittent connection in the electric power steering gear, which can cause a loss of the motor position sensor signal resulting in a shut down of the power steering assist.If the vehicle experiences a loss of power steering assist it will require extra steering effort at lower speeds, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash. Full text of recall, click here.

ALSO, Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling 183,425 certain model year 2010-2014 Taurus vehicles manufactured November 24, 2008, through February 28, 2014, originally sold in, or currently registered in, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. When used in areas that use road salt, the license plate lamp assembly may experience an electro-chemical reaction and corrosion as a result of water intrusion. This corrosion may result in a short circuit, increasing the risk of a fire. Full text of recall, click here.

Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling certain model year 2014 Pathfinder and Rogue vehicles and 2014 Infiniti QX60 vehicles. The right side wheels of the affected vehicles may have one lug nut each that was not properly tightened. Full text of recall, click here.

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling 50,000 certain model year 2014 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid vehicles. The affected vehicles may have improper software installed in the air bag electronic control unit (ECU) for the operation of the front passenger seat belt force limiter, and as a result, the force limiter may use the restraint setting designed for small occupants, such as those that weigh approximately 110 pounds, for all occupants regardless of their size. As such, some of these vehicles do not conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, "Occupant Crash Protection." In the event of a crash, a larger front passenger seat occupant may not be properly restrained and be at an increased risk of injury. Full text of recall, click here .

Chrysler Group, LLC (Chrysler) is recalling 4,141 certain model year 2013-2014 Fiat 500e Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) vehicles manufactured September 24, 2012, through April 4, 2014. The affected vehicles have cooling plates for the Power Inverter Module (PIM) that may leak coolant into areas of the high voltage circuitry, resulting a short circuit that could cause the related service fuse to blow. If the service fuse blows, the vehicle would have a loss of propulsion while driving, increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here.

Chrysler Group LLC (Chrysler) is recalling 6,120 certain model year 2014 Dodge Durango vehicles manufactured January 16, 2014 to April 8, 2014, Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles manufactured January 16, 2014 to April 8, 2014, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT vehicles manufactured February 3, 2014 to April 8, 2014, and Jeep Cherokee vehicles manufactured March 6, 2014 to April 17, 2014. When the adaptive cruise control is engaged and the driver presses the accelerator pedal to increase the vehicle's speed more than the cruise control system would on its own, the vehicle may continue to accelerate briefly after the accelerator pedal is released. The unintended continued acceleration may increase the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here.

Chrysler Group LLC (Chrysler) is recalling 17,726 certain model year 2014 Ram ProMaster vehicles manufactured April 23, 2013 to May 22, 2014. The affected vehicles may experience circuit corrosion from water intrusion around the in-floor battery cover and door footwell trim. This water intrusion may affect the vehicle's running and disable the air bags, stop lamps, turn signals, backup lights and/or door locks, increasing the risk of a crash, as well as injury to the occupants if the air bags do not deploy. Full text of recall, click here.

06/09/2014

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION REPORT SAYS CONSUMERS DESERVE MORE CONTROL OVER PERSONAL DATA BROKERS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - In a report issued today on the data broker industry, the Federal Trade Commission finds that data brokers operate with a fundamental lack of transparency. The Commission recommends that Congress consider enacting legislation to make data broker practices more visible to consumers and to give consumers greater control over the immense amounts of personal information about them collected and shared by data brokers.

The report, “Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability” is the result of a study of nine data brokers, representing a cross-section of the industry, undertaken by the FTC to shed light on the data broker industry. Data brokers obtain and share vast amounts of consumer information, typically behind the scenes, without consumer knowledge. Data brokers sell this information for marketing campaigns and fraud prevention, among other purposes. Although consumers benefit from data broker practices which, for example, help enable consumers to find and enjoy the products and services they prefer, data broker practices also raise privacy concerns.

“The extent of consumer profiling today means that data brokers often know as much – or even more – about us than our family and friends, including our online and in-store purchases, our political and religious affiliations, our income and socioeconomic status, and more,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “It’s time to bring transparency and accountability to bear on this industry on behalf of consumers, many of whom are unaware that data brokers even exist.”

The report finds that data brokers collect and store billions of data elements covering nearly every U.S. consumer. Just one of the data brokers studied holds information on more than 1.4 billion consumer transactions and 700 billion data elements and another adds more than 3 billion new data points to its database each month.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Data brokers collect consumer data from extensive online and offline sources, largely without consumers’ knowledge, ranging from consumer purchase data, social media activity, warranty registrations, magazine subscriptions, religious and political affiliations, and other details of consumers’ everyday lives.
  • Consumer data often passes through multiple layers of data brokers sharing data with each other. In fact, seven of the nine data brokers in the Commission study had shared information with another data broker in the study.
  • Data brokers combine online and offline data to market to consumers online.
  • Data brokers combine and analyze data about consumers to make inferences about them, including potentially sensitive inferences such as those related to ethnicity, income, religion, political leanings, age, and health conditions. Potentially sensitive categories from the study are “Urban Scramble” and “Mobile Mixers,” both of which include a high concentration of Latinos and African-Americans with low incomes. The category “Rural Everlasting” includes single men and women over age 66 with “low educational attainment and low net worths.” Other potentially sensitive categories include health-related topics or conditions, such as pregnancy, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
  • Many of the purposes for which data brokers collect and use data pose risks to consumers, such as unanticipated uses of the data. For example, a category like “Biker Enthusiasts” could be used to offer discounts on motorcycles to a consumer, but could also be used by an insurance provider as a sign of risky behavior.
  • Some data brokers unnecessarily store data about consumers indefinitely, which may create security risks.
  • To the extent data brokers currently offer consumers choices about their data, the choices are largely invisible and incomplete.  

To help rectify a lack of transparency about data broker industry practices, the Commission encourages Congress to consider enacting legislation that would enable consumers to learn of the existence and activities of data brokers and provide consumers with reasonable access to information about them held by these entities.

For data brokers that provide marketing products, Congress should consider legislation to:

  • Centralized Portal. Require the creation of a centralized mechanism, such as an Internet portal, where data brokers can identify themselves, describe their information collection and use practices, and provide links to access tools and opt- outs;
  • Access. Require data brokers to give consumers access to their data, including any sensitive data, at a reasonable level of detail;
  • Opt-Outs. Require opt-out tools, that is, a way for consumers to suppress the use of their data;
  • Inferences. Require data brokers to tell consumers that they derive certain inferences from from raw data;
  • Data Sources. Require data brokers to disclose the names and/or categories of their data sources, to enable consumers to correct wrong information with an original source;
  • Notice and Choice. Require consumer-facing entities – such as retailers – to provide prominent notice to consumers when they share information with data brokers, along with the ability to opt-out of such sharing; and
  • Sensitive Data. Further protect sensitive information, including health information, by requiring retailers and other consumer-facing entities to obtain affirmative express consent from consumers before such information is collected and shared with data brokers.

For brokers that provide “risk mitigation” products, legislation should:

  • When a company uses a data broker’s risk mitigation product to limit a consumers’ ability to complete a transaction, require the consumer-facing company to tell consumers which data broker’s information the company relied on;
  • Require the data broker to allow consumer access to the information used and the ability to correct it, as appropriate.

For brokers that provide “people search” products, legislation should:

  • Require data brokers to allow consumers to access their own information, opt-out of having the information included in a people search product, disclose the original sources of the information so consumers can correct it, and disclose any limitations of an opt-out feature.                 

The nine data brokers in the study are Acxiom, CoreLogic, Datalogix, eBureau, ID Analytics, Intelius, PeekYou, Rapleaf and Recorded Future. In December 2012, the Commission voted to issue orders requiring these data brokers to produce the information that was used in the study.

The Commission vote approving the issuance of the report was 4-0, with Commissioner Terrell McSweeny not participating. Commissioner Julie Brill issued a concurring statement.

Full text of report (110 PDF pages), click here - 06/06/2014

GM INVESTIGATION SHOWS IGNITION SWITCH PROBLEM IGNORED / COMPANY SAYS 15 EXECS FIRED

More from Associated Press, click here - 06/06/2014

THIS WEEK'S RECALL ANNOUNCEMENTS / NISSAN & TOYOTA

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling 1,644 certain model year 2014 Rogue vehicles manufactured January 10, 2014, to January 17, 2014. In the affected vehicles, an incorrect bolt may have been used to connect the intermediate shaft to the upper steering assembly. The incorrect bolts could loosen and fall out resulting in a loss of vehicle control and increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here.

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling 370,000 certain model year 2004-2011 Sienna vehicles originally sold in, or currently registered in, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. The affected vehicles have a spare tire carrier assembly mounted under the vehicle whose attachment cable may corrode due to high concentrations of road salt splashing onto the spare tire carrier. If the carrier cable is corroded due to road salt, the spare tire may separate from the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash. Toyota will send owners an interim notification to advise owners of the recall and dealers will remove the spare tire and relocate it to the luggage compartment, free of charge. Owners will be mailed a second letter when remedy parts are available and dealers will replace the spare tire carrier assembly with an improved one, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Full text of recall, click here.

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling 231 certain model year 2014 Highlander vehicles manufactured April 23, 2014, through April 29, 2014. The affected vehicles may have not been manufactured properly causing the seat not to fully lock into the inboard seat track in the forward first, second and third adjusting positions. Thus, these vehicles do not conform to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 207 "Seating Systems."If the seat does not fully lock into the inboard seat track this could increase the risk of the seat coming out of the track and injuring the occupant in the event of a crash. Toyota will notify owners and dealers will inspect and if necessary replace the second row right hand seat, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in June 2014. Full text of recall, click here.

There were also major recalls late last week involving 1.4 million Ford and Mercury SUV's, click here.

06/02/2014

PROBLEMS WITH CORRODING BRAKE LINES, AUTOMATIC BRAKING AND HEADLIGHTS LIKELY TO CAUSE MORE RECALLS AT GENERAL MOTORS

More from the Boston Globe, click here - 05/29/2014

CHEVY IMPALA ONLY NON-LUXURY CAR TO GET TOP AWARD FOR CRASH AVOIDANCE

More from the Emeritus News Consumer Page - 05/29/2014

FEDERAL OFFICIALS SAY "LIKELY" MORE PEOPLE DIED FROM FAULTY AIRBAG SYSTEMS THAN GENERAL MOTORS CLAIMS

More from Reuters, click here - 05/23/2014

GM RECALLS 500 NEW PICKUPS FOR AIR BAG MODULE DEFECT

More from USA Today, click here - Recap of previous GM recalls this year from the LA Times, click here - 05/23/2014

MICHIGAN MEAT PROCESSOR EXPANDS BEEF RECALL

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Wolverine Packing Company, a Detroit, Mich. establishment, is recalling approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. 

The ground beef products were produced between March 31, 2014 and April 18, 2014. For a full list of products that were recalled please see the attached document.

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B” and will have a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD 14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14.” These products were shipped to distributors for restaurant and retail use nationwide. There was no distribution of the products to the Department of Defense, the National School Lunch Program or catalog/internet sales.

Factors that can contribute to the size of the recall include potential contamination of additional products due to a lack of microbiological independence between lots in a production day, as well as a deficiency in supportive record-keeping by distributors.

FSIS was notified of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses on May 8, 2014. Working in conjunction with public health partners from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined through a traceback investigation that there is a link between the ground beef products from Wolverine Packing Company and this illness cluster. Based on epidemiological and traceback investigations, 11 case-patients have been identified in 4 states with illness onset dates ranging from April 22, 2014 to May 2, 2014. Additional information may be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2014/O157H7-05-14/index.html. FSIS continues to work with our state and federal public health partners on this investigation and provide updated information as it becomes available.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Full text of USDA announcement, click here - 05/23/2014

SUZUKI RECALLS GM MADE CARS DUE TO POTENTIAL STEERING COLUMN FIRES

More from Associated Press, click here - 05/23/2014

FEDS SAY AIRLINES NEED TO STOP HIDING BAG AND SEAT FEES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., today announced plans to conduct a voluntary safety recall of approximately 370,000 Model Year 2004-2011 Sienna Minivans originally sold in or registered in specific cold climate states.

The involved vehicles are equipped with a spare tire carrier stowed under the vehicle with a light-weight, foam water splash protector in front of the spare tire carrier.  Due to variation in the placement of the splash protector or loss of the protector during normal usage, water splashed rearward with high concentrations of road salt can reach the spare tire carrier and corrode the spare tire carrier assembly cable.

Some of the involved vehicles, 2004-2010 model year, were involved in a recall announced in April 2010.  The recall remedy included the addition of a water splash protector and an anti-rust agent application to reduce the effects of corrosion.  If the splash protector is misplaced or falls from the vehicle on these 2004-2010 model year vehicles, the spare tire carrier assembly cable may not have sufficient anti-rust protection even after the anti-rust agent application that was part of the recall remedy.If an involved vehicle is operated in cold climate regions of the United States where road salts are frequently used, in an extreme case, the cable may break due to excessive corrosion and the spare tire may separate from the vehicle.

Toyota also announced that it plans to conduct a voluntary safety recall of approximately 10,500 Model Year 2013 Lexus GS 350 sedans. 

The brake pedal assembly in the subject vehicles contains a brake pedal load sensing switch which allows the brake system to detect brake pedal force application by the driver.  Due to a manufacturing error, there is a possibility that the switch could improperly cause the brake system to activate without driver input while driving and without activating the rear brake lights.  This could result in unexpected moderate deceleration.

For all involved vehicles, Lexus dealers will replace the brake pedal support assembly.

To date, Toyota is not aware of any accidents, injuries or fatalities caused by this condition.

Full text of Sienna van recall, click here - Full text of Lexus GS recall, click here - 05/22/2014

MAJOR AUTO RECALLS FOR FORD, HYUNDAI, GM

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling more than 2 million certain model year 2004-2012 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles manufactured May 16, 2003, through October 11, 2012, 2004-2007 Malibu Maxx vehicles manufactured June 25, 2003, through April 5, 2007, 2005-2010 Pontiac G6 vehicles manufactured May 26, 2004, through January 4, 2010, and 2007-2010 Saturn Aura vehicles manufactured April 24, 2006, through May 26, 2009. In the affected vehicles, increased resistance in the Body Control Module (BCM) connection may result in voltage fluctuations in the Brake Apply Sensor (BAS) circuit. These fluctuations can cause one or more of these conditions: the brake lights to illuminate without the brake pedal being pushed; the brake lights to not illuminate when the pedal is pushed; difficulty disengaging the cruise control; moving the gear shifter out of the 'PARK' position without pushing the brake; and disablement of crash avoidance features such as traction control, electronic stability control, and panic braking assist features. Click here for full text on recall.

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling more than 103,000 certain model year 2005-2007 Chevrolet Corvette vehicles manufactured March 29, 2004, through June 22, 2007. In the affected vehicles, the underhood bussed electrical center (UBEC) housing can expand and cause the headlamp low beam relay control circuit wire to bend. If the wire is repeatedly bent, it may fracture causing a loss of low beam headlamp illumination. The loss of low beam headlamp illumination will decrease the driver's visibility, as well as the vehicle's conspicuity to other motorists, increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here.

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling more than 140,000 certain model year 2014 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles manufactured June 12, 2013, through May 2, 2014, and equipped with a 2.5L engine with the auto stop/start option. The affected vehicles may experience a complete loss of brake vacuum assist, disabling the hydraulic boost assist. As such, these vehicles do not comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 135, "Light Vehicle Brake Systems." If the hydraulic boost assist is disabled, slowing or stopping the vehicle will require additional brake pedal effort and a lengthened stopping distance. Both of these effects increase the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here.

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling 477 certain model year 2014 Chevrolet Silverado vehicles manufactured May 23, 2013, through March 25, 2014, 2014 GMC Sierra vehicles manufactured May 25, 2013, through March 31, 2014, and 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe vehicles manufactured January 29, 2014, through March 27, 2014. In the affected vehicles, the tie rod threaded attachment may not be properly tightened to the steering gear rack. An improperly tightened tie rod attachment may allow the tie rod to separate from the steering rack, resulting in a loss of steering, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash. Full text of recall, click here.

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling 8,208 certain model year 2014 Buick Lacrosse vehicles manufactured January 29, 2014, through March 31, 2014 and 2014 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles manufactured February 7, 2014, through March 31, 2014, and equipped with 17 inch front brake rotors. The affected vehicles may have had brake rotors intended for the rear of the car accidentally installed on the front. The rear rotors, while the same diameter, are thinner and may result in a front brake pad detaching from the caliper. If a brake pad detaches from caliper, there may be a sudden reduction in braking, lengthening the distance required to stop the vehicle and increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here.

Hyundai Motor Company (Hyundai) is recalling 137,000 certain model year 2011-2014 Hyundai Tucson vehicles manufactured January 3, 2011, through December 23, 2013. In the affected vehicles, the air bag assembly installed in the steering wheel may come loose from its mounting. An air bag assembly that is not properly mounted may result in an increased risk of injury to the driver in the event of a crash. Full text of recall, click here.

Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling 581,986 certain model year 2013-2014 Escape vehicles manufactured October 5, 2011, through April 10, 2014. Due to an assembly misalignment between the exterior door handle and the door outer panel, the affected vehicles have doors that may be difficult to close or may possibly open while driving. A door that opens unexpectedly may result in an unrestrained occupant falling from the vehicle, increasing the risk of injury. Full text of recall, click here.

Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling 594,785 certain model year 2013-2014 C-MAX, and Escape vehicles. In the affected vehicles, the restraint control module (RCM) may have errors in the programming software which may result in a delayed deployment of the side-curtain rollover air bag. If the side-curtain rollover air bag is delayed in deploying in certain rollover circumstances, the risk of injury to the passengers is increased. Full text of recall, click here.

In a relatively low number of recalls, Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling 211 certain model year 2014 LEAF vehicles manufactured February 28, 2014, through March 12, 2014. The front structural member assembly may be missing welds, which could reduce the structural integrity of the vehicle if the vehicle is involved in a crash. As such, these vehicles fail to meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, "Occupant Crash Protection," and 305, "Electric-Powered Vehicles: Electrolyte Spillage and Electrical Shock Protection." Missing welds may effect the vehicle's integrity in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury to the vehicle's occupants. Full text of recall, click here.

- 05/19/2014

GM FINED $35 MILLION FOR SLOW RESPONSE TO CHEVY COBALT AIRBAG PROBLEMS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced that General Motors (GM) has agreed to pay a record $35 million civil penalty and to take part in unprecedented oversight requirements as a result of findings from NHTSA’s timeliness investigation regarding the Chevrolet Cobalt and the automaker’s failure to report a safety defect in the vehicle to the federal government in a timely manner. The defect resulted in the non-deployment of airbags in certain Chevrolet Cobalt and other GM models. This action represents the single highest civil penalty amount ever paid as a result of a NHTSA investigation of violations stemming from a recall.

As part of today’s agreement, set forth in a Consent Order signed with NHTSA, the agency also ordered GM to make significant and wide-ranging internal changes to its review of safety-related issues in the United States, and to improve its ability to take into account the possible consequences of potential safety-related defects. GM will also pay additional civil penalties for failing to respond on time to the agency’s document demands during NHTSA’s investigation.

“Safety is our top priority, and today’s announcement puts all manufacturers on notice that they will be held accountable if they fail to quickly report and address safety-related defects,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx. “While we will continue to aggressively monitor GM’s efforts in this case, we also urge Congress to support our GROW AMERICA Act, which would increase the penalties we could levy in cases like this from $35 million to $300 million, sending an even stronger message that delays will not be tolerated.”

Federal law requires all auto manufacturers to notify NHTSA within five business days of determining that a safety-related defect exists or that a vehicle is not in compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards and to promptly conduct a recall. GM admits in the Consent Order that it did not do so.

