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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CONSUMER PROTECTION FINANCIAL BUREAU TAKES AIM AT BANK OVERDRAFT FEES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report on bank and credit union overdraft practices that raises concerns about whether the overdraft costs on consumer checking accounts can be anticipated and avoided. The average bank customer pays $225 dollars a year in overdraft charges.
At stake for the banks are billions of easy made dollars from overdraft fees, interest rates on amounts being overdrawn and a more predictable stream of income for the banks on amounts borrowed to cover those overdrafts. According to the CFPB, 60% of banks income from checking accounts is from overdraft charges
The report shows big differences across financial institutions when it comes to overdraft coverage on debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals, drawing into question how banks sell this account feature. The report also finds that consumers who opt in for overdraft coverage end up with more costs and more involuntary account closures.
“Consumers need to be able to anticipate and avoid unnecessary fees on their checking accounts. But we are concerned that overdraft programs at some banks may be increasing consumer costs,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “What is often marketed as overdraft protection may actually be putting consumers at greater risk of harm.”
An overdraft can occur when consumers spend or withdraw more money from their checking accounts than is available. The financial institution can choose to cover the payment by advancing funds on the consumer’s behalf, and generally charges a fixed overdraft fee for doing so. The institution can also choose to return the payment if it is a check, online bill payment, or direct debit, and then charge a non-sufficient fund fee. In recent years, most banks have adopted automated systems for making these decisions. These systems have contributed to the evolution of overdraft from an occasional courtesy to a significant source of industry revenues. The CFPB estimates that overdraft and non-sufficient fund fees represent 60 percent or more of consumer checking account fee income.
The CFPB did this overdraft study, which reflects a significant portion of U.S. consumer checking accounts, after initial market research raised concerns about overdraft practices. The information in the study was largely gleaned from confidential information from a small set of large banks supervised by the CFPB. It was supplemented by responses to a CFPB Request for Information issued to the public in February 2012, and a recent study by the Independent Community Bankers of America.
Opting-in puts consumers at greater risk
In 2010, a new federal government regulation took effect requiring that banks and credit unions obtain a consumer’s consent before charging fees for allowing overdrafts on ATM withdrawals and most debit card transactions. Today’s CFPB study found that new customer opt-in rates varied across banks. At some banks in 2011, more than 40 percent of all new customers opted in while other banks saw only single digit opt-in rates. The study also found that a consumer’s decision to opt in may have significant ramifications:
Consumers who opt in end up with more costs: The CFPB study looked at previous heavy overdrafters who declined to opt in when the new federal requirements were implemented in 2010. It found that by opting out these accountholders reduced their overdraft and non-sufficient fund fees, on average, by more than $450 in the second half of 2010.
Consumers who opt in to overdraft are more likely to end up with involuntary account closures: Negative account balances are a significant contributor to involuntary account closures at many banks and credit unions. The CFPB study found that at some banks in the study involuntary closure rates were more than 2.5 times higher for accounts that had opted in to debit and ATM overdraft coverage.
Overdraft practices vary by institution
The CFPB study raises questions about whether overdraft costs can be anticipated and avoided. A bank’s complex and often unique overdraft policies, procedures, and practices can be very difficult for a consumer to understand. This is true for consumers who have opted in but also for those who have not but are trying to figure out their potential costs in using their bank’s services. These complexities include:
Complex transaction postings: The order in which transactions are posted to an account can influence the number of transactions that incur an overdraft fee. The study found wide variation in posting practices, from institutions debiting transactions at periodic intervals throughout the day to debiting them in nightly batches. Banks also differ in how they combine, sort, or order the transactions.
Overdraft coverage limits that often depend on many factors: The overdraft coverage limit is the amount of money the institution is willing to advance to an accountholder when his or her funds are insufficient to cover a pending payment. Some institutions have limits of fixed amounts, others vary limits based on the accountholder’s individual circumstances, such as his or her deposit patterns. Smaller limits reduce the opportunities for overdraft but can result in more non-sufficient fund fees. Higher limits can result in more overdraft fees because the consumer may keep drawing from his or her account.
Complicated fee structures that are not standardized: Institutions have different fee structures when it comes to capping the number of overdrafts that can be incurred in a single day. Some banks, for example, limit the number of overdraft charges in a day to two; other banks have no cap on fees or caps that allow as many as 12 overdrafts and non-sufficient fund fees in a day. Similarly, some banks will not charge an overdraft fee for any item that overdraws the account by less than $5 while other banks charge fees on every overdraft transaction regardless of size.
Costs and closures vary by institution
Because bank and credit union overdraft policies, procedures, and practices are so different, the outcomes for consumers at the various banks in the study also varied. This raises questions about why some consumers are incurring much higher costs than others – especially when overdraft costs are not upfront fees but automated, back-end charges largely difficult for the consumer to predict. The CFPB study found:
Average annual overdraft charges vary among institutions: The average consumer who overdrew his or her account paid $225 in overdraft and insufficient funds charges over the course of one year. Among the banks in the study, consumers at some banks paid an average of $298 while consumers at others paid only $147.
Involuntary account closures vary widely: Among the banks in the study the rate of involuntary closures appears to have varied by nearly 9 percentage points across the banks in the study.
SHOWDOWN ERUPTS BETWEEN FEDS AND CHRYSLER OVER RECALL OF 2.7 MILLION JEEP CHEROKEE AND LIBERTY MODELS / FORD ALSO RECALLS 390,000 POLICE AND UTILITY SEDANS FOR FUEL LEAKS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Chrysler announced today that it is rejecting a request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recall the Jeep Grand Cherokee in model years 1993 to 2004 and the Jeep Liberty in model years 2002 to 2007 (a total of approximately 2.7 million vehicles). The government agency says 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 said there have been 201 fire crashes with 285 deaths involving the Grand Cherokees, and 36 accidents resulting in 53 deaths involving the Libertys.
In a statement issued today, Chrysler says it , "....has been working and sharing data with the Agency on this issue since September 2010. The company does not agree with NHTSA’s conclusions and does not intend to recall the vehicles cited in the investigation. The subject vehicles are safe and are not defective".
The statement says, "We believe NHTSA’s initial conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data, and we are committed to continue working with the Agency to resolve this disagreement. “The safety of drivers and passengers has long been the first priority for Chrysler brands and that commitment remains steadfast,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group LLC'.
“The company stands behind the quality of its vehicles. All of us remain committed to continue working with NHTSA to provide information confirming the safety of these vehicles.”
The company says the " vehicles met and exceeded all applicable requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, including FMVSS 301, pertaining to fuel-system integrity. Our analysis shows the incidents, which are the focus of this request, occur less than once for every million years of vehicle operation. This rate is similar to comparable vehicles produced and sold during the time in question".
Customers who have questions or concerns can call the Chrysler Group’s customer care line: 1-800-334-9200.
ALSO TODAY, THE NHTSA ANNOUNCED A RECALL FOR 390,783 model year 2013 FORD Explorer, Taurus, Flex, Fusion, Police Interceptor Sedan and Police Interceptor Utility vehicles; and certain model year 2013 Lincoln MKS, MKT, and MKZ vehicles. In the affected vehicles, the fuel delivery module may develop a crack, allowing fuel to leak. A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source may result in a fire. NHTSA announcement, click here.
VIDEO: WHOLE FOODS TURNS STORE ROOF INTO GARDEN IN LYNNFIELD, MA
BLOCKING AND STOPPING ROBOCALL HELL / MUST SEE VIDEO FROM FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION - 05/22/2013
CONSUMER REPORTS INVESTIGATION FINDS TURKEY MEAT WITH TOO MANY GERMS/ ANTIBIOTICS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Consumer Reports magazine says more than half of the packages of raw ground turkey meat and pattie,s in a nationwide investigation, tested positive for fecal bacteria. Some samples harbored other germs, including salmonella and staphylococcus aureus, two of the leading causes of foodborne illness in the U.S.
Overall, according to C-R, 90 percent of the samples had one or more of the five bacteria for which we tested.Adding to the concern, almost all of the disease-causing organisms in our 257 samples proved resistant to one or more of the antibiotics commonly used to fight them.
RECALL EXPANDED FOR NUTRA PET DRY PET FOOD / ALSO INCLUDES CALIFORNIA NATURAL, EVO, INNOVA , KARMA & HEALTHWISE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom -
Natura Pet Products is voluntarily expanding its recall of dry pet food because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. No Salmonella-related illnesses have been confirmed to date.
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.
Sampling conducted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of Salmonella in additional dry cat food and a cat pet treat. In an abundance of caution, Natura is also recalling product made in the surrounding timeframe. This affects dry foods only; no canned wet food is affected by this announcement.
The affected products are sold through veterinary clinics and select pet specialty retailers nationwide and in Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Costa Rica, as well as online. The dry cat food expiration dates for this expanded recall range from 1/1/2014 to 3/24/2014. The dry cat treats have expiration dates from 7/1/13 to 9/27/13.
Consumers who have purchased these pet foods should discard them. For additional information, consumers may visit www.naturapet.com. For further information or a product replacement or refund call Natura toll-free at 800-224-6123. (Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM CST).
The included lot codes are: Expiration Date: 12/14/13 thru 3/24/14
UPS TO PAY $40 MILLION TO SETTLE PROBE ON SHIPPING OF ILLEGAL DRUG SHIPMENTS FROM INTERNET PHARMACIES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom-
United Parcel Service, Inc. (“UPS”) and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California (“USAO-NDCA”) entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement (“NPA”) today in which UPS agreed to forfeit $40 million in payments it has received from illicit online pharmacies and to implement a compliance program designed to ensure that illegal online pharmacies will not be able to use UPS’s services to distribute drugs, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michele M. Leonhart, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director of the Office of Criminal Investigations John Roth announced.
UPS, according to prosecutors, has cooperated fully with the investigation and has already taken steps to ensure that illegal Internet pharmacies can no longer use its services to ship drugs. These voluntary improvements will be strengthened by the compliance program UPS will implement as a condition of this NPA.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag commented: “We are pleased with the steps UPS has taken to stop the use of its shipping services by illegal on-line pharmacies. Good corporate citizens like UPS play an important role in halting the flow of illegal drugs that degrade our nation’s communities. We are hopeful that the leadership displayed by UPS through this compliance program will set the standard for the parcel delivery industry and will materially assist the federal government in its battle against illegal Internet pharmacies.”
From 2003 through 2010, UPS was on notice, through some of its employees, that Internet pharmacies were using its services to distribute controlled substances and prescription drugs without valid prescriptions in violation of the law. Internet pharmacies operate illegally when they distribute controlled substances and prescription drugs that are not supported by valid prescriptions. A prescription based solely on a customer’s completion of an on-line questionnaire is not valid. Despite being on notice that this activity was occurring, UPS did not implement procedures to close the shipping accounts of Internet pharmacies.
“DEA is aggressively targeting the diversion of controlled substances, as well as those who facilitate their unlawful distribution,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “This investigation is significant and DEA applauds UPS for working to strengthen and enhance its practices in order to prevent future drug diversion.”
John Roth, Director of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations added: “The results of this investigation will prompt a significant transformation of illicit internet pharmacy shipping and distribution practices, limiting the chances of potentially unapproved, counterfeit or otherwise unsafe prescription medications from reaching U.S. consumers. The FDA is hopeful that the positive actions taken by UPS in this case will send a message to other shipping firms to put public health and safety above profits.”
Kirstin M. Ault is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Legal Technician Rawaty Yim. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Financial Investigative Team of the DEA, with the assistance of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations. This investigation is part of USAO-NDCA’s Health Care Fraud program and was initiated as an investigation with the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force. Substantial assistance was provided by the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy.
EQUIFAX PAYS FINE FOR ILLEGALLY SELLING INFO ON HOMEOWNERS LATE MORTGAGE PAYMENTS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that Equifax Information Services LLC violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act by improperly selling lists of millions of consumers who were late on their mortgages.
In settling the FTC’s complaint, Equifax agreed to pay its full $392,803 gross revenues as disgorgement of its ill-gotten gain from the conduct challenged by the Commission’s complaint. The order also prohibits Equifax from 1) furnishing prescreened lists to anyone that it does not have reason to believe has a permissible purpose to receive them; 2) failing to maintain reasonable procedures designed to limit the furnishing of prescreened lists to anyone except those who have a permissible purpose to receive them; and 3) selling prescreened lists in connection with offers for debt relief products or services and mortgage assistance relief products and services, when advance fees are charged, with limited exceptions.
OBAMA CALLS FOR OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY LEASE PAYMENTS TO BE USED FOR FUEL RESEARCH / EPA SAYS U-S VEHICLES AVERAGE BEST MILEAGE EVER
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - During a visit to Argonne National Laboratory
Lemont, Illinois, President Obama today told employees, "Just a few years ago, the American auto industry was flat-lining. Today, thanks in part to discoveries made right here at Argonne, some of the most high-tech, fuel-efficient, pretty spiffy cars in the world are once again designed, engineered and built here in the United States".
The President then proposed that oil and gas industry lease payments for operations on federal lands be used to fund more research on alternative energy sources as well as conservation. It's exactly the kind of work done at Argonne. According to the White House blog, the President's plan calls for the creation of an Energy Security Trust. The proposed trust would use revenue generated by oil and gas development on federal lands to support new research and technology.
Obama also referred to a report out today from the Environmental Protection Agency claiming that between 2007 and 2012 fuel economy values increased by 16 percent while carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have decreased by 13 percent, and in 2012 alone the report indicates a significant one year increase of 1.4 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars and trucks.
The EPA report also shows projects additional cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and a doubling of fuel economy standards by 2025. The standards will save American families $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs, and by 2025 will result in an average fuel savings of more than $8,000 per vehicle. The program will also save 12 billion barrels of oil, and by 2025 will reduce oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day – as much as half of the oil imported from OPEC every day.
NEW REPORT SHOWS AMTRAK RIDING HIGHER WITH MORE PASSENGERS / REPORT CALLS FOR STATES TO SUPPORT ROUTES IN UNPROFITABLE AREAS WHERE PUBLIC DEMANDS SERVICE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A study released March 1st, by the Brookings Institution, shows Amtrak, the nation's rail passenger service, is enjoying increasing ridership and profits in the northeast and the west, but is still saddled with serving unprofitable routes due to pressure from congress. This dynamic has necessitated congress subsidizing Amtrak for more than $1.2 billion last year. The situation has prompted calls for better state support in those areas with unprofitable routes, where p0litical and civic leaders are demanding service. In fact, one route alone, the California Zephyr, running from Chicago to L-A, lost nearly $600 million last year. Fifteen other unprofitable, mostly long haul routes, lost nearly as much. The biggest ridership increases are in the northeast and west, with the Chicago area the biggest gainer in the midwest.
The Brooking report, written by Robert Puentes, Adie Tomer, and Joseph Kane, shows Amtrak experienced a significant increase in national ridership after 1997. Using Amtrak’s fiscal period of October to September, Amtrak’s total boardings and alightings jumped 55.1 percent from 1997 to 2012. To put this increase in perspective, it outstrips population growth (17.1 percent) more than threefold over the same period and exceeds the growth in real gross domestic product (37.2 percent).With Amtrak setting ridership records for nine of the past ten years, including the new all-time high in 2012, there is a great chance Amtrak’s passenger growth will continue to far outpace growth in population and GDP. The country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas are responsible for 87.8 percent of Amtrak’s ridership. Leading this growth was a group of twenty metro areas that at least doubled their passenger levels during the period. In general, these metro areas tended to either enjoy short-distance connections with regional peers, receive capital upgrades either within their metro area or along one of their connected corridors, or both. Eight of those metros more than tripled their ridership: Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Tampa, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Oklahoma City, and Boston. Another group of twelve metro areas saw ridership double: Sacramento, Indianapolis, New Haven, Little Rock, Provo, Greensboro, San Jose,Providence, Milwaukee, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Bridgeport.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION SETTLES WITH SMART PHONE MAKER H-T-C OVER SECURITY FLAWS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Mobile device manufacturer HTC America has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company failed to take reasonable steps to secure the software it developed for its smartphones and tablet computers, introducing security flaws that placed sensitive information about millions of consumers at risk.
The settlement requires HTC America to develop and release software patches to fix vulnerabilities found in millions of HTC devices. In addition, the settlement requires HTC America to establish a comprehensive security program designed to address security risks during the development of HTC devices and to undergo independent security assessments every other year for the next 20 years.
HTC America, Inc., a leading mobile device manufacturer in the United States, develops and manufactures mobile devices based on the Android, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone operating systems. HTC America has customized the software on these devices in order to differentiate itself from competitors and to comply with the requirements of mobile network operators.
The Commission charged that HTC America failed to employ reasonable and appropriate security practices in the design and customization of the software on its mobile devices. Among other things, the complaint alleged that HTC America failed to provide its engineering staff with adequate security training, failed to review or test the software on its mobile devices for potential security vulnerabilities, failed to follow well-known and commonly accepted secure coding practices, and failed to establish a process for receiving and addressing vulnerability reports from third parties.
To illustrate the consequences of these alleged failures, the FTC’s complaint details several vulnerabilities found on HTC’s devices, including the insecure implementation of two logging applications - Carrier IQ and HTC Loggers - as well as programming flaws that would allow third-party applications to bypass Android’s permission-based security model.
Due to these vulnerabilities, the FTC charged, millions of HTC devices compromised sensitive device functionality, potentially permitting malicious applications to send text messages, record audio, and even install additional malware onto a consumer’s device, all without the user’s knowledge or consent. The FTC alleged that malware placed on consumers’ devices without their permission could be used to record and transmit information entered into or stored on the device, including, for example, financial account numbers and related access codes or medical information such as text messages received from healthcare providers and calendar entries concerning doctor’s appointments. In addition, malicious applications could exploit the vulnerabilities on HTC devices to gain unauthorized access to a variety of other sensitive information, such as the user’s geolocation information and the contents of the user’s text messages.
Moreover, the complaint alleged that the user manuals for HTC Android-based devices contained deceptive representations, and that the user interface for the company’s Tell HTC application was also deceptive. In both cases, the security vulnerabilities in HTC Android-based devices undermined consent mechanisms that would have otherwise prevented unauthorized access or transmission of sensitive information.
The settlement not only requires the establishment of a comprehensive security program, but also prohibits HTC America from making any false or misleading statements about the security and privacy of consumers’ data on HTC devices. HTC America and its network operator partners are also in the process of deploying the security patches required by the settlement to consumers’ devices. Many consumers have already received the required security updates. The FTC encourages consumers to apply the updates as soon as possible.
The settlement with HTC America is part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to ensure that companies secure the software and devices that they ship to consumers. Earlier this month, the FTC introduced Mobile App Developers: Start with Security, a new business guide that encourages app developers to aim for reasonable data security. In addition, on June 4, 2013, the Commission will host a public forum on malware and other mobile security threats in order to examine the security of existing and developing mobile technologies and the roles that various members of the mobile ecosystem can play in protecting consumers.
The Commission vote to accept the consent agreement package containing the proposed consent order for public comment was 3-0-2, with Chairman Jon Leibowitz not participating and Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen recused. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through March 22, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit comments electronically or in paper form by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section. Comments in paper form should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form near the end of the public comment period be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.
ALSO, AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT AN FTC HEARING ON MOBILE DEVICE SECURITY!
The Federal Trade Commission will host a one-day public forum on June 4, 2013 addressing malware, viruses and similar threats facing users of smartphones and other mobile technologies.
The commission claims that as the use of mobile technology increases at a rapid rate and consumers take advantage of the technology’s benefits in large numbers, it is important to address potential threats that exist today, as well as those that may emerge in the future. The forum will bring together stakeholders such as technology researchers, industry members and academics to explore these issues.
The FTC says the forum will focus on the security of existing and developing mobile technologies and the roles various members of the mobile ecosystem can play in protecting consumers from these types of security threats. The forum will serve to inform the Commission about the current mobile security environment and facilitate an exploration of potential challenges that may arise as consumer use of mobile technology continues to grow.
EPA RELEASES LISTS OF CHEMICALS USED IN CONSUMER GOODS / NEW RULES REQUIRE MAKER TO DISCLOSE CHEMICALS IN PRODUCTS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released the 2012 Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) information on more than 7,600 chemicals in commerce. The CDR database contains comprehensive use and exposure information on the most widely used chemicals in the United States.
Companies are now required to provide information on chemicals used in children’s and other consumer products, along with reports on commercial applications and industrial uses of chemicals. For the first time ever, EPA also required companies to substantiate confidentiality claims in order to ensure that as much information as possible is made available to the public.
“The 2012 Chemical Data Reporting information will help EPA and others better assess chemicals, evaluate potential exposures and use, and expand efforts to encourage the use of safer chemicals,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “The CDR data also highlight the clear need for TSCA reform. Updating this critical law will ensure that EPA has access to the tools and resources it needs to quickly and effectively assess potentially harmful chemicals, and safeguard the health of families across the country.”
TOYOTA RECALLS A MILLION CARS DUE TO POSSIBLE AIR BAG PROBLEMS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS), will conduct two separate safety recalls involving approximately 752,000 Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles and approximately 270,000 Lexus IS vehicles.
The airbag control module for the supplemental restraint system (SRS) in the Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles could have been manufactured with application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) that are susceptible to internal shorting. These ASICs could experience an internal short that creates abnormal current flow and increased heat. If this occurs, there is a possibility that the ASIC could become damaged. In some instances, the front airbag(s) and/or seat belt pretensioners could inadvertently deploy.
The second safety recall involves the front wipers on certain Lexus IS vehicles where the wiper arm nut might not be sufficiently tight. If movement of the wipers is restricted by an external load, such as a buildup of heavy snow on the windshield, one or both of the wipers could become inoperative.
Owners of vehicles covered by these safety recalls will receive an owner notification letter via first class mail in the near future. Any authorized Toyota or Lexus dealer will perform this recall at no charge to the vehicle owner.
Detailed information is available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 or www.lexus.com/recall and Lexus Customer Satisfaction (1 800-255-3987).
HONDA RECALLS 748,000 PILOT AND ODYSSEY MODELS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Honda will voluntarily recall approximately 748,000 model-year 2009-2013 Pilot and 2011-2013 Odyssey vehicles in the United States to inspect and, if necessary, replace the driver's-side airbag. Driver's-side airbags in these vehicles potentially were assembled without some of the rivets that secure the airbag's plastic cover. If the rivets are missing, the airbag may not deploy properly, increasing the risk of injury in a crash. No crashes or injuries have been reported related to this issue.
Honda is announcing this recall to encourage owners of all affected vehicles to take their vehicles to an authorized dealer as soon as they receive notification of this recall from Honda. Mailed notification to customers will begin in mid-Feb., 2013. In addition to contacting customers by mail, in mid-Feb., owners of these vehicles will be able to determine if their vehicles require repair by going to www.recalls.honda.com or by calling (800) 999-1009, and selecting option 4.
