While Republicans work to tighten the purse strings of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a number of Democrats -- including Democratic Natio...

While Republicans work to tighten the purse strings of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a number of Democrats -- including Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- are co-sponsoring a bill that would restrict the CFPB's ability to regulate payday lenders.

An activist group says it has gathered 40,000 signatures demanding Wasserman Schultz' ouster and today, television viewers in her South Florida district are seeing TV and cable ads that include a recent news clip in which she calls payday lending "unfortunately ... necessary."    "What’s truly ‘unfortunate’ is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is still refusing to put her constituents and millions of vulnerable Americans ahead of an industry that has given her more than $68,000 in campaign cash,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, a liberal advocacy group. 

Opponents of the measure Wasserman Schultz is co-sponsoring say it would encourage states to adopt the "Florida model" of regulating payday lenders, a model consumer groups have called "disastrous."

“The average borrower in Florida pays more than 300% interest and ends up taking out nine loans each year. They find themselves trapped in a cycle of debt while payday lenders rake in piles of cash they then turn around and donate to powerful politicians like Wasserman Schultz. How anyone could describe this racket as ‘necessary’ – unfortunate or not – is beyond me," Frisch said. 

The controversy is raging as the CFPB is expected to announce new national rules reigning in some of the worst abuses of the payday lending industry during a field hearing in Kansas City later this week.

It also coincides with a nasty spat between Wasserman Schultz and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has accused Wasserman Schultz and other party bosses of being openly biased in favor of apparent front-runner Hillary Clinton in the contest for the Democratic Presidential nomination. 

Sanders has called the fees charged by banks and other lenders "usury" and said he would open bank-like storefronts in post offices if elected. 

Frisch says Wasserman Schultz should withdraw her support for H.R. 4018, the "Consumer Protection and Choice Act," which would prohibit the CFPB from enforcing its payday rules in any state that had enacted its own regulations. 

Wasserman Schultz is one of nine Democratic co-sponsors of the bill, which has 15 Republican co-sponsors.  

Allied Progress said it is making an initial investment of $100,000 to air its ad on network and cable television beginning May 31 and will be running it for at least a week.

One claim Bernie Sanders hasn't made but could is that he is the only remaining Presidential candidate who doesn't have a legal issue hanging over his head...

One claim Bernie Sanders hasn't made but could is that he is the only remaining Presidential candidate who doesn't have a legal issue hanging over his head.

Hillary Clinton has the email server matter and Donald Trump is in the midst of fighting a lawsuit that says the "university" that bore his name relieved its students of up to $35,000 while imparting little of value to them.

Trump has repeatedly tried unsuccessfully to have the suit dismissed and on Friday he lost an attempt to keep documents related to the case under seal, as U.S. Distrit Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel agreed with the plaintiffs that the material should be made public.

The material includes documents detailing Trump University's dealing with students and with the press. Judge Curiel noted that much of the material has already been published and said much of it is "routine."

Trump didn't take well to the decision. Reuters reported that at a San Diego rally he called the judge a "hater" 

"We're in front of a very hostile judge. The judge was appointed by Barack Obama," Trump said, adding he believed Curiel was Mexican.

In fact, Curiel is an American who was born in East Chicago, Indiana, and graduated from the Indiana University School of Law, Reuters said.

Legal experts said Trump's remarks could get him in further hot water if the judge decided to hold him in contempt but said they didn't expect Curiel to do so.

Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has frequently made derogatory remarks about Hispanics, a major voting bloc in the U.S. 

The lawsuit in question is a class action that claims Trump University's "seminars" were little more than infomercials. 

Lead plaintiff Tarla Makaeff sued Trump and Trump University in 2010, claiming she spent $60,000 for one of the three-day workshops and got no benefit from it. Trump moved for summary judgment dismissing the claims, but in November 2015, Judge Curiel denied most of Trump's requests.

Donald Trump argued that he cannot be held liable for unfair competition and false advertising because he himself did not make any misrepresentations to students. But Makaeff testified that she paid for the program after seeing slides with statements from Trump such as, "You'll learn inside secrets from me," and, "This is the next best thing to being my apprentice."