Today’s action is historic in that the provisions of the Consent Order will be immediately enforceable in federal court if GM does not fully comply.  The Consent Order will hold GM accountable, push the automaker to make needed institutional change, and ensure that replacement parts are produced quickly and recalled vehicles are repaired promptly.

“No excuse, process, or organizational structure will be allowed to stand in the way of any company meeting their obligation to quickly find and fix safety issues in a vehicle,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. “It’s critical to the safety of the driving public that manufacturers promptly report and remedy safety-related defects that have the potential to lead to deaths or injuries on our nation’s highways.”

In the Consent Order, GM agreed to provide NHTSA with full access to the results of GM’s internal investigation into this recall, to take steps to ensure its employees report safety-related concerns to management, and to speed up the process for GM to decide whether to recall vehicles.

The Consent Order also requires GM to notify NHTSA of changes to its schedule for completing production of repair parts by October 4.  GM must also take steps to maximize the number of vehicle owners who bring in their vehicles for repair, including targeted outreach to non-English speakers, maintaining up-to-date information on its website, and engaging with vehicle owners through the media.  The Consent Order requires GM to submit reports and meet with NHTSA so that the agency may monitor the progress of GM’s recall and other actions required by the consent order.

Both in 2007 and again in 2010, NHTSA reviewed data related to the non-deployment of airbags in certain Chevy Cobalt models but each time, determined that it lacked the data necessary to open a formal investigation.  However, on February 7, 2014, GM announced it would recall certain model vehicles for a defect where the vehicle’s ignition switch may unintentionally move out of the “run” position that could result in the air bag not deploying in the event of a crash.  GM had failed to advise NHTSA of this defect at the time of the agency’s earlier reviews.

After review and consultation by NHTSA, GM twice expanded the recall to include a total of 2,190,934 vehicles in the United States.  The GM recall covers the 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky vehicles. 

Over the past ten years, NHTSA defect investigations resulted in 1,299 recalls involving more than 95 million vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment, which has helped the agency to reduce vehicle fatalities to historic, all-time lows. Including today’s consent order, the agency has obtained record fines of $124.5 million in the last five years from automakers who have failed to promptly report defects to NHTSA.

Full text of statement from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, click here - 05/16/2014

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION APPROVES PLAN GIVING PREFERENCE TO WEBSITES THAT PAY

More from the Washington Post, click here - 05/16/2014

PROBLEMS WITH POWER BRAKES, BRAKELIGHTS & HEADLIGHTS FORCE G-M TO RECALL 2.7 MILLION MORE VEHICLES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - General Motors said Thursday it has informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of five safety recalls covering about 2.7 million vehicles in the United States. The recalls cover:

  • 2,440,524 previous generation passenger cars for taillamp malfunctions
  • 111,889 previous generation Chevrolet Corvettes for loss of low-beam head lamps
  • 140,067 Chevrolet Malibus from the 2014 model year for hydraulic brake booster malfunctions
  • 19,225 Cadillac CTS 2013-2014 models for windshield wiper failures
  • 477 full-size trucks from the 2014 and 2015 model years for a tie-rod defect that can lead to a crash

“Customer safety is at the heart of how GM designs and produces vehicles, and these announcements are examples of two ways we are putting that into practice,” said Jeff Boyer, vice president of GM Global Vehicle Safety.

“We have redoubled our efforts to expedite and resolve current reviews in process and also have identified and analyzed recent vehicle issues which require action. These are examples of our focus to surface issues quickly and promptly take necessary actions in the best interest of our customers.”

The largest recall involves 2004-2012 Chevrolet Malibu, 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx, 2005-2010 Pontiac G6 and 2007-2010 Saturn Auras model cars in U.S. to modify the brake lamp wiring harness. 

Affected vehicles could have corrosion develop in the wiring harness for the body control module due to micro-vibration. The condition could result in brake lamps failing to illuminate when the brakes are applied or brake lamps illuminating when the brakes are not engaged.  Additionally, cruise control, traction control, electronic stability control and panic braking assist operation could be disabled.

GM is aware of several hundred complaints, 13 crashes and two injuries but no fatalities as a result of the condition. The company issued a technical service bulletin in 2008 and conducted a safety campaign for a small population of 2005 model year vehicles in January 2009.  

The third recall covers 140,067 Chevrolet Malibus from the 2014 model year with 2.5L engines and stop/start technology. These vehicles are subject to the disabling of hydraulic brake boost that can require greater pedal efforts and extended stopping distances. Dealers will reprogram the electronic brake control module. The issue was discovered in testing of a future model with similar technology. GM is aware of four crashes but it is not clear that these are related to the condition. No injuries are known from those crashes.
The fourth recall covers 19,225 Cadillac CTS from the 2013-2014 model year for a condition in which the windshield wiper system may become inoperable after a vehicle jump start with wipers active and restricted, such as by ice and snow. Potential lack of visibility could increase the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the front wiper module free of charge. GM is unaware of any crashes or injuries due to the condition.
The fifth recall involves certain 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light duty pickups and 2015 model year Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs. The tie rod threaded attachment to the steering gear rack in these vehicles may not be tightened to specification. With this condition, the tie rod can separate from the steering rack and a crash could occur without prior warning. Customers are being contacted and told to have their vehicles taken by flatbed to their dealer, where the inner tie rods will be inspected for correct torque, and, if necessary, the steering gear will be replaced. The repair procedure was being sent to dealers and owner letters sent by overnight mail to customers on May 14. The issue was discovered and corrected during assembly after the small number of vehicles was released.
GM expects to take a charge of up to approximately $200 million in the second quarter, primarily for the cost of recall-related repairs announced in the quarter.

There were other recalls this week affecting GM, Ford and Chrysler Models. Click here for GM announcement, Transmission Shift Cable may Fracture. Click here for Chrysler announcement, Vent Window Switch may Overheat. Click here for Ford announcement, Side-Curtain Rollover Air Bag Deployment Delay.

Full text of today's GM statement, click here - 5/15/2014

FCC CHAIRMAN BACKS OFF HIS VERSION OF NET NEUTRALITY / HOWEVER, HE'S STILL PROPOSING "PAID PRIORITIZATION"

More from the LA Times, click here - 05/14/2014

56,000 SATURNS RECALLED / AUTOMATIC GEAR SHIFTERS MAY FAIL

More from the Associated Press, click here - 05/06/2014

GM RECALLS VEHICLES WITH FAULTY GAS GAUGES / MAY READ 1/4 TANK FULL WHEN EMPTY / RECALLS ALSO ISSUED FOR MAZDA, HONDA, BMW, MERCEDES, FORD

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling 51,640 certain model year 2014 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia vehicles manufactured March 26, 2013, through August 15, 2013. In the affected vehicles, the engine control module (ECM) software may cause the fuel gauge to read inaccurately. An inaccurate fuel gauge may result in the vehicle unexpectedly running out of fuel and stalling, increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here.

GM is also recalling 50,571 certain model year 2013 Cadillac SRX vehicles manufactured May 29, 2012, through June 26, 2013, and equipped with 3.6L engines. In the affected vehicles, in certain driving situations, there may be a three to four second lag in acceleration due to the transmission control module (TCM) programming. A three to four second lag in acceleration may increase the risk of crash. GM will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the transmission control module, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Cadillac customer service at 1-800-458-8006. General Motors' number for this recall is 14132. Full text of recall, click here.

Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling 3,973 certain model year 2015 F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 Super Duty trucks manufactured September 13, 2013, through March 28, 2014, and equipped with 6.2L gasoline or 6.7L diesel engines and 6R140 transmissions. An error with the transmission control software may be such that while shifting from "Park" to "Drive" the vehicle may display "Drive" but possibly engage "Reverse" for 1.5 seconds before engaging "Drive." Therefore, the vehicles do not conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 102, "Transmission Shift Lever Sequence, Starter Interlock, and Transmission Braking Effect." If the vehicle is in "Reverse" while the while the gear selection shows "Drive," unexpected movement could occur, increasing the risk of a crash. Ford will notify owners, and dealers will update the transmission software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in early May 2014. Owners may contact Fords customer service at 1-800-392-3673. Ford's number for this recall is 14C04. Full text of recall, click here.

Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (Mercedes) is recalling 252,867 certain model year 2008-2011 C300, C300 4Matic, C350, and C63 AMG vehicles manufactured January 26, 2007, through July 13, 2011. In the affected vehicles, a poor electrical ground connection may result in the dimming or failure of the tail lights. Dimming or failure of the tail lights reduces the ability to warn other motorists of the driver's intentions of stopping or turning, increasing the risk of a crash. Mercedes will notify owners, and dealers will replace the bulb holders if not previously updated and replace any corroded connectors, free of charge. Parts are not currently available. Owners will be sent an interim notification in June 2014. A second letter will be mailed when parts are available, currently expected to be in August or September 2014. Owners may contact Mercedes at 1-800-367-6372. Full text of recall, click here.

BMW of North America, LLC (BMW) is recalling 156,137 certain model year 2010-2011 128i Coupe, 128i Convertible, 328i Sedan, 328i xDrive Sedan, 328i Coupe, 328i Convertible, 328i Sports Wagon and Z4 sDrive 30i, 2011-2012 135i Coupe, 135i Convertible, 335i Sedan, X5 xDrive 35i, and X6 xDrive 35i, 2011 335i xDrive Sedan, 335i Coupe, 335i Convertible, 528i Sedan, 535i Sedan, 535i xDrive Sedan, X3 xDrive 28i, and X3 xDrive 35i, 2010 X3 xDrive 30i, and X5 xDrive 30i, 2012 640i Coupe, and 640i Convertible and 2010-2012 535i Gran Turismo vehicles. In the affected vehicles, the bolts that secure the housing for the variable camshaft timing adjustment (VANOS) unit can loosen over time and may possibly break. If the bolts loosen or break the engine may have reduced power or stall. An engine stall increases the risk of a crash. BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the four VANOS housing bolts for both VANOS units (intake and exhaust), free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in May 2014. In addition, owners of approximately 170,172 model year 2010-2012 BMW vehicles equipped with inline 6 cylinder engines not covered by this recall, will receive an extended warranty to address this condition. Owners may contact BMW at 1-800-525-7417. Full text of recall, click here.

Honda is recalling 24,889 certain model year 2014 Odyssey vehicles manufactured October 2, 2013, through December 16, 2013. The shorting terminal, an electrical connector used to prevent air bag deployment before being installed into a vehicle, may have been damaged during assembly of the passenger-side side curtain air bag. If the shorting terminal is damaged, the passenger-side side curtain air bag may fail to deploy thereby increasing the risk of occupant injury in a crash. Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the damaged shorting pin with a new shorting coupler, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in early May 2014. Owners may contact Honda at 1-800-999-1009. Honda's number for this recall is JE2. Full text of recall, click here .

Mazda North America Operations (Mazda) is recalling 19,000 certain model year 2014 Mazda6 vehicles manufactured October 25, 2012, through May 9, 2013. In the affected vehicles, it is possible to fill the fuel tank beyond its rated capacity. If the tank is overfilled, gas may flow into the charcoal canister (an evaporative emissions component) and possibly leak from the canister's external vent, increasing the risk of a fire. Mazda will notify owners and dealers will inspect and add an adapter to the shut off valve in the fuel tank and also inspect the charcoal canister for the presence of gasoline, replacing it as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in late April 2014. Owners may contact Mazda at 1-800-222-5500. Mazda's number for this recall is 7414D. Full text of recall, click here.

05/05/2014

GM COULD USE BANKRUPTCY COURT TO STEM TIDE OF LAWSUITS FROM BAD IGNITION SWITCHES

More from the Associated Press, click here - 05/02/2014

SAMSUNG ORDERED TO PAY $120 MILLION TO APPLE FOR PATENT VIOLATIONS / APPLE ALSO ORDERED TO PAY NOMINAL AWARD

More from Associated Press, click here - 05/02/2014

END OF SUPPORT FOR WINDOWS X-P PROMPTS SECURITY THREAT / MICROSOFT WILL PATCH PROBLEM BUT URGES USERS TO SWITCH TO WINDOWS 7 OR 8

-More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A security threat that could allow hackers to take control of computers with Microft X-P operation systems has been discovered by the company, which uploaded a patch for the problem today at 1PM Eastern.

According to a statement from the company, one of the things that drove much of this coverage was that it coincided with the end of support for Windows XP.  The reality is that the threats we face today from a security standpoint have really outpaced the ability to protect those customers using an operating system that dates back over a decade.  This is why we’ve been encouraging Windows XP customers to upgrade to a modern, more secure operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Even though Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and is past the time we normally provide security updates, we’ve decided to provide an update for all versions of Windows XP (including embedded), today.  We made this exception based on the proximity to the end of support for Windows XP.  The reality is there have been a very small number of attacks based on this particular vulnerability and concerns were, frankly, overblown.  Unfortunately this is a sign of the times and this is not to say we don’t take these reports seriously.  We absolutely do. 

The company statement continues, "Just because this update is out now doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about getting off Windows XP and moving to a newer version of Windows and the latest version of Internet Explorer.  If you are on Windows 7, upgrade to Internet Explorer 11.  Our modern operating systems provide more safety and security than ever before. The latest version of Internet Explorer has increased support for modern web standards, better performance, and expanded the ability to deliver an immersive experience from within the browser.  In other words, cool stuff that you need even if you didn’t know you need it.  And when you turn on auto update, we make sure your computer and your browser get better all the time".

Full text of Microsoft statement, click here - 05/01/2014

CRITICS SAY NEW AIRLINE PRICING LAW TO BE APROVED BY CONGRESS WILL MAKE IT HARDER FOR CONSUMERS TO PRICE TICKETS

More from the Washington Post, click here - 04/26/2014

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION PROPOSES PAY FOR PRIORITY INTERNET SPEEDS / CRITICS CLAIM IT ENCOURAGES PAID FAVORITISM THAT IS NOT NETWORK NEUTRALITY

More from the Associated Press, click here - 04/24/2014

V-W, MAZDA, NISSAN MAKE LATEST RECALL LIST

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The latest recall affecting the most vehicles is from Mazda which has announced it is recalling 109,000 certain model year 2001-2004 Tribute vehicles manufactured May 22, 2000, through December 19, 2003, originally sold, or currently registered in, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. These vehicles may experience excessive corrosion at the forward attachment of the lower control arm. A separation of the lower control arm can result in a significant loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here.

MAZDA IS ALSO RECALLING 5,700 certain model year 2014 Mazda3 vehicles manufactured June 12, 2013, through December 18, 2013, and model year 2014-2015 Mazda6 vehicles manufactured May 20, 2013, through December 4, 2013, and both equipped with a 2.5L engine and a regenerative engine braking system. When driving the affected vehicles in heavy rain or in deep puddles, the alternator belt may slip causing the Power Control module (PCM) to incorrectly assume failure of the charging system. Once the PCM assumes that the charging system has failed, the vehicle will stop charging and could result in poor acceleration, loss of steering assist and windshield wiper operation, and a possible engine stall, increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here.

NISSAN is recalling 3,065 certain model year 2013 Pathfinder vehicles manufactured April 18, 2012, through October 3, 2012, and equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). In the affected vehicles, the internal oil cooler (ITOC) hose may detach from the cooler due to inadequate clamping force, allowing transmission fluid to leak. The loss of transmission fluid could cause the transmission to function improperly and the vehicle to stop accelerating, increasing the risk of a crash. Full text of recall, click here. VOLKSWAGEN IS RECALLING 26,452 certain model year 2014 Jetta, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, and Passat vehicles equipped with a 1.8T engine and torque converter automatic transmission. In the affected vehicles, the O-ring seals between the oil cooler and the transmission may leak fluid. The leaking transmission fluid could contact a hot surface and result in a vehicle fire. Full text of recall, click here .

04/21/2014

NEWLY RELEASED DOCUMENTS SHOW G-M HID EXTENT OF STEERING DEFECTS ON SATURN VEHICLES / GOVERNMENT AGENCY LATE TAKING ACTION

More from Associated Press, click here - 04/19/2014

PHONE SERVICE COMPANY AT CENTER OF INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT FRAUD PROBE FILES BANKRUPTCY / TOOK HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS FROM IMMIGRANTS IN U-S AND OVERSEAS

More from the Boston Globe, click here - 04/16/2014

MORE IGNITIONS, AIR BAGS, SEATS LISTED AS POTENTIAL HAZARDS IN LATEST VEHICLE RECALLS INVOLVING FORD, GM, TOYOTA

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling 2,191,014 certain model year 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky vehicles. In the affected vehicles, the key can be removed from the ignition when the ignition is not in the "Off" position. If the key can be removed from the ignition when the ignition is not in the "off" position, the vehicle could roll away: (a) for an automatic transmission, if the transmission is not in the "Park" position; or (b) for a manual transmission, if the parking brake is not engaged and the transmission is not in the "Reverse" position. This potential for rollaway increases the risk for a crash and occupant or pedestrian injuries. General Motors will notify owners, and for vehicles that were built with the defective ignition cylinder and have not previously had the ignition cylinder replaced with the redesigned part, dealers will replace the ignition cylinder and cut and, if necessary, re-learn two ignition/door keys for each vehicle. For vehicles that were built with the redesigned ignition cylinder or had the ignition cylinder replaced with the redesigned part, dealers will cut and, if necessary, re-learn two ignition/door keys for each vehicle. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Chevrolet owners may contact General Motors at 1-800-222-1020, Pontiac owners at 1-800-762-2737, and Saturn owners at 1-800-553-6000. General Motors' number for this recall is 14113 for the ignition lock cylinder and key replacement, and 14133 for only key replacements. Note: Until a vehicle has been remedied, owners and operators are advised that when exiting, to be sure that the vehicle is in "Park," or in the case of a manual transmission, that the vehicle is in the "Reverse" position and the parking brake is engaged. Full text of recall announcement, click here -

Toyota is recalling 1,291,449 certain model year 2006-2008 RAV4, 2006-2010 Yaris, 2008-2010 Highlander, and 2009-2010 Tacoma, Corolla, Corolla Matrix and General Motors Pontiac Vibe vehicles. In the affected vehicles, the steering column assembly contains electrical connections to the driver's airbag module housed in a spiral cable assembly, which includes a Flexible Flat Cable (FFC). Due to the shape and location of the FFC's retainer, the FFC could become damaged when the steering wheel is turned. If the FFC is damaged, connectivity to the driver's air bag module could be lost and the air bag deactivated. The failure of the driver's air bag to deploy in the event of a crash that typically necessitates deployment increases the risk of injury to the driver. Toyota will notify the Toyota vehicle owners, and General Motors will notify the Pontiac Vibe owners. Toyota will send their owners an interim notification letter in late April 2014 to advise owners of the recall, and will mail owners a second letter when remedy parts are available. General Motors has not yet provided a notification schedule for the Pontiac Vibe owners. When the parts are available, dealers will replace the spiral cable assembly, free of charge. Owners may contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331. Owners may contact General Motors at 1-800-762-2737. Full text of recall, click here.

Toyota has announced separate recalls on potential seat failures. The company is recalling 472,388 certain model year 2006-2010 Yaris vehicles manufactured August 22, 2005, through May 12, 2010, and 2008-2010 Scion xD vehicles manufactured April 4, 2007, through May 12, 2010. In the affected vehicles, the springs used for the seat rails on the driver's seat and the seat rails of the front passenger seat of three-door models may break. If the spring breaks, the seat may not lock in position. In the event of a vehicle crash, the seat could move increasing the risk of injury to the seat occupant. Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the seat rail, and replace it with a new one, if necessary, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331. Full text of recall, click here. The company is also recalling 46,757 certain model year 2013 Highlander vehicles manufactured March 13, 2013, through August 6, 2013. In the affected vehicles, the second row left hand seat may not lock in place when positioned in the forward front or second adjusting position. As such, the vehicles do not conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 207, "Seating Systems." If the seat does not lock into the seat track, there may be an increased risk of injury to an occupant in the event of a crash. Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will modify the second row left hand seat so that it will lock into the seat track, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.