ORACLE CLAIMS IT HAS FIXED JAVA SOFTWARE VULNERABILITY / HOMELAND SECURITY URGES CAUTION
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Oracle has released a statement saying it has patched the vulnerability in their Java software, which was reported to have been used by hackers to take control of users computers and personal data.
According to the statement from Oracle's Eric P. Maurice,
"To be successfully exploited, an attacker needs to trick an unsuspecting user into browsing a malicious website. The execution of the malicious applet within the browser of the unsuspecting users then allows the attacker to execute arbitrary code in the vulnerable system. These vulnerabilities are applicable only to Java in web browsers because they are exploitable through malicious browser applets".
"With this Security Alert, and in addition to the fixes for CVE-2013-0422 and CVE-2012-3174, Oracle is switching Java security settings to “high” by default. The high security setting requires users to expressly authorize the execution of applets which are either unsigned or are self-signed. As a result, unsuspecting users visiting malicious web sites will be notified before an applet is run and will gain the ability to deny the execution of the potentially malicious applet. Note also that Java SE 7 Update 10 introduced the ability for users to easily disable Java in their browsers through the Java Control Panel".
Meanwhile, the DHS Office of Cybersecurity and Communication's Computer Emergency Readiness Team encourages users and administrators to be cautious despite the patch as investigators keep a watch on the problem.
US-CERT also advises there are similar vulnerabilities that have been found in some versions of Internet Explorer, which Microsoft now says has been patched.
Microsoft has released Security Advisory 2794220 to address a vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8. This vulnerability may allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code if a user accesses a specially crafted website. Microsoft is aware of targeted attacks that attempt to exploit this vulnerability in the wild.
UPDATE: Microsoft has released Security Bulletin MS13-008 to resolve this vulnerability. The security update is rated Critical for Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, and Internet Explorer 8 on Windows clients and Moderate for Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, and Internet Explorer 8 on Windows servers. US-CERT encourages users and administrators to review Microsoft Security Bulletin MS13-008 and follow best-practice security policies to determine if the update should be applied.
HOMELAND SECURITY URGES COMPUTER OWNERS TO DISABLE JAVA PROGRAMS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A reported vulnerability in the Java program used in most computers for text and image processing, has been reported by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications.
According to DHS experts, hackers try to convince a computer user to visit a specially crafted HTML document, a remote attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system. Note that applications that use the Internet Explorer web content rendering components, such as Microsoft Office or Windows Desktop Search, may also be used as an attack vector for this vulnerability. Also, DHS says it is unaware of any practical solution to the problem. Starting with Java 7 Update 10, according to a DHS statement, it is possible to disable Java content in web browsers through the Java control panel applet. Please see the Java documentation for more details.
As of the posting of this report, there has been no statement from Oracle, the maker of the Java programs.
FEDS ISSUE NEW RULES FOR MORTGAGE LENDING / BASED ON CONSUMERS ABILITY TO REPAY
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has adopted a new rule that will protect consumers from irresponsible mortgage lending by requiring lenders to ensure prospective buyers have the ability to repay their mortgage. The rule, announced today, also protects borrowers from risky lending practices such as “no doc” and “interest only” features that contributed to many homeowners ending up in delinquency and foreclosure after the 2008 housing collapse.
“When consumers sit down at the closing table, they shouldn’t be set up to fail with mortgages they can’t afford,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Our Ability-to-Repay rule protects borrowers from the kinds of risky lending practices that resulted in so many families losing their homes. This common-sense rule ensures responsible borrowers get responsible loans.”
Leading up to the mortgage crisis, certain lenders originated mortgages to consumers without considering their ability to repay the loans. The gradual deterioration in underwriting standards led to dramatic increases in mortgage delinquencies and rates of foreclosures. What followed was the collapse of the housing market in 2008 and the subsequent financial crisis. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act created broad-based changes to how creditors make loans and included new ability-to-repay requirements, which the CFPB is charged with implementing.
The new rules include restrictions on the following criteria:
Financial informationfor consumers has to be supplied and verified. A borrower has to have sufficient assets or income to pay back the loan.Teaser rates can no longer mask the true cost of a mortgage and No excess upfront points and fees. No toxic loan (loan likely to result in defaults) features. Caps on how much income can go toward debt (better consideration for other living expenses).
The propose rules now move into a comment period and may be finalized this spring, which means they could take effect January 2014.
DIETARY SUPPLEMENT MAKER FORCED TO GIVE CUSTOMER REFUNDS FOR FRAUDULENT CLAIMS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - If you purchased any Accelis, nanoSLIM, Cold MD, Germ MD, or Allergy MD product, the Federal Trade Commission wants you to know that you may be eligible for a refund.
As part of its ongoing efforts to stop bogus health claims, in 2010, the FTC charged Iovate Health Sciences U.S.A. and two affiliated Canadian companies with deceptively advertising that the supplements named above could help consumers lose weight or could treat and prevent colds, flu, and allergies. In settling with the FTC, Iovate agreed to pay $5.5 million for consumer refunds.
Consumers who bought any of these five dietary supplements between January 2006 and July 2010 will have until April 1, 2013, to apply for a refund by filing a claim form online or calling 1-877-576-9978 to request a paper claim form in the mail. Consumers who previously received a refund from a California class action settlement involving Cold MD are not eligible to receive a second payment. Consumers are eligible to submit claims for up to five of a single type of product, and for a total of up to 10 products. The amount of each refund will depend on the number of products purchased and the number of claims submitted by eligible consumers. Eligible consumers who receive refund checks must cash them within 60 days of when they are issued.
More information about this refund program is available at www.ftc.gov/healthclaims. Consumers with specific questions also can call 1-877-576-9978.
FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES BOLD NEW RULES FOR FOOD SAFETY / AGENCY TAKING MORE STEPS TO PROTECT CONSUMERS FROM ILLNESSES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom -The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed two new food safety rules that will help prevent food borne illness. The rules could take effect in April.
The proposed rules implement the landmark, bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and are available for public comment for the next 120 days. The FDA encourages Americans to review and comment on these important proposed rules.The proposed rules build on significant strides made during the Obama Administration, including the first egg safety rule protecting consumers from Salmonella and stepped up testing for E. coli in beef as well as existing voluntary industry guidelines for food safety, which many producers, growers and others currently follow.
The rules follow extensive outreach by the FDA to the produce industry, the consumer community, other government agencies and the international community. Since January 2011, FDA staff have toured farms and facilities nationwide and participated in hundreds of meetings and presentations with global regulatory partners, industry stakeholders, consumer groups, farmers, state and local officials, and the research community.
“The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is a common sense law that shifts the food safety focus from reactive to preventive,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “With the support of industry, consumer groups, and the bipartisan leadership in Congress, we are establishing a science-based, flexible system to better prevent food borne illness and protect American families.”
The burden of food borne illness in the United States is substantial. One in six Americans suffer from a food borne illness every year. Of those, nearly 130,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from their illness. Preventing food borne illnesses will improve public health, reduce medical costs, and avoid the costly disruptions of the food system caused by illness outbreaks and large-scale recalls. These two FSMA rules are part of an integrated reform effort that focuses on prevention and addresses the safety of foods produced domestically and imported, with additional rules to be published shortly.
The first rule proposed today would require makers of food to be sold in the United States, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing food borne illness. The rule would also require them to have plans for correcting any problems that arise.
The FDA seeks public comment on this proposal. The FDA is proposing that many food manufacturers be in compliance with the new preventive controls rules one year after the final rules are published in the Federal Register but small and very small businesses would be given additional time.The FDA also seeks public comment on the second proposed rule released today, which proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms. This rule proposes science- and risk-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables.
The FDA is proposing that larger farms be in compliance with most of the produce safety requirements 26 months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register. Small and very small farms would have additional time to comply, and all farms would have additional time to comply with certain requirements related to water quality.
TOYOTA TO PAY AT LEAST $1.1 BILLION TO CUSTOMERS WHOSE CARS WERE RECALLED FOR SUDDEN ACCELERATION AND FLOOR MATS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Toyota Motor North America today announced an agreement to resolve economic loss litigation in the U.S. related to previous recalls.
According to a statement from the company, Christopher P. Reynolds, group vice president and general counsel, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A, and chief legal officer, Toyota Motor North America considered the agreement, “In keeping with our core principles, we have structured this agreement in ways that work to put our customers first and demonstrate that they can count on Toyota to stand behind our vehicles.”
Reynolds continued: “This was a difficult decision – especially since reliable scientific evidence and multiple independent evaluations have confirmed the safety of Toyota’s electronic throttle control systems. However, we concluded that turning the page on this legacy legal issue through the positive steps we are taking is in the best interests of the company, our employees, our dealers and, most of all, our customers.”
If this economic loss settlement is approved by the judge supervising multi district litigation (MDL) pending in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Toyota says it will launch a new customer-support program that will provide prospective supplemental coverage for certain vehicle components and will retrofit additional non-hybrid vehicle models subject to the floor mat recall with a free brake override system (BOS) to provide an added measure of confidence.
Further, assuming any appeals are resolved in favor of the settlement, Toyota claims it will offer cash payments to eligible customers who sold or turned-in their leased vehicles in a period during 2009-2010, as well as other specified persons, and to eligible current owners and lessees who will not be offered BOS. The proposed settlement would also establish additional driver education programs and fund new research into advanced safety technologies.
Toyota also announced that it will take a one-time, $1.1 billion pre-tax charge against earnings to cover the estimated costs of the economic loss settlement and possible resolution costs of civil litigation brought in California by the District Attorney of Orange County and an investigation by a multi-state group of Attorneys General stemming from previous recalls.
For more information on the economic loss settlement, consumers are asked to visit www.toyotaelsettlement.com or call 877-283-0507.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - General Motors is recalling certain model year 2010-2012 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon vehicles manufactured from November 9, 2009, through August 28, 2012, for failing to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 113, "Hood Latch System." The hood may be missing the secondary hood latch. If the primary hood latch is not engaged, the hood could open unexpectedly. During vehicle operation, this could obstruct the view of the driver and increase the risk of a crash. General Motors will notify owners and instruct them to inspect their vehicle for the presence of a secondary hood latch. Dealers will replace the hood on any affected vehicles, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on January 17, 2013. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 1-800-630-2438 or GMC at 1-866-996-9463.
PERFORMANCE PLUS ANNOUNCES PRODUCT RECALL FOR MALE SEXUAL PERFORMANCE SUPPLEMENTS
Mroe from the Emeritus Newsroom - Performance Plus Marketing, Inc. issues a voluntary nationwide recall of Libigrow®, Libigrow XXXtreme®, Blue Diamond®, Blue Diamond Platinum®, Mojo Nights®, Mojo Nights Supreme®, and Casanova® because they contain undeclared Sulfoaildenafil and Thioaildenafil.
Performance Plus Marketing, Inc. has been informed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that FDA lab analysis of Mojo Nights® distributed by the company was found to contain undeclared sulfoaildenafil and thioaidenafil, which are analogues of sildenafil. Counterfeit of Libigrow® brands have also test positive for sildenafil and other analogues thereof. Sildenafil is an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of male Erectile Dysfunction (ED), making Libigrow®, Libigrow XXXtreme®, Blue Diamond®, Blue Diamond Platinum®, Mojo Nights®, Mojo Nights Supreme®, and Casanova® unapproved drugs.
Sulfoaildenafil and thioaildenafil are close in structure to sildenafil and are expected to possess a similar pharmacological and adverse event profile. This poses a threat to consumers because sildenafil may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs such as nitroglycerin and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates. For specific lot and product numbers see link below.
TOYOTA TO PAY $17.35 MILLION FOR FAILURE TO REPORT SAFETY DEFECTS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that Toyota Motor Corporation has agreed to pay $17.35 million, the maximum fine allowable under the law, in response to the agency's assertion that the automaker failed to report a safety defect to the federal government in a timely manner. This action represents the single highest civil penalty amount ever paid to NHTSA for violations stemming from a recall.
"Safety is our highest priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "With today’s announcement, I expect Toyota to rigorously reinforce its commitment to adhering to United States safety regulations."
Federal law requires all auto manufacturers to notify NHTSA within five business days of determining that a safety defect exists or that the vehicle is not in compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards and to promptly conduct a recall.
"It's critical to the safety of the driving public that manufacturers report safety defects in a timely manner," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Every moment of delay has the potential to lead to deaths or injuries on our nation’s highways."
In early 2012, NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation began noticing a trend in floor mat pedal entrapment in 2010 Lexus RX 350s in Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQs) and Early Warning Reporting data. In May, NHTSA contacted Toyota regarding the trend, and a month later Toyota advised NHTSA that it was aware of 63 alleged incidents of possible floor mat pedal entrapment in Model Year 2010 Lexus RX 350s since 2009. Toyota's own technicians and dealer technicians reported that certain alleged incidents of unwanted acceleration had been caused by floor mat pedal entrapment.
In June, Toyota advised NHTSA that it would conduct a recall of 154,036 Model Year 2010 Lexus RX 350 and Model Year 2010 RX 450h vehicles to address floor mat pedal entrapment.
As part of today's settlement, Toyota Motor Corporation and its U.S. based subsidiaries agreed to make internal changes to their quality assurance and review of safety-related issues in the United States, and to improve their ability to take into account the possible consequences of potential safety-related defects.
The last time Toyota faced civil penalties was in 2010 when the automaker agreed to pay $48.8 million as a result of three separate investigations into the automaker's handling of auto recalls. The automaker paid maximum civil penalties for violations stemming from the pedal entrapment, sticky pedal and steering relay rod recalls.
POTENTIAL RUNAWAY HONDAS PROMPT IGNITION SYSTEM RECALL / MORE THAN 800,000 VEHICLES AFFECTED
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - American Honda will recall approximately 318,000 Honda Odyssey and 259,000 Honda Pilot vehicles from the 2003-2004 model years and roughly 230,000 Acura MDX vehicles from the 2003-2006 model years in the U.S. to address a potential malfunction of the ignition interlock feature of these vehicles. Honda has received several complaints about such malfunctions in these vehicles and is aware of a small number of related incidents, including two that allegedly resulted in minor injuries.
The ignition interlock mechanism can be damaged or worn during use. If this happens, it may become possible to remove the ignition key when the automatic transmission shift lever is not in Park. If the transmission is not in Park and the parking brake is not set, the vehicle could roll away, and a crash could occur.
Honda is announcing this recall to encourage owners of all affected vehicles to take their vehicles to an authorized dealer as soon as they receive notification of this recall from American Honda. Mailed notification to customers will be sent in early February 2013. In addition to contacting customers by mail, at that time, owners of vehicles from the affected model years will be able to determine if their vehicles require repair by going on-line to www.recalls.honda.com and www.recalls.acura.com or by calling (800) 999-1009 for Honda owners or (800) 382-2238 for Acura owners, and selecting option 4.
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP STUDY CLAIMS WIDESPREAD CONSUMER FRAUD IN FISH SALES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The advocacy group, Oceana, says there is widespread fish sales fraud in the sampling they conducted in the New York City area, as well as others areas throughout the country. The group points out that fraud includes any false information
accompanying seafood, from short weighting to swapping out one species of fish for another. Oceana’s
investigation focused on species substitution, or the swapping of a lower value or lower quality fish for a
more desirable species.
Everywhere seafood is tested, fraud has been found. In fact, Oceana and others recently found shocking
levels of mislabeling in the Boston (48 percent), Los Angeles (55 percent) and Miami (31 percent) areas.
In 2012, Oceana also investigated seafood mislabeling in the New York City area as part of its Campaign
to Stop Seafood Fraud. Despite frequent reporting on the issue for more than 20 years, Oceana found
that 39 percent of the 142 seafood samples collected and DNA tested from grocery stores, restaurants
and sushi venues were mislabeled, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Oceana’s studies have shown this is not just a regional problem, but a widespread, nationwide issue that
needs federal attention. Federal agencies and Congress should take notice and act to stop seafood fraud.
• 58 percent of the 81 retail outlets sampled sold mislabeled fish (three in five).
• Small markets had significantly higher fraud (40 percent) than national chain grocery stores (12
• 100 percent of the 16 sushi bars tested sold mislabeled fish.
• Tilefish, on the FDA’s do-not-eat list because of its high mercury content,1 was substituted for red
snapper and halibut in a small market.
• 94 percent of the “white tuna” was not tuna at all, but escolar, a snake mackerel that has a toxin
with purgative effects for people who eat more than a small amount of the fish.
• Thirteen different types of fish were sold as “red snapper,” including tilapia, white bass,
goldbanded jobfish, tilefish, porgy/seabream, ocean perch and other less valuable snappers.
FEDS WARN CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES TO SIMPLIFY AND EXPEDITE PERSONAL CREDIT RECORD REQUESTS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has released a bulletin to nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies underscoring their obligation under the law to provide a streamlined process for consumers to request a free annual consumer report. After reviewing a number of agencies’ practices, today the CFPB is also issuing warning letters to those that may be violating the law by failing to provide consumers the required streamlined process for accessing their reports.
“Nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies can have great influence over a consumer’s tenancy, insurance premiums, or even employment,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today, the CFPB is reminding these companies that they must follow the law and provide consumers with easy access to their free annual report. If we have reason to believe that companies are not following the law, we will take action.”
Nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies primarily collect and provide specific types of information on a consumer’s history, such as check-writing, medical payments, tenancy, employment, or insurance claims. They are included in the larger industry category of consumer reporting agencies, which also includes credit reporting companies or credit bureaus. Credit reporting businesses generally assemble or evaluate a consumer’s credit and other information, then sell it to third parties. There are roughly 400 consumer reporting agencies in the U.S., with three companies dominating the market – Equifax Information Services LLC, Experian Information Solutions Inc., and TransUnion LLC.
Consumers have a right to a free annual report (technically known as a “file disclosure”) not only from the largest three credit bureaus, but also from nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies. Because many creditors make financial decisions and set terms on the basis of information contained in these reports, accuracy is critical. Under federal law, consumers have a right to dispute the information in these reports and the underlying information consumer reporting agencies have about them. The consumer reporting agency must then investigate the dispute and correct any inaccuracies it discovers.
The bulletin released today emphasizes that the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which the CFPB oversees, requires all nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies to provide an easy way for consumers to get free access to their annual reports. Companies must provide a toll-free number that is published in every telephone directory in which a number for the company appears, and is clearly and prominently posted on the company’s website. In addition, federal law requires the company to have clear and easy instructions for consumers to get these reports, and adequate staff in place or means to deal with consumers’ requests.
Today’s actions stem from a CFPB review of how nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies are complying with these requirements. The CFPB looked at phone listings and websites for nationwide specialty consumer reporting agencies across the country and also attempted to request reports. The review identified several problems, such as companies that are not listing toll-free numbers, and companies that have toll-free numbers but do not make it easy for consumers to request reports.
The CFPB is sending warning letters to several companies that advise recipients that they may be in violation of the law, and that they should review their compliance with requirements to provide consumers streamlined access to their free annual reports. A warning letter is not a determination of wrongdoing. The CFPB has invited the companies receiving letters to advise the Bureau of the steps they have taken or will take to ensure compliance with the law, or to explain why they believe these legal requirements do not apply to them. The CFPB is committed to a fair and reasonable inquiry into these matters.
Companies that the CFPB believes have violated the requirement to provide consumers streamlined access to their reports could be subject to enforcement actions. Through its supervisory and enforcement functions, the Bureau will continue to monitor consumer reporting agencies to ensure compliance with this obligation and other federal consumer financial laws.
In October, the CFPB began accepting individual complaints about consumer reporting agencies. If a consumer files a complaint with a reporting company and is dissatisfied with the resolution, the CFPB is available to assist. Consumers can find out more at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/
POTENTIAL ENGINE FIRES PROMPT RECALL FOR FORD ESCAPE AND FUSION MODELS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Ford is recalling 2013 SE and SEL model Ford Escape vehicles equipped with the 1.6-liter engine and 2013 SE and SEL model Fusions equipped with the 1.6-liter engine. The company announcement follows reports of engines overheating, followed by vehicle fires starting in the engine compartment when the engine is running.
Those models not affected are Escapes equipped with the 2.0-liter and the 2.5-liter engines and Fusions equipped with the 2.5-liter and hybrid engines. Ford estimates that there are approximately 73,320 Escapes and 15,833 Fusions produced and distributed for sale in the U.S. and Canada with 1.6-liter engines, with most in the U.S. market.
No injuries have been reported. Some drivers who have experienced high engine temperatures followed by engine fires say that their clusters have shown the message “Engine Power Reduced to Lower Temps” or “Engine over temp, stop safely.” Some also indicated that their instrument clusters sounded a chime and illuminated a red light. Drivers who see any of these indications should safely pull off the road as soon as possible, turn off the engine and exit the vehicle. Ford will compensate owners for costs tied to overheating as well.
Ford is advising affected owners to contact a Ford dealer as soon as possible for alternative transportation at no cost to the customer; U.S. owners also may call 866-436-7332 and Canadian customers also may call 888-222-7814 for details on securing alternative transportation. Those calling the company should have the cars VIN numbers and purchase papers ready for customer services representatives.
The fact that peanut butter made by the company has been linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney that has sickened 41 people in 20 states, coupled with Sunland’s history of violations led FDA to make the decision to suspend the company’s registration.
This was the FDA’s first use of its registration suspension authority, under the Food Safety Modernization Act. This new authority enables the agency to take this action when food manufactured, processed, packed, received, or held by a facility has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, and other conditions are met.
A review of Sunland Inc.’s product testing records showed that 11 product lots of nut butter showed the presence of Salmonella between June 2009 and September 2012. Between March 2010 and September 2012, at least a portion of 8 product lots of nut butter that Sunland Inc.’s own testing program identified as containing Salmonella was distributed by the company to consumers.
Additionally, during its inspection of the plant in September and October 2012, the FDA found the presence of Salmonella in 28 environmental samples (from surfaces in production or manufacturing areas) and in 13 nut butter product samples and one product sample of raw peanuts. Four of the peanut butter product samples showed the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney.
The suspension order offers Sunland, Inc. the opportunity to request an informal hearing on certain issues related to the order. If, after providing this opportunity, the FDA determines that the suspension remains necessary, the FDA will require Sunland, Inc. to submit a corrective action plan to address the immediate problems and to implement a sustainable solution to those problems in a sound scientific manner. The FDA will reinstate Sunland, Inc.’s registration only when FDA determines that the company has implemented procedures to produce safe products.
USED CAR BUYERS BEWARE / UNSCRUPULOUS SELLERS MAY TRY TO UNLOAD DAMAGED VEHICLES FROM "SANDY"
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - With millions of vehicles damaged from the recent superstorm, "Sandy", consumer protection agencies and advocates across the country are warning car buyers to make sure they don't become victims of fraud. Insurers, self-insured entities, salvage pools, auctions and junkyards in all 50 states are required to report all total-loss vehicles to this Justice Department database within 30 days. For newer vehicles that are within a warranty period, call the manufacturer and ask if it is still honoring the warranty.