The year-long housing market narrative has been one of rising prices, which has been cheered as a good economic sign.After all, the housing crash of 20...

The year-long housing market narrative has been one of rising prices, which has been cheered as a good economic sign.

After all, the housing crash of 2008-09 left millions of homeowners underwater and led to widespread foreclosures.

But real estate marketplace Zillow reports home prices are now rising faster than anyone expected. And it isn't due to a robust economy – it's because the supply of homes for sale has shrunk, making the homes that are on the market worth more.

In its existing home sales report for April, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said the median price for all types of homes was $232,500 – a gain of 6.3% year-over-year.

Zillow uses a different metric to measure home prices, and it places the median home price in the U.S. significantly less, at $187,000. Still, that's a 5% increase over the last 12 months and may be a cause for concern.

"The temporary relief from mortgage rates currently near three-year lows has helped preserve housing affordability this spring, but there's growing concern a number of buyers will be unable to find homes at affordable prices if wages don't rise and price growth doesn't slow," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist.

The Zillow report shows a wide gap in home prices, depending on the market. While prices seem to be rising in most markets, the median price appears to be reaching bubble proportions in some markets faster than others.

For example, in Dallas-Fort Worth, the median home price gained 12.6% in the last 12 months, but is only $183,000. San Francisco, meanwhile, saw a 10% appreciation in the median home price, which is now $806,800.

Using Zillow's national median home value of $187,000 as a baseline, the median home in Dallas is 2% below the national average. However, the median home in San Francisco is more than four times the national average.

Denver, the nation's hottest housing market, saw the median home value rise 15.2% in the last year to $336,600 – nearly twice the national average. The median home price in Los Angeles is $567,700, more than three times the national average.

But the median home prices in Houston, Detroit, and Atlanta remain well below Zillow's national average, yet values grew in all three metros last year by at least 6%.

If a housing bubble is forming, it isn't universally recognized. People in Atlanta aren't seeing it. But home buyers in markets where inventory is low and high-income jobs are plentiful certainly are.

House Republicans have submitted a budget bill that curbs the activities of two key regulatory agencies – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) a...

House Republicans have submitted a budget bill that curbs the activities of two key regulatory agencies – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In a statement, Rep. Harold Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the bill includes a provision to increase oversight of the CFPB. It would do that by changing how the agency's funding is approved.

Currently, CFPB's funding falls under Federal Reserve review. The budget bill would place it under Congress' control.

“This change will allow for increased accountability and transparency of the agency’s activities and use of tax dollars,” Rogers said.

The legislation would also alter the leadership structure of the CFPB from its current single Director to a five-member Commission. It would also require the CFPB to study the use of pre-dispute arbitration prior to issuing regulations.

CQ-Roll Call reports that Wall Street interests have long pushed for limits on the regulatory agency, which business interests have complained is overly aggressive.

The draft legislation also takes aim at the FCC. It cuts the agency's budget $43 billion below the administration's request, which would give the FCC less money than it got in Fiscal 2016.

The legislation would also bar the FCC from implementing its net neutrality order until certain court cases are resolved; would require newly proposed regulations to be made publicly available for 21 days before the Commission votes on them; would prohibit the agency from regulating broadband rates; and would halt further FCC activity on the recently proposed set-top box rule until a study is completed.

The Obama administration has proposed opening cable TV set-top box sales to competition, meaning subscribers could purchase their own box and not be required to rent one from their cable TV providers.

President Obama issued an executive order in April to start the move toward competition. The administration maintains that ending the set-top box monopoly would not only be less costly for consumers, but could open up more programming choices.

While the legislation may have an excellent chance of passing in the GOP-controlled Congress, it is highly unlikely Obama would sign a bill rolling back two pet consumer initiatives.

That could set up a budget showdown between the White House and Congress later in the year, just as the 2016 presidential race is in the home stretch.

The health risks of smoking while pregnant are well known. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that pregnant women who smoke, or ar...

Finding a partner whose views and opinions are perfectly in line with ours is unlikely. Even the most compatible couples may find themselves in a heated ar...

Finding a partner whose views and opinions are perfectly in line with ours is unlikely. Even the most compatible couples may find themselves in a heated argument from time to time.