FORD has announced recalls on control arms and seats. Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling certain model year 2001-2004 Escape vehicles manufactured October 22, 1999, through January 23, 2004, originally sold, or currently registered in, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. These vehicles may experience excessive corrosion at the forward attachment of the lower control arm. A separation of the lower control arm can result in a significant loss of control, increasing the risk of a crash. Ford will notify owners, and dealers will install a newly designed reinforcement cross-brace, free of charge. Parts are not currently available. Ford expects to send an interim notification around May 19, 2014. When parts are available, owners will be mailed a second letter to come in to have the part installed. If customers bring their vehicles to a dealer before reinforcement crossbraces are available, dealers will inspect the subframe and either inform customers that the vehicle is safe to drive until the remedy parts are available or provide a rental vehicle until parts are available if an immediate repair is needed. Owners may contact Ford at 1-800-392-3673. Ford's number for this recall is 14S02. Full text of recall announcement, click here. The company is also recalling 43,135 certain model year 2013-2014 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles manufactured August 15, 2012, through September 10, 2013, 2013-2014 Ford Escape vehicles manufactured June 5, 2012, through August 12, 2013, and 2013-2014 Ford C-Max vehicles manufactured from July 23, 2012, through May 28, 2013. The driver and passenger seatback assemblies may have been produced with sub-standard weld joints used to attach the seat back recliner mechanism to the seat frame. The affected seat backs may have insufficient strength to meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 207, "Seating Systems." The back of the subject seats may become loose or lean while driving and potentially increase the risk of injury in certain crashes. Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the seatback, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin around May 19, 2014. Owners may contact Ford at 1-800-392-3673. Ford's number for this recall is 14C03. Full text of recall, click here.

04/14/2014

AEREO MOBILE TV APP ON GOOGLE CHROMECAST TO LAUNCH MAY 29TH

More from the TV News Check, click here - 04/11/2014

GM SUSPENDS TWO ENGINEERS, EXPANDS RECALL ON IGNITION PARTS AND TAKES $1.3 BILLION LOSS ON 1ST QUARTER EARNINGS

More from the La Times, click here - 04/10/2014

TOYOTA RECALLS 6.4 MILLION CARS WORLDWIDE

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Two separate recall announcements affect nearly 6.4 million Toyota vehicles, 2 million of them in the U-S. A total of 27 different models are included, from Camry and Corolla, Pontiac Vibe and Subaru Trezia, which were made by Toyota. The problems include faulty air bag modules and other parts including seat rails, steering column brackets, engine starters, windshield wiper motors and air bag cables.

In the U-S, the company say the recalls affect approximately 1.3 million vehicles, including certain Model Year 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2008-2010 Highlander, 2009-2010 Tacoma, 2006-2008 RAV4 and 2006-2010 Yaris vehicles.  

The driver’s airbag module in the involved vehicles is attached to a spiral cable assembly with electrical connections that could become damaged when the steering wheel is turned.  If this occurs, the air bag warning lamp will illuminate.  In addition, the driver’s air bag could become deactivated, causing it to not deploy in the event of a crash.

Toyota is not aware of any injuries or fatalities caused by this condition.

Toyota is currently preparing the remedy for this condition.  For all involved vehicles, a Toyota dealer will replace the spiral cable with an improved one. Once preparations are complete, Toyota will send an owner notification letter by first class mail and the remedy will be provided at no charge.

Owners can find out if their vehicle is affected at www.toyota.com/recall, the Toyota Customer Experience at 1 800-331-4331, www.lexus.com/recall and Lexus Customer Satisfaction (1 800-255-3987). 

ALSO, another recall involving approximately 472,500 vehicles in the U-S, consisting of certain Model Year 2006-2010 Yaris Hatchback vehicles (approximately 158,000); certain Model Year 2007-2010 Yaris Sedan vehicles (approximately 250,500); and certain Model Year 2008-2010 Scion xD vehicles (approximately 64,000).    

In the seat rail of the driver seat of the involved vehicles and also the front passenger seat of three-door models, the springs used for the mechanism which lock the seat rail in its adjusting positions could break. This can happen if the seat is adjusted forward and/or rearward with high frequency.  If a seat rail spring breaks, the seat may not lock into the adjusted position.  If the vehicle is operated with a broken seat rail spring, the seat could move in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury to the occupant.

If the condition is present, an occupant may notice the following:

  • If both of the springs have broken, the seat will not lock into the adjusted position.
  • In limited instances, if a spring has broken and becomes stuck in the seat rail, the seat may only be capable of forward movement.  
Toyota is not aware of any accidents or injuries caused by this condition.

Toyota is currently preparing the remedy. Once preparations are complete, owners of vehicles subject to this safety recall will receive an owner notification letter by first class mail. 

The remedy, when available, will involve replacement of the seat track assembly at no charge to the customer.

Detailed information is available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall, the Toyota Customer Experience at 1 800-331-4331, www.lexus.com/recall and Lexus Customer Satisfaction (1 800-255-3987). 

More from Associated Press, click here - 04/09/2014

MID SIZE S-U-Vs NOT MUCH PROTECTION FROM SMALL OVERLAP CRASH TESTS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Chevrolet Equinox and its twin, the GMC Terrain, are the only midsize SUVs out of nine evaluated to earn a good rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small overlap front crash test, which, the group says, continues to challenge manufacturers more than a year and a half after its introduction.

The Equinox and the Terrain qualify for the Institute's highest award for 2014, TOP SAFETY PICK+. The Toyota Highlander, a midsize SUV whose acceptable small overlap rating was announced in December, also qualifies. The award is given to vehicles with a good or acceptable small overlap rating, good ratings in four other occupant protection tests, and a rating of basic or higher for front crash prevention.

Three other midsize SUVs in the test group rate poor for small overlap protection, and three are marginal.

"SUVs have gotten much safer over the past few generations, but some are better than others at providing comprehensive front crash protection," says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer. "When it comes to midsize SUVs, General Motors is showing the way forward. The Equinox and Terrain score well in all components of the small overlap test — structure, restraints and kinematics, and injury measures for four body regions."

The small overlap test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver's side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph.

The test is more difficult than either the head-on crashes conducted by the government or the longstanding IIHS moderate overlap test. In a small overlap test, the main structures of the vehicle's front-end crush zone are bypassed, making it hard for the vehicle to manage crash energy. The occupant compartment can collapse as a result.

The Equinox and Terrain were able to overcome this challenge, thanks to modifications on 2014 models to their front structure and door-hinge pillars. In the test, which was conducted on an Equinox but applies to the Terrain as well, the driver space was well-maintained, and the dummy’s movement was well-controlled. The dummy’s head hit the frontal airbag and stayed there. It would have been a perfect test performance if the side curtain airbag had provided more forward coverage. As it was, there was a gap in the inflated portion, which, in a slightly different crash, could leave the head vulnerable to hitting the door or intruding objects.

Full text of IIHS results and video, click here - 04/08/2014

IT'S MONDAY & HERE'S THE LATEST VEHICLE RECALLS / GM ON THE LIST YET AGAIN ALONG WITH CHRYSLER

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - GM is recalling 174,046 certain model year 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruze vehicles equipped with a 1.4L turbo engine, and manufactured between November 28, 2012, and March 7, 2014. On the affected vehicles, the right front half shaft may fracture and separate. If the half shaft fractures and separates while driving, the vehicle would lose power and coast to a stop. If a vehicle with a fractured half shaft is parked without the parking brake applied, the vehicle could move unexpectedly. Either condition increases the risk of a crash. GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the right half shaft, as needed, free of charge. Parts for the remedy are not currently available. GM will send an interim letter to owners the week of April 28, 2014. A second owner letter will be mailed when parts are available. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 1-866-694-6546. GM's number for this recall is 14079. This is an expansion of recall 13V-452. NOTE: Some vehicles subject to this recall were subject to the recall campaign initiated in 2013. Some of those vehicles were repaired using defective parts. Those owners will be advised that they must have their vehicles remedied again under this campaign and that having the earlier recall completed did not remedy their vehicles. Full text of recall announcement, click here.

General Motors LLC (GM ) is recalling 489,936 certain model year 2014 Chevrolet Silverado Light Duty Regular Cab, Double Cab, and Crew Cab 1500 series and model year 2015 Suburban and Tahoe; GMC model year 2014 Sierra Regular Cab, Double Cab, and Crew Cab 1500 Series and model year 2015 Yukon and Yukon XL vehicles equipped with a 6-Speed Automatic Transmission (feature code MYC). The subject vehicles may have a transmission oil cooler line that is not securely seated in the fitting. If the line is not securely seated and transmission oil leaks from the fitting, the oil could contact a hot surface and cause a vehicle fire. GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the transmission oil cooler line connection and repair the vehicles, as needed, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on April 28, 2014. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 1-866-694-6546 or GMC owners may contact GMC at 1-866-996-9463. GM's number for this recall is 14121. Full text of recall, click here.

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling 1,340,447 certain model year 2004-2006 and 2008-2009 Chevrolet Malibu, 2004-2006 Malibu Maxx, 2009-2010 HHR (non-turbo), 2010 Cobalt, 2008-2009 Saturn Aura and 2004-2007 Ion, and 2005-2009 Pontiac G6. In the affected vehicles, there may be a sudden loss of electric power steering (EPS) assist that could occur at any time while driving. If power steering assist is lost, greater driver effort would be required to steer the vehicle at low speeds, increasing the risk of a crash. GM will notify owners, and dealers will perform one of four bulletins. Parts are not currently available. GM expects to send an interim notification around April 28, 2014. When parts are available, owners will be mailed a second letter to come in to have the applicable bulletin applied. Bulletin 14115 covers model year 2004-2007 Saturn Ion, 2009-2010 Chevrolet HHR and 2010 Chevrolet Cobalts. Dealers will replace the EPS motor. Bulletin 14116 covers model year 2004-2006 Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx, 2005-2006 Pontiac G6 and 2008-2009 Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura built from March 1, 2008, through June 27, 2008. Dealers will replace the torque sensor assembly. Bulletin 14117 covers model year 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura built from February 1, 2008, through February 28, 2008. Dealers will replace the torque sensor assembly and EPS motor controller unit. Bulletin 14118 covers model year 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura built from October 1, 2007, through January 31, 2008. Dealers will replace the EPS motor controller unit. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 1-800-630-2438, Saturn at 1-800-553-6000, and Pontiac at 1-800-620-7668. GM's number for this recall is N140115. Note: GM bulletin number 14119 will be implemented for model year 2006-2008 and early production of 2009 Chevrolet HHR (non-turbo) and model year 2003 Saturn ION to provide EPS Motor replacement for the life of the vehicle. Full text of recall, click here.

Chrysler Group LLC (Chrysler) is recalling 644,354 certain model year 2011-2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango vehicles manufactured from January 5, 2010, through September 8, 2013. The subject vehicles have a brake booster with a center shell that may corrode and allow water to get inside. The water inside could freeze and limit the braking ability of the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash. Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will add a water diverter shield to the booster after the booster has been tested to confirm it can hold an acceptable amount of vacuum pressure. If the booster inspection confirms an unacceptable loss of vacuum pressure, the booster will be replaced. Repairs will be made free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in May 2014. Owners may contact Chrysler at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's recall campaign number is P14. Full text of Chrysler recall announcement, click here.

04/07/2014

EVENFLO RECALL 1.3 MILLION CHILD SEAT RESTRAINTS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Evenflo Company, Inc. (Evenflo) is recalling certain convertible and harnessed child restraints, models Momentum 65 (including LX and DLX), Chase (including LX, DLX, and Select), Maestro (including Performance), Symphony (including 65, LX, 65 E3, and DLX), Snugli All-In-One, Snugli Booster, Titan 65, SureRide DLX, and Secure Kid (including LX, DLX, 100, 300, and 400). The affected seats have model number prefixes of 306, 308, 310, 329, 345, 346, 371 or 385. The defect involves difficulty in unlatching the harness buckle. In the convertible car seats and harnessed booster seats, the buckle may become stuck in a latched condition so that it cannot be opened by depressing the buckle's release button. It may be difficult to remove the child from the restraint, increasing the risk of injury in the event of an emergency in which a prompt exit from the vehicle is required. Evenflo will notify registered owners in April 2014. The company will start providing replacement buckles along with installation instructions in April 2014. Owners may contact Evenflo at 1-800-490-7591 or online at www.buckle.evenflo.com. Note: For a complete list of the production dates of the affected seats, please click on "Associated Documents" and then "Defect Notice(Part 573)." Not all seats within the date ranges listed are included, so consumers should contact Evenflo at the number or website listed here with the seat's model and date of manufacture to confirm that their seat is included.

Full text of NHTSA announcement, click here - 04/05/2014

CHRYSLER NOT BE LEFT OUT OF RECALL MESS / JEEP AND DODGE S-U-V MODELS WITH BRAKE PROBLEMS

More from USA Today, click here - 04/03/2014

BIG DAY FOR AUTO RECALLS, NISSAN, TOYOTA AND OF COURSE, GM

URGENT ADDITIONAL UPDATE ON POWER STEERING ASSIST RECALLS FROM ASSOCIATED PRESS, CLICK HERE - GM TELLS SOME DEALERS TO TEMPORARILY STOP SELLING CHEVY CRUZES, CLICK HERE - More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Amid the controversy over GM's ignition switch is the confusion over just which vehicles are included in the recall. The confusion surrounds GM's additions to the original recall to include more than 2.1 million other vehicles, announced over this past weekend.

House and Senate subcommittees plan hearings starting TOMORROW to find out why GM didn't recall the cars sooner and why the government never investigated the cars. General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be among those testifying Tuesday and Wednesday. More from Associated Press, click here.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the GM ignition switch recall also involves the safe operation of the airbag system. Until this recall is performed, customers should remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the ignition key. Ignition keys should also be removed from the key ring. General Motors LLC (GM) notified the agency on February 10, 2014 that they are recalling 619,122 model year 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, and 2007 Pontiac G5 vehicles. On February 25, 2014, GM increased the recall to include an additional 748,024 model year 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice vehicles and 2003-2007 Saturn Ion vehicles and 2007 Saturn Sky vehicles. In these models, the weight on the key ring and/or road conditions or some other jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position, turning off the engine. On March 27, 2014, GM notified the agency that the defective ignition switches may have been used as service replacement parts on other vehicles, and as a result GM will be recalling certain model year 2008-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Sky, and Pontiac G5 and Solstice, and 2008-2011 Chevrolet HHR vehicles. The part numbers for the service parts are 10392423 (a/k/a ACDelco D1461F), 10392737, 15857948, 15854953, 15896640, and 25846762. This expansion represents an additional 823,788 vehicles. If the key is not in the run position, the air bags may not deploy if the vehicle is involved in a crash, increasing the risk of injury. GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the ignition switch, free of charge. An interim notification was issued to owners of 2007 and earlier models on March 10, 2014, informing them of the safety defect. Owners of 2008 and later vehicles will be mailed an interim letter on April 21, 2014. All affected owners will receive another letter once parts are available. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 1-800-222-1020, Pontiac at 1-800-762-2737 or Saturn at 1-800-553-6000. GM's number for the initial recall is 13454 and 14063 for the expansion. GM’s recall number for the vehicles that may have received the replacement parts is 14092. Note: Until the recall repairs have been performed, it is very important that customers remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the vehicle key. The key fob (if applicable), should also be removed from the key ring. Always wear your seatbelt. Full text of NHTSA announcement, click here.

Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan) is recalling 989,701 of certain model year 2013-2014 Altima, LEAF, Pathfinder, and Sentra, model year 2013 NV200 (aka Taxi) and Infiniti JX35 and model year 2014 Infiniti Q50 and QX60 vehicles. In the affected vehicles, the occupant classification system (OCS) software may incorrectly classify the passenger seat as empty, when it is occupied by an adult. If the OCS does not detect an adult occupant in the passenger seat, the passenger airbag would be deactivated. Failure of the passenger airbag to deploy during a crash (where deployment is warranted) could increase the risk of injury to the passenger. Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will update the OCS software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in mid-April 2014. Owners may contact Nissan at 1-800-647-7261. Full text of NHTSA announcement, click here.

Toyota is recalling 119,140 certain model year 2003-2004 Avalon vehicles manufactured June 5, 2002, through December 20, 2004. In these vehicles, the supplemental restraint system (SRS) circuits are susceptible to internal shorting. The electrical short may create an abnormal current flow and increased heat which can damage the circuits. This could result in an inadvertent deployment of the front air bags and/or seat belt pretensioners. Inadvertent deployment of the air bags or the seat belt pretensioners increases the risk of an injury or crash. Full text of NHTSA announcement, click here .

MANY VICTIMS OF IGNITION SWITCH PROBLEM WERE YOUNG, CLICK HERE - 03/31/2014

GM ADDS 971,000 VEHICLES TO IGNITION RECALL

More from Associated Press, click here - 03/29/2014

FDA ATTACHES WARNING TO JERKY DOG TREATS

More from the Christian Science Monitor, click here - 03/29/2014

GM RECALLS 1.5 MILLION VEHICLES FOR AIR BAG, BRAKE PROBLEMS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling 1,176,407 of certain model year 2008-2013 Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia and 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse and 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook vehicles. In the affected vehicles, increased resistance in the driver and passenger seat mounted side impact air bag (SIAB) wiring harnesses may result in the SIAB and seat belt pretensioners not deploying in the event of a crash. Failure of the side impact air bags and seat belt pretensioners to deploy in a crash increase the risk of injury to the driver and front seat occupant. GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected harness connections with soldered connections, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Buick owners may contact the owner center at 1-800-521-7300, Chevrolet owners at 1-866-694-6546, Saturn at 1-800-553-6000, and GMC owners at 1-866-996-9463. GM's number for this recall is 14030. Note: Vehicles repaired as part of Customer Satisfaction Campaign 10085 and special coverage 10335 have already had the subject condition repaired and therefore are not included in the safety recall. Full text of NHTSA announcement, click here.

ALSO, General Motors is recalling certain model year 2009-2014 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans manufactured January 27, 2009, through March 7, 2014 with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds and less and equipped with front passenger air bags. In the affected vehicles, during a frontal impact below the air bag deployment threshold, if an unbelted front passenger's head hits the instrument panel above where the passenger air bag is located, the panel may not sufficiently absorb the impact. As such, these vehicles fail to meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 201, "Occupant Protection in Interior Impact." In the event of a crash below the air bag deployment threshold, an unbelted front passenger seat occupant has an increased risk of injury. GM will notify owners. The manufacturer has not yet provided a remedy plan or notification schedule. Chevrolet owners may call 1-800-630-2438. GMC owners may call 1-866-996-9463. GM's number for this recall is 14082. Full text of NHTSA announcement, click here.

GM is recalling certain model year 2013-2014 Cadillac XTS vehicles manufactured February 14, 2012, through March 7, 2014. In the affected vehicles, a cavity plug on the brake booster pump connector may dislodge allowing corrosion of the brake booster pump relay connector. The corrosion of the brake booster pump relay connector may cause a resistive short and melt the connector, increasing the risk of a fire. GM will notify owners, and dealers will apply sealant to the connector cavity plugs, re-route the vacuum pump vent hose and replace the front body wiring harnesses as needed, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Cadillac at 1-866-982-2339. GM's number for this recall is 14062. Full text of NHTSA announcement, click here.

