EMERITUS NEWS CONSUMER
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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
||2014 Ford Fiesta
built after August 2013
||2014 Mitsubishi Mirage
||Nissan Versa sedan
||Toyota Prius c
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 .
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.
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:
Michelin LTX M/S LT 225/75R16 115/112R LRE
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The special food recall window (below) has all the recent food recall announcement links. Just scroll using arrows on side of window.
MIN 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.
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