There are a couple of websites worth checking to see if a used car has been damaged. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System at www.vehiclehistory.gov . Free vehicle information number checks are also available from the National Insurance Crime Bureau at www.nicb.org
On both new and used cars, look for signs that it had been submerged: premature rust, musty or "over-perfumed" smell, silt in places such as under the carpeting or in the spare tire well. Best of all, take the vehicle to a trustworthy service garage to get their opinion.
FDA WORKFORCE UNABLE TO KEEP UP WITH OVERSIGHT OF FOOD SUPPLY / REPORT CITES FDA BEING POLITICAL TARGET OF INDUSTRIES IT MONITORS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Partnership for Public Service was asked by the Pew Charitable Trusts to determine if the FDA has made progress in shoring up its scientific and technical workforce since the Science Board sounded the alarm. The Partnership also examined whether the FDA had adopted any of the report's workforce recommendations or taken other steps to correct the problems; how FDA employees and leadership view the current state of the workforce; and what the agency should do in the future to improve its recruitment, hiring and retention practices.
In particular, the report, FDA Science and Mission at Risk, said “the scientific workforce does not have sufficient capacity and capability” and is “not positioned to meet current or emerging regulatory responsibilities.” The report found that the funding shortfalls and intense work pressures caused top FDA scientists to leave, created problems carrying out fundamental research, hurt recruitment of both young and mature scientific talent, and left the agency with significant gaps in scientific expertise.
FDA officials also must deal with current political realities, which have led to an increasing reliance on industry user fees to fund operations. While the various industries, including the pharmaceutical and medical device companies, provide large sums to the agency, they also negotiate and in many ways influence how the FDA will spend the money. In the case of pharmaceuticals, for example, congressionally approved agreements negotiated between the FDA and the industry set the number of people to be hired for new drug reviews, timelines for reviews and approvals, and other detailed aspects of the work process.The conditions created by the user fee system have distorted the structure of the FDA’s workforce, creating the potential for expertise gaps in some areas even as other roles are better staffed.
The FDA’s fiscal 2013 budget contains seven user fee programs that account for about $2 billion in industry funding, or roughly 44 percent of the entire agency budget.
TOYOTA RECALLS SOME PRIUS MODELS FOR STEERING SHAFT AND WATER PUMP PROBLEMS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS), will conduct two safety recalls involving Prius vehicles as part of the recall announced today by Toyota Motor Corporation.
Approximately 670,000 Prius vehicles are being recalled in the United States to inspect and in some cases replace the steering intermediate extension shaft.
Due to insufficient hardness treatment of some of the extension shafts, the splines that connect the extension shaft to the steering gear box may deform if the steering wheel is frequently and forcefully turned to the full left or full right position while driving at slow speeds. This deformation may create increased internal clearance and the splines may eventually, over time, wear out.
Toyota dealers will inspect the extension shaft to determine if it needs to be replaced and, if confirmed, will replace it. The inspection and repair will take approximately one hour depending on the dealer’s work schedule.
Approximately 350,000 of these same Prius vehicles are also being recalled to replace the electric water pump for the hybrid system.
In the hybrid system, there is an electrically driven water pump that circulates coolant through the hybrid components to provide cooling. There is a possibility that the electric motor installed in the water pump may stop functioning, leading to illumination of various warning lights in the instrument panel. In limited instances, the electric power supply circuit fuse may open, causing the hybrid system to stop while the vehicle is being driven.
Toyota dealers will replace the electric water pump for the hybrid system. The repair will take approximately two hours depending on the dealer’s work schedule.
There have been no crashes or injuries reported for these two conditions. Owners of vehicles covered by these safety recalls will receive an owner notification letter via first class mail starting in December 2012. Any authorized Toyota dealer will perform these recalls at no charge to the vehicle owner.
Detailed information is available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.
HYUNDAI AND KIA OWNERS TO GET DEBIT CARDS AS PAYBACK FOR COMPANIES' OVERSTATING MILEAGE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motors America will lower their fuel economy (mpg) estimates for the majority of their model year 2012 and 2013 models after EPA testing found discrepancies between agency results and data submitted by the company.
The Detroit News is reporting today that both car companies, which are owned by the same parent company, will be going online with new websites to explain the refund program for those who have already purchased the vehicles. The newspaper also reports that dealers will check owners odometers and calculate how much the owners might have saved had their mileage been as the company had stated on the vehicles. Click here for Detroit News article .
The auto companies have submitted to the EPA a plan for cars currently on dealer lots to be re-labeled with new window stickers reflecting the corrected mileage estimates. The mileage on most vehicle labels will be reduced by one to two mpg, and the largest adjustment will be six mpg highway for the Kia Soul.
“Consumers rely on the window sticker to help make informed choices about the cars they buy,’ said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “EPA’s investigation will help protect consumers and ensure a level playing field among automakers.”
At its National Vehicle and Fuel Emission Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, Mich., EPA routinely tests vehicles – 150 to 200 a year, or about 15 percent of the possible vehicle configurations – to ensure that their performance matches the mileage and emissions data required to be submitted to EPA by automakers.
This auditing helps to ensure that vehicles on the road meet tailpipe emission standards to protect public health and the environment and that all car makers follow the same procedures for calculating mileage estimates. EPA conducts both random and targeted audits, based on factors such as consumer complaints.
EPA had received a number of consumer complaints about Hyundai mileage estimates. Through the agency’s ongoing audit program, staff experts at EPA’s NVFEL observed discrepancies between results from EPA testing of a MY2012 Hyundai Elantra and information provided to EPA by Hyundai.
The agency expanded its investigation into data for other Hyundai and Kia vehicles, leading to today’s announcement.
EPA’s audit testing occasionally uncovers individual vehicles whose label values are incorrect and requires that the manufacturer re-label the vehicle. This has happened twice since 2000. This is the first time where a large number of vehicles from the same manufacturer have deviated so significantly.
EPA and DOE are updating their joint fuel economy site, www.fueleconomy.gov, to reflect the Hyundai and Kia corrected numbers. For more information, please see: http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/labelchange.htm 11/02/2012
BUYERS OF WAL-BORN COLD MEDS COULD GET REFUNDS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - If you purchased “Wal-Born” – a Walgreens’ brand dietary supplement, the Federal Trade Commission wants you to know that you may be eligible for a refund.
The FTC settlement with Walgreens bars the company from claiming that its products prevent or treat cold or flu symptoms, or protect against cold and flu viruses by boosting the immune system, unless there is scientific evidence to back up these claims.
Consumers who bought “Wal-Born” supplements between December 1, 2004 and March 29, 2010 can submit a claim for a refund. Some advertisements announcing the refund have incorrectly stated that consumers had to have purchased the supplements by June 30, 2009. Consumers are eligible to receive up to $5 for each product purchased, for a total of six products or up to $30. The deadline to file a claim is February 4, 2013, and checks will be mailed no later than April 2013. For more information about the refund program, call 1-800-598-3025, or visit www.ftc.gov/Walgreens.
Consumers should carefully evaluate advertising claims for vitamins and other dietary supplements. For more information see: Who Cares: Dietary Supplements.
FEDS PROBE REPORTS OF STICKING ACCELERATOR PEDALS ON 2000-2003 TAURUS/SABLE MODELS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received 50 complaints alleging incidents of stuck throttle due to fractured speed control cable collars in model year (MY) 2000 through 2003 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable vehicles equipped with 4-valve 3.0L V6 Duratec engines (Figure 1). The speed control cable assembly is unique to about 310,000 of those vehicles and the subject failure mode has not been observed in MY 2000 through 2003 Taurus/Sable vehicles equipped with the 2-valve 3.0L V6 Vulcan engine or in any of the MY 2004 through 2007 Taurus/Sable vehicles. The fractured cable allows the cable ferrule to move relative to the collar. This may result in a stuck throttle condition if the ferrule hangs up on the shoulder of the collar when the throttle is closing (Figure 2). This condition has resulted in throttles stuck at approximately 26% open. A Preliminary Evaluation has been opened to determine the scope, frequency and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect.
CONSUMER PROTECTION FINANCIAL BUREAU ANNOUNCES NEW RULES FOR DEBT COLLECTORS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - As of January 2, 2013, debt collectors will be under the jurisdiction of the new Consumer Protection Financial Bureau (CFPB) for the first time. That means debt collectors also face new rules designed to protect the public.
“Millions of consumers are affected by debt collection, and we want to make sure they are treated fairly,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today we are announcing that we will be supervising the larger debt collectors in the market for the first time at the federal level. We want all companies to realize that the better business choice is to follow the law — not break it.”
According to the CFPB, approximately 30 million Americans have, on average, $1,500 of debt subject to collection. Debt collectors often report consumers’ collection status to the credit bureaus. If they get the information wrong, this can be the difference between getting approved or denied for such financial products as a mortgage or a car loan.
The consumer debt collection market covered by the rule includes three main types of debt collection: first, firms that may buy defaulted debt and collect the proceeds for themselves; second, firms that may collect defaulted debt owned by another company in return for a fee; and third, there are debt collection attorneys that collect through litigation. A single company may be involved in any or all of these activities. By expanding the supervision program to oversee the nonbanks that are larger participants in the consumer debt collection market, the Bureau will now have a window into every stage of the process – from the origination of credit to debt collection.
The CFPB’s supervision authority over these entities will begin when the rule takes effect on January 2, 2013. Under the rule, any firm that has more than $10 million in annual receipts from consumer debt collection activities will be subject to the CFPB’s supervisory authority. This authority will extend to about 175 debt collectors, which account for over 60 percent of the industry’s annual receipts in the consumer debt collection market.
Pursuant to the CFPB’s supervision authority, examiners will be assessing potential risks to consumers and whether debt collectors are complying with requirements of federal consumer financial law. Among other things, examiners will be evaluating whether debt collectors:
· Provide Required Disclosures: Examiners will evaluate whether debt collectors are properly identifying themselves and properly disclosing the amount of debt owed. The CFPB intends to ensure that debt collectors are upfront and clear with consumers.
· Provide Accurate Information: Examiners will assess whether debt collectors are using accurate data in their pursuit of debt. Inaccurate information can lead to collectors attempting to collect debt that consumers do not owe or have already paid.
· Have a Consumer Complaint and Dispute Resolution Process: As part of the CFPB’s compliance management review, examiners will assess whether complaints are resolved adequately and in a timely manner, whether the complaints highlight violations of federal consumer financial law, and whether the debt collector has a process in place to address consumer disputes.
· Communicate Civilly and Honestly with Consumers: Examiners will be assessing whether debt collectors have harassed or deceived consumers in pursuit of debt. For example, debt collectors should not be using obscene or profane language with consumers. Nor should they be engaging the consumer in telephone conversations repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass. Debt collectors cannot threaten to imprison consumers who do not pay their debt or threaten to tell the consumer’s employer about the debt.
The procedures released today are an extension of the CFPB’s general Supervisory and Examination Manual and provide guidance on how the Bureau will be conducting its monitoring of debt collection activities. Examiners will evaluate the quality of the regulated entity’s compliance management systems, review practices to ensure they comply with federal consumer financial law, and identify risks to consumers throughout the debt collection process. The CFPB has issued similar procedures for other companies under its supervision, such as consumer reporting agencies, mortgage originators, mortgage servicers, and payday lenders.
Today’s rule is the CFPB’s second larger participant rule. The first larger participant rule, which pertained to the consumer reporting market, was announced in July 2012 and took effect on September 30, 2012.
The CFPB is also publishing new questions and answers about debt collection in its Ask CFPBdatabase. This interactive, online database answers consumers’ most frequently asked questions in plain language. The questions cover topics such as the definition of a debt collector, the best way to negotiate a settlement with a collector, and what a collector has the authority to do.
Today, the CFPB is holding a field hearing in Seattle to gather information about the consumer debt collection market from the industry and the public.
Compete is a company that uses tracking software to collect data on the browsing behavior of millions of consumers, then uses the data to generate reports, which it sells to clients who want to improve their website traffic and sales.
The proposed settlement will require that Compete obtain consumers’ express consent before collecting any data from Compete software downloaded onto consumers’ computers, that the company delete or anonymize the use of the consumer data it already has collected, and that it provide directions to consumers for uninstalling its software.
According to the FTC, Compete got consumers to download its tracking software in several ways, including by urging them to join a “Consumer Input Panel” that was promoted using ads that pointed consumers to Compete’s website, www.consumerinput.com. Compete told consumers that by joining the “Panel” they could win rewards while sharing their opinions about products and services, the FTC alleged. The company also allegedly promised that consumers who installed another type of its software-- the Compete Toolbar (from compete.com)-- could have “instant access” to data about the websites they visited.
Compete also licensed its web-tracking software to other companies, the FTC alleged. Upromise, which licensed Compete’s web-tracking software, settled similar FTC charges earlier this year.
Once installed, the Compete tracking component operated in the background, automatically collecting information about consumers’ online activity. It captured information consumers entered into websites, including consumers’ usernames, passwords, and search terms, and also some sensitive information such as credit card and financial account information, security codes and expiration dates, and Social Security Numbers, according to the FTC.
The FTC charged that several of Compete’s business practices were unfair or deceptive and violated the law. For example, the company failed to disclose to consumers that it would collect detailed information such as information they provided in making purchases, not just “the web pages you visit.”
In addition, the FTC alleged that Compete made false and deceptive assurances to consumers that their personal information would be removed from the data it collected. The company made statements such as:
“All data is stripped of personally identifiable information before it is transmitted to our servers;” and
“We take reasonable security measures to protect against unauthorized access to or unauthorized alteration, disclosure or destruction of personal information.”
Despite these assurances, the FTC charged that Compete failed to remove personal data before transmitting it; failed to provide reasonable and appropriate data security; transmitted sensitive information from secure websites in readable text; failed to design and implement reasonable safeguards to protect consumers’ data; and failed to use readily available measures to mitigate the risk to consumers’ data. The agency has yet to determine fines the company faces as the result of its actions.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Nissan is recalling certain model year 2012-2013 Altima vehicles manufactured from May 10, 2012, through July 26, 2012. These vehicles may have been equipped with transverse link bolts and power steering rack bolts that were not torqued to proper specification.
The affected bolts could become loose and fall out which may lead to a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash. Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will tighten the bolts to the proper torque specifications. The safety recall is expected to begin on, or about October 29, 2012. Owners may contact Nissan Customer Service at 1-800-647-7261.
CREDIT REPORTING FIRM EQUIFAX MUST REPAY $1.6 MILLION FOR ILLEGAL SALES OF LATE MORTGAGE PAYER LISTS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- One of the largest U.S. consumer reporting agencies, Equifax Information Services LLC, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it improperly sold lists of consumers who were late on their mortgage payments. In two separate actions, both Equifax and the companies that allegedly bought and resold the information from it will pay a total of nearly $1.6 million to resolve charges that they violated the FTC Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
The two settlements are part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers in financial distress and to protect consumer privacy. Equifax will pay $393,000to resolve allegations that its inadequate procedures led to the sale of lists of consumer information to firms that should not have received them. According to the FTC, Equifax sold more than 17,000 prescreened lists of consumers to companies including Direct Lending Source, Inc., which subsequently resold some lists to third parties, who used their data to pitch loan modification and debt relief services to people in financial distress.
The FTC alleged that between January 2008 and early 2010, Equifax sold Direct Lending and its affiliates lists of people who met selected criteria – known as prescreened lists. According to the agency’s complaint, the lists contained information about millions of consumers, including sensitive information such as credit scores and whether they were 30, 60, or 90 days late on their mortgage payments.
According to the FTC, neither Direct Lending nor its affiliates, Bailey & Associates Advertising, Inc. and Virtual Lending Source, LLC, had a legally permissible purpose to obtain the prescreened lists. Under the FCRA, the only permissible purpose for obtaining a prescreened list is to make “firm offers of credit or insurance” – which are offers that will be honored if consumers meet pre-selected criteria. Using a prescreened list for general marketing purposes is not allowed. The FTC charged that Direct Lending sold the information to third parties that then used it to market products to consumers in financial distress, including companies that have been the subject of law enforcement investigations.
The FTC alleged that, in addition to providing the lists to entities without a permissible purpose and having inadequate procedures to prevent this from happening, Equifax failed to properly investigate when it learned Direct Lending was violating Equifax’s internal policies on prescreening. The FTC also alleged that Equifax knew or should have known that in many cases Direct Lending resold the lists without telling Equifax who would end up using the information. Despite these failures, the FTC alleged Equifax continued selling prescreened lists to Direct Lending. The FTC alleged that Equifax’s failure to employ appropriate measures to control access to sensitive consumer information was unfair, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.
Direct Lending and its affiliates and principals allegedly violated the FTC Act and the FCRA by: 1) obtaining prescreened lists without having a permissible purpose; 2) reselling the reports without disclosing to the consumer reporting agency that provided them who the end users would be; 3) failing to maintain reasonable procedures to ensure that prospective users had a permissible purpose to get them; 4) to the extent that firm offers of credit were made, failing to maintain a record of the criteria used to select consumers for these offers; and 5) failing to employ appropriate measures to control access to sensitive consumer financial information.
The Proposed Equifax Settlement
In addition to requiring the payment of $393,000, the proposed settlement with Equifax prohibits the company from:
furnishing prescreened lists to anyone that it does not have reason to believe has a permissible purpose to receive them;
failing to maintain reasonable procedures to limit the furnishing of prescreened lists to anyone except those who have a permissible purpose to receive them; and
selling prescreened lists in connection with offers for debt relief products or services and mortgage assistance relief products and services, when advance fees are charged, with limited exceptions.
The Direct Lending Settlement
The court order settling the FTC’s charges against the Direct Lending defendants imposes a $1.2 million civil penalty and prohibits them from:
using or obtaining consumer reports without a permissible purpose;
using or selling consumer reports in connection with solicitations for debt relief or mortgage assistance relief products or services offered by entities that charge advance fees;
failing to disclose to the consumer reporting agency that originally furnishes the report the identity of the end user of the report, and each permissible purpose for which the report is being provided to an end user; and
failing to establish and comply with reasonable procedures designed to ensure that a report is resold only for a purpose for which it has been furnished.
The Commission vote to approve the consent agreement package containing the proposed settlement order with Equifax was 5-0. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until November 9, 2012, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final.
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.
TOYOTA RECALLS 2.5 MILLION VEHICLES FOR POWER WINDOW DEFECT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS), today announced that it will conduct a safety recall involving approximately 2.5 million vehicles to inspect and apply special fluorine grease to the driver’s side Power Window Master Switch (PWMS). The vehicles involved include:
• 2007 to 2008 Yaris (approx. 110,300)
• 2007 to 2009 RAV4 (approx. 336,400)
• 2007 to 2009 Tundra (approx. 337,100)
• 2007 to 2009 Camry (approx. 938,100)
• 2007 to 2009 Camry Hybrid (approx. 116,800)
• 2008 to 2009 Scion xD (approx. 34,400)
• 2008 to 2009 Scion xA (approx. 77,500)
• 2008 to 2009 Sequoia (approx. 38,500)
• 2008 Highlander (approx. 135,400)
• 2008 Highlander Hybrid (approx. 23,200)
• 2009 Corolla (approx. 270,900)
• 2009 Matrix (approx. 53,800)
The driver’s side PWMS may experience a “notchy” or sticky feel during operation. If commercially available lubricants are applied to the switch in an attempt to address the “notchy” or sticky feel, melting of the switch assembly or smoke could occur and lead to a fire under some circumstances.
The “notchy” or sticky feel may be caused by an uneven application of the grease during the switch assembly process at the supplier. If the grease is not applied evenly, frequent use of the switch and normal operation may cause the grease to become carbonized and may eventually result in the deterioration of its lubricating properties.
The recall remedy will involve an inspection, switch disassembly, and application of special fluorine grease. The switch inspection and repair will be performed at no charge to the vehicle owner.
Owners of vehicles covered by this safety recall will receive an owner notification letter via first class mail starting in late October 2012. The repair will take approximately one hour depending on the dealer’s work schedule.
Today’s announcement is for U.S. market vehicles only. No other Toyota, Lexus, or Scion vehicles are involved. We are not aware of any vehicle crashes for this condition.
Detailed information is available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Honda will voluntarily recall approximately 268,000 model-year 2002-2006 CR-V vehicles in the United States to inspect and repair or replace the power window master switch. Under severe conditions, rain water or other spilled liquids may enter through an open driver 's window and enter the master power window switch on the driver 's door. Over time, exposure to water and other fluids can cause electrical resistance in the switch, which ultimately can cause the switch to overheat and melt, damaging the switch and potentially damaging an associated wire harness. Additionally, if a switch melts, it could produce smoke and, potentially cause a fire, creating a risk to motor vehicle safety. No crashes or injuries have been reported related to this issue, but there have been four switch fires reported.
Honda is announcing this recall to encourage owners of all affected vehicles to take their vehicles to an authorized dealer as soon as they receive notification of this recall from Honda. Mailed notification to customers will begin in early November 2012. In addition to contacting customers by mail, in early November, owners of these vehicles will be able to determine if their vehicles require repair by going to www.recalls.honda.com or by calling (800) 999-1009, and selecting option 4.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom -The Federal Trade Commission has launched a major international crackdown on tech support scams in which telemarketers masquerade as major computer companies, con consumers into believing that their computers are riddled with viruses, spyware and other malware, and then charge hundreds of dollars to remotely access and “fix” the consumers’ computers.
“The FTC has been aggressive – and successful – in its pursuit of tech support scams,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “And the tech support scam artists we are talking about today have taken scareware to a whole other level of virtual mayhem.”
The FTC charged that the operations – mostly based in India – target English-speaking consumers in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the U.K. According to the FTC, five of the six used telemarketing boiler rooms to call consumers. The sixth lured consumers by placing ads with Google which appeared when consumers searched for their computer company’s tech support telephone number.
According to the FTC, after getting the consumers on the phone, the telemarketers allegedly claimed they were affiliated with legitimate companies, including Dell, Microsoft, McAfee, and Norton, and told consumers they had detected malware that posed an imminent threat to their computers. To demonstrate the need for immediate help, the scammers directed consumers to a utility area of their computer and falsely claimed that it demonstrated that the computer was infected. The scammers then offered to rid the computer of malware for fees ranging from $49 to $450. When consumers agreed to pay the fee for fixing the “problems,” the telemarketers directed them to a website to enter a code or download a software program that allowed the scammers remote access to the consumers’ computers. Once the telemarketers took control of the consumers’ computers, they “removed” the non-existent malware and downloaded otherwise free programs.
FTC papers filed with the court alleged that the scammers hoped to avoid detection by consumers and law enforcers by using virtual offices that were actually just mail-forwarding facilities, and by using 80 different domain names and 130 different phone numbers.
The FTC charged the defendants with violating the FTC Act, which bars unfair and deceptive commercial practices, as well as the Telemarketing Sales Rule and with illegally calling numbers on the Do Not Call Registry. It asked the court to permanently halt the scams and order restitution for consumers.