03/24/2014

TOYOTA FACES CRIMINAL CHARGE & $1.2 BILLION SETTLEMENT FOR MISLEADING STATEMENTS ON SAFETY ISSUES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Federal officials of multiple fedewrla agencies announced this morning a criminal wire fraud charge against Toyota Motor Corporation (“TOYOTA” or “the company”), an automotive company headquartered in Toyota City, Japan, that designs, manufactures, assembles, and sells Toyota and Lexus brand vehicles.  The charge is that TOYOTA defrauded consumers in the fall of 2009 and early 2010 by issuing misleading statements about safety issues in Toyota and Lexus vehicles.   

Also today, the Department of Justice announced a deferred prosecution agreement with TOYOTA (“the agreement”) under which the company admits that it misled U.S. consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements about two safety issues affecting its vehicles, each of which caused a type of unintended acceleration.  The admissions are contained in a detailed statement of facts attached to the agreement.  The agreement, which is subject to judicial review, requires TOYOTA to pay a $1.2 billion financial penalty – the largest penalty of its kind ever imposed on an automotive company, and imposes on TOYOTA an independent monitor to review and assess policies, practices and procedures relating to TOYOTA’s safety-related public statements and reporting obligations.  TOYOTA agrees to pay the penalty under a Final Order of Forfeiture in a parallel civil action also filed today in the Southern District of New York. 

The criminal charge is contained in an Information (“the information”) alleging one count of wire fraud.  If TOYOTA abides by all of the terms of the agreement, the Government will defer prosecution on the information for three years and then seek to dismiss the charge.

“Rather than promptly disclosing and correcting safety issues about which they were aware, Toyota made misleading public statements to consumers and gave inaccurate facts to Members of Congress,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “When car owners get behind the wheel, they have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe.  If any part of the automobile turns out to have safety issues, the car company has a duty to be upfront about them, to fix them quickly, and to immediately tell the truth about the problem and its scope. Toyota violated that basic compact.  Other car companies should not repeat Toyota’s mistake: a recall may damage a company’s reputation, but deceiving your customers makes that damage far more lasting.”

“Safety is our top priority,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “Throughout this recall process, NHTSA investigators worked tirelessly to make sure that Toyota recalled vehicles with defects causing unintended acceleration, and to determine when they learned of it, and as we learned today, they succeeded in this effort in spite of extraordinary challenges.  Today’s penalties follow NHTSA’s own record civil penalties of more than $66 million – together, they send a powerful message to all manufacturers to follow our recall requirements or they will face serious consequences.”

“Toyota stands charged with a criminal offense because it cared more about savings than safety and more about its own brand and bottom line than the truth,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York.  “In its zeal to stanch bad publicity in 2009 and 2010, Toyota misled regulators, misled customers, and even misstated the facts to Congress.  The tens of millions of drivers in America have an absolute right to expect that the companies manufacturing their cars are not lying about serious safety issues; are not slow-walking safety fixes; and are not playing games with their lives.  Companies that make inherently dangerous products must be maximally transparent, not two-faced.  That is why we have undertaken this landmark enforcement action.  And the entire auto industry should take notice.” 

“To the families and friends of those who died or were injured as a result of these incidents, I offer my deepest sympathies for your loss and my highest admiration for the strength you demonstrate every day,” said DOT Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III.  “As is true for Secretary Foxx and DOT, safety is and will remain the highest priority of my office.  The OIG is committed to working with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners in pursuing those who commit criminal violations of the Department of Transportation’s or related laws. The efforts of this dedicated multi-agency team and the agreement reached with Toyota must serve as a clarion call to all auto manufacturers of the need to always be as vigilant and forthcoming as possible to keep the public safe.”  

According to the allegations in the information, as well as other documents filed today in Manhattan federal court, including the Statement of Facts:           

In the fall of 2009, TOYOTA deceived consumers and its U.S. regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), by claiming that it had “addressed” the “root cause” of unintended acceleration in its vehicles through a limited safety recall of eight models for floor-mat entrapment, a dangerous condition in which an improperly secured or incompatible all-weather floor mat can “trap” a depressed gas pedal causing the car to accelerate to a high speed.  Such public assurances deceived customers and NHTSA in two ways:  First, at the time the statements were made, TOYOTA knew that it had not recalled some cars with design features that made them just as susceptible to floor-mat entrapment as some of the recalled cars.  Second, only weeks before these statements were made, TOYOTA had taken steps to hide from NHTSA another type of unintended acceleration in its vehicles, separate and apart from floor-mat entrapment: a problem with accelerators getting stuck at partially depressed levels, known as “sticky pedal.” 

Full text of Department of Justice announcement, click here - 03/19/2014

GM ADDS MORE THAN A MILLION S-U-Vs TO IGNITION SWITCH AND AIR BAG RECALL

More from Associated Press, click here - 03/18/2014

HONDA, JEEP AND DODGE MAKE WEEKLY DEFECT LIST / HONDA ANNOUNCES DEFECT ON NEARLY A MILLION ODDESSY VANS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (Honda) is recalling certain 2005-2010 Honda Odyssey vehicles manufactured June 23, 2004, through September 4, 2010. In the affected vehicles, the fuel pump strainer cover may deteriorate allowing fuel to leak out, becoming a potential fire hazard. Parts to permanently repair the affected vehicles are not currently available. Honda will notify owners with an interim letter during April 2014. A second notice will be mailed to owners when the remedy becomes available, currently expected to be during the summer of 2014. Any vehicles that are currently leaking from the fuel pump cover will get a replacement, original cover. All vehicles, including those receiving the interim repair, will get an improved cover when they are available. Owners may contact Honda at 1-800-999-1009. The recall numbers associated with this campaign are JD9 (inspection and/or preliminary part replacement) and JE0 (final parts replacement). Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Chrysler Group LLC (Chrysler) is recalling certain model year 2012-2013 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles manufactured October 11, 2011, through October 1, 2012. Under certain braking events, the Ready Alert Braking System (RAB) may result in the driver experiencing a hard brake pedal feel. If the driver experiences a hard brake pedal, the driver may not push the pedal as intended, lengthening the distance needed to stop the vehicle and increasing the risk of a crash. Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will update the ABS module software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in March 2014. Owners may contact Chrysler at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number associated with this recall is P05.

Chrysler Group LLC (Chrysler) is recalling certain model year 2014 Fiat 500L vehicles manufactured April 5, 2013, through January 22, 2014. In certain temperatures, moving the transmission shift lever may have a delayed effect or no effect on selecting a transmission gear.If there is no effect, the vehicle might not shift out of the Park position. If there is a delayed effect, the vehicle may move in an unintended or unexpected direction, increasing the risk of a crash. Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the shifter module or update the shifter software, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in April 2014. Owners may contact Chrysler at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number associated with this recall is P06.

Fiat recall full text, click here - Dodge, Jeep recall, click here - Honda recall, click here - 03/17/2014

SERGEANTS PET CARE, WELLMARK INTERNATIONAL AGREE TO PULL SOME FLEA COLLARS OFF MARKET TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM PESTICIDE RISKS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached agreement with Sergeant's Pet Care Products, Inc. and Wellmark International to cancel flea and tick pet collars containing propoxur marketed under the trade names including Bansect, Sentry, Zodiac and Biospot.

“This action is another example of EPA’s efforts to protect children from pesticide risks,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. This voluntary move will get to an expedient result that protects people’s health.”

This decision was reached between EPA and Sergeant's and Wellmark as a result of EPA’s risk assessment showing risks to children from exposure to pet collars containing propoxur. Propoxur is an insecticide registered for use to control ticks, fleas and a variety of insects and is used in industrial, commercial and residential facilities. The agreement represents the solution to most quickly remove the pet collars from the market.

EPA completed the propoxur pet collar risk assessment in fall 2013 in response to a Natural Resources Defense Council petition to cancel the uses. EPA’s risk assessment found, in some but not all use scenarios, unacceptable risks to children from exposure to propoxur pet collars on the first day following application. Because the manufacturers could not find a way to eliminate unacceptable risk under all scenarios, EPA encouraged them to cancel these products and they subsequently agreed.

EPA announced the voluntary cancellation on January 22, 2014. Under the cancellation agreement, manufacturers are allowed to produce the pet collars until April 1, 2015, and will not be allowed to distribute the products after April 1, 2016. EPA will continue to watch for incidents from the use of these collars and is prepared to take further action if necessary.

Flea and tick collars work by leaving a pesticide residue on dogs' and cats' fur, which can be transferred to people by hugging, petting or coming into contact with the pets. The major source of exposure to these chemicals is from absorption through the skin after directly touching the treated pet. Small children may ingest pesticide residues when they touch a treated cat or dog and subsequently put their hands in their mouth.

If you purchase a propoxur pet collar, read the label carefully and follow all directions on the label to protect your family from exposure. Do not allow children to play with the collar, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling.

For more information about the voluntary cancellation:

http://www2.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/companies-agree-stop-selling-pet-collars-containing-pesticide-protect-children

03/14/2014

SAFETY GROUP CLAIMS 303 PEOPLE DIED FROM GM IGNITION & AIR BAG PROBLEMS / SAYS FEDS FAILED TO DO MORE

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - In a letter to David Friedman, Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Center for Auto Safety claims many more drivers and passengers have died than originally estimated in the unfolding case of GM ingition and airbag failures.

CAS claims that examination of NHTSA’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reveals 303 deaths of front seat occupants in the recalled 2005-07 Cobalts and 2003-07 Ions where the airbag failed to deploy in non-rear impact crashes. The search did not include the other five models recalled or the number of deaths without airbag deployment would have been higher.

The safety group says FARS data clearly shows front seat occupants were being killed in crashes where the airbags did not deploy as soon as the recalled vehicles hit the road, with three deaths in Saturn Ions during 2003 and 6 deaths in Chevrolet Cobalts in 2005. The number of front seat occupant deaths steadily climbed as moreCobalts and Ions were sold with 43 in 2009 and 47 in 2010 where the airbags did not deploy. NHTSA could and should have initiated a defect investigation to determine why airbags were not deploying in Cobalts and Ions in increasing numbers.

As the agency has done in past investigations, CAS believes special investigation teams should have been sent out to acquire more information on the crashes found in FARS and determine in which ones the airbag did not deploy due to the ignition key defect.

Full text of letter from Center for Auto Safety, click here - 03/14/2014

FEDS UNDER FIRE FOR LATE START ON GM VEHICLE IGNITION RECALL

More from the Washington Post, click here - 03/11/2014

SEN. AL FRANKEN BATTLES COMCAST PURCHASE OF TIME-WARNER / CLAIMS MERGER WILL LEAVE CONSUMERS VULNERABLE TO UNFAIR CHARGES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has joined the battle against the proposed merger of Comcast and Time-Warner. The former Saturday Night Live star is making the rounds on TV and radio talk shows saying that the merger will be bad for cable tv customers. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, Franken states, " I am writing you regarding reports that Comcast plans to expand its empire by acquiring Time Warner Cable for over $40 billion. I have serious reservations about this proposed transaction, which would consolidate the largest and second largest cable providers in America. I urge you to act quickly and decisively to ensure that consumers are not exposed to increased cable prices and decreased quality of service as a result of this transaction".

Franken adds, "...rates have risen significantly over the last two decades, and my constituents express frustration at being squeezed by unacceptably high cable bills every month. Many consumers would switch cable providers if only they had a viable option to do so. Unfortunately, a handful of cable providers dominate the market, leaving consumers with little choice but to pay high bills for often unsatisfactory service. I am concerned that Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner would only make things worse for consumers".

"The fact that Comcast already has acquired NBC Universal also increases my concern about the proposed expansion of Comcast's empire", Franken writes. "As you know, I strongly opposed the Comcast-NBC Universal transaction because it gave Comcast too much control over television content, control Comcast could exert to raise prices, thus harming consumers and competitors. Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner threatens to extend Comcast's domination of both the cable and content markets even further. And, to make matters worse, all of this is taking place amidst ongoing questions as to Comcast's compliance with the terms and conditions set forth as part of the NBC Universal deal".

More from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, click here - More from the NY Times, click here - 03/10/2014

DEBT COLLECTORS STALL LEGISLATION IN CONGRESS PROTECTING CONSUMERS AGAINST MEDICAL BILL PRACTICES

More from the NY Times, click here - 03/09/2014

EPA FORCES U-S IMPORTER TO RECALL THOUSANDS CHINESE RV's AND CYCLES FOR EMISSIONS VIOLATIONS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A Chinese powersports company and its related U.S. distributor have agreed to recall and replace fuel tanks that will better control gasoline vapors in approximately 1,000 vehicles and take other steps to control pollution stemming from the illegal import of over 12,000 recreational vehicles and highway motorcycles. These motor vehicles were manufactured in China and imported without the required certification indicating that emissions would meet federal standards.

CFMOTO Powersports, Inc., (a successor to CFMOTO America, Inc.) based in Plymouth, Minn., and Zhejiang CFMOTO Power Co., Ltd., and Chunfeng Holding Group Co., Ltd., both based in China, will pay a combined civil penalty of $725,000.

“Enforcing emission standards is a critical way we protect clean air for all Americans,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The upgrades and changes required by today’s settlement will help reduce harmful air pollution that can cause respiratory illnesses, aggravate asthma and lead to smog.

In the settlement, approved today by the Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board, EPA alleges that over 12,000 highway motorcycles and recreational vehicles imported by the companies between 2007 and 2013 were not certified by EPA, as required by the Clean Air Act (CAA), to meet applicable federal emission standards. Of these, EPA found that 993 vehicles had fuel tanks that did not operate properly to control evaporative emissions, or gasoline vapors, and that approximately 1,400 vehicles were imported without proper emission control information labels.

In addition to the penalty, the companies must institute a Recall and Fuel Tank Replacement Program to replace all uncertified fuel tanks with certified ones to prevent any excess gasoline vapors. The companies must also correct the emission control information labels for those vehicles that are still within the control of the companies.

EPA discovered the alleged violations through joint inspections conducted with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and through a review of importation documents and other information provided by the companies.

Federal emissions standards for highway motorcycles and recreational vehicles have been in effect since 1977 and 2006, respectively. The CAA prohibits any vehicle or engine from being imported and sold in the United States unless it is covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity indicating that the vehicle or engine meets required emission standards

Recreational vehicle and highway motorcycles emit carbon monoxide, a gas that is poisonous at high levels in the air even to healthy people and is especially dangerous to people with heart disease. These vehicles also emit hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Exposure to even low levels of ozone can cause respiratory problems, and repeated exposure can aggravate pre-existing respiratory diseases.

CFMOTO Powersports, Inc. is a Minnesota corporation that holds certificates of conformity and that imports highway motorcycles and recreational vehicles manufactured by Zhejiang CFMoto Power Co., Ltd. and ChunFeng Holding Group Co. Ltd., both Chinese companies. CFMOTO America, Inc. is a now-dissolved Michigan corporation that was the predecessor to CFMOTO Powersports, Inc.

EPA filed an administrative complaint against CFMOTO Powersports in April 2013 and reached agreement on the settlement through an alternative dispute resolution process.

Full text of EPA announcement, click here - 03/04/2014

EPA ORDERS REMOVAL OF SULPHUR FROM REFINED OIL AND GAS

More from United Press International, click here - 03/04/2014

GM ADDS MORE CARS TO FAULTY IGNITION RECALL / ADMITS SLOW RESPONSE

More from USA Today, click here - 02/27/2014

US ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER RECOMMENDS ACTION AGAINST BUSINESSES DATA BREACHES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Attorney General Eric Holder has called on Congress to create a strong, national standard for quickly alerting consumers whose information may be compromised by cyberattacks. According to Holder, this legislation would strengthen the Justice Department's ability to combat crime, ensure individual privacy, and prevent identity theft, while also helping to bring cybercriminals to justice.

The complete text of the Attorney General’s weekly address is available below:

“Late last year, Target – the second-largest discount retailer in the United States – suffered a massive data breach that may have compromised the personal information of as many as 70 million people, in addition to credit and debit card information of up to 40 million customers.  The Department of Justice is currently investigating this breach, in close coordination with the U.S. Secret Service.  And we are moving aggressively to respond to hacking, cyberattacks, and other crimes that harm American consumers – and expose personal or financial information to those who would take advantage of their fellow citizens.

"As we’ve seen – especially in recent years – these crimes are becoming all too common.  And they have the potential to impact millions of Americans every year.  Just days after the Target breach was made public, another major retailer – Neiman Marcus – reported that it also suffered a suspected cyberattack during the holiday season.  And although Justice Department officials are working closely with the FBI and prosecutors across the country to bring cyber criminals to justice, it’s time for leaders in Washington to provide the tools we need to do even more: by requiring businesses to notify American consumers and law enforcement in the wake of significant data breaches.
               
“Today, I’m calling on Congress to create a strong, national standard for quickly alerting consumers whose information may be compromised.  This would empower the American people to protect themselves if they are at risk of identity theft.  It would enable law enforcement to better investigate these crimes – and hold compromised entities accountable when they fail to keep sensitive information safe.  And it would provide reasonable exemptions for harmless breaches, to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on businesses that do act responsibly.

“This legislation would strengthen the Justice Department’s ability to combat crime and ensure individual privacy – while bringing cybercriminals to justice.  My colleagues and I are eager to work with Members of Congress to refine and pass this important proposal.  And we will never stop working to protect the American people – using every tool and resource we can bring to bear.” The full video is available at http://www.justice.gov/agwa.php

Full text of Justice Department statement, click here - 02/26/2014

APPLE ENCRYPTIONS LEAVE I-PHONES, OTHER DEVICES VULNERABLE TO HACKERS

More from Reuters, click here - 02/22/2014

GEORGIA ATTORNEY FILES CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT OVER TARGET DATA BREACH / ATTORNEY IS ALSO VICTIM OF FRAUDULENT CHARGES FROM BREACH

More from WTOC-TV, Savannah, GA, click here - 02/22/2014

AEREO INTERNET T-V LOSES ROUND IN FEDERAL COURT / TEMPORARILY SHUT DOWN IN SOME WESTERN STATES

More from TV NewsCheck, click here - 02/20/2014

FCC PREPARES END RUN AROUND COURT RULING TO PRESERVE INTERNET NEUTRALITY

More from the Washington Post, click here - 02/19/2014

GRACO RECALLS MORE THAN 3 MILLION CHILD CAR SEATS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Child seat maker Graco says it is recalling all (3.7 million) toddler convertible car seats and harnessed booster seats manufactured from 2009 to July 2013. the company claims that that food and dried liquids that can make some harness buckles progressively more difficult to open over time or become stuck in the latched position.

Models affected are:

Toddler Convertible Car Seats: Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride 70, My Ride 65 with Safety Surround, Size4Me 70, My Size 70, Head Wise 70, Smart Seat. Harnessed Booster Seats: Nautilus 3-in-1, Nautilus Elite and Argos.

Graco offers a new and improved replacement harness buckle to affected consumers at no cost. If you are experiencing difficulty with your harness buckle and cleaning has not improved its performance, please contact our Graco customer service team at 800-345-4109 (Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.) or consumerservices@gracobaby.com

Full text of Graco announcement including buckle cleaning instructions, click here - 02/12/2014

SOFTWARE PROBLEM FORCES RECALL OF TOYOTA PRIUS/ RAV4 / LEXUS RX350 / TACOMA

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., today announced that it is advising the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of plans to conduct voluntary safety recalls of approximately 700,000 Model Year 2010-2014 Prius vehicles and, combined, approximately 260,000 Model Year 2012 Toyota RAV4, 2012-2013 Toyota Tacoma, and 2012-2013 Lexus RX 350 vehicles sold in the United States to address two separate issues.
 

  • Toyota will update the motor/generator control ECU and hybrid control ECU software on certain Model Year 2010-2014 Prius vehicles
The software’s current settings could result in higher thermal stress in certain transistors, potentially causing them to become damaged. If this happens, various warning lights will illuminate and the vehicle can enter a failsafe mode. In rare circumstances, the hybrid system might shut down while the vehicle is being driven, resulting in the loss of power and the vehicle coming to a stop.
  • Toyota will update the skid control ECU software on certain 2012 Toyota RAV4, 2012-2013 Toyota Tacoma, and 2012-2013 Lexus RX 350 models in order to address an electronic circuit condition that can cause the Vehicle Stability Control, Anti-lock Brake, and Traction Control functions to intermittently turn off. If these systems are off, standard braking operation remains fully functional.