But while arguing can be a healthy way for committed couples to communicate, experts say the way you argue could actually determine what type of health problem you'll experience later in life. 

Do you close yourself off from your partner, or do you dive headfirst into the argument? Either way, you could be setting yourself up for an undesirable ailment.

How you react during a conflict may predict certain health outcomes, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, and Northwestern University.

The decade-long study finds that those who shut down emotionally in an argument may be at an increased risk for a bad back or stiff muscles, while people prone to sudden outbursts of anger may experience cardiovascular problems later in life.

"Our findings reveal a new level of precision in how emotions are linked to health, and how our behaviors over time can predict the development of negative health outcomes," UC Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson, senior author of the study, said in a statement.

The study, published recently in the journal Emotion, looked at how people responded to their partner during an argument. Researchers tracked displays of anger in each of the 156 middle-aged participants.

Signs of “stonewalling” included a stiff face, rigid neck muscles, and avoidance of eye contact. This style of confrontation, marked by “away” behavior, was found to predict muscle tension later in life.

Spouses who tended to display more overt anger responses were at greater risk of developing chest pain, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular problems over time.

The study, which was based on 20 years of data, controlled for such factors as age, education, exercise, smoking, alcohol use, and caffeine consumption.

Neither of the above styles of confrontation are necessarily healthy for a relationship. So how can you fight fair when an argument arises? 

The Memorial Day weekend came and went without headlines or viral videos about excessive waits to get through airport security. There were still extended w...

The Memorial Day weekend came and went without headlines or viral videos about excessive waits to get through airport security. There were still extended waits at some airports, but nothing like the breakdowns that occurred the previous week.

While things may have temporarily improved, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials say there will be no quick and easy fix. TSA, Congress, and the Airlines have blamed one another for the mess and passengers seem to blame all three.

“Blame is great but it doesn’t solve anything,” said Guy McHendry, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Creighton University.

A communications expert, McHendry has studied the delays at security checkpoints as a communication issue. He says he's observed several problems.

McHendry says TSA has very little communication directed at consumers who rarely travel by air. When confronted with security procedures, their lack of understanding of what is expected from them can slow things down.

He notes that TSA has blamed passengers, in part, for the bottlenecks since they aren't prepared when they reach the checkpoint. But whose fault is that, he asks?

“Seasoned travelers have it down to a science, they do it so regularly,” McHendry said. “But there’s another segment of travelers, arguably a larger segment, that doesn’t fly very often and, therefore, they see security as an interruption and inconvenience and they don’t always understand what it is they’re supposed to do at a checkpoint.”

McHendry says clearer statements of the expectations, better signage, and a cheerful TSA screener walking lines and providing helpful reminders could help move the process along. Better communication, he says, might also reduce the number of prohibited items that show up at checkpoints, contributing to delays.

Finally, McHendry says better TSA internal communication might help morale and slow the turnover of personnel that has contributed to staff shortages.

Another possible reason for the security bottlenecks may have its origins in drills conducted late last year. TSA officials carried out a number of operations in which people purposefully tried to get prohibited items through the security lines.

Officials were chagrined to find that it was relatively easy to do. Early this year TSA screeners expanded their screening duties to ensure no banned items made it onto the aircraft.

According to a new report, 419 million people (22% of the world’s smartphone users) are now using mobile ad-blocking technology.PageFair's numbers also...

According to a new report, 419 million people (22% of the world’s smartphone users) are now using mobile ad-blocking technology.

PageFair's numbers also indicate that 408 million people are using mobile browsers that block ads by default.

Smartphone users in China account for 159 million instances of mobile ad-blocking, while India is home to 122 million people using browsers that block ads.

Mobile ad-blocking isn’t as quite as prevalent in Europe and here in North America, where there were 14 million monthly active users of mobile ad-blocking browsers as of March 2016.

Nancy Hill, CEO of 4A’s, says these numbers validate a long-standing concern in the digital media industry. The report also highlights a need for advertisers to rethink their marketing strategies.