The FTC acknowledges and appreciates the support it received from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), and the United Kingdom’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, each of which provided invaluable assistance to the FTC. The CRTC and ACMA also brought administrative actions for violations of their Do Not Call laws. The FTC also acknowledges investigative assistance it received from Microsoft, as well as from other computer companies.
The FTC cases targeted 14 corporate defendants and 17 individual defendants in 6 legal filings, Pecon Software Ltd., Finmaestros LLC, Zeal IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Virtual PC Solutions, Lakshmi Infosoul Services Pvt. Ltd., and PCCare247, Inc., and individual defendants in each of the cases.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaints was 5-0. The complaints were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION GETS $163 MILLION JUDGMENT AGAINST "SCAREWARE" MARKETER / USERS THOUGHT THEIR COMPUTERS WERE INFECTED
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court imposed a judgment of more than $163 million on the final defendant in the FTC’s case against an operation that used computer “scareware” to trick consumers into thinking their computers were infected with malicious software, and then sold them software to “fix” their non-existent problem. The court order also permanently prohibits the defendant, Kristy Ross, from selling computer security software and any other software that interferes with consumers’ computer use, and from any form of deceptive marketing.
In 2008, as part of the FTC’s efforts to protect consumers from spyware and malware, the FTC charged Ross and six other defendants with conning more than one million consumers into buying software to remove malware supposedly detected by computer scans.
The FTC charged that the operation used elaborate and technologically sophisticated Internet advertisements placed with advertising networks and many popular commercial websites. These ads displayed to consumers a “system scan” that invariably detected a host of malicious or otherwise dangerous files and programs on consumers’ computers. The bogus “scans” would then urge consumers to buy the defendants’ software for $40 to $60 to clean off the malware.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland subsequently ordered a halt to the massive scheme, pending litigation. Under a settlement announced in 2011, defendant Marc D’Souza and his father, Maurice D’Souza, were ordered to give up $8.2 million in ill-gotten gains. Two other defendants previously settled the charges against them; the FTC obtained default judgments against three other defendants. Customers who spent money for the deceptive product are expected to be in line for refunds, once other issues in the case are settled.
625,000 HONDAS RECALLED FOR FAULTY POWER STEERING HOSES / GM RECALLS MODELS FOR FUEL SYSTEM LEAKS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Honda is recalling certain model year 2007 and 2008 Acura TL and model year 2003-2007 Accord V6 vehicles. In May 2012, Honda filed a defect report to recall certain model year 2007 and 2008 Acura TL vehicles. In September 2012, Honda informed the agency that it was including an additional 573,147 vehicles including certain model year 2003 through 2007 Accord V6 vehicles. The total number of vehicles being recalled is now 625,762. Prolonged under-hood and power steering fluid temperatures may cause the power steering hose to deteriorate prematurely, resulting in cracks and power steering fluid leakage. If this occurs, power steering fluid can leak onto a hot catalytic converter, leading to smoke and possibly an under-hood fire. Honda will notify owners, and dealers will install a new heat resistant power steering hose, free of charge. The original recall began in June 2012, and owners of those vehicles may obtain the free remedy. Sufficient parts are not yet available for owners of the vehicles covered by the September 2012 expansion, but are expected to be available in early 2013. Honda will notify owners of these vehicles beginning on October 26, 2012, and will notify these owners again when parts are available so those vehicles can be brought to dealers for applications of the free remedy. Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-800-999-1009.
General Motors (GM) is recalling certain model year 2007 Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent vehicles originally sold or currently registered in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas; model year 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5, and Saturn ION vehicles originally sold, or currently registered in, Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, or Texas; model year 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles originally sold, or currently registered in, Arizona; and model year 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles originally sold, or currently registered in, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oklahoma, or Texas. Some of these vehicles have a condition in which the plastic supply or return port on the fuel pump module may crack, which could cause a fuel leak. GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel pump module, free of charge. The manufacturer has not provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact General Motors at 1-800-521-7300.
GM RECALLING 426,000 CHEVY, PONTIAC AND SATURN MID SIZE SEDANS FOR POTENTIAL TRANSMISSION FAILURE / CARS COULD ROLL AWAY AFTER DRIVERS LEAVE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - General Motors (GM) is recalling certain model year 2007-2010 Saturn Aura and model year 2008-2010 Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac G6 vehicles, equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission. On these vehicles, the tabs on the transmission shift cable end may fracture and separate.
If the tabs were to fracture and separate, the shift lever and the actual position of the transmission gear may not match. The driver would be able to move the shifter to 'PARK' and remove the ignition key, but the transmission gear may not be in 'PARK.' The vehicle may not be able to be restarted and the vehicle could roll away after the driver has exited the vehicle, resulting in a possible crash without prior warning.
GM will notify owners, and dealers will install a retainer over the cable end or replace the shift cable as necessary. This service will be performed free of charge. GM has not provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact General Motors at 1-800-521-7300.
General Motors safety recall number 12106. Customers may contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153); or go to www.safercar.gov.
FDA NOT YET CONVINCED ON ARSENIC LEVELS IN RICE AND RICE PRODUCTS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Food and Drug Administration says, based on the currently available data and scientific literature, the FDA does not have an adequate scientific basis to recommend changes by consumers regarding their consumption of rice and rice products.
Consumer Reports magazine published an article today stating that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has called on the FDA to quickly adopt federal standards to limit dietary exposure to inorganic arsenic, especially in foods eaten by babies, based on lab tests her office commissioned that detected troubling levels of inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereals, which often are a baby's first food. "Parents and caregivers should moderate the amount of rice products they feed their children, while the FDA sets standards to limit this known carcinogen in our food, " said Madigan. She suggested relying on Consumer Reports' recommendations for serving limits to reduce dietary exposure to arsenic for both children and adults.
However, the FDA, in their statement, made clear it would not make any recommendations until their probe of the issue is completed by the end of this year.
“We understand that consumers are concerned about this matter. That’s why the FDA has prioritized analyzing arsenic levels in rice. The FDA is committed to ensuring that we understand the extent to which substances such as arsenic are present in our foods, what risks they may pose, whether these risks can be minimized, and to sharing what we know,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Our advice right now is that consumers should continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains – not only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food.”
There are two types of arsenic compounds found in water, food, air, and soil: organic and inorganic. Together, the two types are referred to as total arsenic.
The new data show how much inorganic arsenic the FDA found in its initial samples, which include various brands of rice (non-Basmati), Basmati rice, brown rice, rice cereals (puffed, non-puffed, hot cereal, and infant cereals), rice cakes, and rice milk.
The FDA’s analysis of these initial samples found average levels of inorganic arsenic for the various rice and rice products of 3.5 to 6.7 micrograms of inorganic arsenic per serving. Serving sizes varied depending on the rice product (for example, one serving of non-Basmati rice was equal to one cup cooked). A summary of the initial 200 sample findings can be found at www.fda.gov.
While the FDA claims its data is consistent with results that Consumer Reports published today, the initial data collection is a first step in the agency’s ongoing more thorough data analysis. There are many different types of rice and rice products that are grown in different areas and under different conditions. Further analysis is needed to assess how these variations may affect the results.
FDA RECALLS RICOTTA CHEESE AND HYDROCODONE ACETAMINOPHEN TABLETS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Qualitest, a subsidiary of Endo Health Solutions (Nasdaq: ENDP), today issued a voluntary, nationwide retail level recall for one lot of Hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen Tablets, USP 10 mg/500 mg.The recall includes the following product lot:Hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen Tablets, USP 10 mg/500 mg, NDC 0603-3888-21, 100 count, Lot Number C1440512A, expiration date 12/13.
It is possible that some tablets from lot C1440512A exceed the weight specification and could be super-potent for the ingredients Hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen. Bottles from the affected lot may contain tablets that have a higher dosage of acetaminophen, and as a result, it is possible that consumers could take more than the intended acetaminophen dose. Unintentional administration of tablets with increased acetaminophen content could result in liver toxicity, especially in patients on other acetaminophen containing medications, patients with liver dysfunction, or people who consume more than 3 alcoholic beverages a day.
The product label warns consumers that acetaminophen overdose can potentially cause severe liver damage, at times resulting in liver transplant or death. Taking a higher dose of hydrocodone than intended could result in an increase in the severity or frequency of side effects, such as sedation or respiratory depression, particularly in patients who are elderly, have severe kidney or liver impairment, or are also taking interacting medications, for example other sedating medications or certain antidepressants No injuries have been reported to date.
Also, the FDA announced the recall of all Ricotta Salata Frescolina brand, Forever Cheese lot # T9425 and/or production code 441202, from one specific production date due to possible Listeria Monocytogenes contamination, an organism which 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 cheese was sold to distributors for retailers and restaurants in CA, CO, D.C., FL, GA, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MT, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, VA, WA between June 20 and August 9, 2012. Products were sold to supermarkets, restaurants and wholesale distributors.
The cheese in question is Ricotta Salata brand Frescolina from one production date coded 441202 on the original wheel. There have been 14 reported illnesses in 11 states which may be related to this.
The potential for contamination was noted after illness was reported in connection with eating cheese. Each and every distributor and retailer are being contacted in an effort to recall any and all remaining product in the marketplace.
If you believe that you have purchased any of this cheese please contact your distributor or retailer for a full refund. If you have any questions please call Forever Cheese (888)930-8693, contact Jeff DiMeo from 9 am – 5pm EST and mention Recall.
BREEDERS CHOICE RECALLS SOME AVODERM NATURAL LAMB AND BROWN RICE FOOD ADULT DOGS DUE TO POSSIBLE SALMONELLA CONTAMINATION
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Breeder’s Choice Pet Food is recalling a single manufacturing batch of Breeder's Choice AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula due to possible contamination with Salmonella. The product affected by this recall is identified below and has the following "Best Before" dates:
Product Code/SKU/ Material #
Best Before Code (day/month/yr)
0 5290702043 8
AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula
28 Aug 2013
29 Aug 2013
30 Aug 2013
Product and product lots that do not appear on the list above are not subject to this recall.
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.
No human or pet illnesses have been reported to-date. The recall notification is being issued based on a single manufacturing batch wherein a sample with the "Best Before" dates of August 28, 29 and 30, 2012 had a positive result for salmonella. The AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula product was originally manufactured on August 29, 2012 and distributed on August 30 and 31, 2012. Salmonella testing was conducted by Silliker, Inc. (Southern California Laboratory). Breeder's Choice Pet Foods has taken immediate action to remove the product from all applicable distribution centers and retail customers, and is fully investigating the cause.
Recalled products were distributed to retailers and distributors in the states of California, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington.
Consumers who have purchased the AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula product with the above-referenced "Best Before" dates are urged to contact Breeder's Choice Customer Service representatives. Breeder’s Choice Customer Service representatives and company veterinarians are responding to inquires through the 1-866-500-6286 phone number.
SCOTTS MIRACLE GRO AGREES TO PAY $12.5 MILLION FOR COVER UP OF PESTICIDES ADDED TO WILD BIRD FOOD AND OTHER VIOLATIONS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, a producer of pesticides for commercial and consumer lawn and garden uses, was sentenced last week in federal district court in Columbus, Ohio, to pay a $4 million fine and perform community service for eleven criminal violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which governs the manufacture, distribution, and sale of pesticides. Scotts pleaded guilty in February 2012 to illegally applying insecticides to its wild bird food products that are toxic to birds, falsifying pesticide registration documents, distributing pesticides with misleading and unapproved labels and distributing unregistered pesticides. This is the largest criminal penalty under FIFRA to date. In a separate civil agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scotts agreed to pay more than $6 million in penalties and spend $2 million on environmental projects under a settlement that resolves additional civil pesticide violations . The violations include distributing or selling unregistered, canceled or misbranded pesticides, including products with inadequate warnings or cautions. This is the largest civil settlement under FIFRA to date.
“As the world’s largest marketer of residential use pesticides, Scotts has a special obligation to make certain that it observes the laws governing the sale and use of its products. For having failed to do so, Scotts has been sentenced to pay the largest fine in the history of FIFRA enforcement,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with EPA to assure that pesticides applied in homes and on lawns and food are sold and used in compliance with the laws intended to assure their safety.”
“The misuse or mislabeling of pesticide products can cause serious illness in humans and be toxic to wildlife,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s sentence and unprecedented civil settlement hold Scotts accountable for widespread company noncompliance with pesticide laws, which put products into the hands of consumers without the proper authorization or warning labels.”
In a statement released by Scotts, Chairman and CEO Jim Hagedorn said the DOJ's investigation identified conduct that was not consistent with the company's core values, but ultimately resulted in improvements to the company's regulatory compliance programs.
"As we reach closure on these issues, it's important for all of our stakeholders to know that we have learned a lot from these events and that new people and processes have been put in place to prevent them from happening again," Hagedorn said. "Our consumers are at the heart of our business, and I hope they'll see our openness, cooperation, and acceptance of responsibility are all a part of our commitment to provide products they can trust and rely upon."
In 2008, the company claims it conducted a voluntary recall of its wild bird food products when it discovered that they had been treated with a pest control product not authorized for use on wild bird food. The company also voluntarily disclosed the matter to the government.Later that same year, in an unrelated matter, the company says it recalled several additional lawn and garden products after it was discovered by the EPA that a former associate had created fraudulent documentation that allowed them – which were safe to use as directed and did not harm consumers or the environment – to be sold without proper approval from the agency. The former associate has pleaded guilty to federal crimes related to these activities and awaits sentencing. She has repeatedly acknowledged to law enforcement authorities that she acted alone.
MORE THAN 600,000 MR. COFFEE BREWERS RECALLED FOR POTENTIAL BURN HARZARD
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.
Name of Product: Mr. Coffee® Single Cup Brewing System
Units: 520,000 in the United States and 80,700 in Canada
Importer: Sunbeam Products Inc. d/b/a Jarden Consumer Solutions ("JCS"), of Boca Raton, Fla.
Hazard: A build-up of steam in the water reservoir can force the brewing chamber open and expel hot coffee grounds and water, posing a burn hazard.
Incidents/Injuries: JCS has received 164 reports of the brewing chamber opening due to steam pressure, including approximately 59 reports in the U.S. and two in Canada of burn injuries to consumers' face, upper torso and hands.
Description: The recalled coffeemaker comes in black with silver, red or white trim. It stands about 11 inches tall and has a Brew Now /Off button and a removable drip tray. The water tank is located on top of the unit towards the back. The model number is printed on the bottom of the brewer. Recalled model numbers are:
Sold by: Mass merchandisers nationwide, including Bed Bath & Beyond, Brandsmart, JC Penney, Kmart, Lowe's, Target and Walmart, and online at www.mrcoffee.com from September 2010 through August 2012 for between $60 and $80.
Manufactured in: China
Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled coffee brewer and contact JCS to receive instructions on how to obtain a free replacement unit.
Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact JCS at (800) 993-8609 anytime, or visit the firm's website at www.mrcoffeerecall.com
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about your experience with the product on SaferProducts.gov
CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $900 billion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.
Under federal law, it is illegal to attempt to sell or resell this or any other recalled product.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, go online to: SaferProducts.gov, call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054 for the hearing and speech impaired. Consumers can obtain this news release and product safety information at www.cpsc.gov. To join a free e-mail subscription list, please go to www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx.
RED VINES "BLACK LICORICE TWISTS" RECALLED FOR LEAD CONTAMINATION
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - American Licorice Company of Union City, CA is recalling 16 oz. Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists due to elevated levels of lead. Only the one pound bag (16 oz.) of Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists containing "Best Before Date" of 020413 are affected by this recall. American Licorice is notifying consumers and customers not to consume this candy.
American Licorice learned from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), that some Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists contain levels of lead that could potentially cause health problems to consumers, particularly infants, small children, and pregnant women. American Licorice immediately segregated its entire inventory of 16 oz. Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists.
Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists is a black licorice candy made from molasses, wheat flour, corn syrup, caramel coloring, licorice extract, salt, and anise flavor. The 16 oz. bag is red and white in color with a window in the package to display the black licorice twists.
Recent analysis of Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists by CDPH found that the candy contained lead levels as high as .33 parts per million (ppm). This concentration of lead could provide up to 13.2 micrograms of lead per serving and children under 6 years of age should not consume more than 6.0 micrograms of lead per day from all dietary sources. Therefore, the CDPH's position is that the sale of this lot of the 16 oz. Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists is in violation of California statutes.
American Licorice wants to ensure its products are safe. Consequently, in addition to its ongoing cooperation with the CDPH, American Licorice is voluntarily recalling all 16 oz. Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists from all of its customers with affected product. Consumers in possession of Red Vines® Black Licorice Twists with the "Best Before Date" of 020413 should not eat the candy and should return it to their place of purchase for a full refund. The "Best Before Date" is located in black ink on the rear of the package.
FACTORY RECALLS BODY CHOICE "PROTEIN SHOTS", NUTRITIONAL RESOURCES "PROTEIN WAVE", PROBALANCE "PROTEIN TO GO MILK CHOCOLATE SHAKE" AND "FRENCH VANILLA LATTE"
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Protica Inc. of Whitehall, PA had undertaken a voluntary product withdrawal of four products including Body Choice "Protein Shots", Nutritional Resources "Protein Wave", ProBalance "Protein to Go French Vanilla Latte" and "Protein to Go Milk Chocolate Shake" because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled. Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention. No illnesses have been confirmed to date.
MAKERS OF "AB CIRCLE PRO" EXCERCISE DEVICE TO PAY UP TO $25 MILLION TO SETTLE DECEPTIVE CLAIMS IN TV AD & MARKETING
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Federal Trade Commission has filed deceptive advertising charges against the marketers of the Ab Circle Pro – an abdominal exercise device – who promised consumers that exercising on the device for just three minutes a day would cause them to lose 10 pounds in two weeks. The defendants have agreed to settlements that provide as much as $25 million – and at least $15 million – depending on the volume of refunds consumers request.
According to the FTC, in advertisements, the defendants promised that a three-minute workout on the Ab Circle Pro – a fiberglass disk with stationary handlebars and two knee rests that roll on the edge of the disk, allowing consumers to kneel and rotate side-to-side – was equivalent to doing 100 sit ups. In the infomercial, pitchwoman Jennifer Nicole Lee compared the Ab Circle Pro to a gym workout, saying, “You can either do 30 minutes of abs and cardio or just three minutes a day. The choice is yours.” The infomercial claimed that consumers using the Ab Circle Pro for three minutes a day would “melt inches and pounds,” and featured testimonialists claiming they had lost as much as sixty pounds. Consumers buying through the infomercial typically paid $200 to $250 for the device, while the price for those buying from retailers varied more widely.
Said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, “The FTC reminds marketers that they should think twice before promising a silver-bullet solution to a health problem – whether it involves losing weight or curing cancer. Weight loss is hard work, and telling consumers otherwise is deceptive.”
In addition to multiple versions of the infomercial – which aired more than 10,000 times between March 2009 and May 2010 – the defendants marketed the Ab Circle Pro online, in stores, in one- and two-minute television commercials, and in print advertisements.
The complaint names as defendants Fitness Brands, Inc., Fitness Brands International, Inc., and the two individuals who control them, Michael Casey and David Brodess; Direct Holdings Americas, Inc. and Direct Entertainment Media Group, Inc.; infomercial producer Tara Borakos and two companies she controls, Tara Productions Inc. and New U, Inc.; and Jennifer Nicole Lee and two companies she controls, JNL, Inc. and JNL Worldwide, Inc.
The complaint charges all the defendants except Lee and her companies with making false and/or unsupported claims, including that using the Ab Circle Pro caused rapid or substantial weight and fat loss; resulted in loss of weight, fat, or inches in specific parts of the body, such as the abdomen, hips, buttocks, and thighs; provided fat loss and weight loss equivalent to, or better than, a much longer gym workout; and provided the same rapid and substantial weight loss that people who provided testimonials for the infomercial said they experienced. The complaint also charges the Fitness Brands, Inc. defendants with providing the means to Direct Holdings Americas, Inc. and Direct Entertainment Media Group, Inc. to deceive consumers.
The complaint charges all the defendants with misrepresenting that using the Ab Circle Pro allowed Jennifer Nicole Lee to lose 80 pounds.
The complaint names Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. as a relief defendant, alleging that the company received proceeds of the deceptive advertising from its subsidiaries, Direct Holdings Americas and Direct Entertainment Media Group.
Under the settlements, Lee and the two companies she controls cannot misrepresent that the Ab Circle Pro, any substantially similar device, or any exercise equipment, food, drug, or device contributed to her weight loss. She also cannot endorse any exercise equipment, food, drug, or device unless the endorsement reflects her honest opinion or experience.
The settlements bar all defendants other than Lee and the two companies she controls from claiming that the Ab Circle Pro or any similar device is likely to cause rapid and substantial loss of weight, inches, or fat; is likely to do so in specific areas of the body such as the abdominal area, hips, thighs, and buttocks; or makes a significant contribution to an exercise plan that provides rapid and substantial loss of weight, inches, or fat. The defendants also are prohibited from claiming that the Ab Circle Pro or any similar device, if used for three minutes a day, causes users to lose 10 pounds in two weeks; provides the same exercise benefits as doing 100 sit-ups; or provides weight- or fat-loss benefits that are equivalent or superior to longer workouts on other exercise devices or gym equipment.
The settlements also prohibit all except the Lee defendants from making fat-, inch-, or weight-loss claims for any exercise equipment, food, drug, or device unless such claims are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The defendants further cannot claim that consumers using such products can generally expect to achieve the results claimed by endorsers of the products, unless such claims are supported by competent and reliable evidence.
The settlements bar the Fitness Brands, Inc. defendants from providing others with the means to make any of the representations prohibited above.
Under the settlements, the Fitness Brands, Inc. defendants will pay $1.2 million. Direct Holdings Americas, Inc.; Direct Entertainment Media Group, Inc.; and relief defendant Reader’s Digest will pay $13.8 million – and up to $10 million more, depending on the volume of refund requests.
Consumers should carefully evaluate advertising claims for weight-loss products. For more information, see: Weight Loss & Fitness.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and approving the proposed consent decree was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on August 22, 2012.
INDIANA FARM LINKED TO SALMONELLA OUTBREAK FROM CANTALOUPE NOW RECALLS ALL OF 2012 CROP / TWO DEATHS AND AT LEAST 178 ILLNESSES REPORTED
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Chamberlain Farm Produce, Inc., of Owensville, Indiana, is voluntarily recalling all of its cantaloupes from the 2012 growing season that may remain in the marketplace. This recall is occurring because of concern some cantaloupes may be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.
This voluntary recall follows a prior voluntary market withdrawal of all Chamberlain Farm Produce, Inc. cantaloupes that occurred August 16 and 17, 2012.