Toyota has received no reports of accidents or injuries associated with either condition.

As part of these recalls, owners of affected vehicles will receive a software update free of charge. Owners will be notified by first class mail when the software updates are available at their dealers.

Detailed information is available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and by calling the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.

Lexus customers can visit www.lexus.com/recall or call the Lexus Customer Satisfaction Center at 1-800-25-LEXUS (1-800-255-3987).

Full text of Toyota statement, click here - 02/12/2014

FREE CELL PHONE PROGRAM, "LIFELINE" FULL OF FRAUD ACCORDING TO CRITICS

More from KCTV, click here - 02/11/2014

CALIFORNIA FIRM RECALLS NEARLY 9 MILLION POUNDS OF SUSPECT BEEF

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Rancho Feeding Corporation, a Petaluma, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 8,742,700 pounds, because it processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out these activities without the benefit or full benefit of federal inspection. Thus, the products are adulterated, because they are unsound, unwholesome or otherwise are unfit for human food and must be removed from commerce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The following Rancho Feeding Corporation products are subject to recall:

  • "Beef Carcasses” (wholesale and custom sales only)
  • 2 per box "Beef (Market) Heads" (retail only)
  • 4-gallons per box "Beef Blood" (wholesale only)
  • 20-lb. boxes of “Beef Oxtail”
  • 30-lb. boxes of “Beef Cheeks”
  • 30-lb. boxes of " Beef Lips"
  • 30-lb. boxes of "Beef Omasum"
  • 30-lb. boxes of "Beef Tripas"
  • 30-lb. boxes of "Mountain Oysters"
  • 30-lb. boxes of "Sweet Breads”
  • 30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Beef Liver”
  • 30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Beef Tripe”
  • 30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Beef Tongue”
  • 30- and 60-lb. boxes of "Veal Cuts"
  • 40-lb. boxes of "Veal Bones"
  • 50-lb. boxes of “Beef Feet”
  • 50-lb. boxes of “Beef Hearts”
  • 60-lb. boxes of "Veal Trim"

Beef carcasses and boxes bear the establishment number "EST. 527" inside the USDA mark of inspection.  Each box bears the case code number ending in “3” or “4.” The products were produced Jan. 1, 2013 through Jan. 7, 2014 and shipped to distribution centers and retail establishments in California, Florida, Illinois and Texas.

FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify that recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that recalled product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at: www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers and members of the media who have questions about the recall can contact the plant’s Quality Control manager, Scott Parks, at (707) 762-6651.

Full text of USDA announcement, click here - 02/09/2014

MASSIVE RECALLS FOR STROLLERS AND PACIFIERS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Britax Child Safety Inc., of Fort Mill, S.C., is recalling the Britax B-Agile, B-Agile Double and BOB Motion strollers. The single and double strollers were sold in various color schemes, including black, red, kiwi, sandstone, navy and orange. They were manufactured in China between March 2011 and June 2013 and have the following model numbers: U341763, U341764, U341782 and U341783 for the B-Agile strollers; U361818 or U361819 for the B-Agile Double strollers; and U391820, U391821 and U391822 for the BOB Motion strollers. The company estimates that about 216,000 were sold in the United States and 8,800 in Canada. The model number and the manufacture date in YYYY/MM/DD format can be found on label located on the inside of the stroller’s metal frame near the right rear wheel. Britax has received eight incident reports. Incidents include one partial fingertip amputation, one broken finger and severe finger lacerations. Consumers should stop using the recalled strollers immediately and contact Britax to receive a free repair kit.Major retailers and juvenile products stores nationwide, and online at Amazon.com, albeebaby.com, buybuybaby.com, diapers.com, ToysRUs.com and other online retailers from May 2011 through June 2013 for between $250 and $450. Britax; toll-free at (866) 204-1665 from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Friday, visit the company’s websites at www.britaxusa.com  or www.bobgear.com and click on “Safety Notice” at the top right corner or on “Learn More” at the bottom center of the page, or e-mail strollerrecall@britax.com for more information.

Also, Fred & Friends, of Cumberland, R.I., a division of Lifetime Brands, Inc., of Garden City, N.Y., is recalling three styles of Fred & Friends Chill Baby pacifiers, including the Artiste with a black plastic beard and mustache, Volume with a black volume control knob  and Panic with a red panic button. The pacifier’s name and UPC are printed on the packaging.  The Artiste’s UPC is 728987021282, the Volume style’s UPC is 728987020599 and the Panic style’s UPC is 728987020605. The pacifiers are plastic and silicone rubber and measure about 2 inches wide and 1½ inches tall. Fred & Friends has received one report of the knob on the Volume pacifier detaching. No injuries have been reported. Consumers should immediately take the recalled pacifiers away from young children and return them to Fred & Friends for a $12 refund. Fred & Friends is providing a postage paid envelope for consumers to return the recalled pacifiers. The pacifiers were made in China and sold in department stores,gift, drug, toy, baby product, grocery and home decorating stores, and hospital, museum gift shops nationwide and various websites from April 2013 through December 2013 for about $10. Fred & Friends toll-free at (855) 346-6372 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, email the firm at pacifiersconsumer@fredandfriends.com  or online at www.fredandfriends.com and click on Pacifier Recall for more information.

Full text of Stroller recall, click here - Full text of pacifier recall, click here - 02/01/2014

TOYOTA SIGNALS PROBABLE RECALL FOR MODELS WITH SEAT HEATERS WHICH MAY CAUSE FIRES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Toyota today announced that the company has initiated a stop sale of certain Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Corolla, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra vehicles equipped with seat heaters in order to address a non-compliance issue.
 
In involved vehicles, the seat heater, which is a small portion of the soft materials of the seat assembly, does not meet a provision of U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) requiring materials to retard flame at a specified rate. Toyota is preparing a modification for this condition, which will be implemented on all covered vehicles in dealer inventory.
 
There have been no reports globally of any related incidents in the field with units in operation. Per National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) regulations, Toyota will file a Non-Compliance Information Report with the agency.

Full text of Toyota announcement, click here - More from USA Today, click here - 01/30/2014

LATEST CRASH TESTS SHOW MINI CARS HAVE LESS PROTECTION

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - According to the Insurance Institute, only 1 minicar out of 11 tested achieves an acceptable rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small overlap front crash test, making these tiny vehicles the worst performing group of any evaluated so far. The Chevrolet Spark's acceptable rating in the test, along with good ratings in the Institute's four other crash worthiness evaluations, earns the new minicar a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK award. The Spark was among the initial award winners announced in December. The new small overlap test results for the rest of the minicar group mean that no other models in this size category join the Spark in the winner's circle yet. Introduced in 2012, the small overlap test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver's side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph.

"Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage. That's why it's even more important to choose one with the best occupant protection," says Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president for vehicle research. "Unfortunately, as a group, minicars aren't performing as well as other vehicle categories in the small overlap crash."

In contrast to the minicar group's performance, most models in the small car category, which are a little larger, have done much better in the test. There are five good ratings and five acceptable ratings among 17 small cars that have been evaluated so far.

Small overlap front crash test ratings for minicars. Unless specified, ratings apply to both 2013 and 2014 models.

          Dummy injury measures
    Overall Structure Restraints
& kinematics
Head
& neck
Chest Hip
& thigh
Lower leg
& foot
2014 TOP SAFETY PICK logo
Chevrolet Spark
A
M
A
G
G
G
G
Mazda 2
M
M
A
G
G
G
P
Kia Rio
M
M
M
G
G
G
P
Toyota Yaris
M
M
P
G
G
G
M
2014 Ford Fiesta
built after August 2013
M
M
P
A
G
G
A
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage
P
M
P
G
G
G
P
  Nissan Versa sedan
P
P
M
G
G
G
P
  Toyota Prius c
P
P
P
G
G
G
P
  Hyundai Accent
P
P
P
G
G
M
M
  Fiat 500
P
P
P
G
G
M
P
  Honda FIt
P
P
M
G
G
P
P
GOOD
G
ACCEPTABLE
A
MARGINAL
M
POOR
P

Full text of Insurance Institute report on mini cars, click here - Video of crash tests, click here - 01/22/2014

LATEST MAJOR VEHICLE RECALLS / FORD EDGE, TESLA, CHEVY-GMC PICKUPS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The largest of the latest vehicle recalls involves the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.

According to General Motors, about 300,000 of the 2014 model year Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras equipped with 4.3L or 5.3L engines, can experience overheated exhaust components when the vehicle is idling in cold temperatures.The overheated exhaust components may melt nearby plastic parts and may result in an engine fire. General Motors will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the engine control module, free of charge. The recall began on January 16, 2014. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 1-800-222-1020 and GMC at 1-800-462-8782. General Motors' number for this recall is 14008. Click here for full text of NHTSA bulletin.

Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling nearly 28,000 model year 2012-2013 Edge vehicles manufactured from September 2, 2010, through April 25, 2013, and equipped with 2.0L engines. The fuel line pulse damper metal housing may crack as a result of an improper manufacturing process. A cracked fuel line pulse damper housing may result in a combination of fuel odor, weepage, or a continuous leak while the fuel system is pressurized.A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source may result in a fire. Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel line with one that does not have a damper, free of charge. The safety recall is scheduled to begin on February 28, 2014. Owners may contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 13S13. IMPORTANT: This recall supersedes recall 12V-438. All vehicles that have been remedied under the previous recall need to have the current remedy applied. Full text of NHTSA bulletin, click here .

And Tesla Motors, makers of electric powered sport luxury cars, is recalling 29,000 model year 2013 Model S vehicles equipped for, and delivered with, certain NEMA 14-50 (240 volt) Universal Mobile Connector (UMC) adapters. During charging, the adapter, cord, or wall outlet could overheat. An overheated adapter, cord, or wall outlet increases the risk of burn injury and/or fire. Tesla will notify owners and provide an "over-the-air" software update. Some owners have already received this update. This update allows the Model S on board charging system to detect any unexpected fluctuations in the input power or higher resistance connections to the vehicle. If detected, the onboard charging system will automatically reduce the charging current by 25%. Tesla owners can verify that they have received the updated software (version 5.8.4 or later) by viewing the vehicle's center information screen. Additionally, Tesla will mail owners a replacement NEMA 14-50 adapter that is equipped with an internal thermal fuse. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Tesla Service Center at 1-877-79-TESLA (1-877-798-3752). Full text of NTHSA bulletin, click here .

01/20/2014

APPLE MUST PAY $32 MILLION SETTLEMENT OVER UNAUTHORIZED CHILDRENS APP DOWNLOADS / CUSTOMERS TO GET REFUNDS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Apple Inc. has agreed to provide full refunds to consumers, paying a minimum of $32.5 million, to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint that the company billed consumers for millions of dollars of charges incurred by children in kids’ mobile apps without their parents’ consent.

Under the terms of the settlement with the FTC, Apple also will be required to change its billing practices to ensure that it has obtained express, informed consent from consumers before charging them for items sold in mobile apps.

“This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple’s unfair billing, and a signal to the business community: whether you’re doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.  “You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize.”

The FTC’s complaint alleges that Apple violated the FTC Act by failing to tell parents that by entering a password they were approving a single in-app purchase and also 15 minutes of additional unlimited purchases their children could make without further action by the parent. 

Apple offers many kids’ apps in its App Store that allow users to incur charges within the apps.  Many of these charges are for virtual items or currency used in playing a game.  These charges generally range from 99 cents to $99.99 per in-app charge.

The complaint alleges that Apple does not inform account holders that entering their password will open a 15-minute window in which children can incur unlimited charges with no further action from the account holder. In addition, according to the complaint, Apple has often presented a screen with a prompt for a parent to enter his or her password in a kids’ app without explaining to the account holder that password entry would finalize any purchase at all.

The rapidly expanding mobile arena has been a focus of the Commission’s consumer protection efforts. In addition to its consumer protection enforcement activity in the mobile sphere, last year, the FTC issued staff reports addressing mobile payments and providing recommendations for the mobile industry on how to protect consumers as new and innovative payment systems come into use, advocating improved privacy disclosures in the mobile environment, and addressing advertising disclosures in the context of mobile devices.

In its complaint, the FTC notes that Apple received at least tens of thousands of complaints about unauthorized in-app purchases by children. One consumer reported that her daughter had spent $2,600 in the app “Tap Pet Hotel,” and other consumers reported unauthorized purchases by children totaling more than $500 in the apps “Dragon Story” and “Tiny Zoo Friends.” According to the complaint, consumers have reported millions of dollars in unauthorized charges to Apple.

The settlement requires Apple to modify its billing practices to ensure that Apple obtains consumers’ express, informed consent prior to billing them for in-app charges, and that if the company gets consumers’ consent for future charges, consumers must have the option to withdraw their consent at any time. Apple must make these changes no later than March 31, 2014.

Under the settlement, Apple will be required to provide full refunds, totaling a minimum of $32.5 million, to consumers who were billed for in-app charges that were incurred by children and were either accidental or not authorized by the consumer. Apple must make these refunds promptly, upon request from an account holder. Apple is required to give notice of the availability of refunds to all consumers charged for in-app charges with instructions on how to obtain a refund for unauthorized purchases by kids. Should Apple issue less than $32.5 million in refunds to consumers within the 12 months after the settlement becomes final, the company must remit the balance to the Commission.

Full text of FTC statement, click here - 01/15/2014

FCC NET NEUTRALITY RULES LOSE IN FEDERAL APPEALS COURT / LIKELY HEADED TO SUPREME COURT

More from the Wall Street Journal, click here - 01/15/2014

NEIMAN MARCUS, OTHER RETAILERS LIKELY AFFECTED BY HOLIDAY DATA BREACHES

More from TechCrunch, click here - 01/12/2014

TARGET SAYS BANK CARD DATA BREACH MUCH MORE EXTENSIVE THAN FIRST REPORTED

More from the LA Times, click here - 01/11/2014

FOSTER FARMS CALIFORNIA PLANT CLOSED DUE TO ROACHES

More from the Fresno Bee, click here - 01/09/2014

FEDS MOVE AGAINST WEIGHT LOSS FRAUDSTERS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Federal Trade Commission has announced a law enforcement initiative stopping national marketers that used deceptive advertising claims to peddle fad weight- loss products, from food additives and skin cream to dietary supplements. Operation Failed Resolution” is part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to stop misleading claims for products promoting easy weight loss and slimmer bodies.  The marketers of Sensa, who exhorted consumers to “sprinkle, eat, and lose weight” – will pay $26.5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceived consumers with unfounded weight-loss claims and misleading endorsements.  The FTC will make these funds available for refunds to consumers who bought Sensa.

The agency also announced charges against the marketers of two other products that made unfounded promises:

  • L’Occitane, which claimed that its skin cream would slim users’ bodies but had no science to back up that claim, and
  • HCG Diet Direct, which marketed an unproven human hormone that has been touted by hucksters for more than half a century as a weight-loss treatment.

And it announced a partial settlement in a fourth case, LeanSpa, LLC, an operation that allegedly deceptively promoted acai berry and “colon cleanse” weight-loss supplements through fake news websites.

“Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  “And the chances of being successful just by sprinkling something on your food, rubbing cream on your thighs, or using a supplement are slim to none.  The science just isn’t there.”

In total, the weight-loss marketers will pay approximately $34 million for consumer redress.  In addition to the $26.5 million to be paid by Sensa, L’Occitane, Inc. will pay $450,000, and the LeanSpa scettling defendants will surrender assets totalling an estimated $7.3 million.  The judgment against the HCG Diet Direct defendants is suspended due to their inability to pay.

Full text of FTC statement, click here - 01/08/2013

TARGET SAYS DEBIT CARD PIN NUMBERS ALSO LIFTED IN RECENT DATA THEFT

More from USA Today, click here - 12/28/2013

JP MORGAN CHASE PLACES LIMITS ON DEBIT CARDHOLDER WITHDRAWLS DUE TO TARGET DATA THEFT CASE / BUSINESS CUSTOMERS ALSO AFFECTED

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Fallout continues to mount from the data theft of least 40 million credit and debit cards from Target stores. JP Morgan Chase has announced that customers who used Chase brand debit cards at Target from November 27 through December 15 are now limited to $100 a day of cash withdrawals and $300 a day of purchases with their cards. According to the company, the new limit effects roughly 2 million accounts, or 10 percent of Chase debit cards.

ALSO, CHASE IS LIMITING BUSINESS CUSTOMERS with Chase BusinessSelect Checking and Chase BusinessClassic accounts who have received letters during this past week informing them that cash activity (both deposits and withdrawals) will be limited to a $50,000 total per statement cycle from November 17 onwards. The company also announced,

"You (BUSINESS CUSTOMERS) will no longer be able to send international wire transfers. You will still be able to send domestic wires and receive both domestic and international wires. We’ll cancel any international wire transfers, including recurring ones, you scheduled to be sent after this date. Your cash activity limit for these accounts(s) will be $50,000 per statement cycle, per account. Cash activity is the combined total of cash deposits made at branches, night drops and ATMs and cash withdrawals made at branches (including purchases of money orders) and ATMs".

More details in links below.

More from Reuters, click here - US card security lacking, click here - Chase limits business cardholder withdrawals and purchases, click here - 12/22/2013

TARGET STORES REPORT MASSIVE DATA THEFT / AFFECTS ESTIMATED 40 MILLION DEBIT AND CREDIT CARDS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Target stores have announced that in store transactions involving credit and debit cards have been compromised during the busiest weeks of the year.

In a statement, the company says, "The unauthorized access may impact guests who made credit or debit card purchases in our U.S. stores from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15, 2013. Your trust is a top priority for Target, and we deeply regret the inconvenience this may cause. The privacy and protection of our guests’ information is a matter we take very seriously and we have worked swiftly to resolve the incident.We began investigating the incident as soon as we learned of it. We have determined that the information involved in this incident included customer name, credit or debit card number, and the card’s expiration date and CVV (the three-digit security code). We are partnering with a leading third-party forensics firm to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and to examine additional measures we can take that would be designed to help prevent incidents of this kind in the future. Additionally, Target alerted authorities and financial institutions immediately after we discovered and confirmed the unauthorized access, and we are putting our full resources behind these efforts. We recommend that you closely review the information provided in this letter for some steps that you may take to protect yourself against potential misuse of your credit and debit information.  You should remain vigilant for incidents of fraud and identity theft by regularly reviewing your account statements and monitoring free credit reports.  If you discover any suspicious or unusual activity on your accounts or suspect fraud, be sure to report it immediately to your financial institutions.  In addition, you may contact the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) or law enforcement to report incidents of identity theft or to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft.  To learn more, you can go to the FTC’s Web site, at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or call the FTC, at (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338) or write to Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580".

You may also periodically obtain credit reports from each nationwide credit reporting agency.

Full text of Target statement, click here - 12/19/2013 

FDA PROPOSES BAN ON ANTI-BACTERIAL SOAP UNLESS MAKERS CAN PROVE CLAIMS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Years of contoversy over the effectiveness and necessity of anti-bacterial soaps have prompted a response from from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA today announced it was proposing a ban certain formulas of anti-bacterial soaps demanding that the maker prove they perform as advertised. In a statement, the agency writes it is proposing a new rule to require manufacturers of antibacterial hand soaps and body washes to demonstrate that their products are safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections. Under the proposal, if companies do not demonstrate such safety and effectiveness, these products would need to be reformulated or relabeled to remain on the market.

The FDA says today’s action is part of a larger, ongoing review of antibacterial active ingredients by the FDA to ensure these ingredients are proven to be safe and effective. This proposed rule does not affect hand sanitizers, wipes, or antibacterial products used in health care settings. 
 