“Consumers are pushing back on mobile and online ads,” said Hill in a statement. “Now is the time for advertising professionals and marketers to take a hard look at ourselves to understand why consumers are not responding to these types of ads, and figure out how we can correct the issue to better engage with the consumers we’re trying to reach.”

An earlier discussion, which sought the opinions of global stakeholders, delved into topic of sustainable advertising on the 'blocked web'. A report on the outcome of the discussion can be viewed here. 

Introduced for the 2012 model year, the Buick Verano sedan is now cruising toward the off-ramp.General Motors has announced it will end production of t...

General Motors has announced it will end production of the vehicle later this year, after an abbreviated 2017 production run.

The reason appears to be self-evident. The Verano never lived up to expected sales. It's timing was also bad. Falling gasoline prices in late 2014 reignited consumers' love affair with the SUV. Buick has spent more of its resources promoting its Encore and Enclave SUV models.

“When we’re thinking about where we’re investing for the future, with the whole market moving toward SUVs, that’s where we want to put our investment,” Buick spokesman Stuart Fowle told the Detroit News.

Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, says the cancellation of the Verano coincides with the elimination of the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200. He says all three moves point to a big shift in the U.S. auto market.

“The growing popularity of SUVs, along with the introduction of so many smaller utilities offering low MSRPs and high fuel efficiency, is making midsize and small sedans appear redundant in the minds of many consumers,” Brauer said in an email to ConsumerAffairs.

“When faced with a choice between an SUV and sedan that both cost about the same and offer roughly the same fuel efficiency, consumers overwhelmingly choose the SUV.”

Could the sedan disappear from American highways? Brauer says the current trend will make it harder for car companies to justify them within a given brand’s model range.

Ironically, the Verano performed well with automotive experts, even if it failed to get consumers' attention. In late February, the Verano came in third in J.D. Power's Vehicle Dependability Study, outperforming other models in its class.

But Buick also had another model that did well in the rankings. The Buick Encore, a small SUV, ranked highest for dependability in its class. It also happens to be Buick's best-selling car.

When you think of catching scam artists, you may think of the Federal Trade Commission, FBI, or some other law enforcement agency. But a recent arrest of f...

When you think of catching scam artists, you may think of the Federal Trade Commission, FBI, or some other law enforcement agency. But a recent arrest of five accused scammers came about after a tip to the U.S. Senate Aging Committee's fraud hotline.

At a hearing last year, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) had called for increased law enforcement action to combat an emerging scam in which individuals impersonate IRS agents. After the tip, five individuals were arrested.

“These predators make people afraid to answer their own phones and prey on people’s sense of responsibility—they deserve to go to prison,” said McCaskill, a former courtroom prosecutor, speaking of con artists in general. “We need more aggressive action taken against scam artists like this, and I hope this is the start of many arrests for perpetuating this scam.”

According to the court documents, the suspects are responsible for nearly $2 million in schemes that defrauded more than 1,500 victims.

Thousands of Americans, many of them elderly, have been victims of the scam in which criminals claim to be IRS officials and threaten victims with legal action or arrest unless immediate payment is made.

According to government figures, at least 400,000 Americans have been targeted, with several thousand having been defrauded out of a total of nearly $15 million dollars. The IRS impersonation scam has been called the “largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of the IRS.”

At that hearing, McCaskill said, “If you get a call from the IRS out of the blue, don’t answer it — let it go to voicemail.” The IRS has dispensed the same advice.

However, Congress last winter muddied the waters, passing two measures that would require the IRS to use private debt collectors and to allow them to use robocalls, making it much harder for citizens to defend themselves.

The epidemic of student debt has led to any number of bogus debt relief schemes. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the state of Florida last week took...

Another drop -- the second in as many months -- for consumer confidence.The Conference Board reports its Consu...

The Conference Board reports its Consumer Confidence Index, fell to 92.6 in May from 94.7 a month earlier.

Both the Present Situation Index and the Expectations Index were lower, dropping from 117.1 to 112.9, and 79.7 to 79.0, respectively.

A large part of the decline was due to consumers rating current conditions less favorably than in April. In addition, “Expectations declined further,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, “as consumers remain cautious about the outlook for business and labor market conditions. Thus, they continue to expect little change in economic activity in the months ahead.”