During the period June 21, 2012 to August 16, 2012, Chamberlain Farm Produce, Inc., marketed cantaloupes to four retail grocery stores with grocery store retail outlets in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Gibson, and Dubois County, Indiana, and Wabash County, Illinois; and also to four wholesale purchasers located in Owensboro, Kentucky, St. Louis, Missouri, Peru, Illinois, and Durant, Iowa, respectively. As a part of the voluntary market withdrawal, Chamberlain Farm Produce, Inc. notified all of the purchasers of its cantaloupes to take immediate action to remove all Chamberlain Farm Produce, Inc. cantaloupes from the marketplace, and all of the purchasers confirmed compliance with that request.
The CDC reports that for the period July 7, 2012, through August 22, 2012, there have been reports of some 178 persons nationwide who may have become sick in connection with consumption of cantaloupes. The FDA investigation is ongoing and incomplete at this time. After discussion with the FDA, Chamberlain Farm Produce, Inc., decided to conduct the recall as a precautionary measure.
Consumers should inquire about the source of cantaloupes before purchasing additional cantaloupes or using cantaloupes already purchased. To be absolutely certain, consumers should destroy any cantaloupes currently in their possession the origin of which cannot be identified.
THREE AIRLINES FINED FOR VIOLATING CONSUMER PROTECTION RULES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today fined Royal Jordanian Airlines, EgyptAir, and Royal Air Maroc for violating the Department’s expanded airline passenger protection rules that took effect in January.
Royal Jordanian Airlines violated the rule on full-fare advertising and the rule requiring the disclosure of fees for baggage and was assessed a civil penalty of $70,000. EgyptAir violated rules requiring the disclosure of fees for baggage and the inclusion of assurances in its customer service plan allowing consumers to cancel a reservation without penalty for 24 hours after they book a flight and was assessed a civil penalty of $60,000. Royal Air Maroc violated the rule requiring the disclosure of fees for baggage and was assessed a civil penalty of $60,000. Each carrier was also ordered to cease and desist from further violations. The Department discovered the violations during its ongoing review of carrier websites to ensure compliance with its consumer protection rules.
DOT requires all advertisements that include airfares to state the entire price to be paid by the consumer. Prior to a provision of the rule that took effect Jan. 26, advertised fares were not required to include certain government-imposed taxes as long as these additional charges were clearly disclosed in the ad. Under the new rule, all government taxes and fees must be incorporated into the fare. The rule applies to both U.S. and foreign airlines as well as ticket agents.
Under a separate provision of DOT’s new rule that took effect on Jan. 24, carriers must disclose to consumers booking a flight that they may have to pay baggage fees in addition to the basic ticket price. When consumers book a flight on-line, carriers must clearly and prominently disclose on the first screen that offers a specific itinerary that additional baggage fees may apply and tell the consumer where they can view the fees. The rule applies to all airlines selling air transportation in the United States, including foreign carriers.
DOT requires carriers to include a commitment in their customer service plans allowing customers’ reservations to be held at the quoted fare without payment, or cancelled without penalty, for at least twenty-four hours after the reservation is made if the reservation is made one week or more prior to a flight’s departure.
FEDS AND RESEARCHERS BEGIN LARGEST ROAD TEST OF CRASH AVOIDANCE TECHNOLOGY
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and buses equipped with “connected” Wi-Fi technology to enable vehicles and infrastructure to “talk” to each other in real time to help avoid crashes and improve traffic flow will begin traversing Ann Arbor’s streets today as part of a year-long safety pilot project by the U.S. Department of Transportation. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined elected officials and industry and community leaders on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, to launch the second phase of the Safety Pilot, the largest road test to date of connected vehicle crash avoidance technology.
“Today is a big moment for automotive safety,” said Secretary LaHood. “This cutting-edge technology offers real promise for improving both the safety and efficiency of our roads. That is a winning combination for drivers across America.”
Conducted by University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the road test, or model deployment, is a first-of-its-kind test of connected vehicle technology in the real world. The test cars, trucks and buses, most of which have been supplied by volunteer participants, are equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication devices that will gather extensive data about system operability and its effectiveness at reducing crashes.
According to DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), V2V safety technology could help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of four out of five unimpaired vehicle crashes. To accomplish this, the model deployment vehicles will send electronic data messages, receive messages from other equipped vehicles, and translate the data into a warning to the driver during specific hazardous traffic scenarios. Such hazards include an impending collision at a blind intersection, a vehicle changing lanes in another vehicle’s blind spot, or a rear collision with a vehicle stopped ahead, among others.
“Vehicle-to-vehicle communication has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety – but we need to understand how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real world,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “NHTSA will use the valuable data from the ‘model deployment’ as it decides if and when these connected vehicle safety technologies should be incorporated into the fleet.”
The model deployment is the second phase of DOT’s connected vehicle Safety Pilot, a major research initiative managed by NHTSA and the Research and Innovative Technologies Administration (RITA) Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office. Earlier this year, DOT released data from a series of “driver acceptance clinics” conducted during the first phase of the Safety Pilot. The study revealed that an overwhelming majority of drivers (9 out of 10) who have experienced V2V technology have a highly favorable opinion of its safety benefits and would like to have V2V safety features on their personal vehicle.
“Many significant advances in roadway safety resulted from the collaborations between government, industry, and academia,” said Gregory D. Winfree, RITA Deputy Administrator. “The deployment today is the culmination of years of cooperative research on forward-thinking technology designed to save lives and prevent injuries on America’s roads.”
The information collected from both phases of the Safety Pilot, and other key research projects, will be used by NHTSA to determine by 2013 whether to proceed with additional activities involving connected vehicle technology, including possible rulemaking.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Tanimura & Antle Inc. is voluntarily recalling a single lot of romaine lettuce because it may be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria (E. Coli O157:H7). The affected product is limited to Tanimura & Antle Field Fresh Wrapped Single Head Romaine. This product is packed in a plastic bag with the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9 and may have a Best Buy date of “08 19 12”. The product was available at retail locations Aug. 2 – Aug. 19, 2012. NO OTHER TANIMURA & ANTLE PRODUCTS ARE BEING RECALLED.
A total of 2,095 cases of potentially affected product were distributed throughout the US and Canada starting on August 2. A total of 1,969 cases were shipped to the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, GA, KS, KY, MD, NC, NM, NV, NY, NJ, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA and Puerto Rico.
Importantly, there are no reported illnesses associated with consumption of this product. E.coli O157:H7 can cause a diarrheal illness, often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.
The recall is being conducted in consultation with FDA, and is based on the testing of a single random sample by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The affected product was shipped in cases packed in either 12 or 18 heads per case. Retailers and Distributors can identify the affected products through a traceability code label affixed to exterior of the case. The traceability code label affixed to the exterior of the case is 5417802151. Tanimura and Antle’s #1 priority is food safety, and in an overabundance of caution we are asking that if any of the above Romaine is in the possession of consumers, retailers or distributors, the product be disposed of and not consumed.
Consumers with questions or who would like replacement coupons may call at 877-827-7388, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. PDT, Monday-Friday.
GM RECALLING 250,000 VEHICLES FOR POWER WINDOW DEFECTS / SUZUKI RECALLS CARS FOR HEADLIGHTS THAT MAY GO DARK
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - General Motors (GM) is recalling certain model year 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL and 2006-2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, SAAB 9-7x, and Isuzu Ascender vehicles, originally sold or currently registered in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. Fluid may enter the driver's door module, causing corrosion that could result in a short in the circuit board. A short may cause the power door lock and power window switches to function intermittently or become inoperative. The short may also cause overheating, which could melt components of the door module, producing odor, smoke, or a fire.
The remedy plan is still being finalized. A notification schedule has not been determined yet. Buick, Chevrolet, and GMC owners will be notified by GM. Buick owners may contact the owner center at 1-800-521-7300, Chevrolet owners at 1-866-694-6546, and GMC owners at 1-866-996-9463. Isuzu owners will be notified by Isuzu Motors. Owners may contact Isuzu customer service at 1-800-255-6727. SAAB owners will be notified by SAAB Cars North America and for inquiries, owners may call SAAB customer service at 1-855-880-0808.
Also, Suzuki is recalling certain model year 2004-2006 Forenza and model year 2005-2006 Reno vehicles manufactured from September 23, 2003, through March 7, 2006. Increased resistance due to poor contact between the terminals of certain wires can generate heat that can melt the splice pack used to connect the power circuit wires for the headlamps. This can result in intermittent or total loss of low/high beam headlamp function. Suzuki will notify owners, and Suzuki dealers will reconnect the affected wires with two heat-shrink crimps, free of charge. The safety recall is expected to begin during September 2012. Owners may contact Suzuki at 1-714-996-7040.
TAINTED CANTALOUPE CLAIMS 2 LIVES, AT LEAST 141 ILLNESSES IN 20 STATES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - According to the latest update from the Food and Drug Administration, a total of 141 persons infected and two persons have died from an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium in 20 states, which have been traced to suspected tainted cantaloupe from a southwest Indiana farm.
The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (7), Arkansas (3), California (2), Georgia (1), Illinois (17), Indiana (13), Iowa (7), Kentucky (50), Michigan (6), Minnesota (3), Missouri (9), Mississippi (2), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (1), and Wisconsin (2).
At least 31 persons have been hospitalized, and two deaths have been reported in Kentucky.
In the course of their investigation, state officials in Kentucky and Indiana found evidence that they believe indicate cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana may be a source of the ongoing Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. FDA officials are actively investigating potential sources of the outbreak, and will continue to update the public as more specific information becomes available.
Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
However, in some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. The rate of diagnosed infections in children less than five years old is higher than the rate in all other persons. Young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections. It is estimated that approximately 400 persons die each year with acute salmonellosis.
As a result of the initial investigations by the state health departments in Indiana and Kentucky, a farm in southwestern Indiana has contacted its distributors, which reach outside Indiana into other states, and is withdrawing its cantaloupe from the market place. The farm has agreed to cease distributing cantaloupes for the rest of the growing season.
FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network is working directly with the FDA field offices, the CDC and state and local agencies on this incident and will continue to update the public appropriately.
Consumers who are buying or have recently bought cantaloupe should ask their retailer if the cantaloupe was grown in southwestern Indiana.
As a result of the state investigations, FDA advises consumers not to eat cantaloupe from southwestern Indiana and to throw them away. Do not try to wash the harmful bacteria off the cantaloupe as contamination may be both on the inside and outside of the cantaloupe. Cutting, slicing and dicing may also transfer harmful bacteria from the fruit’s surface to the fruit’s flesh. When in doubt, throw it out.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the auto industry has to move on ton the next step when protecting passengers. So the Institute has toughened its standards in crash tests. So much so that most of even the high end luxury cares they tested did not pass.
In a statement released today by the Institute, researchers there claim only 3 of 11 midsize luxury and near-luxury cars evaluated earn good or acceptable ratings in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's new small overlap frontal crash test, the latest addition to a suite of tests designed to help consumers pick the safest vehicles.
The Acura TL and Volvo S60 earn good ratings, while the Infiniti G earns acceptable. The Acura TSX, BMW 3 series, Lincoln MKZ and Volkswagen CC earn marginal ratings. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS 250/350, Audi A4 and Lexus ES 350 earn poor. All of these cars are 2012 models. See these ratings in table format.
In the test, 25 percent of a car'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. The test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a car collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole. Outside of some automakers' proving grounds, such a test isn't currently conducted anywhere else in the United States or Europe.
"Nearly every new car performs well in other frontal crash tests conducted by the Institute and the federal government, but we still see more than 10,000 deaths in frontal crashes each year," Institute President Adrian Lund says. "Small overlap crashes are a major source of these fatalities. This new test program is based on years of analyzing real-world frontal crashes and then replicating them in our crash test facility to determine how people are being seriously injured and how cars can be designed to protect them better. We think this is the next step in improving frontal crash protection."
The number of drivers of 0-3-year-old passenger vehicles involved in fatal frontal crashes has fallen 55 percent since 2001. Much of the improved outlook is due to the success of consumer information testing like the New Car Assessment Program begun by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 1978 and crash worthiness evaluations the Institute started in 1995. In NHTSA's frontal test, passenger vehicles crash at 35 mph into a rigid barrier covering the full width of the vehicle. In the Institute's 40 mph offset frontal test, now called a moderate overlap frontal test, 40 percent of the total width of a vehicle strikes a deformable barrier on the driver side.
In a 2009 Institute study of vehicles with good ratings for frontal crash protection, small overlap crashes accounted for nearly a quarter of the frontal crashes involving serious or fatal injury to front seat occupants. Another 24 percent of the frontal crashes were moderate overlap crashes, although they likely occurred at much higher speeds than the Institute's moderate overlap test. An additional 14 percent occurred when passenger vehicles under rode large trucks, SUVs or other high-riding passenger vehicles. The Institute is exploring countermeasures for large truck under ride crashes and in other research has found that the problem of crash incompatibility between cars and SUVs is being reduced.
FORD RECALLS 16,000 TRANSIT CONNECT MINI UTILITY VANS FOR WIPER SYSTEM DEFECT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Ford Motor Company is recalling certain model year 2011-2012 Transit Connect vehicles. The wiper arms may not be adequately riveted resulting in incomplete or inconsistent clearing of the windshield and possible detachment of the wiper arm. If the wiper arm detaches, the windshield wiper will fail and the driver's visibility may be reduced, increasing the risk of a crash.
Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver and passenger side wiper arm and blade assemblies, free of charge. The safety recall is expected to begin on, or before, August 13, 2012. Owners may contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332.
TOYOTA RAV 4 AND LEXUS HS 250H RECALLED FOR REAR SUSPENSION PROBLEM
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Toyota has announced that it will conduct a voluntary safety recall involving 2006 to early 2011 model year RAV4 and 2010 model year Lexus HS 250h vehicles sold in the U.S. No other Toyota or Lexus vehicles are involved. Approximately 760,000 Toyota RAV4 models and 18,000 Lexus HS 250h models are being recalled.
Toyota has determined that if the nuts on the rear suspension arm are not tightened following the proper procedure and torque specification during a rear wheel alignment service, excessive play may occur at the threaded portion of the arm, followed by rust formation. If this were to occur, the threaded portion of the rear suspension arm may wear and cause the arm to separate.
Toyota is currently developing a remedy. Once the remedy is available, we will send a notification letter by first class mail advising owners to make an appointment with an authorized Toyota or Lexus dealer to have the remedy performed at no charge.
Detailed information and answers to questions are available to customers at www.toyota.com/recall and the Toyota Customer Experience Center (1 800-331-4331) or www.lexus.com/recall and Lexus Customer Satisfaction (1 800-255-3987).
THIRD RECALL IN TWO WEEKS FOR FORD ESCAPE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Ford Motor Company is recalling 640,000 model year 2001 through 2004 Escape vehicles equipped with 3.0L V6 engines and speed control manufactured from October 22, 1999, through January 23, 2004. Ford is also recalling the companion Mazda model year 2001 through 2006, and 2008, Tribute vehicles equipped with 3.0L V6 engines . Inadequate clearance between the engine cover and the speed control cable connector could result in a stuck throttle when the accelerator pedal is fully or almost-fully depressed. This risk exists regardless of whether or not speed control (cruise control) is used. A stuck throttle may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop or slow the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death.
Ford will notify owners, and dealers will repair the vehicles by increasing the engine cover clearance, free of charge. The safety recall is expected to begin on, or before, August 6, 2012. Remedy parts are expected to be available in mid-August 2012. Until then dealers will disconnect the speed control cable as an interim remedy, if parts are not available at the time of an owner's service appointment. Owners may contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332.
Also, see stories below for two previous recalls from July 19 and July 16.
RECALLS FOR HONDA CR-V /ACURA ILX / ALSO NISSAN JUKE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Honda is recalling 172,837 model year 2012 Honda CR-V and model year 2013 Acura ILX vehicles. According to a statement from the company, the cable connecting the interior door handle to the door latch mechanism may become loose and move out of position, if the manual or power door lock is activated while an interior front door handle is being operated by an occupant. There is a possibility that the cable can move far enough out of position to prevent the door from properly latching. Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front door latch assemblies in the affected vehicles, free of charge. Additionally, the interior front door handles in certain Honda CR-Vs will also be replaced, free of charge. The safety recall is expected to begin on, or about, August 16, 2012. Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-800-999-1009.
Nissan is recalling 11,076 of their 2012 Juke models built between Feb. 3, 2012 to May 26, 2012 for a defective rear seat latch system, which can fail during a crash. Nissan will contact owners and replace the latch system for free. Those customers with questions can call Nissan at 1-800-647-7261.
FUEL LINE DEFECT FORCES SECOND RECALL IN A WEEK FOR 2013 FORD ESCAPE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - For the second time in a week, Ford is recalling some of their 2013 Escape SUV models. Earlier this week, (See story from July 16th, 2012) the company recalled some of them for carpet padding which could interfere with drivers ability to reach the brake pedal. Today, the company said it was recalling Ford Escape vehicles equipped with the 1.6-liter engine built through July 11, 2012. Ford estimates that there have been approximately 11,500 of these vehicles produced and distributed for sale in North America, with most in the U.S. market. Ford is voluntarily recalling Escapes with 1.6-liter engines to replace an engine compartment fuel line, which could split and leak fuel, potentially resulting in an underhood fire. No injuries have been reported. The issue does not affect other 2013 Escape models. The condition also does not present itself in vehicles when the engine is not running.
FEDERAL CONSUMER AGENCY FINES CAPITAL ONE BANK $210 MILLION FOR DECEPTIVE PRACTICES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today announced its first public enforcement action with an order requiring Capital One Bank (U.S.A.), N.A. to refund approximately $140 million to two million customers and pay an additional $25 million penalty. This action results from a CFPB examination that identified deceptive marketing tactics used by Capital One’s vendors to pressure or mislead consumers into paying for “add-on products” such as payment protection and credit monitoring when they activated their credit cards.
“Today’s action puts $140 million back in the pockets of two million Capital One customers who were pressured or misled into buying credit card products they didn’t understand, didn’t want, or in some cases, couldn’t even use,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We are putting companies on notice that these deceptive practices are against the law and will not be tolerated.”
Through the supervision process, CFPB’s examiners discovered Capital One’s call-center vendors engaged in deceptive tactics to sell the company’s credit card add-on products. These products included “payment protection,” which allows consumers to request that the bank cancel up to 12 months of minimum payments – roughly one percent of their credit card balance – if they encounter certain life events like unemployment and temporary disability. It also provides debt forgiveness in the event of death or permanent disability. Another product was “credit monitoring,” with services such as identity-theft protection, access to “credit education specialists,” and, in some cases, daily monitoring and notification.
Consumers with low credit scores or low credit limits were offered these products by Capital One’s call-center vendors when they called to have their new credit cards activated. As part of the high-pressure tactics Capital One representatives used to sell these add-on products, consumers were:
Misled about the benefits of the products: Consumers were sometimes led to believe that the product would improve their credit scores and help them increase the credit limit on their Capital One credit card.
Deceived about the nature of the products: Consumers were not always told that buying the products was optional. In other cases, consumers were wrongly told they were required to purchase the product in order to receive full information about it, but that they could cancel the product if they were not satisfied. Many of these consumers later had difficulty canceling when they called to do so.
Misled about eligibility: Although most of the payment protection benefits kicked in when consumers became disabled or lost a job, some call center representatives marketed and sold the product to ineligible unemployed and disabled consumers. Despite paying the full fees, they could not get all the benefits of payment protection; some later filed claims that were denied because their “loss” (e.g. loss of job or onset of disability) occurred prior to enrollment.
Misinformed about cost of the products: Consumers were sometimes led to believe that they would be enrolling in a free product rather than making a purchase.
Enrolled without their consent: Some call center vendors processed the add-on product purchases without the consumer’s consent. Consumers were then automatically billed for the product and often had trouble cancelling the product when they called to do so.
Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the CFPB has the authority to issue Consent Orders and take action against institutions engaging in unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices. To ensure that all affected consumers are repaid and that consumers are no longer subject to these misleading and high-pressure tactics, Capital One has agreed to:
End deceptive marketing: Capital One has ceased all marketing of these products, and will not resume doing so until Capital One submits a compliance plan, acceptable to the Bureau, which helps ensure these unlawful acts do not occur in the future.
Complete repayment, plus interest, to two million consumers: Capital One will pay approximately $140 million to all of the estimated two million consumers who either initially enrolled in a product on or after August 1, 2010, or who tried to cancel a product on or after August 1, 2010, but were persuaded to keep the product after speaking with a call center representative. In addition to the amount paid for the product, cardmembers will receive a refund of the associated finance charges, any over-the-limit fees resulting from the charge for the product, and interest.
Pay claims denied based on ineligibility at enrollment: For any of these eligible consumers whose payment protection claims were previously denied because their loss occurred prior to enrollment (because of unemployment, disability, etc.), Capital One will pay their claims as if they had been eligible, if that amount is greater than the refund for that consumer.
Convenient repayment for consumers: If the consumers are still Capital One customers, they will receive a credit to their accounts. If they are no longer a Capital One credit card holder, they will receive a check in the mail. Consumers are not required to take any action to receive their credit or check.
Independent audit: Compliance with the terms of this agreement will be assured through the work of an independent auditor, who will determine if Capital One has complied with the CFPB’s Consent Order.
$25 million penalty: Capital One will make a $25 million penalty payment to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.
Today’s action is being taken in coordination with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which is separately ordering restitution of approximately $150 million from Capital One. This amount includes the same $140 million refund to be paid to the approximately two million customers harmed by the deceptive marketing practices identified by the CFPB’s examiners. The OCC’s order also includes separate restitution for additional consumers harmed by unfair billing practices taking place between May 2002 and June 2011 in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act. For the combined activity, the OCC is assessing a $35 million civil money penalty against Capital One.
In conjunction with today’s enforcement action, the Bureau is releasing two Consumer Advisories. One advisory is intended to make Capital One customers aware of today’s action and the other serves as a general warning to consumers who may encounter such deceptive practices.
Complaints received by the CFPB indicate – and the Bureau’s supervisory experience confirms – that other consumers have been misled by the marketing and sales practices associated with credit card add-on products. To further protect consumers, the Bureau is issuing a compliance bulletin that puts other institutions on notice that the CFPB will not tolerate deceptive marketing practices, and institutions will be held responsible for the actions of their third-party vendors. Companies engaging in deceptive practices will be expected to refund fees paid by consumers and, particularly where practices are widespread, pay an appropriate penalty.
10,000 FORD ESCAPE 2013 MODELS RECALLED FOR CARPET WHICH CAN BLOCK BRAKE PEDAL
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Ford is recalling all Ford Escape SUV models made between March 8th and June 7th, 2012, to fix carpet padding connected to the center console trim panel, which can reduce clearance to the brake pedal. The recall involves more than 8,000 Escape model in the U-S, about 2,000 in Canada and at least 200 in Mexico.
Ford will fix the problem for free starting July 23d at their dealerships. OWNERS MAY CONTACT FORD AT 1-866-436-7332.