Millions of Americans use antibacterial hand soap and body wash products. Although consumers generally view these products as effective tools to help prevent the spread of germs, there is currently no evidence that they are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. Further, some data suggest that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products—for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps)—could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects.
 
“Antibacterial soaps and body washes are used widely and frequently by consumers in everyday home, work, school, and public settings, where the risk of infection is relatively low,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “Due to consumers’ extensive exposure to the ingredients in antibacterial soaps, we believe there should be a clearly demonstrated benefit from using antibacterial soap to balance any potential risk.”
 
The widespread consumer use of antibacterial products, the accumulated scientific information and concerns raised by health care and consumer groups have prompted the FDA to reevaluate what data are needed to classify the active ingredients in consumer antibacterial products as “generally recognized as safe and effective” or GRASE.  Under the proposed rule, manufacturers who want to continue marketing antibacterial products will be required to provide the agency with additional data on the products’ safety and effectiveness, including data from clinical studies to demonstrate that these products are superior to non-antibacterial soaps in preventing human illness or reducing infection.

Full text of FDA announcement, click here - 12/16/2013

MICHELIN RECALLS 1.3 MILLION COMMERCIAL LIGHT TRUCK TIRES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Michelin has announced a recall of approximately 1.3 million of its Michelin LTX M/S commercial light truck tires sold primarily in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. About 1.2 million of these tires were sold in the U.S. The tires are typically found on such vehicles as commercial light trucks, full-sized heavy duty vans, small RVs and some large pickup trucks.

This recall, which has been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is being issued because an increasing number of tires are experiencing tread loss and/or rapid air loss. The U.S. customer returns for these conditions are currently 0.015 percent of the total population, or less than 200 tires. No returns for tires with these conditions have been reported outside the U.S.

The recalled tires were manufactured between January 2010 and June 2012. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) date range that appears on the tire sidewall is represented by four numbers, with the first two digits denoting the week and the last two digits representing the year.

The DOT range and product identifiers for the affected tires are:

Tire Description

DOT Sequence

DOT Production

Periods (Inclusive)

 

Michelin LTX M/S LT 225/75R16 115/112R LRE

B3JH AKEX

0210 – 2512

The tires were fitted as original equipment on some new vehicles and were also sold as new replacement tires. Michelin stopped producing the tire in June 2012 as part of the company's normal process of refreshing its product lines.

Michelin said it regrets the inconvenience to its customers and dealers. Owners of the affected tires should visit an authorized Michelin retail location as soon as possible to have the tires replaced at no charge.

For additional information on this recall, visit Michelin at:

USA: www.michelinman.com/safetyrecall

12/14/2013

CARE CREDIT, USED BY DOCTORS AND DENTISTS OFFICES, ORDERED TO PAY $34 MILLION IN REFUNDS TO CUSTOMERS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A consumer health care financing subsidiary of GE Capital Retail Bank, Care Credit, has been ordered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to refund $34.1 million to potentially more than 1 million consumers who were victims of deceptive credit card enrollment tactics.

According to the CFPB, consumers were signed up for CareCredit credit cards they thought were interest free, but were actually accruing interest that kicked in if the full balance was not paid at the end of a promotional period.

“Medical debt is already a big problem for many Americans. Poor credit card transparency should not be making the problem even worse,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Deferred-interest products can be risky for consumers in the best of circumstances, and today’s action ensures that CareCredit will no longer profit from consumer confusion. The Bureau will not tolerate financial companies that take advantage of patients and their loved ones.”

CareCredit offers personal lines of credit for health-care services, including dental, cosmetic, vision, and veterinary care. Doctors, dentists and other medical providers and their office staff, such as office managers and receptionists, are the primary sellers of the product, offering it as a payment option for their patients. The product is sold by more than 175,000 enrolled providers across the country. There are about 4 million active CareCredit cardholders.

Approximately 85 percent of CareCredit borrowers are placed in a deferred-interest financing plan. Under this “no interest if paid in full” plan, consumers make monthly payments while CareCredit assesses 26.99 percent annual interest on a consumer’s balance throughout a promotional period, which can range from six to 24 months. If any portion of the balance has not been paid when the promotional period ends, the consumer becomes liable for all of the accrued interest.

According to the CFPB order, since January 2009, consumers who signed up for the credit card frequently received an inadequate explanation of the terms. Many consumers, most of whom were enrolled while waiting for health-care treatment, incurred substantial debt because they did not understand how they could have avoided deferred interest, penalties, and fees. The CFPB began investigating CareCredit after receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers.

Full text of CFPB statement, click here - 12/11/2013

HARVARD STUDY SHOWS MOST FAMILIES FACE RISING HOUSING COSTS WITH DECREASING INCOMES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Reversing the long up trend in home ownership, American households have increasingly turned to the rental market for their housing, according to a Harvard study. From 31 percent in 2004, the renter share of all US households climbed to 35 percent in 2012, bringing the total number to 43 million by early 2013.

The study, from the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies shows the largest increase in share is among households in their 30s, up by at least 9 percentage points over an eight-year span. But shares of households across all five-year age groups between 25 and 54 also rose by at least 6 percentage points. In fact, the jump in rental rates for most age groups was well above the 4.0 percent overall rise, reflecting how the movement of the population into older age groups (when owning is more prevalent) stemmed some of the drop in home ownership.

Mirroring overall population growth, minorities will contribute virtually all of the net increase in renters over the coming decade, with Hispanics alone accounting for more than alf of the total. Again assuming today’s rates of renting, minorities will add between 1.8 million and 2.2 million renter households in the 25–44 age group, with the wide range reflecting different assumptions about future immigration levels. Significant shares of these younger renter households will be married couples with children and single-parent families, which together will account for another 30 percent of new renters. This group of households will seek more spacious homes to accommodate their larger families and in locations with access to good schools and employment opportunities.

In 2011, the last year for which detailed information is available, both the overall share of renters with cost burdens and the share with severe burdens moved up by about half a percentage point. These increases expanded the ranks of cost-burdened renters to 20.6 million, including 11.3 million that pay more than half their incomes for housing. Initial estimates for 2012 indicate the number of cost-burdened households again increased to a record 21.1 million. Although the share of cost-burdened renters receded slightly, this modest improvement occurred only because the number of higher income renters rose sharply. With little else in their already tight budgets to cut, these renters spend about $130 less on food—a reduction of nearly 40 percent relative to those without burdens. Severely burdened households with expenditures between $15,000–30,000 (one to two times full-time federal minimum wage work) cut back on food by a similar amount. Housing affordability is thus clearly linked to the problem of hunger in America. Both lower-income groups with severe housing cost burdens also spend significantly less on health care and retirement savings, with direct implications for their current and future well-being. But even those lower-income house holds that manage to secure affordable housing face difficult tradeoffs, often living in inadequate conditions or spending more on transportation.

Full text of actual report, click here - 12/09/2013

SEQUESTRATION FOOD STAMP CUTS WORSEN FOOD INSECURITY FOR NEEDY FAMILIES

More in this article from veteran Washington columnist Eleanor Clift, click here - Video of story from the PBS NewsHour, click here - 11/27/2013

HUGE READY TO EAT SALAD AND SLAW RECALL EXPANDS TO OTHER STATES, PRODUCTS AND STORES/ NUMBER OF E. COLI ILLNESSES GROW

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Garden-Fresh Foods has initiated an expansion of previous recalls of fresh cut vegetables, ready-to-eat salads, slaws, dips and spreads sold under various brands and code dates manufactured prior to November 06, 2013. All packaging types and sizes are included. The company has not received reports of illnesses due to consumption of these products, however anyone concerned about an illness should contact a healthcare provider.

The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The products were sold nationwide to retail stores, restaurants and institutions. Garden-Fresh Foods Inc. is concerned that expired product may be frozen in consumer homes. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-645-3367 Monday through Friday between the hours 8:00AM - 4:30 PM.

IMPORTANT! SEE BOTH LISTS OF PRODUCTS FOR SPECIFIC BRAND NAMES AND CODES!!! Product announcement #1, click here - Product announcement #2, click here - 11/12/2013

E. COLI ILLNESSES PROMPTS 90 TON SALAD RECALL

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Glass Onion Catering, a Richmond, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 181,620 pounds of ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products with fully-cooked chicken and ham that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. 

The company announced that the products are being recalled in conjunction with other foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A full list of products being recalled will be available on FDA’s website at: www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Recalls/default.htm.

Products regulated by FSIS bear the establishment number “P-34221” inside the USDA mark of inspection. FSIS products subject to recall include: [Labels, PDF]

  • 12 oz. packages of  “delish pan pacific chop salad”
  • 13.4 oz. packages of  “delish California style grilled chicken salad”
  • 9.9 oz. packages of  “delish uncured applewood smoked ham & cheese wrap”
  • 10.5 oz. packages of “delish grilled chicken caesar wrap”
  • 10.9 oz. packages of  “delish southwestern chicken wrap”
  • 11.5 oz. packages of  “delish greek brand low-calorie grilled chicken wrap”
  • 9.9 oz. packages of  “delish white chicken club wrap”
  • 11.2 oz. packages of  “delish asian style chicken wrap”
  • 13.4 oz. packages of  “atherstone Fine Foods Southwestern Style White Chicken Wrap with Chimichurri Sauce”
  • 10.5 oz. packages of  “atherstone Fine Foods Asian Style White Chicken Wrap with Mango Vinaigrette”
  • 9.9 oz. packages of  “atherstone Fine Foods Grilled White Chicken Caesar Wrap with Caesar Dressing”
  • 10.7 oz. packages of  “super fresh Foods California Grilled Chicken Salad, Low Fat Mendocino Mustard Dressing”
  • 10.7 oz. packages of  “Lunch Spot Southwestern Style Chicken Wrap, Chile & Lime  Dressing”
  • 9.2 oz. packages of  “super fresh Foods Pan Pacific Chopped Chicken Salad, Ginger Soy Dressing”
  • 10.7 oz. plastic containers of “TRADER JOE’S Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken.”
  • 11 oz. plastic containers of “TRADER JOSÉ’S MEXICALI SALAD with Chili Lime Chicken.”

The products were produced between Sept. 23 and Nov. 6, 2013 Glass Onion Catering, a Richmond, Calif. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

FSIS began monitoring a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses on Oct. 29, 2013 then was notified by FDA on Nov. 6, 2013 that California authorities had reported case-patients consuming pre-packaged salads with grilled chicken. Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FDA, the California Department of Public Health, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Arizona Department of Health Services, FSIS has determined that there is a link between the grilled chicken salads and the illness cluster. Twenty-six case-patients have been identified in three states with indistinguishable E. coli O157:H7 PFGE (genetic fingerprint) patterns with illness onset dates ranging from Sept 29, 2013 to Oct. 26, 2013. Based on epidemiological information, 15 case-patients reported consumption of ready-to-eat pre-packaged salads prior to illness onset. A traceback investigation determined Glass Onion Catering was the supplier of the products implicated in the outbreak.   

While uncommon to find E. coli O157:H7 in a poultry product, FSIS will continue its investigation in conjunction with the FDA to identify the source of the contamination. FSIS continues to work with the CDC, FDA and state public health partners on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (3-4 days, on average) after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify theircustomers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some products may be in a consumer’s refrigerators. Because this is a ready-to-eat product, FSIS advises all consumers to destroy the product.

Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Tom Atherstone, company president, at (510) 236-8905.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

Full text of USDA press release, click here - 11/11/2013

FAA CLEARS ELECTRONIC DEVICES DURING FLIGHT

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta says the FAA has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight, and is immediately providing the airlines with implementation guidance. 

Due to differences among fleets and operations, the implementation will vary among airlines, but the agency expects many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year.

The FAA based its decision on input from a group of experts that included representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and the mobile technology industry.

Top points released in a statement from the FAA are:

1. Make safety your first priority.

2.  Changes to PED policies will not happen immediately and will vary by airline. Check with your airline to see if and when you can use your PED.

3.  Current PED policies remain in effect until an airline completes a safety assessment, gets FAA approval, and changes its PED policy.

4. Cell phones may not be used for voice communications.

5.  Devices must be used in airplane mode or with the cellular connection disabled. You may use the WiFi connection on your device if the plane has an installed WiFi system and the airline allows its use.  You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

6. Properly stow heavier devices under seats or in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing. These items could impede evacuation of an aircraft or may injure you or someone else in the event of turbulence or an accident.    

7. During the safety briefing, put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the crewmember’s instructions.

8.  It only takes a few minutes to secure items according to the crew’s instructions during takeoff and landing.

9.  In some instances of low visibility – about one percent of flights – some landing systems may not be proved PED tolerant, so you may be asked to turn off your device.

10. Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn off your device if asked.

Current FAA regulations require an aircraft operator to determine that radio frequency interference from PEDs is not a flight safety risk before the operator authorizes them for use during certain phases of flight. Even PEDs that do not intentionally transmit signals can emit unintentional radio energy. This energy may affect aircraft safety because the signals can occur at the same frequencies used by the plane’s highly sensitive communications, navigation, flight control and electronic equipment. An airline must show it can prevent potential interference that could pose a safety hazard. The PED ARC report helps the FAA to guide airlines through determining that they can safely allow widespread use of PEDs. 

The PED ARC began work in January, at the request of Administrator Huerta, to determine if it is safe to allow more widespread use of electronic devices in today’s aircraft.  The group also reviewed the public’s comments in response to an August 2012 FAA notice on current policy, guidance, and procedures that aircraft operators use when determining if passengers can use PEDs. The group did not consider the use of electronic devices for voice communications. A fact sheet on the report is now available.

The FAA is immediately giving airlines a clear path to safely expand PED use by passengers, and the Administrator will evaluate the rest of the ARC’s longer-term recommendations and respond at a later date.

A Portable Electronic Device is any piece of lightweight, electrically-powered equipment. These devices are typically consumer electronic devices capable of communications, data processing and/or utility.  Examples range from handheld, lightweight electronic devices such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones to small devices such as MP3 players and electronic toys.

The PED ARC report and FAA guidance materials are available on our website.

Full text of FAA press release, click here - 10/31/2013

5% FOOD STAMP CUTS BEGIN

More from USA Today - Cuts in food stamp program vary by state. Story offers link to cuts by state - 10/31/2013

MORE HOMES BEING BUILT WITH "MOTHER IN LAW SUITE" FOR BOOMERS AND THEIR PARENTS

More from the Voice of America YouTube video below - 10/29/2013

 

DEBIT CARDS PREFERRED BY IDENTITY THIEVES / CARD OWNERS MAY GET STUCK WITH DISPUTED CHARGES

More from the LA Times, click here - 10/20/2013

AIRLINES SLIM SEATBACKS TO GET MORE PASSENGERS

More from Associated Press, click here - 10/15/2013

AEREO INTERNET TELEVISION SERVICE WINS ANOTHER COURT FIGHT / ESTABLISHES MOBILE APP

More from the Washington Post, click here - 10/11/2013

CDC CALLS BACK 30 INSPECTORS TO HELP USDA BATTLE SALMONELLA OUTBREAK

More from the Emeritus Newsroom -CDC is collaborating with public health and agriculture officials in many states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections. The DNA fingerprints of the Salmonella Heidelberg bacteria associated with the current outbreak include the strain that was also associated with a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farms brand chicken during 2012-2013. Among those who had brand information available, 48 (79%) of 61 ill persons reported that they had consumed Foster Farms brand chicken or another brand likely produced by Foster Farms.

As of October 7, 2013, a total of 278 individuals infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 17 states. Most of the ill persons (77%) have been reported from California. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alaska (2), Arkansas (1), Arizona (11), California (213), Colorado (4), Connecticut (1), Florida (1), Hawaii (1), Idaho (2), Michigan (2), North Carolina (1), Nevada (8), Oregon (8), Texas (5), Utah (2), Washington (15) and Wisconsin (1).

Among 274 persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from March 1 to September 24, 2013. Ill persons range in age from <1 year to 93 years, with a median age of 20 years. Fifty-one percent of ill persons are male. Among 183 persons with available information, 76 (42%) reported being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Foster Farms, in a statement said,

"Foster Farms reminds consumers to follow the Poultry ABCs – Always Be Careful. Raw poultry must be handled and cooked in accordance with the safe handling guidelines on all packages of chicken. These include: keeping the product refrigerated or frozen thawing in refrigerator or microwave keeping raw meat and poultry separate from other foods washing working surfaces including cutting boards, utensils and hands after touching raw meat or poultry keeping hot foods hot and refrigerating leftovers immediately or discarding. All fresh poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F as measured by a meat thermometer. Visit www.fosterfarms.com or call Foster Farms at 800-338-8051 to learn more".

Special Webpage from CDC on salmonella outbreak - Statement from Foster Farms, click here - 10/08/2013

NEW $100 BILL LATEST IN ATTEMPT TO FOIL COUNTERFEITERS

More from the Voice of America - The U-S Mint, this week, is unveiling a new $100 bill, a note still showing touches of long-standing tradition, but also showing new markers in an attempt to thwart counterfeiters.

Like the current greenish $100 bill, the new version will bear the likeness of Benjamin Franklin, a leader in the American Revolution more than two centuries ago.

But it will also have a vertical blue security ribbon that shows "100" and small pictures of the iconic Liberty Bell in darker blue.

FILE - A combination photo shows the front and back of the newly designed $100 bill.

Next to Franklin's portrait is a tan quill and bronze-color inkwell, with the Liberty Bell drawn inside.   The bell's color changes depend on the angle the bill is held.

Government officials say the new note was designed primarily to combat increasingly sophisticated counterfeiting, although the older ones in circulation will continue to be honored.

The $100 bill is the most global bank note the U.S. prints, with one-half to two-thirds of the more than 8 billion in circulation in use outside the United States.
10/08/2013

CARS WITH NEW CRASH AVOIDANCE SYSTEMS DO WELL IN TESTING / LATEST CRASH TEST RESULTS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is hoping auto manufacturers will improve technology and availability of crash avoidance systems for all vehicles.

Six models earn an advanced rating when equipped with auto brake and forward collision warning systems in the Institute's latest crash tests. These include the 2014 Acura MDX SUV, Audi A4 sedan and Q5 SUV, 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, Lexus ES sedan and the 2014 Mazda 6 sedan. In addition, the Volvo S60 and XC60 earn an advanced rating when they aren't equipped with an option called Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection. The S60 and XC60 are the only models in the new test program with standard auto brake. Called City Safety, the system brakes to avoid a front-to-rear crash in certain low-speed conditions without warning the driver before it takes action.

Twenty-five other vehicles earn a basic rating. Three models available with forward collision warning earn higher ratings when equipped with auto brake. They are the 2014 Acura MDX and the Cadillac ATS and SRX. Thirty-six models either don't offer a front crash prevention system, or they have a system that doesn't meet NHTSA or IIHS criteria.

The Institute rates models with optional or standard front crash prevention systems as superior, advanced or basic depending on whether they offer autonomous braking, or auto brake, and, if so, how effective it is in tests at 12 and 25 mph. Vehicles rated superior have auto brake and can avoid a crash or substantially reduce speeds in both tests. For an advanced rating a vehicle must have auto brake and avoid a crash or reduce speeds by at least 5 mph in 1 of 2 tests.

To earn a basic rating, a vehicle must have a forward collision warning system that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration performance criteria. For a NHTSA endorsement, a system must issue a warning before a specified time in 5 of 7 test trials under three scenarios. The agency identifies vehicles with compliant systems as part of its online ratings.

"Front crash prevention systems can add a thousand dollars or more to the cost of a new car. Our new ratings let consumers know which systems offer the most promise for the extra expense," says David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer.