Consumers’ assessment of current conditions weakened in May, with the percentage seeing business conditions as “good” improving from 24.2% to 25.9%, but those saying business conditions are “bad” also increasing -- from 18.2% to 21.6%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was less favorable. The proportion who think jobs are “plentiful” was virtually unchanged at 24.3%; however, those who say they are “hard to get” rose from 22.8% to 24.4%.

Consumers were less optimistic about the short-term outlook than last month. Those who expect business conditions to improve over the next six months rose from 13.8% to 15.1%, while those expecting them to worsen also rose -- from 10.8% to 11.6%.

The outlook for the labor market also was less favorable. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead was roughly the same at 12.8%; those anticipating fewer jobs jumped from 16.7% to 18.1%.

The proportion of consumers who see their incomes rising improved from 15.8% to 16.2%, while those expecting a reduction held at 12.4%.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was May 19.

The Commerce Department reports that personal income increased $69.8 billion, or 0.4% in April, while disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after personal current taxes -- rose $63.5 billion, or 0.5%.

Wages and salaries were up $38.6 billion, after rising $30.7 billion in March. With that, private wages and salaries increased $37.2 billion, and government wages and salaries increased $1.4 billion.

Personal outlays -- PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments -- soared to $121.7 billion in April, compared with an increase of just $1.8 billion in March.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was down to $751.1 billion in April from $809.4  billion the month before. As a result, the personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- dropped to 5.4%, from 5.9%.

A leading measure of U.S. home prices shows increases in value continued during March.On a year-over-year basis, the S&P;/Case-Shiller U.S. National Ho...

On a year-over-year basis, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, posted a 5.2% gain with the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composites’ year-over-year gains unchanged at 4.7% and 5.4%, respectively, from the previous month.

The highest gains among the 20 cities with another month of annual price increases came in Portland, Seattle, and Denver. Portland led the way with a 12.3% surge, followed by Seattle at 10.8%, and Denver with an increase of 10.0%. Ten cities reported greater price increases in the year ending March 2016 versus the year ending February 2016.

“The economy is supporting the price increases with improving labor markets, falling unemployment rates and extremely low mortgage rates,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director & chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“Another factor behind rising home prices is the limited supply of homes on the market. The number of homes currently on the market is less than 2% of the number of households in the U.S. -- the lowest percentage seen since the mid-1980s.”

The National Index was up 0.7% in March, with the 10-City Composite recording a 0.8% month-over-month increase while the 20-City Composite rose 0.9%. Six cities saw prices rise, one city was unchanged, and prices dropped in 13 cities.

Noble House Home Furnishings of Chatsworth, Calif., is recalling about 2,000 counter stools. The kick plates of the counter stools can have a sharp...

The kick plates of the counter stools can have a sharp edge, posing a laceration hazard to consumers.

This recall involves Noble House’s Louigi and Tate counter stools with solid wood legs and a metallic kick pate.

The Louigi black leather counter stool has a backrest and measures about 18 inches wide by 26 inches deep by 41 inches tall. The backless Tate counter stools were sold in white or brown and measure about 16.5 inches wide by 16.5 inches deep by 27 inches tall.

“MADE BY: PERMAISURI CO., LTD: No. 30 YUANCUO ROAD HONGSHANQIAO, FUZHOU, FUJIAN 350002 CHINA” is stamped on a tag on the underside of the stool’s seat.

The stools, manufactured in China and Vietnam, were sold online at Amazon.com, ATC.com, eBay.com, Greatdealfurniture.com, Groupon.com, Houzz.com, Overstock.com and Wayfair.com from October 2013, through March 2015, for about $120.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled stools and remove the kick plates from the stools and contact Noble House for free replacement kick plates, including shipping.

Consumers may contact Noble House toll-free at 888-600-6376 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online at www.noblehousefurniture.com and click on the Safety Recall link at the bottom of the page.

American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 1,786,115 model year 2003-2006 Acura MDX; 2005-2011 Acura RL; 2005-2006 Honda CR-V; 2003-2011 Element; 2007-2008 Fit;...