BALTIMORE POLICE OFFICERS SENTENCED FOR CAR TOWING AND REPAIR EXTORTION SCHEME
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Baltimore Police officer Jaime Luis Lugo, age 36, of Aberdeen, Maryland, today to two years in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiring to commit and committing extortion under color of official right in connection with a scheme in which brothers Hernan Moreno and Edwin Mejia paid Lugo and over 50 other officers to arrange for their car repair company, Majestic, rather than a city-authorized company, to tow vehicles from accident scenes and make repairs. Judge Blake also ordered Lugo to pay restitution of $26,052.38 to the victim insurance companies and $6,000 to the Baltimore Police Department.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld, III.
According to his guilty plea, beginning in 2010, Moreno and Mejia agreed with Lugo that as a Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officer responding to accident scenes, Lugo would contact Moreno and Mejia for towing and repair services for vehicles even though Majestic was not an authorized tow company for the city of Baltimore. In exchange, Mejia or Moreno would pay Lugo $300 for each vehicle that arrived at Majestic. Lugo then began to refer vehicles on a regular basis to Moreno in exchange for payment, usually by contacting Moreno by cell phone.
Specifically, while on the scene of an accident, Lugo would contact Moreno and provide him with the details of the accident. Lugo would persuade accident victims to allow their cars to be towed or otherwise delivered to Majestic by telling the victims that Majestic could tow the car, provide repair services, help with the insurance claim, assist in getting a rental car, and waive the owner’s deductible. Lugo advised accident victims that they should not call their insurance company until after they spoke to Moreno or Mejia.
Lugo also understood that Moreno and Mejia would create additional damage to vehicles in order to increase the vehicle insurance claims, thereby increasing the net profit for Majestic as well as covering both the cash bribe payment to Lugo and the payment of the vehicle owner’s deductible. When referring vehicles from accident scenes, Lugo often discussed with Moreno whether a particular vehicle needed more damage. Lugo also falsified his police reports on several occasions in order to make it appear that the damage added to a vehicle by Majestic had been caused by an accident so that the insurance company would not question the repairs. Moreno paid Lugo $200 in cash in exchange for falsifying a police report.
From at least October 2010 to February 2011, Moreno and Mejia paid Lugo $6,000 in cash for vehicles that he had referred to Majestic. Those payments, plus the cost of the additional damages that Moreno and others inflicted upon accident vehicles in the form of insurance claims paid by the insurance companies, caused a total loss of between $120,000 to $200,000.
Hernan Alexis Moreno, age 32, of Rosedale; and Edwin Javier Mejia, age 29, of Middle River, previously pleaded guilty to the extortion conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced on September 5, 2012. Fourteen police officers have pleaded guilty to the extortion conspiracy in federal court and one officer pleaded guilty in state court. One officer was convicted by a federal jury after a six-day trial. The last police officer to be sentenced in federal court in connection with the scheme is Kelvin Quade Manrich, age 43, of Middle River, Maryland, who is scheduled to be sentenced on August 3, 2012.
LISTERIA POTENTIAL FORCES RECALL OF 300,000 POUNDS OF MEATBALLS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom -Buona Vita, Inc., a Bridgeton, N.J. establishment, is recalling approximately 324,770 pounds of various frozen, ready-to-eat meat and poultry products due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The products subject to recall include:
The following items were produced on May 3, 2012 and can be identified by the case code "1242": [View Labels (PDF Only)]
10-lb. cases of Cupino "Fully Cooked Meatballs with Pork and Beef"
10-lb. cases of Mama Isabella "1/2 oz. size Beef and Pork Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Mama Isabella "1 oz. size Beef and Pork Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Mama Isabella "2 oz. size Beef and Pork Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Sapore Italiano .75 oz Baked Meatballs with Beef and Pork"
30-lb. or 10-lb cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Buon Gusto ½ oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef"
The following items were produced on May 4, 2012 and can be identified by the case code "1252": [View Labels (PDF Only)]
10-lb. cases of Vincent Giordano "4 oz. Cooked Italian Style Meatball"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Filomena 3 oz. Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Sapore Italiano .75 oz Baked Meatballs with Beef and Pork"
30-lb. or 10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Buon Gusto ½ oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef"
10-lb. cases of Dirusso's "Fully Cooked ½oz Meatballs"
30-lb. or 10-lb. cases of Dirusso's "1 oz Italian Style Meatballs Fully Cooked"
10-lb. cases of Dirusso's "Fully Cooked Mini Meatballs"
The following items were produced on May 7, 2012 and can be identified by the case code "1282": [View Labels (PDF Only)]
30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand "3 oz Cooked Dinner Loaf Made with Chicken and Beef"
30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride "Cooked Dinner Loaf Made with Chicken and Beef"
30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand "3oz Cooked Chicken and Beef Burger Pattie Made with Chicken and Beef"
30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride "3 oz Cooked Chicken and Beef Burger Patty Made with Chicken and Beef"
30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand "4 oz Cooked Chicken and Beef Burger Made with Chicken and Beef"
30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand "4oz Cooked Chicken Salisbury Patty Beef Added"
30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand "3oz Cooked Chicken Salisbury Patty Beef Added"
30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride "Cooked Chicken Salisbury Patty Beef Added"
The following items were produced on May 8, 2012 and can be identified by the case code "1292": [View Labels (PDF Only)]
30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride "Cooked Chicken Salisbury Patty Beef Added"
30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride "Cooked Dinner Loaf LS Made with Chicken and Beef"
30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride "Cooked Breakfast Patty Made with Chicken and Beef"
30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand "Cooked Breakfast Patty Made with Chicken and Beef"
10-lb. cases of Whitsons Food Service "½ oz. Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef"
10-lb. cases of M&R Frosted Food Co. ".5oz Cooked Chicken and Beef Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Buon Gusto ½ oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef"
10-lb. cases of M&R Frosted Food Co. "1 oz Cooked Chicken and Beef Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Buon Gusto 1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Buon Gusto 2 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef"
The following items were produced on May 9, 2012 and can be identified by the case code "1302": [View Labels (PDF Only)]
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Buon Gusto 1 oz Baked Turkey Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Orefresco "1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Bullpen "1.0 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Mamma Mia's 1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Napoli "1 oz. Traditional Style Cooked Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Whorle's "1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buonamici "1oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Mamma Cacciatore 1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Filomena 1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Napoli "2 oz Traditional Style Cooked Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Bullpen "1.5 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Napoli "1/2 oz Traditional Style Cooked Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Mamma Cacciatore 2 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Bullpen "2.0 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Whorle's ".5 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "½ oz. Mamma Cacciatore Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Bullpen ".5oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Filomena 1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Filomena .5oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs"
30-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Mamma Cacciatore ½ oz Baked Beef and Chicken Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Monabella ".5 oz. Primo Baked Beef and Pork Meatballs"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Sapore Italiano .5oz Baked Meatballs w/ Beef and Pork"
10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. "Buona Vita's .65 oz Baked Gourmet Meatballs with Pork and Beef"
The packages bear the establishment number "P-954" or "Est. 954" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products were sold to distribution facilities nationwide. When available, the retail distribution list will be posted on FSIS' website at www.fsis.usda.gov/FSIS_Recalls/
The problem was discovered through microbiological testing by FSIS and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). FSIS, ODA, and the company have not received reports of illesses due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a healthcare provider.
LEXUS RECALLS S-U-V FOR POTENTIAL ACCELERATOR PROBLEMS / AUDI RECALLS FOR DEFECTIVE SUNROOF
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Toyota has announced another recall due to interference caused by floor mats with accelerator pedals. This recall involved the Lexus RX350 and RX450H sport utility models WHICH WERE MANUFACTURED FROM NOVEMBER 28, 2008, THROUGH SEPTEMBER 1, 2010. According to the recall notice from parent company Toyota, 154,036 of the vehicles are involved. Lexus dealers will replace accelerator pedals and floor mats in those models only.
As for the Audi Q5 models, parent company Volkswagen says it is recalling 13,172 of those MANUFACTURED FROM JUNE 21, 2011, THROUGH DECEMBER 9, 2011, to repair the front glass panel sunroof, which can break in extreme cold temperatures. Volkswagen says it will replace the panels free of charge.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced three major tire recalls this week.
The latest involves Del-Nat Tire Corporation (Del-Nat), which is recalling certain Del-Nat Delta A/S Sierradial or National A/S Commando, size 265/70R17. The affected tires have a dot code of either UTIYWHA0112 or UTIYWHD0112. Contaminated rubber may have been used in the tread compound which could result in tread separation. Tread separation can result in loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash. Del-Nat will notify owners, and dealers will replace the defective tires free of charge. Free mounting and balancing will also be included, as applicable. The recall is expected to begin on, or about, June 27, 2012. Owners may contact Del-Nat at 1-901-775-5002. Del-Nat’s recall campaign number is DN-12-0618.
Also, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (Cooper) is recalling certain Cooper brand Discoverer H/T tires, sizes LT235/85R16 and P265/70R17; Discoverer LSX, size 265/70R17; and Mastercraft Courser HTR, size LT235/85R16. Also included in this recall are tires branded as Del-Nat Delta A/S Sierradial or National A/S Commando, size 265/70R17; Pep Boys Definity Dakota H/T, size P265/70R17; and TBC Sigma Stampede Radial SUV, size P265/70R17. Contaminated rubber may have been used in the tread compound which could result in tread separation. Tread separation can result in loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash. Cooper will notify owners, and dealers will replace the tires free of charge. Free mounting and balancing will also be included, as applicable. The recall began on June 15, 2012. Owners may contact Cooper Tire & Rubber Company’s Consumer Relations Department at 1-800-854-6288. Cooper’s recall number is 156.
TBC Corporation (TBC) is recalling certain Sigma Stampede Radial SUV tires, size P265/70R17, equipped with DOT code UTT6TX60112. Contaminated rubber may have been used in the tread compound which could result in tread separation. Tread separation can result in loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash. TBC will notify owners, and dealers will replace the tires free of charge. Free mounting and balancing will also be included, as applicable. The recall is expected to begin on July 2, 2012. Owners may contact TBC at 1-901-363-8030. TBC’s recall number is 156.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Separate recalls involving nearly 460,000 Chevy Cruze models have been ordered by GM.
According to the company, 413,000 of those models made between, OCTOBER 2, 2009, THROUGH MAY 31, 2012, are being recalled due to potential problems with oil collecting in the so called, "Bellypan", or engine shield which can ignite due to heat from the engine or exhaust system.
A separate recall involving 53,000 of the craze models, involves those built from OCTOBER 2, 2009, THROUGH MAY 14, 2012, for problems due to missing gas tank attachment welds, which could cause the tank to leak possibly causing a fire, especially during an accident.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is urging food distributors, retailers, and food service operators to remove from sale or service all fresh, frozen, canned, and processed oysters, clams, mussels, and whole and roe-on scallops (molluscan shellfish) from Korea that have entered the United States. This includes molluscan shellfish from Korea that entered the United States prior to May 1, 2012, when the FDA removed such products from the Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List (ICSSL), and that which may have inadvertently entered the country after that date. These products and any products made with them may have been exposed to human fecal waste and are potentially contaminated with norovirus.
Molluscan shellfish contaminated with fecal waste and/or norovirus are considered adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Following initial notifications last month, a number of food companies have begun to remove these products from their distribution chain. However, many others have yet to take action.
A comprehensive FDA evaluation determined that the Korean Shellfish Sanitation Program (KSSP) no longer meets the sanitation controls specified under the United States’ National Shellfish Sanitation Program. The FDA’s evaluation found significant deficiencies with the KSSP including inadequate sanitary controls, ineffective management of land-based pollution sources and detection of norovirus in shellfish growing areas.
The deficiencies in the KSSP prompted the FDA to remove all Korean certified shippers of molluscan shellfish from the ICSSL on May 1, 2012. Although Korean molluscan shellfish represent only a small fraction of the oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops sold in the United States, the removal of Korean shellfish shippers from the ICSSL is an important step in stopping the importation of molluscan shellfish harvested from polluted waters.
Consumers who have recently bought molluscan shellfish and are concerned that it may have come from Korea, should contact the store where it was purchased and ask about its origin. Consumers can check the label on packaged seafood to see if it is from Korea. If it is not clear where the product is from, consumers can call the manufacturer to find out. Consumers should dispose of molluscan shellfish from Korea and any products made with molluscan shellfish from Korea.
These actions only affect molluscan shellfish harvested from Korean waters. They do not affect the receipt of fresh and frozen molluscan shellfish by distributors, retailers, and food service operators from any of the other shellfish shippers listed in the ICSSL. Further, these actions do not affect the importation of canned and other processed product made with molluscan shellfish harvested from non-Korean waters. The FDA is in ongoing discussions with Korean authorities to resolve the issue.
Although the heat treatment that canned products undergo should eliminate the risk of norovirus, the contents of the cans of molluscan shellfish from Korea are still considered not fit for human food because the products were harvested from waters subject to human fecal contamination. For fresh, frozen, or products processed by methods other than canning, the products should also be considered food not for human consumption and may also carry a risk of norovirus.
Noroviruses cause gastroenteritis. Symptoms of illness associated with norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Affected individuals often experience low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of tiredness. Most people show symptoms 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus. The illness typically lasts one to three days. Dehydration is the most common complication, especially in young children and older adults, which may require medical care. While there have been norovirus illnesses in the United States from the consumption of Korean oysters as recently as 2011, there have been no U.S. illnesses from the consumption of Korean shellfish reported in 2012.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION SLAMS DEBT COLLECTION AND DEBT RESOLUTION BUSINESSES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Federal Trade Commission attorneys have taken action against two firms accused of deceptive practices.
According to the FTC, a U.S. district court granted a Federal Trade Commission request and has temporarily shut down a Florida-based operation that allegedly continued to pitch bogus credit-repair services nationwide, despite a 2010 court order requiring it to stop. The new court order, which will remain in place while the FTC seeks a contempt ruling against the defendants for violating the original order, bars the scam operators from all activities involving credit repair, and from offering credit-related products, programs, or services.
In 2008, the FTC filed a complaint against Latrese and Kevin Hargrave and the firms they control, alleging that they advertised on the Internet and radio stations and charged $250 to $270 per person and $450 per couple for purported credit repair services, requiring half or all of the charge to be paid in advance. In a radio script, the defendants stated, "They specialize in erasing bad credit! Hargrave & Associates covers all three major credit bureaus, slow pays, charge-offs, repossessions can be erased for two-hundred, fifty dollars."
In January 2010, the court ruled in favor of the FTC and barred the defendants from engaging in the deceptive conduct – including making or using untrue or misleading statements to induce consumers to buy their credit repair services. It also barred them from charging or receiving an up-front payment for such services before they are performed.
The settlement order imposes a judgment of $3.3 million. Upon their payment of $85,000, the remainder of the judgment is suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay. If it is later determined that the financial information the defendants provided the FTC was false, the full amount of the judgment will become due.
Operating from offices in Tustin, California and Tampa, Florida, Daniels and FDN Solutions used paid search results on Google’s search engine and Google ads on third-party websites to advertise their services, telling consumers, “Reduce Debt 70% Want Proof?” and “Save up to 70% On Credit Card Debt,” according to the complaint. A bar chart on one of the defendants’ websites showed that a consumer with a $40,000 debt would pay only $22,000 by using the defendants’ services.
The FTC alleged that Daniels and his company, also doing business as Everest Debt Solutions, 1800debtsettlement.com, and everestdebtrelief.com, violated the Federal Trade Commission Act by making unsupported savings claims and by using a fake consumer testimonial. One supposed testimonial attributed to “Alicia S., Lake Charles, LA” said, “Everest Debt Solutions was able to drop my credit card debt down 62%! They are truly a Godsend! God Bless.”
The defendants’ websites provided consumers with toll-free numbers they could call for more information. When they called, the defendants violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule by misrepresenting the amount of money or the percentage of the debt amount that a consumer could save by using their services, according to the complaint.
Consumers looking for help with credit card debt should be wary of anyone who tells them to stop paying their bills, to pay someone other than their creditors, or to stop talking to their creditors. Consumers also should be careful about paying for financial assistance before they receive it. For more information on dealing with debt, including public service announcements about avoiding debt relief scams, see the Debt Relief Services page of the FTC’s Money Matters website for consumers.
MORE THAN 72,000 KIA RIO MODELS RECALLED FOR AIR BAG SYSTEM DEFECT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Kia Motors is recalling all 2006-2008 Rio models made FROM FEBRUARY 20, 2005, THROUGH DECEMBER 9, 2007. The company claims the sensor in the front passenger seat can fail due to fatigue and allow the airbag to deploy in an accident, regardless whether a child is in the front seat. The company says the recall will begin in July 2012 with the repairs available free of charge to car owners.
PROBE FINDS WEAK UTILITY OVERSIGHT IN HALLOWEEN 2011 NORTHEAST SNOWSTORM POWER FAILURE / RECOMMENDS BETTER RESPONSE TO TREE DAMAGE AND DISASTER PLANNING
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A special probe into utility companies responses to the October 29-30, 2011 power outages in the northeast, calls for improved control of vegetation surrounding power lines and transformers, as well as better disaster planning and reporting of massive power failures.
The probe was requested by local, state and federal officials, critical of the extent of the failure and the time it took to restore power, after a rogue heavy snow storm struck the northeast, causing massive damage of power systems, due to trees, which had yet to shed their leaves from the fall.
The report was released today by the staffs of the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.
The report says the region was hit suddenly with up to two and a half feet of heavy, wet snow.
Snowfall amounts broke all previous October records throughout the Mid-Atlantic and
New England regions. The snowfall totals were most significant in New England, but
parts of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania also received well over a foot of snow.
On the morning of October 30, near the end of the storm, more than 3.2 million homes
and businesses were without power. Over the course of the weekend, more than 4.3 million customers lost power at one point or another. Thousands were without power for more than a
week, some for as long as eleven days. Estimates put storm costs between approximately
$1 billion and $3 billion.
Although the vast majority of these customer outages were caused by damage to
electric distribution lines, seventy-four transmission lines and forty-four transmission
substations also experienced outages of ten minutes or more. Twenty-four of the
transmission facilities (twenty-three lines and one substation) that experienced outages
are Bulk-Power System (BPS) elements.
The report claims the vast majority of transmission line outages — fifty-five out of seventy-four, or
nearly 80% — were caused when snow-weighted leafy trees contacted transmission lines. All but two of these trees were healthy. Twenty-five percent of these trees were
located within the utility’s right-of-way, and therefore, were likely within the utilities’
rights to maintain.
In somewhat conflicting terms, the report concludes that restoration of transmission lines was not materially
hampered by inadequate utility preparation or response. However, later in the report, the staff preparing it, referred to improved transmission vegetation management programs (TVMPs) which must identify minimum clearances around transmission lines. Additionally, the report states that during and after the October snowstorm, affected entities
did not always provide thorough information in the disturbance reports they were
required to file with the National Energy Regulatory Commission (NERC) under Reliability Standards.
Responding to the report, New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), said, “This report underscores the severity of these outages and the need for state and federal regulators to work together and to engage the power companies on improving reliability”. Shaheen adds, “It is both dangerous and costly for New Hampshire families and businesses to be left without power for days. Utility companies should take the recommendations of this report to heart, and federal and state regulators should hold them accountable".
67,000 WRANGLERS RECALLED DUE TO POTENTIAL FIRE HAZARD
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Chrysler is recalling 67,872 of the model year 2010 Jeep Wrangler with automatic transmission . The company claims that the transmission skid plate can collect debris, which can ignite, since it is close to the catalytic converter. Chrysler will contact owners to have a replacement skid plate installed at a dealer, free of charge. More recall information, click here - 05/19/2012
U-S STILL AMONG HIGHEST FOR ACCIDENTAL DEATH RATES AMONG CHILDREN / CDC RENEWS CALL TO STOP USE OF BABY CRIB LINERS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The Centers for Disease Control has released its latest "Vital Signs" report showing the injury death rate among children in the U-S (2000-2009) has dropped 30%, but still remains among the highest of industrialized nations.
Key points in the Vital Signs report include:
• More than 9,000 children died from unintentional injuries in the United States in 2009. Car crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls are some of the most common ways children are hurt or killed.
• The injury death rate among children dropped nearly 30% over the last decade (2000-2009). This decrease has resulted in more than 11,000 children’s lives being saved. However, injury is still the #1 cause of death among children.
• Suffocation death rates have gone up in the past decade, driven by a 54% increase in reported suffocation among infants <1 year. Additionally, poisoning death rates increased, due to rates among teens aged 15-19 increasing 91% (largely because of prescription drug overdoses).
• Child injury death rates varied substantially by state in 2009, ranging from less than 5 deaths per 100,000 children in Massachusetts and New Jersey to more than 23 deaths per 100,000 children in South Dakota and Mississippi.
Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy, and
the Netherlands have the lowest rates of
child injury deaths among 1 to 14 year
olds. In contrast, the United States and
Portugal have some of the highest rates
of child injury deaths with rates that are
more than twice that of the highest ranking
If the United States had child injury rates
as low as Sweden’s from the
period 1991–1995, we would save
4,700 U.S. children annually.
• States with the lowest injury rates are in the northeast.
• The number of fire and burn deaths is highest in some of the southern states.
• The number of traffic injuries is highest in some southern states and in some of
the upper plains.
• The lowest traffic injury rates are found in states in the northeast region.
More than 60 partners joined the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control’s
(NCIPC) Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention (DUIP) in developing the National
Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention (NAP) to provide guidance to the nation. The
overall goal of the NAP is to lay out a vision to guide actions that are pivotal in reducing
the burden of childhood injuries in the United States and to provide a national platform
for organizing and implementing child injury prevention activities in the future. Click here for link to the guide.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Ally Financial Inc. (Ally) today announced its mortgage subsidiary, formerly GMAC Mortgage, now Residential Capital, LLC and certain of its subsidiaries (ResCap), has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, in New York City.
Ally Chief Executive Officer Michael A. Carpenter, in a statement released by the company this morning, said, "The action by ResCap will enable Ally to achieve a permanent solution to its legacy mortgage risks and put these issues behind us. This action, along with pursuing alternatives for the international businesses, will allow Ally to focus 100 percent of its energies on further strengthening its already leading U.S. auto finance and direct banking franchises".
Ally claims it has repaid approximately $5.5 billion to the U.S. Treasury, which has enabled the taxpayer to recover about one-third of the $17 billion investment made in the company, during the height of the 2008 -2009 financial crisis. The federal government still owns controlling interest in the company, which will be kept afloat during the bankruptcy with $1.5 billion in loans and credit from Ally Financial and Barclays.
Ally has determined that, on and as a result of the Chapter 11 filing, ResCap will be de consolidated from Ally's financial statements and Ally's equity interest in ResCap will be written-down to zero.