Insurance Institute press release and video, click here - 09/27/2013

NINE AUTO PARTS MAKERS PLEAD GUILTY TO PRICE FIXING

More from Reuters, click here - 09/26/2013

NISSAN RECALLS MORE THAN 900,000 CARS FOR DEFECTIVE ACCELERATOR SENSORS

More from Reuters, click here - 09/26/2013

FDA APPROVES BOTOX FOR "CROWS FEET"

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The FDA today announced approval of Botox for treatment of "crows feet" in adults. The agency considers it a " new use"of Botox Cosmetic (onabotulinumtoxinA) for the temporary improvement in the appearance of moderate to severe lateral canthal lines, known as crow’s feet, in adults. Botox Cosmetic is the only FDA approved drug treatment option for lateral canthal lines. More from the press announcement, click here.

09/11/2013

GAO TAKES DIM VIEW OF NEW FOOD INSPECTION PROGRAM AT POULTRY AND PORK PLANTS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A controversial proposed change in USDA inspections of poultry and pork plants throughout the U-S has drawn a critical review from the Government Accountability Office. The proposed change, which has been pushed by industry lobbyists reduces the number of actual USDA inspectors and replaces them with processing plant personnel.

However, the GAO says the USDA does not have enough information to prove that its pilot projects at various plants are working well enough to guarantee safety of the workers or the products leaving those plants.

In fact, the GAO claims it identified strengths and weaknesses of three pilot projects based on the views cited most frequently by 11 key stakeholder groups representing industry, labor, consumer advocacy, and animal welfare. On the basis of these views, GAO identified strengths including giving plants responsibility and flexibility for ensuring food safety and quality and allowing USDA inspectors to focus more on food safety activities. GAO identified weaknesses including that training of plant personnel assuming sorting responsibilities on the slaughter line is not required or standardized and that faster line speeds allowed under the pilot projects raise concerns about food safety and worker safety.

Full text of report and summary from the GAO, click here - 09/04/2013

UNITED AIRLINES FINED $350,000 FOR SLOW REFUNDS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today fined United Airlines $350,000 for failing to make prompt refunds to consumers.  The Department also cited the airline for filing inaccurate reports of its mishandled baggage and oversales, and failing to file timely reports of incidents involving animals in flight.  DOT did not assess a fine for these violations because United disclosed the reporting errors to DOT and took corrective action.

            “When passengers are owed a refund, they have the right to expect the airline to act promptly and give them their money back,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “We also expect airlines to file accurate and timely consumer reports so that passengers will have the information they need when choosing an airline.”

            Airlines are required to process refund requests within seven days of receipt of a complete request when the ticket is purchased by credit card. Refunds must be made within 20 days for tickets purchased by cash or check.  United’s customer service commitment, posted on its website, pledged to comply with these standards.  However, the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office, during an on-site inspection at the airline’s headquarters, found that between March and May of 2012, United failed to process over 9,000 refund requests in a timely manner.

            In addition, United underreported the number of mishandled baggage reports it received from passengers between January and October 2011 and the number of passengers it bumped, both voluntarily and involuntarily, for each quarter of 2011 from flights on which it sold more tickets than the number of available seats.  The underreporting made United’s ranking in these categories seem better than it actually was.  Also, during 2012 and 2013, United failed to file timely reports for a few incidents involving the death, injury or loss of animals on its flights.

            Today’s consent order is available at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2013-0004.

Department of Transportation statement, click here - 08/31/2013

 

NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES DONALD TRUMP FOR RUNNING BOGUS UNIVERSITY

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump, The Trump Entrepreneur Institute -- formerly named Trump University LLC (“Trump University”), and Michael Sexton, former President of Trump University for engaging in persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct in connection with the operation of Trump University.

Between 2005 through 2011, Trump University operated as an unlicensed educational institute that promised to teach Donald Trump’s real estate investing techniques to consumers nationwide but instead misled consumers into paying for a series of expensive courses that did not deliver on their promises.

"More than 5,000 people across the country who paid Donald Trump $40 million to teach them his hard sell tactics got a hard lesson in bait-and-switch," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "Mr. Trump used his celebrity status and personally appeared in commercials making false promises to convince people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn't afford for lessons they never got. No one, no matter how rich or popular they are, has a right to scam hard working New Yorkers. Anyone who does should expect to be held accountable.

The investigation also revealed that officials used the name “Trump University” even though they lacked the charter necessary under New York law to call themselves a University. They were also unlicensed under New York State Education Law, evading an array of legal protections designed to protect New Yorkers from fraud.

Even though Trump University was notified by the New York State Education Department (“NYSED”) as early as 2005 that these practices violated New York law, Trump University did not change its name until May 2010 and never received a license to operate in the state. As a result, many students believed they were attending a University, when they were not. This misconception was reinforced by Trump University’s use of a University-like seal on much of its material and awarding diploma-like Certificates of Completion bearing Donald Trump’s signature. Misrepresentations included false claims about the three-day seminars such as:

  • consumers would learn “everything [they] need[ed] to know” to become successful real estate investors;
  • consumers would quickly recoup their investment by doing real estate deals, with some instructors claiming that consumers would earn tens of thousands of dollars within thirty days;
  • instructors were “handpicked” by Donald Trump;
  • consumers would be taught Donald Trump’s very own real estate strategies and techniques;
  • consumers would receive access to private sources of financing (“hard money lenders”); and
  • the three-day seminar would include a year-long “Apprenticeship Support” program.

Instructors also insinuated Donald Trump himself would appear at the three-day seminar.Despite claims to the contrary, consumers who paid for and attended the three-day seminars were not taught everything they needed to know about real estate investing. For example, consumers did not receive substantive instruction on how to raise money from hard money lenders or receive an extensive “apprenticeship support” program. Instead of providing the sustained support promised by Trump University’s instructors, consumers were provided a list of lenders from a commercially available magazine. Instead of a personal appearance from Donald Trump as some consumers were led to expect, some participants got their photographs taken with a life-size photo of Mr. Trump.

Instead of providing all of the promised services, instructors used the three-day seminars to pitch consumers an expensive Trump Elite mentorship programs costing $10,000 to $35,000.

Statement from New York Attorney General's office, click here - 08/26/2013

POSSIBLE SALMONELLA LINK PROMPTS MASSIVE RECALL OF EUKANUBA AND IAMS PET FOODS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) has voluntarily recalled specific lots of dry pet food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. These lots were distributed in the United States and represent roughly one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of annual production. No Salmonella-related illnesses have been reported to date in association with these product lots.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

This issue is limited to the specific dry pet food lot codes listed below. This affects roughly one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of total annual production. The affected product was distributed to select retailers across the United States. These products were made during a 10 day window at a single manufacturing site. P&G’s routine testing determined that some products made during this timeframe have the potential for Salmonella contamination. As a precautionary measure, P&G is recalling the potentially impacted products made during this timeframe. No other dry dog food, dry cat food, dog or cat canned wet food, biscuits/treats or supplements are affected by this announcement.

P&G is retrieving these products as a precautionary measure. Consumers who purchased a product listed below should stop using the product and discard it and contact P&G toll-free at 800-208-0172 (Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST), or via website at www.iams.com or www.eukanuba.com.

Product list of pet food involved in the recall, click here - 08/15/2013

TIME WARNER CABLE BLACKOUT OF CBS PROMPTS SUBSCRIBER LAWSUIT / SOME BAILING OUT TO GET VERIZON FIOS SERVICE

More from The Hollywood Reporter, click here - FOIS story from New York Daily News, click here - 08/15/2013

SAMSUNG LOSES APPLE PATENT LAWSUIT / SOME SAMSUNG MOBILE DEVICES WITHDRAWN FROM MARKET

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The back and forth legal mess over smartphone and tablet patents became more complicated yesterday. The U-S International Trade Commission ruled that Samsung illegally used portions of two Apple patents.

The Obama administration has 60 days to review the ruling and decide whether to veto it. The administration has already decided to veto an earlier ITC decision that banned some Apple products for infringing on Samsung patents.

Still to be resolved is a pending appeal Washington DC, of a federal court lawsuit where Samsung was ordered to pay over a billion dollars to Apple for patent violations, but was still allowed to sell the devices at issue.

More from Bloomberg, click here - 08/10/2013

 

RECALL FOR 342,000 TOYOTA TACOMA ACCESS CABS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom -Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. today announced that it will conduct a voluntary safety recall involving approximately 342,000 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab vehicles, produced from 2004 to 2011.

In the involved vehicles, screws that attach the seat belt pre-tensioner to the seat belt retractor within the seat belt assembly for the driver and front passenger can become loose over time due to repeatedly and forcefully closing the access door. If the screws loosen completely, the seat belt pre-tensioner and the retractor spring cover could detach from the seat belt retractor, which can affect retractor and pre-tensioner performance.

Owners of vehicles subject to this recall will receive a notification by first class mail.
Detailed information is available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and at the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.

08/08/2013

HALF OF SMALL CARS RATE BADLY ON CRASH TESTS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The latest small overlap front crash test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reveal a range of performance among many of the best-selling small cars in the U.S. market. Of the 12 models evaluated, half earn a good or acceptable rating and qualify for the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.

The 2-door and 4-door models of the Honda Civic are the only small cars to earn the top rating of good in the test. IIHS evaluated the Civics earlier this year and released the results in March. The Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and 2014 model Scion tC earn acceptable ratings.

The Civics, Dart, Elantra, Focus and tC earn the Top Safety Pick+ accolade. The Institute introduced the award in 2012 to recognize models with superior crash protection. So far, 25 models earn the top honor. The "plus" indicates good or acceptable performance in the small overlap test. Winners must earn good ratings for occupant protection in 4 of 5 evaluations and no less than acceptable in the fifth test. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in a moderate overlap front crash, small overlap front crash, side impact and rollover test, plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

The Institute added the small overlap front test to its lineup of vehicle evaluations last year. It replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or a utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. A 50th percentile male Hybrid III dummy is belted in the driver seat.

Small cars are the fourth group of vehicles to be tested. All but the tC and Kia Forte are 2013 models. IIHS also has evaluated midsize luxury cars, midsize cars and small SUVs. Results for minicars will be released later this year.

As a group, small cars fared worse than their midsize moderately priced counterparts in the same test but better overall than small SUVs.

Safety belts and airbags were problems in the Kia Forte, the worst performer for both restraints and structure of all of the small cars evaluated. Too much belt slack and a side curtain airbag that deployed but didn't provide enough forward coverage allowed the dummy's head to hit the windshield pillar and instrument panel.

In contrast, both the 2-door and 4-door versions of the Civic earn good ratings for restraints and kinematics and structure. Dummy movement during the tests was well-controlled, and both cars had only minimal intrusion into the occupant compartment, so survival space for the dummy was well-maintained.

Full text of Insurance Institute results, click here - 08/08/2013

 

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CONSUMER ARCHIVES 2010-11, 2012-13

INSTANT PRODUCT RECALL SITE CONNECTIONS

Because of the volume of product recalls, Emeritus News has established the following direct links to special government and manufacturer recall announcements. Just click on the underlined titles.

U-S GOV'T FOOD SAFETY AND RECALL INFO, CLICK HERE

FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION   FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION WARNING LETTERS

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (MEAT AND OTHER FOOD RECALLS)

CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION (RECALLS AND FILING COMPLAINTS)

NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION (VEHICLE RECALLS)

FDA (FOOD AND DRUG RECALLS AND SAFETY ALERT VIDEOS)

LATEST ACTIONS TAKEN AGAINST BUSINESSES BY THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

Direct link to Federal Trade Commission actions, click here

AUTO SAFETY GROUP BLASTS AUTO INDUSTRY AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS - VOA REPORT - 04/04/2014

 

CARS MAY SOON TALK TO EACH OTHER - VOA REPORT - 04/04/2014

 

CARS OF THE NEAR FUTURE - VOICE OF AMERICA REPORT - 03/07/2014

MINI CARS DO BADLY IN LATEST CRASH TESTS - INSURANCE INSTITUTE - 01/22/2014

 

MUST READ: BEST WAYS TO AVOID HAVING YOUR COMPUTER ACCOUNTS HACKED

More from Slate, click here - 08/16/2012

AS WORLD OIL PRODUCTION INCREASES, FUEL PRICES MAY COLLAPSE BY 2020

More in this study summary from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, click here - 08/02/2012

SUB-PRIME CAR LOANS AN "EASY GET" DESPITE TIGHT CREDIT MARKETS

More in this article from the Washington Post, click here - 07/09/2012

DATA BASE FOR LATEST DRIVER VEHICLE COMPLAINTS

Click here for most recent complaints and links for filing a complaint

SCORECARD: HOW GOOD ARE CURRENT HYBRID VEHICLES? A MUST READ

More in this article from the New York Times, click here- 07/07/2011

HYBRID VEHICLE OWNERS ARE LOW PERCENTAGE REPEAT BUYERS

More from the LA Times, click here - 04/09/2012

YOU ARE NOT YOUR CREDIT SCORE / A MUST READ PERSONAL FINANCE ARTICLE

More in this article from the Oregonian, click here- 02/27/2010

LATEST ACTIONS TAKEN AGAINST BUSINESSES BY THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

Direct link to Federal Trade Commission actions, click here

OBAMA WANTS MORE HELP FOR HOMEOWNERS AS HOUSING MARKET RECOVERS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Speaking to an audience at Desert Vista High School in
Phoenix, Arizona, the President made a point to mark progress in the Arizona housing market.

Obama said, "Phoenix has also led one of the biggest comebacks in the country.  So you should be proud of what you've done here.  Home prices in Phoenix have risen by nearly 20 percent over the last year.  New home sales are up by more than 25 percent".

He also drew attention to enforcement actions against bad actors in the mortgage markets around the country. "We worked with states to force big banks to repay more than $50 billion to more than 1.5 million families -- largest lending settlement in history. We extended the time that folks who had lost their jobs could delay their payment on their mortgages while they kept looking for work.  So because of all these actions we've been taking, our housing market is beginning to heal.  Home prices are rising at the fastest pace in seven years.  Sales are up nearly 50 percent. Construction is up nearly 75 percent.  New foreclosures are down by nearly two-thirds.  Millions of families have been able to come up for air -- they’re no longer underwater on their mortgages".    

But the President also used the speech to call for more help for homeowners, and reform of government backing of the county's mortgage system, especially involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. " For too long, these companies (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) were allowed to make huge profits buying mortgages, knowing that if their bets went bad, taxpayers would be left holding the bag.  It was “heads we win, tails you lose.”  And it was wrong.  And along with what happened on Wall Street, it helped to inflate this bubble in a way that ultimately killed Main Street", the President said.

To help homeowners, he called on congress to pass legislation allowing homeowners to refinance at today's rates and to reform the immigration system, which has kept some families from buying homes they can afford.

Obama called for more affordable rental housing for those not interested in or not qualifying for home ownership. "We should make sure families that don’t want to buy a home or can’t yet afford to buy one still have a decent place to rent.  It’s important for us to encourage home ownership, but a lot of people rent and there’s nothing wrong with renting.  And we got to make sure that we are creating affordable opportunities when it comes to rental properties. In the run-up to the crisis, banks and governments too often made everybody feel like they had to own a home, even if they weren’t ready and didn't have the payments.  That’s a mistake we should not repeat.  Instead, let’s invest in affordable rental housing.  Let’s bring together cities and states to address local barriers that drive up rents for working families", Obama said. 

Text of the President's speech, click here - YouTube video of the President's speech (30 Minutes), click here - 08/06/2013

CONSUMER REPORTS MAGAZINE RELEASES FIRST EVER HOSPITAL RANKINGS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - For the first time, Consumer Reports has rated U.S. hospitals on how patients fare during and after surgery. The Ratings include an overall surgery Rating, which combines results for 27 categories of scheduled surgeries, as well as individual Ratings for five specific procedure types:  back surgery, hip replacement, knee replacement, angioplasty, and carotid artery surgery.

Up to 30 percent of hospital patients suffer infections, heart attacks, strokes, or other complications after surgery. But consumers have very little to go on when selecting a hospital because it’s not clear which hospitals are doing the best job at keeping surgery patients safe. Although hospitals are required to report to government agencies and some submit data to national registries to see how they stack up against one another, vital safety information remains largely hidden from consumers. 

Consumer Reports’ Surgery Ratings are based on an analysis of billing claims that hospitals submitted to Medicare for patients 65 and older, from 2009 through 2011, and cover 2,463 hospitals in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. 

The surgery Ratings are based on the percentage of a hospital’s Medicare patients who died in the hospital or stayed longer than expected for their procedure. Research shows that mortality and length of stay correlate with complications, and some hospitals themselves use this approach to monitor quality. To develop the Ratings, Consumer Reports worked with MPA, a health care consulting firm with expertise in analyzing billing claims and clinical records data and in helping hospitals use the information to improve patient safety.

“We wish we had access to more comprehensive, standardized information, but this is the best that is available,” says John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of Consumer Reports Health. “We know the Ratings aren’t a perfect measurement but we think they’re an important first step in giving patients the information they need to make an informed choice,” he adds. “And we hope that by highlighting performance differences, we can motivate hospitals to improve.”

The complete report is available in the September issue of Consumer Reports and online at www.ConsumerReports.org/cro/hospitalratings0913. These Ratings evaluate hospitals and not individual surgeons.

Though there are many dimensions to hospital quality, and no single measure captures everything, Consumer Reports’ surgery Ratings give patients more of the information they need to make informed choices about hospital performance before choosing where to have surgery. Some interesting and surprising findings include:

  • Some hospitals do a much better job than others. Consumer Reports’ Ratings reflect wide variation, sometimes between hospitals only a few miles apart.  For example, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center earned high marks in our overall surgery Rating, as well as for several individual procedures.  But the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, also in Baltimore, got a low overall surgery Rating. 

  • Teaching hospitals often fell short. Teaching hospitals, thought to represent the nation’s best and the recipients of generous federal funding, on average performed no better than other hospitals in Consumer Reports’ surgery Ratings.  Nonetheless, some standouts earned a high Rating.

  • Urban and rural hospitals can and do excel. Several urban hospitals did well despite often serving poorer, sicker patients, including Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.  And rural hospitals did better, on average, than other hospitals. 

  • Big-name hospitals don’t always live up to their reputation when it comes to these Ratings. For example, though several Mayo Clinic hospitals did well, others rated only average.  And the Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, Minn., got a low overall Rating. 

  • Specialty hospitals tended to do better. Six of the top performers for carotid artery surgery were heart hospitals.  But that’s not always the case. For example, despite earning high marks in other Consumer Reports’ Ratings that focus on infections related to surgical incisions, Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, which specializes in orthopedics, got low marks in our new hip and knee surgery Ratings, which look at how surgery patients fare over their entire hospital stay.

  • Hospital choice matters more for some procedures than for others.  For example, Consumer Reports found wider variation for several surgeries, including hip and knee replacements and back surgery, than for others, such as colon surgery and hysterectomy.

Fortunately, experts have developed ways to reduce many complications.  For example, some hospitals have actually eliminated infections introduced through intravenous catheters by following a checklist. By highlighting performance differences in its new study, Consumer Reports hopes not only to provide consumers with more information, but to motivate more hospitals to improve their performance on quality measures. 

Gradually, more information is becoming available to the public. Thanks to health care reform, hospitals are encouraged to move to electronic record keeping, which will make it easier to track data. And several professional medical organizations have started publishing some of the quality information they collect on hospitals. However, participation is voluntary, so those databases often involve only a small number of hospitals.

What Patients Can Do…

“Consumers have very little to go on when trying to select a hospital for surgery, not knowing which ones do a good job at keeping surgery patients safe and which ones don’t,” says Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project. “They might as well just throw a scalpel at a dartboard.”

Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, works to expand hospitals’ public reporting and establish a standardized way for patients to report medical errors.