American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 1,786,115 model year 2003-2006 Acura MDX; 2005-2011 Acura RL; 2005-2006 Honda CR-V; 2003-2011 Element; 2007-2008 Fit; 2003-2008 Pilot; 2002-2004 Odyssey; and 2006-2011 Ridgeline vehicles.

These vehicles were sold or were once registered, in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or "Zone A."

Additionally, unless included in "Zone A" above, Honda is recalling certain model year 2003-2006 Acura MDX; 2005-2008 Acura RL; 2005-2006 Honda CR-V; 2003-2008 Element; 2007-2008 Fit; 2003-2008 Pilot; 2002-2004 Odyssey; and 2006-2008 Ridgeline vehicles originally sold, or that have ever been registered, in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, or "Zone B."

Lastly, unless included in "Zone A" or "Zone B" above, Honda is recalling model year 2002-2004 Odyssey and model year 2003-2004 Acura MDX, Honda Element, and Honda Pilot vehicles originally sold, or registered, in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

These vehicles are equipped with certain air bag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules, and used as original equipment or replacement equipment. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the front airbags, these inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to absolute humidity and temperature cycling.

An inflator rupture may result in metal fragments striking the vehicle occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger frontal air bag inflator, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin June 27, 2016.

Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's numbers for this recall are KA0, KA1, KA2, and KA3.

Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) is recalling 38,628 model year 2006-2007 Lancers and Lancer Evolutions manufactured June 29, 2005, to June 19, 2007,...

Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) is recalling 38,628 model year 2006-2007 Lancers and Lancer Evolutions manufactured June 29, 2005, to June 19, 2007, equipped with certain airbag inflators.

In the event of a crash necessitating airbag deployment, these inflators may rupture due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to absolute humidity and temperature cycling.

An inflator rupture may result in metal fragments striking the vehicle occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

MMNA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the passenger front airbag inflator, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact MMNA customer service at 1-888-648-7820. MMNA's number for this recall is SR-16-002.  

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 39,217 model year 2012-2016 Fiat 500s equipped with a manual transmission, manufactured June 21, 2010, through January 1...

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 39,217 model year 2012-2016 Fiat 500s equipped with a manual transmission, manufactured June 21, 2010, through January 12, 2016.

The clutch diaphragm spring may fracture and fail, causing an inability to switch gears and increasing the risk of a crash.

The remedy for this recall will include the installation of a clutch pedal limiter and a clutch pedal switch. Interim notices will be mailed to owners in June 2016. Owners will receive a second notice when remedy parts become available.

Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is S34.

The worst fears of U.S. health officials appear to have been realized.A Department of Defense document reveals that bacteria that cannot be killed by e...

A Department of Defense document reveals that bacteria that cannot be killed by existing antibiotics has shown up in the U.S. for the first time. The patient is a 49-year old woman in Pennsylvania.

The woman, treated at a military installation for a urinary tract infection, was infected with a strain of E. coli that has been shown to be resistant to nearly all drugs. What makes the strain so scary is that it includes the so-called “super bug,” something called mcr-1.

In addition, the bacteria has a total of 15 genes that provide antibiotic resistance and can move easily from one germ to another.

The authors of the report said the patient reported no travel outside the U.S. in the past five months. They write that it is unclear where the mcr-1 got here. Researchers have done extensive testing of all other E. coli samples they have encountered but have not found any traces. However, they concede they have only been testing for three weeks.

In a statement, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said the state health department is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track down the source.

“We are taking the emergence of this resistance gene very seriously and we will take necessary actions to prevent mcr-1 from becoming a widespread problem with potentially serious consequences,” Wolf said. "The safety of Pennsylvanians is our utmost priority.”

The emergence of a super bug resistant to all drugs may have its roots in an over abundance of antibiotics. Health officials have warned for years that doctors were prescribing too many of the drugs, which allows the germs they fight to gradually build up an immunity.

Even before the confirmed arrival of the mcr-1, a report by the CDC found at least 2 million people in the U.S. become infected each year with bacteria that are increasingly harder to contain with antibiotics. The report said at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.

Scientists say drug resistance is not limited to changes inside a person taking antibiotics. They say the resistance also takes place in the environment.