Ally is expected to record an associated charge of approximately $1.3 billion in the second quarter of 2012. The estimated charge is primarily driven by a write-down to zero of Ally's approximate $400 million equity investment in ResCap, the $750 million cash contribution and approximately $130 million related to the establishment of a mortgage repurchase reserve at Ally Bank that replaces a reserve previously held at ResCap. Absent the determination by the ResCap board of directors to file for Chapter 11, ResCap would have required billions of dollars of support from its parent to meet its obligations, which would have substantially delayed Ally's plans to repay the remaining capital investment to the U.S. Treasury.
"The decision by the ResCap board to pursue this course will best enable it to preserve more than 3,500 jobs and keep its talented workforce focused on assisting homeowners by servicing the more than 2.4 million loans in its portfolio," Carpenter concluded.
CBO SAYS LOWER VEHICLE ENERGY CONSUMPTION WILL CUT TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND BY 21%
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Proposed fuel economy standards are expected to raise the average fuel economy of the new-vehicle fleet from 34.1 miles per gallon (mpg)—the average anticipated for 2016 and beyond under current standards—to 49.6 mpg. The proposed rule also would require gradual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty vehicles, which would be accomplished primarily through reduced fuel consumption.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the proposed corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards would gradually lower gasoline tax revenues, eventually causing them to fall by 21 percent. That full effect would not be realized until 2040 because the standards would gradually increase in stringency (only reaching their maximum level in 2025) and because the vehicle fleet changes slowly as older vehicles are replaced with new ones.
Federal highway and mass transit programs are financed largely by a variety of transportation-related excise taxes. The largest share of the revenues comes from the federal tax on gasoline, including gasoline that is blended with ethanol. Revenues from those taxes are credited to the Highway Trust Fund, and most of the spending for those programs is attributable to that fund. Because the gasoline tax is set as a fixed amount per gallon (currently 18.4 cents), policies that are designed to reduce gasoline consumption would decrease the amounts credited to the fund.
What the CBO report also shows, is that yearly contributions from the federal budget will be increasingly necessary to make up for the shortfall, which is graphically shown below, to rise as revenues to the trust fund decline.
As always, the CBO notes alternatives to the graph above, though they may not be politically popular. They include,
Reducing spending on highways and mass transit,
Transferring additional money from the Treasury's general fund to the Highway Trust Fund, and
Increasing the gasoline tax or raising revenues from other sources to provide receipts to the trust fund.
CITIZENS BANK SETTLES WRONGFUL OVERDRAFT FEE CASE WITH CUSTOMERS FOR $137 MILLION
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A settlement has been reached between plaintiffs and Citizens Bank, of Coral Gable, Florida., which is part of Citizens Financial Group which, through RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, operates more than 1,500 retail banking branches throughout the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-West.
Citizens is accused of using computer software designed to manipulate checking account charge to get the maximum number of overdraft fees.
Citizens is the latest bank, in an original 30 bank class action lawsuit, to settle with the plaintiffs. the Settlement is still subject to approval of U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Miami. Last year, the court approved another settlement, with Bank of America for more than $400 million.
Robert C. Gilbert with Grossman Roth in Miami are representing the combined plaintiffs in the case.
BILL COLLECTOR GOES UNDERCOVER IN HOSPITAL TO COLLECT DEBTS FROM PATIENTS / SCANDAL STEMMED FROM LOSS OF LAPTOP COMPUTER WITH PATIENT DATA
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In what can only be described as a bare knuckle, complicated and extremely brash approach to debt collections and cost savings, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has released a scathing report on the activities of a medical debt collector at a major health care provider in the twin cities area.
Included are incredible accounts of high pressure collection tactics with patients while hospitalized in emergency rooms and elsewhere. Investigators also reveal details questionable contracting, which the report claims, put a charitable health care provider's assets "at risk".
The report cites Accretive Health, Inc. as being hired by Fairview Health Services, a charitable health care provider, for providing “revenue cycle” management services. But the agreement between the two parities makes it clear, that Accretive had the power to hire and fire employees, reassign others and decide pay structure.
According to the report, Fairview delegated to Accretive the authority to manage all day-to-day
aspects of the revenue cycle operations, going so far as to execute a power of attorney to fully
empower Accretive to make billing decisions for the hospital as it relates to Medicaid, Medicare,
and third-party insurers. Accretive emphasizes in its financial
reports that it directs the work of its client hospitals’ “revenue cycle [operations] teams.”For example, Fairview delegates management authority to Accretive as it relates to
patient scheduling, pre registration, eligibility verification, patient registration, authorization,
admitting, coding, transcription, medical record retention, chart analysis, billing, secondary
billing, underpayment review, denial management, third-party collections, collection of dormant
receivables, lost charge capture, and analytical support.
The report accuses Fairview of putting it's own assets at risk through a complicated cost savings and collections sharing formula. Investigators found that on January 18, 2011, a program was presented to Fairview as a means to have “shared distribution” savings,
where physicians and patients are individually and collectively measured
on treatment utilization. Any cost savings would then be divided among the physicians, with a
5% reduction in treatment costs resulting in a distribution to each provider of approximately
$26,000 , or ultimately, $60,000. If a 20% savings were attained on a
system-wide basis, the distribution to each provider would vary between $94,000 and $241,000.
Accretive projected a potential reduction of $482 million in treatment costs at Fairview
by 2015, of which Accretive would be paid an undisclosed percentage.
The report also chides the culture established by Accretive on health care personnel. Fairview’s emergency room
and patient registration staff were required to talk about their collection quotas, tossing a ball
around to each speaker as they discussed their collection performance. Accretive’s
revenue cycle work for Fairview was led by an individual Accretive calls “Andrew ‘I Am Not A’
Crook.”. As early as September, 2010, Mr. Crook reported to the Accretive home office
in Chicago (in preparation for an upcoming presentation to the Fairview CEO), “We’ve started
firing people that aren’t getting with the program.” Fairview emergency room workers
state that they got the message that if they don’t collect money in the ER, they would be fired.
Once it landed the Fairview RCA, Accretive set up a 100-day plan, to aggressively focus
on collecting money from patients. The Fairview pre-registration team was to take an
“assertive collections approach.”
Incredibly, the Attorney General's report says Accretive emphasizes that the primary role of a hospital employee is to collect money:
“Addressing the patient’s balance is an imperative part of your role.”
To create a Glengarry Glen Ross-type hospital culture, Accretive engages in a number of
different methods to change the sanctuary culture of a hospital to that of a “numbers driven”
collection agency. Accretive induces Fairview emergency room and “front end” personnel
(pre-registration and registration staff) with prizes for collecting the most money in daily, weekly
and quarterly contests. Accretive assigns the names of NFL teams (Chargers, Jaguars,
Steelers, Giants, etc.) to Fairview hospital shift teams, instilling a competitive effort to raise
more money. In September of 2010, an employee at Fairview Ridges noted that the
competition became quite intense, with employees claiming that the “Steelers” were so named
because they “steal” wins. Accretive managers exhort the Fairview teams to victory
by promising that, if they make their quotas, the Accretive leaders will wear a clown outfit
, a Colonel Sanders outfit, or a Waldo outfit to the hospital.
occasion, the emergency room staff at the University of Minnesota Medical Center filed a
complaint with the Attorney General, asking her to “save” the staff. On another occasion, an
employee apparently wrote:
“Patients are harassed mercilessly until their Community Care is finally approved,
and one can only speculate on the heartache, mental anguish and worse that these
kinds of practices cause.”
Three months ago, the Minnesota Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Accretive Health, Inc., for failing to protect the confidentiality of patient health care records and not disclosing to patients its extensive involvement in their health care through its role in managing the revenue and health care delivery systems at two Minnesota hospital systems.Last July, Accretive lost a laptop computer containing unencrypted health data about 23,500 patients in Minnesota. The lawsuit alleges that Accretive gained access to sensitive patient data through contracts with the hospitals and numerically scored patients’ risk of hospitalization and medical complexity, graded their “frailty,” compiled per-patient profit and loss reports, and identified patients deemed to be “outliers.” Full text of Attorney General's statement, click here.
Full text and all volumes of the Minnesota Attorney General's Compliance Review of Fairview Health Services' Management Contracts with Accretive Health, Inc.
VIDEO: NISSAN LEAF VS. CHEVY VOLT / SHOWDOWN OF THE ELECTRICS
77,000 TIRES RECALLED BY MICHELIN
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Michelin is recalling a total of 77,775 tires that have the potential to blow out, due to a manufacturing defect, which could result in a crash.
The tires affected are:
MICHELIN XZU3 LRJ, SIZE 305/85R22.5, AND MICHELIN XZU2 LRJ, SIZE 12R22.5, TIRES PRODUCED BETWEEN OCTOBER 23, 2005, AND SEPTEMBER 3, 2011; AND MICHELIN XM505 LRJ, SIZE 305/85R22.5, TIRES PRODUCED BETWEEN APRIL 18, 2010, AND MAY 8, 2010, AND JANUARY 23, 2011, AND FEBRUARY 12, 2011.
Michelin will announce more information about replacement tires when the recall begins, on or about, April 30th 2012.
OBAMA CALLS FOR BIGGER PENALTIES FOR OIL & GAS PRICE MANIPULATION / SUPPORTERS SAY SPECULATORS ADD 56 CENTS PER GALLON
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - In an announcement today from the Rose Garden of the White House, President Obama called for stiffer penalties for oil and gas speculation, which is forcing up prices.
Obama said, "The problem is we use more than 20 percent of the world’s oil and we only have 2 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. Even if we drilled every square inch of this country right now, we’d still have to rely disproportionately on other countries for their oil. That means we pay more at the pump every time there’s instability in the Middle East, or growing demand in countries like China and India. That’s what’s happening right now. It’s those global trends that are affecting gas prices. So even as we're tackling issues of supply and demand, even as we're looking at the long-term in terms of how we can structurally make ourselves less reliant on foreign oil, we still need to work extra hard to protect consumers from factors that should not affect the price of a barrel of oil. That includes doing everything we can to ensure that an irresponsible few aren’t able to hurt consumers by illegally manipulating or rigging the energy markets for their own gain. We can't afford a situation where speculators artificially manipulate markets by buying up oil, creating the perception of a shortage, and driving prices higher -- only to flip the oil for a quick profit. We can’t afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions, while millions of American families get the short end of the stick. That’s not the way the market should work. And for anyone who thinks this cannot happen, just think back to how Enron traders manipulated the price of electricity to reap huge profits at everybody else’s expense".
He outlined some of the oversight proposals he wants in place.
"First, Congress should provide immediate funding to put more cops on the beat to monitor activity in energy markets. This funding would also upgrade technology so that our surveillance and enforcement officers aren’t hamstrung by older and less sophisticated tools than the ones that traders are using. We should strengthen protections for American consumers, not gut them. And these markets have expanded significantly. Second, Congress should increase the civil and criminal penalties for illegal energy market manipulation and other illegal activities. So my plan would toughen key financial penalties tenfold, and impose these penalties not just per violation, but for every day a violation occurs.Third, Congress should give the agency responsible for overseeing oil markets new authority to protect against volatility and excess speculation by making sure that traders can post appropriate margins, which simply means that they actually have the money to make good on their trades".
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ACCUSES E-BOOK PUBLISHERS OF PRICE FIXING, SETTLES WITH SOME
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Major publishers are facing action from the U-S Justice Department for allegedly forcing up prices of their e-book downloads on the internet. The Justice Department, in a statement, outlined the case against the publishers, as well as Apple and their late founder, Steve Jobs.
The department alleges the conspiracy began in the summer of 2009. CEOs from the publishing companies met privately as a group about once per quarter. The meetings took place in private dining rooms of upscale Manhattan restaurants and were used to discuss confidential business and competitive matters, including Amazon’s e-book’s retailing practices.
The complaint states that the companies accomplished their conspiracy by agreeing to stop the longstanding practice of selling e-books, as they long sold print books, on wholesale to bookstores, and leaving it to the bookstores to set the price at which they would sell the e-books to consumers. Through their conspiracy, the companies imposed a new model under which the publishers seized e-book pricing authority from all of their retail bookstores and raised prices for e-books.
As stated in the department’s complaint, one publisher’s CEO said, “Our goal is to force Amazon to return to acceptable sales prices through the establishment of agency contracts in the USA. . . . To succeed our colleagues must know that we entered the fray and follow us.”
The publishers also agreed with Apple to pay Apple a 30 percent commission for each e-book purchased through Apple’s iBookstore and promised, through a retail price-matching most favored nation (MFN) provision, that no other e-book retailer would sell an e-book title at a lower price than Apple.
As stated in the department’s complaint, Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs said, “the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you [publishers] want anyway.” Based on the commitments to Apple, the publishers imposed agency terms, over some objections, on all other e-book retailers. As a result, no e-book retailer is able to compete by using its commission to discount or reduce the price that the publishers set for their e-book titles or offer any special sales promotions to encourage consumers to purchase those e-books. The department said that the intent and effect of the publishers’ contracts with Apple was to raise the prices that consumers nationwide pay for e-books.
Under the proposed settlement agreement with Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, they will terminate their agreements with Apple and other e-books retailers and will be prohibited for two years from entering into new agreements that constrain retailers’ ability to offer discounts or other promotions to consumers to encourage the sale of the publishers’ e-books. The settlement does not prohibit Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster from entering new agency agreements with e-book retailers, but those agreements cannot prohibit the retailer from reducing the price set by the publishers.
The proposed settlement agreement also will prohibit Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster for five years from again conspiring with or sharing competitively sensitive information with their competitors. It will impose a strong antitrust compliance program on the three companies, which will include a requirement that each provide advance notification to the department of any e-book ventures they plan to undertake jointly with other publishers and that each regularly report to the department on any communications they have with other publishers. Also for five years, Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster will be forbidden from agreeing to any kind of MFN that could undermine the effectiveness of the settlement agreement.
The ongoing litigation against Apple, Macmillan and Penguin seeks to restore price competition among e-book retailers in the sale of the litigating publishers’ e-books. Under the existing agency agreements, Macmillan and Penguin prohibit e-book retailers from exercising any pricing discretion on their titles, and Apple is freed from any price competition with other retailers in selling those e-books.
F-D-A REFUSES TO BAN CHEMICAL USED IN PLASTIC PACKAGING / CONSUMER ADVOCATES SAY AGENCY IS BEHIND THE TIMES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Consumer and environmental activists expressed outrage over today's refusal by the Food and Drug Administration to reconsider its decision, allowing continued use of the plastic hardening chemical, bisphenol A (BPA). The Natural Resources Defense Council had petitioned the agency to ban the chemical, citing consistent and conclusive evidence it should be banned.
In its response, the NRDC's senior scientist in the public health program, Dr. Sarah Janssen, stated, “BPA is a toxic chemical that has no place in our food supply. We believe FDA made the wrong call".
“The agency has failed to protect our health and safety - in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures, especially in fetuses, babies and young children".
“The FDA is out-of-step with scientific and medical research. This illustrates the need for a major overhaul of how the government protects us against dangerous chemicals”.
NRDC claims it petitioned the FDA in 2008 to eliminate BPA from all food packaging. When the agency failed to respond, NRDC sued in 2011, asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to compel the agency to respond. Later that year, the court issued a consent decree requiring FDA to make a final decision on NRDC’s petition by March 31, 2012.
The group claims that in 2010, FDA acknowledged that it had “some concerns” about the chemical’s effects on the brain, behavior and prostate glands in fetuses, infants and young children. But the agency has only encouraged voluntary actions to reduce BPA exposure.
NRDC points to numerous studies that have raised additional concerns about links between BPA and breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
As proof of concerns in the container industry, NRDC cites companies that have already stopped producing baby bottles, “sippy cups’’ and infant formula containers containing the chemical. Canada, the European Union, China, and at least five other countries as well as 11 U.S. states, all have prohibited the use of BPA in children’s products. The group adds that canned food manufacturers are voluntarily removing BPA from can linings, but BPA remains legal to use in all food packaging.
NRDC says staff attorneys are evaluating possible alternatives in the legal case against the agency.
HONDA RECALLS 554,000 VEHICLES FOR HEADLIGHT WIRING DEFECT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Honda will voluntarily recall approximately 554,000 model-year 2002-2004 CR-V and 2003 Pilot vehicles in the United States to inspect and replace components of the headlight wiring system. There is a potential failure with the wiring of the headlight switch which may cause the low beam headlights to become inoperative. The loss of the low beam headlights may increase the risk of a crash. No crashes or injuries have been reported related to this issue.
Honda is announcing this recall to encourage owners of all affected vehicles to take their vehicles to an authorized dealer as soon as they receive notification of this recall from Honda. Mailed notification to customers will begin in late-April 2012. In addition to contacting customers by mail, in late-April, owners of these vehicles will be able to determine if their vehicles require repair by going on-line to www.recalls.honda.com or by calling (800) 999-1009, and selecting option 4.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION PROPOSES NEW PRIVACY RULES TO PROTECT CONSUMERS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Federal Trade Commission has released its final report on proposed changes to protect the use of consumers' private data from being sold by third parties, known as data brokers. The report specifies when companies should provide consumers with choice about how their data is used. It varies depending on the transaction and the relationship with the customers.
The report also contains important recommendations regarding data brokers. It notes that data brokers often buy, compile, and sell highly personal information about consumers. Consumers are often unaware of their existence and the purposes to which they use the data. The report makes two recommendations to increase the transparency of such practices. First, it reiterates the Commission's prior support for legislation that would provide consumers with access to information held by data brokers. Second, it calls on data brokers who compile consumer data for marketing purposes to explore creation of a centralized website where consumers could get information about their practices and their options for controlling data use.
While Congress considers privacy legislation, the Commission urges individual companies and self-regulatory bodies to accelerate the adoption of the principles contained in the privacy framework, to the extent they have not already done so. Over the course of the next year, Commission staff will work to encourage consumer privacy protections by focusing on five main action items:
Do-Not-Track - The Commission commends the progress made in this area: browser vendors have developed tools to allow consumers to limit data collection about them, the Digital Advertising Alliance has developed its own icon-based system and also committed to honor the browser tools, and the World Wide Web Consortium standards-setting body is developing standards. "The Commission will work with these groups to complete implementation of an easy-to-use, persistent, and effective Do Not Track system," the report says.
Mobile - The FTC urges companies offering mobile services to work toward improved privacy protections, including disclosures. To that end, it will host a workshop on May 30, 2012 to address how mobile privacy disclosures can be short, effective, and accessible to consumers on small screens.
Data Brokers - The Commission calls on data brokers to make their operations more transparent by creating a centralized website to identify themselves, and to disclose how they collect and use consumer data. In addition, the website should detail the choices that data brokers provide consumers about their own information.
Large Platform Providers - The report cited heightened privacy concerns about the extent to which platforms, such as Internet Service Providers, operating systems, browsers and social media companies, seek to comprehensively track consumers' online activities. The FTC will host a public workshop in the second half of 2012 to explore issues related to comprehensive tracking.
Promoting Enforceable Self-Regulatory Codes - The FTC will work with the Department of Commerce and stakeholders to develop industry-specific codes of conduct. To the extent that strong privacy codes are developed, when companies adhere to these codes, the FTC will take that into account in its law enforcement efforts. If companies do not honor the codes they sign up for, they could be subject to FTC enforcement actions.
64,000 LBS. OF ECKRICH SMOKED SAUSAGE RECALLED DUE TO MISLABELING, UNDECLARED ALLERGENS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The U-S Department of Agriculture reports J Bar B Foods, a Waelder, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 64,020 pounds of a smoked sausage product because it contains whey and casein, known allergens that are not declared on the label.
The following products are subject to recall:
11-pound boxes of �Eckrich Smoked Sausage Made with Pork and Beef� with a sell by date of March 26, 2012 or later.
Each box bears a label with the establishment number �Est. 7066� inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products were produced from Jan. 16, 2012 to the present and were sent to distribution centers in Dallas, Texas and Indianapolis, Ind. for institutional use.
The company discovered the problem during a label review. The company received a spice mix from its supplier that contained hydrolyzed whey and casein protein, and the product label does not declare the allergens as ingredients in the sausage. FSIS and the company have not received any reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.
FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.
Consumers and media with questions about the recall should contact Bonnie Hyman, J Bar B Foods� Public Relations Manager, at (830) 788-7511.
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. "Ask Karen" live chat services are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. 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 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.
CANADIAN HEALTH AGENCY ISSUES WARNING ON CONTAMINATED RIB BEEF PATTIES SENT TO U-S
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing a public health alert for ground beef patties imported from Canada because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and may be associated with an illness in Canada.
FSIS was notified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that ground beef patties associated with a Canadian health alert may have been exported to the United States. There has been one reported illness associated with ground beef product produced by the same establishment in Canada.
Products imported to the United States include: [View Labels (PDF Only)]
10 lb. boxes of PRIME RIB BEEF PATTIES 8 oz, with product code 55317, and production code 11 NO 22
10 lb boxes of PRIME RIB BEEF PATTIES 71g, with product code 55391 and bearing a production code of 11 SE 01 or 12 JA 04
Imported products were produced by New Food Classics, CFIA Establishment 761 of Saskatoon, Ontario and were imported by Sysco Food Services to a distribution center in Blaine, Wash. for use by food service institutions.
FSIS has been unable to make contact with Sysco Food Services to discuss a recall of this product, so the agency is issuing a Public Health Alert to inform food service operations and consumers. FSIS will continue to provide information as it becomes available, including information about any related recall.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.
FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume ground beef that has been cooked to a temperature of 160° F. The only way to confirm that ground beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.
Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at 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.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION BUSTS TWO COMPANIES FOR OPERATING FAKE NEWS SITES TO PITCH DIET SUPPLIMENTS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The FTC has announced two more online marketers have agreed to settlements that will permanently halt their allegedly deceptive practice of using fake news web sites to promote acai berry supplements and so-called “colon cleansers” with deceptive claims that consumers could use them to lose weight.
In the first case, the FTC settlement with Intermark Communications, Inc., doing business as Copeac and several other defendants allegedly involved in the scheme results from the first FTC suit against an affiliate network. As an affiliate network, Copeac not only operated its own fake news sites, it also recruited an entire network of affiliates that used fake news sites to promote products with allegedly deceptive claims.
As part of the FTC’s ongoing crackdown on bogus health claims, the proposed settlements with the Copeac and Coulomb defendants will require the operators to make clear when their commercial messages are advertisements rather than legitimate journalism, and will bar the defendants from further deceptive claims about health-related products such as the acai berry weight-loss supplements and colon cleansers they marketed. The defendants also are required to disclose any material connections they have with merchants, and will be barred from making deceptive claims about other products.
With these two settlements, eight of the 10 fake news site cases the FTC brought in 2010 have been resolved, and all the fake news sites affiliated with the eight operations have been permanently shut down.