Consumers Union also seeks to bring the consumer voice into the discussion about quality health care. Its Safe Patient Project works with patient advocates to highlight the things that can go wrong in hospitals and to urge state and federal governments as well as hospital administrators to take steps necessary to improve patient safety.

“Patients who have been harmed by the health care system have played a critical role in improving safety by speaking out and sharing their stories," says McGiffert. Consumers can share their story at www.SafePatientProject.org.

These new surgery Ratings are part of an ongoing effort by Consumer Reports to shed light on hospital quality and to push the health care industry toward more transparency. For example, Consumer Reports has developed a Safety Score for more than 2,000 hospitals nationwide, which includes information from surgical and nonsurgical patients, as well as Ratings on other measures, such as bloodstream infections, readmissions, and communicating drug information to patients.

The complete list of surgery Ratings for all 2,463 hospitals, and a basic description of the methodology, is available at www.ConsumerReports.org/surgeryratings. A more detailed description of the methodology for these and all Consumer Reports’ hospital Ratings is available at www.ConsumerReports.org/hospitalratingsmethodology.  And the full database of all rated hospitals, sortable by state and city or county is available at www.ConsumerReports.org/hospitalratings.

Consumer Reports press release, click here - 07/31/2013

JP MORGAN CHASE TO PAY FEDS $410 MILLION FOR ILLEGAL PROFITS FROM MANIPULATING POWER PLANT MARKETS / CRITICS CLAIM MORE BANKS ARE INVOLVED

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Federal regulators claim that JP Morgan Chase forced up the cost of electricity to consumers in California and the midwest by manipulating power plant markets. According to a statement from the The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) , the agency has reached a stipulation and consent agreement under which JP Morgan Ventures Energy Corporation (JPMVEC) will pay $410 million in penalties and disgorgement to ratepayers for allegations of market manipulation stemming from the company’s bidding activities in electricity markets in California and the Midwest from September 2010 through November 2012.

Under the agreement, JPMVEC will pay a civil penalty of $285 million to the U.S. Treasury and disgorge $125 million in unjust profits. The first $124 million of the disgorged profits will go to ratepayers in the California Independent System Operator (California ISO), which operates the California electricity market. The other $1 million will go to ratepayers in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).

JPMVEC admits the facts set forth in the agreement, but neither admits nor denies the violations. The company did, however, agree to waive claims for additional payments from the California ISO relating to two of the strategies under investigation. JPMVEC also will conduct a comprehensive assessment by outside counsel of its policies and practices in the power business.

The case stems from multiple referrals to FERC from the California ISO and MISO market monitors in 2011 and 2012 regarding JPMVEC’s bidding practices. These practices were the subject of four emergency tariff filings by the California ISO and MISO, each of which was approved by the Commission.

FERC investigators determined that JPMVEC engaged in 12 manipulative bidding strategies designed to make profits from power plants that were usually out of the money in the marketplace. In each of them, the company made bids designed to create artificial conditions that forced the ISOs to pay JPMVEC outside the market at premium rates.

FERC investigators further determined that JPMVEC knew that the California ISO and MISO received no benefit from making inflated payments to the company, thereby defrauding the ISOs by obtaining payments for benefits that the company did not deliver beyond the routine provision of energy. FERC investigators also determined that JPMVEC’s bids displaced other generation and altered day ahead and real-time prices from the prices that would have resulted had the company not submitted the bids.

Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress directed FERC to detect, prevent and appropriately sanction the gaming of energy markets. Consistent with that direction, the Commission approved the settlement as in the public interest. Full text of FERC statement, click here - More from this Bloomberg article, click here - 07/31/2013

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES TO PAY $200,000 FOR FALSE ADVERTISING ON LOW FARES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Department of Transportation today fined Southwest Airlines $200,000 for violating the Department’s full-fare advertising rules and ordered the carrier to cease and desist from further violations.

“Consumers should be able to trust that the price they see advertised is the price they’ll pay for a seat,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.  “DOT will continue to take enforcement action against carriers and ticket agents when our price advertising rules are violated.”

DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that Southwest advertised one-way, nonstop fares “for $100 or less” for travel on Feb. 14, 2013, but failed to include a reasonable number of seats available in a significant number of city-pair markets in the fare sale.  In addition, on Jan. 30, 2013, Southwest advertised $66 one-way fares from Dallas Love Field to Branson, Mo., between March 1, 2013, and March 21, 2013.  However, there were no seats available at the sale fare on any day during the sale period.

By advertising fares for which a reasonable number of seats were not available and advertising fares that were not available at all, Southwest violated the full fare advertising rule and engaged in prohibited unfair and deceptive practices.

The consent order is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2013-0004.

Full text of DOT statement , click here - 07/31/2013

FDA ISSUES WARNING ON HEALTHY LIFE CHEMISTRY VITAMIN B SUPPLEMENT / AGENCY CLAIMS COMPANY WON'T RECALL PRODUCT / FDA MAY ASK COURT TO STOP SALES

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers that they should not use or purchase Healthy Life Chemistry By Purity First B-50, marketed as a vitamin B dietary supplement. A preliminary FDA laboratory analysis indicated that the product contains two potentially harmful anabolic steroids—methasterone, a controlled substance, and dimethazine. These ingredients are not listed in the label and should not be in a dietary supplement.

“Products marketed as a vitamin but which contain undisclosed steroids pose a real danger to consumers and are illegal,” said Howard Sklamberg, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA is committed to ensuring that products marketed as vitamins and dietary supplements do not pose harm to consumers.”

The FDA has received reports of 29 adverse incidents associated with the use of Healthy Life Chemistry By Purity First B-50.  These reports include fatigue, muscle cramping, and myalgia (muscle pain), as well as abnormal laboratory findings for liver and thyroid function, and cholesterol levels.

Females who used this product reported unusual hair growth and missed menstruation, and males who used the product reported impotence and findings of low testosterone. Consumers using Healthy Life Chemistry By Purity First B-50 who experience any of these symptoms should consult a health care professional and report their experience to the FDA.

Using anabolic steroid-containing products may cause acute liver injury. Some of the cases reported have resulted in hospitalization, but there were no reports of death or acute liver failure.

In addition, anabolic steroids may cause other serious long-term consequences in women, men and children. These include adverse effects on blood lipid levels; increased risk of heart attack and stroke; masculinization of women; shrinkage of the testicles; breast enlargement; infertility in males; and short stature in children.

Healthy Life Chemistry By Purity First B-50 is manufactured by Mira Health Products Ltd. in Farmingdale, N.Y., and is sold on various websites and in retail stores. The company has declined to voluntarily recall the product or to warn consumers about the potential for injury. Failure to promptly correct violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act may result in legal action including, without limitation, seizure, injunction, and/or criminal prosecution.

Full text of FDA announcement, click here - 07/29/2013

FDA PROPOSES NEW RULES FOR FRUIT AND VEGETABLE INSPECTIONS / NEARLY HALF OF FRUITS AND 20% OF VEGETABLES COME FROM FOREIGN SUPPLIERS

More from the NY Times, click here - Full text of FDA announcement, click here - Video story from CBS News, click here - 07/26/2013

BROADCASTERS LOSE APPEALS COURT DECISION CHALLENGING DISH NETWORK'S AD SKIPPING "HOPPER" / BROADCASTERS CLAIM IT VIOLATES COPYRIGHT LAWS

More from the Washington Post, click here - 07/24/2013

AMERICAN EAGLE AIRLINES FINED AGAIN FOR VIOLATING TARMAC DELAYS / MUST PAY $200,000 FOR CHRISTMAS 2012 DELAYS IN DALLAS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today fined American Eagle Airlines $200,000 for lengthy tarmac delays that took place at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Dec. 25, 2012.  The airline was ordered to cease and desist from future violations of the tarmac delay rule.

“Airline passengers have rights, and the Department of Transportation has rules in place to protect them from being stuck on a tarmac waiting hours to get off their plane," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “We will continue to take enforcement action when airlines violate our tarmac delay rules.”


An investigation by the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office revealed that on Dec. 25 of last year, 10 American Eagle flights experienced tarmac delays that exceeded the three-hour limit at Dallas-Fort Worth during a snow and ice storm.   One of the flights, arriving from Sioux Falls, S.D., with 42 passengers, landed at 2:48 p.m., but was not assigned a gate until 5:30 p.m.. Passengers were finally allowed to leave the aircraft at 6:36 p.m. after a tarmac delay of three hours and 48 minutes. 

A second flight, carrying 37 passengers from Baton Rouge, La, landed at 3:29 p.m., but the aircraft was not dispatched to an area where passengers could deplane until 6:00 p.m.. The plane parked at 7:00 p.m., but passengers were not able to leave the plane until 8:01 p.m., four hours and 32 minutes after landing. 

Under DOT rules, U.S. airlines operating aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats are prohibited from allowing their domestic flights to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours at most U.S. airports without giving passengers an opportunity to leave the plane. Exceptions to the time limits are allowed only for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons.   The rules require carriers to include the three-hour provision in their tarmac delay contingency plan commitments to passengers.

Under an expansion of the tarmac delay rule that took effect Aug. 23, 2011, international flights at covered U.S. airports are now prohibited from remaining on the tarmac for more than four hours without permitting passengers the opportunity to deplane, subject to the same exceptions as the rule for domestic flights.

The Enforcement Office found that the remaining eight American Eagle flights – seven domestic flights and one international flight – experiencing long tarmac delays that day at Dallas-Fort Worth were not violations because they fell under exceptions to the rule.

This is the second fine against American Eagle for violating the tarmac delay rule. In 2011, the airline was fined $900,000 for lengthy tarmac delays that took place at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on May 29, 2011.

Full text of DOT statement, click here - 07/23/2013

URINE POWERED CELLPHONES / RESEARCHER CLAIMS IT MAY HAPPEN

More from the Voice of America, click here - 07/22/2013

SENATE REPUBLICANS AGREE TO LIMIT OBSTRUCTIONS / CORDRAY CONFIRMED FOR CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU / DEMOCRATS WITHDRAW 2 NOMINATIONS TO NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - An agreement between Senate Democrats and Republicans has gleaned hope for some of President Obama's embattled nominees to the federal courts and government agencies. Leaders from both parties reached agreement yesterday on the Republicans use of filibusters to deny and delay nominations from President Obama. Yesterday, Richard Cordray was the first to get free from the logjam, being approved with the help of Republicans to win confirmation as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director, by a vote of 66-34. However, Republicans did convince Democrats to withdraw two people from nomination to the National Labor Relations Board. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) NV, released a statement containing conditions for the agreement between Democratic and Republican leaders (See link below).

The refusal of Senate Republicans to allow votes on some of those nominees has hindered operations of certain administration departments, which need department heads for full operations. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board are two noteworthy examples. Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, who had been Acting Director of the CFPB, pending confirmation, had been held up by Republicans who are still fuming over the agency's creation. Hindering Cordray's confirmation was viewed as leverage to push Democrats for changes in the Dodd-Frank Act, to water down the agency's powers and give other agencies veto power over the CFPB's decisions. It didn't work.

The agency regulates such consumer protection laws as:

  • Truth in Lending Act;
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act;
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act;
  • Electronic Fund Transfers Act;
  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act;
  • Home Owners Protection Act
  • Privacy of Consumer Financial Information.

As for the National Labor Relations Board, three nominees, two Democrats and one Republican, were submitted by the Obama administration were blocked by REpublican. The NLRB needs three more members to have a full board to execute agency decisions, many of which have gone against the business community, with more possible in a labor friendly federal executive branch. In order to get an agreement with Republicans to stop their filibusters, Democrats agreed to withdraw the nominations of two Democrats.

On June 24th, the U-S Supreme Court agreed to consider the recess appointments of the of nominees, while congress was on recess, January 4th of 2012 (Same as the Cordray appointment). Republicans have refused to confirm them which has kept the agency from having a majority of members to approve rulings from the agency, raising questions as to whether any rulings during this time could be legally enforced. The recess appointments were struck down by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which forced the Obama Administration to appeal to the Supreme Court.

According to an article the Wall Street Journal, "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that presidents can only issue recess appointments during the formal breaks between yearlong sessions of Congress, and even then only to fill vacancies that came open while the Senate was in recess. Though senators were still away for the holidays on Jan. 4, 2012, the new Senate session technically commenced the previous day". If the Supreme Court follows the broad reasoning of the appeals court, "Congress could, at no cost to itself, effectively eliminate recess appointments," said Seton Hall University law professor Edward Hartnett. The D.C. Circuit decision stands in conflict with a 2004 ruling, by a different appeals court, that upheld Mr. Bush's use of a recess appointment to install a judicial nominee who had been opposed by Democrats".

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka accepted the deal, agreeing that if the lone Republican nominee for the NLRB was confirmed, it would provide a third member to a five member board, enabling it have a majority of board members voting. In his statement released today, Trumka said, "Although it took an eleventh hour deal, a shimmer of light has broken through the extreme Republican obstruction in the Senate. It is finally time to end the unprecedented blocking of President Obama’s nominees, which has spanned more than 700 days. More important, a confirmed National Labor Relations Board will provide millions of workers with real protection of their rights to organize and bargain with their employers".

And from our "Did he really say that!?" department, here is a YouTube video of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying (in 2005) that a President deserves to get votes for the people he nominates. Click here for McConnell tape.

Trumka statement, click here - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid statement on filibuster agreement, click here - 07/17/2013

TOYOTA RAV4 TAKES HIT FROM INSURANCE INSTITUTE CRASH TESTS / FRONT OVERLAP CRASH SHOWS PROBLEMS / INCLUDES SHORT VIDEO

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - It's not that the Toyota Rav4 has rated badly in every type of crash test. In fact, the 2013 RAV4 previously earned the Top Safety Pick award for good ratings in the Insurance Institute's four other tests — moderate overlap front, side, rollover and rear. However, the Rav4 earns a poor rating for performance in the IIHS SMALL overlap front crash test.

Toyota redesigned the RAV4 for the 2013 model year. The automaker made additional changes to models built after April to better control the stability of the steering column and to provide extra padding under the foot well carpeting.

The changes, however, weren't enough to lift the RAV4's performance in the small overlap test. A combination of poor structure and inadequate control of the dummy's movement prevented the RAV4 from earning better than a poor rating overall.

The driver's space was seriously compromised by intruding structure, and the dummy's left foot was trapped by crushed and buckled sheet metal in the foot well. Injury measures on the dummy indicated a high risk of injury to the lower left leg. The dummy's head barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off the left side as the steering column moved more than 7 inches to the right, resulting in little airbag cushioning for the chest. Additionally, the safety belt allowed excessive forward movement of the dummy's head and torso, contributing to the head hitting the instrument panel.

IIHS in May released results for 13 other small SUVs but delayed testing the RAV4 because Toyota was making changes to the redesigned model. If design changes are imminent, the Institute delays tests to ensure that IIHS ratings don't soon become obsolete. The practice also encourages automakers to improve designs more quickly.

In the earlier tests of small SUVs, only the Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned a good or acceptable rating for occupant protection in a small overlap crash and qualified for the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation. Eleven other small SUVs are rated marginal or poor (see full ratings here).

"This is a challenging test," says Institute President Adrian Lund. "Most manufacturers are going to need to make significant changes to their vehicles in order to improve protection in these kinds of serious frontal crashes."

The Institute added the small overlap test to its lineup of vehicle safety evaluations last year. It replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or a utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. A 50th percentile male Hybrid III dummy is belted in the driver seat.

Full text of Insurance Institute's announcement, click here - YouTube video of Insurance Institute Rav4 crash test, click here - Also, check out this YouTube video from the Insurance Institute regarding rear crashes with semi trailers, click here - 07/11/2013

FEDS FIND MORE ABUSIVE DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES / MAJOR BANKS BLAMED AS REPEAT OFFENDERS

More from the NY Times, click here - 07/10/2013

APPLE FOUND GUILTY OF PRICE FIXING E-BOOKS

More from C-NET, click here - 07/10/2013

ORDERING MAJOR CONCERT TICKETS ONLINE CAN BE A JOKE / TIPS TO AVOID DEAD ENDS

More including video from NBC Reporter Jeff Rossen, click here - 07/02/2013

ELECTRONIC SUPER CONSOLES NOT SCORING WELL WITH NEW VEHICLE OWNERS

More from the LA Times, click here - 06/29/2013

US BANK AND SUBSIDIARY MUST REPAY $6.5 MILLION FOR OVERCHARGING ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY CUSTOMERS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ordered U.S. Bank and one of its nonbank partner companies, Dealers’ Financial Services (DFS), to end deceptive marketing and lending practices targeting active-duty military. The two companies must return about $6.5 million to servicemembers for failing to properly disclose all the fees charged to participants in the companies’ Military Installment Loans and Educational Services (MILES) auto loans program, and for misrepresenting the true cost and coverage of add-on products financed along with the auto loans.

“The Bureau has a special mission to protect servicemembers,” said CPFB Director Richard Cordray. “The MILES program failed to properly disclose costs associated with repaying auto loans through the military allotments system and the expensive auto add-on products sold to active-duty military. We will continue our work to ensure that servicemembers are treated fairly.”

U.S. Bank, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., and DFS, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., created the MILES program to finance subprime auto loans to active-duty military worldwide. While the program has expanded beyond U.S. Bank being its only lender, today U.S. Bank is still responsible for financing the substantial majority of the MILES program loans. DFS is responsible for managing the consumer-facing aspects of the MILES program. This includes: marketing the program; recruiting and maintaining the 700 participants in the MILES auto dealer network; managing the MILES website; and processing the loan applications before they are passed on to U.S. Bank.

The MILES program required servicemembers to repay their auto loans using the military allotment system, which deducts payments directly from a military member’s paycheck before that salary is deposited in his or her bank account. The allotment system was created decades ago to help deployed servicemembers send money home to their families and pay their creditors at a time when automatic bank payments and electronic transfers were not yet common bank services.  Today, the military allotment system may be vulnerable to misuse. When servicemembers pay by allotment, the lenders often require servicemembers to use third-party processors that charge one or more fees. If lenders require payments by allotment, military consumers could be left with no choice but to pay this additional processing fee in order to qualify and pay for the loan. This can cost servicemembers more in fees than alternatives like online banking, which are often free.

To see a blog by Assistant Director for Servicemember Affairs Holly Petraeus on what servicemembers should know about military allotments, go to: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/what-you-should-know-about-military-allotments/.

The U.S. Bank Consent Order is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201306_cfpb_enforcement-order_2012-0340-02.pdf

The DFS Consent Order is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201306_cfpb_enforcement-order_2013-0589-02.pdf                               

Full text of CFPB announcement, click here - Statement from Sec. of Defense Hagel, click here - 06/27/2013

CHRYSLER DROPS OBJECTIONS / AGREES TO RECALL MORE THAN 2.7 MILLION JEEPS

More from the Emeritus Newsroom - After initially challenging a request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company the company announced today it has agreed to NHTSA’s request to recall 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Jeep Liberty vehicles.

The government agency believes the gas tank design used in 1993 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002 to 2007 Jeep Libertys is unsafe.

The NHTSA investigation began at the request of the Center for Auto Safety, a Washington public interest group. The group claimed there have been 201 fire crashes with 285 deaths involving the Grand Cherokees, and 36 accidents resulting in 53 deaths involving the Libertys.

As a result of the agreement witn NHTSA, Chrysler says it will conduct a voluntary campaign with respect to the vehicles in question that, in addition to a visual inspection of the vehicle will, if necessary, provide an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle to better manage crash forces in low-speed impacts.

Chrysler claimed it's analysis confirms that the vehicles are not defective. However, the company admits that because of customer concerns, it reached agreement with NHTSA for the recall.

Chrysler statement, click here - NHTSA announcement, click here - To view Chrysler Group's White Paper on NHTSA’s Recall Request, please visit http://media.chrysler.com/newsrelease.do?id=14371&mid=2 - 06/18/2013

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