Olya Keen, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at UNC Charlotte, completed research last year that pointed a finger at treatments used to clean wastewater that she says may actually be making the problem worse.

A $25 million U.S. government study has found a link between cellphones and cancer. The National Toxicology Program's multiyear study found links to two ty...

A $25 million U.S. government study has found a link between cell phones and cancer. The National Toxicology Program's multiyear study found links to two types of brain and heart tumors in rats exposed to the radio frequencies commonly used by cell phones.

In the brain, gliomas affect the gluey tissue that holds the neurons in place. Schwannomas generally affect hearing-related nerves when they occur in the brain. In the heart, they affect neurons and are generally benign but malignant heart schwannomas were found among the rats in the study. 

While the number of tumors was small, scientists said any incidence was worrying, given the massive number of people who use cell phones regularly worldwide.

“Given the widespread global usage of mobile communications among users of all ages, even a very small increase in the incidence of disease resulting from exposure to [radio-frequency radiation] could have broad implications for public health,” an early version of the study said. 

The NTP's report said the types of tumors found in the rats "are of a type similar to tumors observed in some epidemiology studies of cell phone use." It said the findings "appear to support" the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) conclusions regarding the possible carcinogenic effects of cell phone radiation.   

The NTP undertook the study at the direction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) helped to oversee it and earlier this week noted that there was "limited evidence of an increased risk for developing cancer from cell phone use."

While rats and humans are not identical, rats are commonly used in cancer studies because their reactions to various carcinogens are similar to humans. The report released today covers only findings affecting the brain and heart. Additional findings will be released later, the NTP said. 

The test was constructed so that the radiation level the rats received was "not very different" from what humans are exposed to when they use cell phones, said Chris Portier, former associate director of the NTP, Mother Jones reported.

Portier said the findings should be a wake-up call for the scientific establishment. "I think this is a game changer," he said. "We seriously have to look at this issue again in considerable detail," according to the Mother Jones report.

"The NTP does the best animal bioassays in the word," Portier added, the Mother Jones article said. "Their reputation is stellar. So if they are telling us this was positive in this study, that's a concern."

The wireless industry in the U.S. has long proclaimed, without any definitive evidence, that cell phones are harmless. CTIA, the wireless industry's trade group, no longer lists cancer as a topic on its website's Policy & Initiatives page. 

Cell phones emit what is called non-ionizing radio-frequency radiation (RFR). Ionizing radiation is a well-accepted human carcinogen, but the wireless industry and others have argued that there is no evidence that non-ionizing radiation could induce tumors.

For the study, rats were housed in custom-designed reverberation chambers and exposed to cell phone 900 MHz RFR, using both GSM and CDMA modulation, the two types that are in general use worldwide.

Exposures began in utero and continued over a period of approximately 18 hours using a continuous cycle of 10 minutes on (exposed) and 10 minutes off (not exposed), for a total daily exposure time of approximately 9 hours a day for 7 days per week.

A low incidence of malignant gliomas and glial cell hyperplasia was observed in all groups of male rats exposed to GSM-modulated RFR. In males exposed to CDMA-modulated RFR, a low incidence of malignant gliomas occurred. No malignant gliomas or glial cell hyperplasias were observed in specimens of the control group, the NTP report said. 

In females exposed to GSM-modulated RFR, a malignant glioma was observed in a single rat. Glial cell hyperplasia was also observed in a single rat. In females exposed to CDMA-modulated RFR, malignant gliomas were observed in two rats. Glial cell hyperplasia was observed in one female in each of the CDMA-modulation exposure groups. There was no glial cell hyperplasia or any of the seven malignant glioma observed in females of the control group. 

Cardiac schwannomas were observed in male rats in all exposed groups of both GSM- and CDMA-modulated RFR, while none were observed in the control groups. For both the GSM and CDMA modulations, there was a "significant positive trend" in the incidence of schwannomas of the heart, according to the NTP report.

Have you ever seen a commercial that made a product look so appealing that you wanted to go out and buy it right away? Marketers hope the answer to that qu...

Fuel-efficient cars are great, but they're not doing much for highway construction and maintenance. Since they burn less -- or, in the case of electric car...