PRE-PAID BANK CARDS TARGETED BY CONSUMER ADVOCATES WHO CLAIM CUSTOMERS BEING FLEECED
More from the Emeritus Newsroom -During a March 14th hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Managing Attorney for the National Consumer Law Center, Lauren Saunders, questioned whether unscrupulous banks were pushing less profitable customers out of traditional checking and bank cards into services such as pre-paid bank cards. Saunders also questioned whether customers who buy pre-paid cards are adequately protected when companies offering the cards overcharge or illegally take balance amounts. She argued that pre-paid card customers should have the same basic rights as those with traditional bank cards. Saunders told the committee,"...consumers with prepaid cards – as well as those who use bank account debit cards – should have charge back rights if consumers have a dispute with a merchant, just as they do with credit cards. The likelihood of a problem with a purchase is no different than when the purchase is made with a credit card or with a debit or prepaid card, and consumers need the same ability to dispute a charge if they did not get what they paid for".
The committee is considering whether to extend regulations for pre-paid cards as complaints have escalated over the past year, accusing issuers of unnecessary fees for inactivity, balance inquiries, high monthly account charges and even higher fees for using the cards at smaller, "Mom and Pop", type merchants. Some segments of the banking community have also criticized cards from other issuers claiming they are bogus instruments in a legitimate business.
Saunders recounted an example of prepaid cards being used by the payday lender CheckSmart to evade Ohio’s payday loan laws through loans on prepaid cards issued by Florida-based Urban Trust Bank. They are doing the same thing in Arizona. Prepaid cards with credit features are all too easy to sell in payday stores where the loans are illegal, taking us back to the rent-a-bank days when banks loaned out their
charters to payday lenders to use as a vehicle for preemption. Congress already directed prepaid card issuers to eliminate overdraft fees by conditioning the interchange fee cap exemption on the absence of such fees. But that rule does not apply to banks under $10 billion. The Treasury Department took an important step forward to protect prepaid cards by banning attached lines of credit or loan agreements on cards that accept direct deposit of federal payments.11 Again, the rule does not apply to every card. The very name “prepaid card” should mean what it says. Indeed, “no credit check needed” and “you can’t spend more than you have” are common marketing refrains for prepaid cards. Banning overdraft fees and other embedded credit features on prepaid cards would prevent deceptive practices and confusion and make the cards a safe, genuine alternative to bank accounts, deserving of the higher interchange fees they are
entitled to charge".
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION CRACKS DOWN ON DEBT COLLECTORS, CAR DEALER ADS, DIGITAL MUSIC SALES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- There were developments this week on three major cases involving deceptive business practices.
The FTC shutdown a debt collection agency, seized its assets and ordered tow managers not to do business ever again as debt collectors. The FTC claims Rumson, Bolling and Associates, Sherman Oaks, California, harassed and abused consumers by threatening physical harm and death to them and their pets, threatening to desecrate the bodies of deceased relatives, and using obscene and profane language. The defendants also allegedly improperly revealed consumers' debts to third parties, such as the consumers' employers, co-workers, neighbors, and family members; falsely threatened consumers with lawsuits, arrest, seizure of their assets, or wage garnishment; and falsely claimed that consumers would be liable for legal fees incurred in the collection of the debt. The company was also accused of bilking firms which used the company to collect debts.
The Commission has also convinced a federal judge to shutdown marketing operations of BurnLounge, a digital music sales company that is accused of operating a pyramid scheme. BurnLounge had touted itself as a cutting-edge way to sell digital music through multi-level marketing, but music sales accounted for only a small percentage of its sales. The agency charged that BurnLounge recruited consumers from across the country by telling them that participants earned huge incomes. Investors could buy into the BurnLounge organization for prices ranging from $29.95 to $429.95, plus monthly fees. While participants were compensated for music and album sales, most compensation came from recruiting others into the plan. The court ordered the defendants to pay, collectively, close to $17 million for consumer redress. BurnLounge, Inc., and Juan Alexander Arnold were ordered to pay $16,245,799. John Taylor was ordered to pay $620,138 and Rob DeBoer was ordered to pay $150,000. Standard bookkeeping and record keeping requirements in the order will allow the FTC to monitor compliance.
And the FTC also took action against car dealers advertising relief for owners underwater on their car loans. Five car dealers around the country have agreed to Federal Trade Commission settlement orders that require them to stop running ads in which they promise to pay off a consumer's trade-in no matter what the consumer owes on the vehicle. The dealers named in the FTC's complaints are: 1) Billion Auto, Inc., in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; 2) Frank Myers AutoMaxx, LLC, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; 3) Key Hyundai of Manchester, LLC and Hyundai of Milford LLC, in Vernon and Milford, Connecticut, respectively, and which advertise jointly; 4) and Ramey Motors, Inc., in Princeton, West Virginia. The FTC's complaints allege that despite the dealers' claims, consumers still end up being responsible for paying the difference between the trade-in loan balance and the vehicle's value. The complaints charge that the dealers' representations that they will "pay off" what the consumers owe are false and misleading, and violate the FTC Act
LENOVO RECALLS 50,000 DESKTOP COMPUTERS FOR POTENTIAL FIRE HAZARD
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Lenovo Computers of Morrisville, North Carolina, announced a voluntary recall of about 50,500 Lenovo ThinkCentre M70z and M90z desktop computers.
A defect in an internal component in the power supply can overheat and pose a fire hazard. The firm received reports of one fire incident and one smoke incident in the U.S. No injuries have been reported. The recalled all-in-one desktop computers, or PCs, are flat-panel monitors with the PC integrated into the monitor housing itself. The power supplies are also inside the monitor or PC housing. The computer chassis has a matte black finish with the brand name "ThinkCentre" in the lower left hand corner of the monitor front. The recalled desktop model numbers are M90z and M70z along with the serial number and manufacturing date code can be found on a label on the underside of the unit.
M70z and M90z
1001 to 1012
1101 to 1112
001 to 012
101 to 112
Only certain of the M70z and M90z computers built in this time frame are affected. Consumers will need to check the serial number on their computer with Lenovo to determine if it is subject to this recall.
The units were sold online at Lenovo’s websites, by telephone and direct sales through Lenovo authorized distributors nationwide from May 2010 through January 2012 for about $500 for the M70z model and $800 for the M90z model. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.
12,000 G-T-C TIRES FOR SUV & LIGHT TRUCKS RECALLED
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration says GTC North America is recalling size P235/75R15 tires made between September 2008 and December 2009. The company says the treads of the tires may chunk off, which could lead to a crash. A total of 12,289 tires are included in the recall.
THE COMPANY IS WILLING TO REPLACE THE TIRES, FREE OF CHARGE. THE SAFETY RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN DURING MARCH 2012. OWNERS MAY CONTACT GTC AT 1-330-498-5000. OWNERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV .03/10/2012
VEHICLE RECALL UPDATE: NISSAN, VOLVO
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Nissan and Volvo have recalled thousands of vehicles this week for potential safety defects.
Volvo is recalling 17,000 of the 2012 S60, XC60, S80 AND XC70 model due to a potential wire harness failure, which can cause the airbag system to improperly deploy or not deploy at all. The wire harness is connected to the front seats, which may malfunction when the seats are adjusted.
A total of 23,531 of the Nissan Quest models manufactured from July 29, 20010 through February 21 , 2012. The company reports that those vehicles with 1/4 of a tank of fuel or less may stall when traveling downhill at slow speed. Nissan claims it's due to a software problem that can be fixed by reprogramming the fuel pump at no cost to owners.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Nissan is recalling 79,275 vehicles for a potential fire hazard linked to a fuel pressure sensor. The recall involves 2011-2012 NISSAN JUKE, INFINITI QX AND INFINITI M VEHICLES.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fuel pressure sensors may not have been tightened properly during manufacture, and road vibration could cause the sensor to loosen to the point of causing a fuel leak.
Honda is also recalling 8,709 of the 2012 PILOT AND ACURA MDX VEHICLES, for a potential fuel system leak. According to the NHTSA the fuel vent shut assembly may be defective, causing a fuel leak and possible fire hazard. Click here for Honda NHTSA announcement.
NHTSA reports that 45,747 of the MODEL YEAR 2008-2009 ODYSSEY VEHICLES, due to a possible manufacturing defect in the rear power lift gate system, involving support struts, which are filled with pressurized gas. Full text on NHTSA announcement,click here.
GOODYEAR RECALLS 40,000 WRANGLER TIRES MADE IN 2009
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Goodyear is recalling certain Wrangler Silent Armor tires, sizes LT235/80R17 LRE, LT325/60R18 LRE, LT275/70R18 LRE, LT265/70R17 LRE, LT245/75R17 LRE, and LT285/70R17 LRD, produced from the 9th week of 2009, through the 22nd week of 2009 (March 31st through May 31st). These tires may experience a partial tread area separation under certain severe usage conditions. Partial tread separation could lead to vehicle damage when the separated tread strikes the vehicle. A tread separation could also cause a tire failure that could result in a motor vehicle crash. Goodyear will notify owners and replace the tires free of charge. The safety recall is expected to begin on or before March 22, 2012. Owners may contact Goodyear at 1-800-592-3267. For more information for this recall, Click here for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notice.
FUEL, FOOD PRICES SEND CONSUMER PRICE INDEX UP .2% IN JANUARY
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased
0.2 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months,
the all items index increased 2.9 percent before seasonal adjustment.
The indexes for food, energy, and all items less food and energy all
rose in January, each increasing 0.2 percent. Within the food group,
the index for food away from home increased while the index for food
at home was unchanged; within the energy group the gasoline index
increased while the index for household energy declined.
Within all items less food and energy, the apparel index rose
sharply, and the indexes for shelter, recreation, medical care, and
tobacco increased as well. The indexes for used cars and trucks and
for airline fares both declined, while the new vehicles index was
The all items index has risen 2.9 percent over the last 12 months, a
slight decrease from last month's 3.0 percent figure. The index for
energy has risen 6.1 percent over the last year and the food index
4.4 percent; both figures are slight declines from last month. The
index for all items less food and energy has risen 2.3 percent, its largest 12-month increase since September 2008.
FDA ISSUES WARNING FOR CREST, ARM AND HAMMER "SPINBRUSH" TOOTHBRUSHES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom-According to the Food and Drug Administration, some users of of the battery-powered Arm & Hammer Spinbrush—or the Crest Spinbrush, as it was called before 2009, have reported injuries due to broken fragments.
“It’s important that consumers know how to avoid the risks associated with using the Spinbrush,” says Shumaya Ali, M.P.H., a consumer safety officer at the Food and Drug Administration. “We’ve had reports in which parts of the toothbrush broke off during use and were released into the mouth with great speed, causing broken teeth and presenting a choking hazard.”
FDA regulates toothbrushes—whether manual or electric—as medical devices that are intended to help prevent tooth decay. Safety precautions should be taken with all kinds of electric toothbrushes.
“Electric toothbrushes can be very effective in removing dental plaque, and so they can help prevent dental decay and gum disease,” says Susan Runner, D.D.S., chief of FDA’s dental devices branch. “At the same time, it’s important to supervise children when they use these brushes, and to look out for any malfunctions of the toothbrush that might cause an injury.”
Injuries reported from using the Spinbrush powered toothbrush include
chipped or broken teeth
cuts to the mouth and gums
swallowing and choking on broken pieces
injury to the face and eyes
FDA is alerting the public about the potential for injury while using the following models of Spinbrush:
Spinbrush ProClean Recharge
Spinbrush Pro Whitening
Spinbrush SONIC Recharge
Spinbrush Classic Clean
Spinbrush For Kids
Spinbrush Replacement Heads
Parts Popping Off
The Spinbrush handle contains batteries and a motor that operates the brushes, which are attached to a brush head. In the models of Spinbrush made for adults, the brush head is removable and can be replaced.
But the brush head should not pop off during normal use, says Ali. “In some cases, the brush head popped off to expose metal pieces underneath that can—and have—poked individuals in the cheek and areas near the eyes, causing injuries.”
The “Spinbrush for Kids” models, which have different handle designs, such as Spiderman and Thomas & Friends, do not have removable brush heads. Nonetheless, problems with the Spinbrush for Kids have also been reported, such as cut lips, burns from the batteries, and bristles falling off and lodging in a child’s tonsils.
“FDA’s concern is that the unexpected release of any part of this battery-powered toothbrush during use poses a risk of injury,” says Steven Silverman, director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “And the risk is higher in children or adults who may need assistance but are not supervised while using the toothbrush.”
FDA’s inspection last year of Church & Dwight Co. Inc., which manufactures the Spinbrush, uncovered evidence that there had been numerous consumer complaints that had not been reported to the agency. On May 16, 2011, FDA warned the company of its violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, including failure to report—within a reasonable time frame—serious injuries.
After further discussions with Church & Dwight about the risks of the battery-powered Spinbrush, the company has taken some actions:
improved the labeling to caution consumers to change the brush head every three months or sooner if the brush is worn or parts are loose
added bristles that change color with wear to give consumers a visual reminder of when to replace the brush head
issued a safety notice about Spinbrush in television and print ads; the safety notice also appears on the Spinbrush website and the interactive voice response to consumers who call the company’s toll-free telephone numbers.
Safety Notice: Please remember to replace your brush head after 3 months of use, or if the brush is damaged, or if parts become loose. Extended usage, loose parts or excessive wear could lead to brush head breakage, generation of small parts and possible choking hazard. Inspect brush for loose parts before use.
Before using the Spinbrush, inspect it for any damage or loose brush bristles. If you find any, do not use the brush. Report it to Church & Dwight, which can be reached toll-free at 1-800-352-3384 or 1-800-561-0752.
Make sure the brush head is connected tightly to the brush handle, and test the brush outside of your mouth before using. If the connection feels loose or the brush head easily detaches from the handle, do not use the brush. Report it to Church & Dwight.
Use care not to bite down on the brush head while brushing.
To prevent injuries, always supervise children and adults who may need assistance when using the Spinbrush.
Follow the instructions and recommended replacement guidelines included with the Spinbrush.
NEW FED CONSUMER PROTECTION AGENCY TAKES AIM AT DEBT COLLECTORS AND TELEMARKETERS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today announced a proposed rule to include debt collectors and consumer reporting agencies under its nonbank supervision program. This would mark the first time these important and far-reaching consumer financial market participants are subject to federal supervision.
“Consumer financial products and services have become more complex over the years and they have expanded well beyond traditional banks,” said Richard Cordray, CFPB Director. “Our proposed rule would mean that those debt collectors and credit reporting agencies that qualify as larger participants are subject to the same supervision process that we apply to the banks. This oversight would help restore confidence that the federal government is standing beside the American consumer.”
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the CFPB, authorizes the CFPB to supervise nonbanks in the specific markets of residential mortgage, payday lending, and private education lending. In addition, for other nonbank markets for consumer financial products or services, the CFPB has the authority to supervise “larger participants.” As directed by Dodd-Frank, the Bureau must define such “larger participants” by rule, and an initial such rule must be issued by July 21, 2012. Last summer, the CFPB sought public comment about possible markets to include in the initial rule and available data sources the Bureau could use to define larger participants in nonbank markets.
Debt collectors and consumer reporting agencies touch millions of American consumers. About 30 million Americans have debt under collection. For these consumers, the average amount under collection is $1,400. Three main kinds of debt collection firms dominate the market: firms that collect debt owned by another company in return for a fee; firms that buy debt and collect the proceeds for themselves; and debt collection attorneys and law firms that collect through litigation. A single company may collect through any or all of these activities.
Under the proposed rule, debt collectors with more than $10 million in annual receipts from debt collection activities would be subject to supervision. Based on available data, the CFPB estimates that the proposed rule would cover approximately 175 debt collection firms — or 4 percent of debt collection firms — and that these firms account for 63 percent of annual receipts from the debt collection market.
LEXUS GETS FIRST PLACE IN J.D. POWER RELIABILITY RATINGS / GM's CADILLAC TIES TOYOTA IN THIRD PLACE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The 2012 J.D. Power survey for vehicle reliability shows that most are improving. According to the survey, the dependability of 3-year-old vehicles has improved by 19 PP100 (problems experienced per 100 vehicles) from the 2011 dependability study, and averages 132 PP100 in 2012. This improvement is similar to the industry trend noted in the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Initial Quality StudySM (IQS). Further, vehicle reliability as measured in the VDS has improved at an average annual rate of 8% from 2009. In fact, overall long-term vehicle dependability is the strongest it has ever been, and the gap between initial quality and long-term dependability continues to close.
Toyota collected the best scores in eight different market segment awards, more than any other automaker in 2012. Its winners included the Lexus ES 350 -- in a tie with the Lincoln MKZ for entry-level luxury sedans. It won with the Lexus RX 350 for luxury crossovers, the Scion tC for sporty compacts, the Scion xB for multipurpose vehicles, the Toyota Prius for small sedans, Toyota Sienna for minivans, Toyota Tundra for large pickup trucks and Toyota Yaris for subcompacts
Ford topped three segments. The Ford Explorer – tie with the Nissan Murano – for top SUV, the Ford Fusion for passenger sedans and the Lincoln MKZ.
GM’s discontinued Buick Lucerne topped the large car category and its Chevrolet Equinox was ranked at the head of small crossovers and SUVs. Nissan Motor Co. also placed the Nissan Frontier at the top of the midsize pickup truck list. The Hyundai Genesis scored the highest for midsize luxury cars.
The study is based on responses from more than 31,000 original owners of 2009 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. They were asked about their vehicles between October and December 2011.
NISSAN VERSA MODEL RECALLED FOR TRANSMISSION DEFECTS
More from the Emeritus News Consumer Page - In their weekly announcements of vehicle defect announcements, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Nissan is recalling 36,608 Versa model for potential transmission problems.
The Versa model were manufactured between June 9, 2011 to January 13, 2012, for defects which may allow the transmission to be shifted out of "PARK" without pressing the brake pedal.
Nissan will notify owners and will will fix it free of charge.
THE SAFETY RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN ON FEBRUARY 20, 2012. OWNERS MAY CONTACT NISSAN AT 1-800-647-7261.
NEW FEDERAL RULES FOR AIRLINES TAKE EFFECT / ALSO INVOLVE AIRFARE PRICING
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Airline consumer rules issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation in April 2011, are taking effect this week, requiring that airlines and ticket agents include all mandatory taxes and fees in published airfares and that they disclose baggage fees to consumers buying tickets.
“Airline passengers have rights, and they should be able to expect fair and reasonable treatment when booking a trip and when they fly,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “The new passenger protections taking effect this week are a continuation of our effort to help air travelers receive the respect they deserve.”
Also beginning this week, passengers will be able to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if they make the reservation one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date. In addition, airlines will be required to promptly notify passengers of flight delays of over 30 minutes, as well as flight cancellations and diversions, and they will generally be prohibited from increasing the price of passengers’ ticket after it is bought.
The new rules also will make it easier for passengers to determine the full price they will have to pay for air transportation prior to travel. Currently, airlines and ticket agents are allowed to publish ads that list government-imposed taxes and fees separately from the advertised fare, as long as these taxes and fees are assessed on a per-passenger basis. However, sometimes the notice of these taxes and fees is not obvious to consumers. Under the new requirements, all mandatory taxes and fees must be included together in the advertised fare. The advertising provision takes effect Jan. 26, 2012 while all of the other consumer protections go into effect on Jan. 24 of this year.
The Department of Transportation has already fined four airlines this month for pricing problems. Icelandair was fined $50,000 for violating federal aviation laws and the Department’s rules prohibiting deceptive price advertising in air travel. The DOT claims Icelandair displayed internet advertisements for flights to Iceland and Europe for $429. Next to the fare was an asterisk but no further information, and the website contained no information about any additional taxes. Instead, once consumers clicked on the fare, they were taken to Icelandair’s homepage where they had to select a route before being taken to another page where tax and fee information was finally disclosed.
Icelandair’s website violated DOT rules requiring any advertising that includes a price for air transportation to state the full price to be paid by the consumer, including all carrier-imposed surcharges. The only exception currently allowed is government-imposed taxes and fees that are assessed on a per-passenger basis, such as passenger facility charges, which may be stated separately from the advertised fare but must be clearly disclosed in the advertisement so that passengers can easily determine the full price they must pay. Internet fare listings may disclose these separate taxes and fees through a prominent link next to the fare stating that government taxes and fees are extra, and the link must take the viewer directly to information where the type and amount of taxes and fees are displayed. The rules apply to both U.S. and foreign carriers as well as ticket agents.
The DOT fined Asiana Airlines, a carrier based in the Republic of Korea, and LOT Polish Airlines for violating federal aviation laws and the Department’s rules prohibiting deceptive price advertising in air travel. Asiana was fined $70,000 and LOT $60,000.
The DOT also assessed a civil penalty of $80,000 against Alitalia, an airline based in Italy, for violating an international treaty by limiting reimbursement to passengers whose baggage was lost or delayed on Alitalia flights to and from the United States.
VOTE ON S-O-P-A DELAYED / PRESSURE MOUNTS OVER INTERNET PIRACY BILL
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), announced today that next week's expected vote on the "Stop Online Piracy Act", will be delayed. A massive online protest by such sites as Google and Wikipedia, blocked some services Wednesday to rally opposition to SOPA.
In his statement released by his office today, Reid said,
"In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act.
"There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved. Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices. We live in a country where people rightfully expect to be fairly compensated for a day's work, whether that person is a miner in the high desert of Nevada, an independent band in New York City, or a union worker on the back lots of a California movie studio.
"I admire the work that Chairman Leahy has put into this bill. I encourage him to continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans' intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the internet. We made good progress through the discussions we've held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks."
U-S SUPREME COURT DELIVERS UNANIMOUS REVERSAL OF ATLANTA FEDERAL APPEALS COURT / ALLOWS FEDERAL LAWSUITS AGAINST DEBT COLLECTORS, TELEMARKETERS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Harassing phone calls from debt collectors and telemarketers can be taken to federal court as well as state courts. A unanimous U-S Supreme Court decision ruled federal courts can have jurisdiction over such suits relating to violations of federal laws such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta had reversed a lower court ruling which had granted federal jurisdiction to such lawsuits, in addition to state courts.
The case was filed by Marcus Mims of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who claimed Arrow Financial Services violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act with repeated recorded phone calls, trying to collect a student loan debt.
The U-S Supreme Court, in their unanimous decision ( MIMS v. ARROW FINANCIAL SERVICES, LLC).written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, stated,
"In the absence of direction from Congress stronger than any Arrow has advanced, we apply the familiar default rule: Federal courts have jurisdiction over claims that arise under federal law. Because federal law gives rise to the claim for relief Mims has stated and specifies the substantive rules of decision, the Eleventh Circuit erred in dismissing Mims’s case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction".
The entire case, which remains to be settled on other issues, was remanded back to the 11th Circuit Appeals Court with federal jurisdiction now established.
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Ford is recalling the 2001-2002 Escape SUVs and the 2004-2005 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monteray minivans. The total number of vehicles from the three models is estimated to be nearly 500,000.
Ford says the drive shafts in the Freestar and Monteray may fail causing a sudden loss of power.
The Escape SUV recall is another chapter of one from 2007 to fix a leak in brake system master cylinder, which could cause loss of braking and potentially cause a fire. Ford says some of the SUVs were not properly repaired repaired in the first recall.