Fuel-efficient cars are great, but they're not doing much for highway construction and maintenance. Since they burn less -- or, in the case of electric cars, no -- fuel, they're paying less in gas tax at the pump, which is putting a dent in states' highway funds.

Some states have been thinking about charging a surtax for plug-in vehicles, but in a paper to be published in the August issue of Energy Policy, researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis say that approach is misguided. 

At least eight states have imposed a vehicle registration fee, ranging from $50 to $200, for alternative-fuel vehicles: Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Virginia also penalizes purchasers of new vehicles with an extremely high property tax rate that can cost $1,000 or more per year. This discourages consumers from buying newer, fuel-efficient cars, but counties have grown accustomed to the money and don't want to give it up.

Despite the discriminatory penalties, researchers say that plug-in cars are responsible for only 1.6 percent of the erosion in gas tax revenues.

Other factors identified by Jerome Dumortier and Seth Payton, assistant professors in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Matthew Kent, a former graduate student, are the increasing fuel efficiency of vehicles in general and the failure to adjust the gas tax for inflation.

"The lesson for policymakers is that plug-in vehicles do not contribute significantly to the funding shortfall in the short- and medium run, and a supplemental tax on plug-in vehicles would generate only a small percentage of additional revenue," Dumortier said. "We show that the majority of the funding shortfall is due to the non-adjustment of fuel taxes and the increase in fuel efficiency. Thus a registration fee would not alleviate the funding shortfall."

Besides, penalizing owners of plug-in vehicles flies in the face of policies intended to promote their use due to concerns about energy independence, energy efficiency, and greenhouse gas emissions, Dumortier said, and doesn't take into account the extremely small number of electric cars on the road.

In the long run, the United States should shift its road infrastructure funding away from gasoline taxes to an alternative system that should be, as most research suggests, based on vehicle miles traveled, according to the paper. 

Here's an unpleasant thought as you head to the airport for a quick Memorial Day weekend excursion: the security checkpoints are a mess and won't get bette...

Here's an unpleasant thought as you head to the airport for a quick Memorial Day weekend excursion: the security checkpoints are a mess and won't get better anytime soon.

That was the assessment this week from both airline executives and officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which has already made major leadership changes.

TSA administrator Peter Neffenger told a Congressional committee this week that the agency has done what it can to shorten lines, promoting some part-time screeners to full-time and making other adjustments, but said it still lacks staffing to handle this summer's peak travel.

The summer has not yet begun and already video of nightmarish lines at Chicago's O'Hare Airport have gone viral on YouTube. The result has been turmoil, according to American Airlines executive Kerry Philipovitch.

Philipovitch told the committee that more than 70,000 American Airlines passengers have missed their flights because they could not get through the security checkpoints in time. In addition, he said 40,000 checked bags failed to get loaded.

If Congress is looking for the culprit, David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, says lawmakers should look in the mirror. In an op-ed, Cox charges lawmakers with trying to have it both ways.

“Transportation Security Officers have asked for more staffing resources for years, but our call has fallen on deaf ears in an austerity-obsessed Congress,” Cox wrote. “After years of neglect, it's no wonder the situation has gotten as dire as it is today. And if something isn't done soon, the waits will only get longer and longer.”

Cox says the TSA officer force has dropped from 47,000 in 2013 to 42,000 today. All the while, he notes air travel has increased. He says passenger volume at U.S. airports has jumped 15 percent to 740 million a year.

But TSA officials themselves conceded to Congress this week that some organizational reforms might also go a long way toward addressing the problem, at least in the short run. And there is evidence that it has.

The Chicago Tribune reported Friday that a management shake-up at the Chicago TSA office coincided with a dramatic drop in wait times to get through security. It said average wait times dropped to eight minutes at O'Hare and nine minutes at Midway.

TSA is still advising travelers to get to the airport two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights.

For many moms, Facebook is a stage on which to showcase their picture-perfect parenting. But are some moms more likely to seek validation through ‘likes’ a...

For many moms, Facebook is a stage on which to showcase their picture-perfect parenting. But are some moms more likely to seek validation through ‘likes’ and comments than others?

According to a new study, the answer is yes. Researchers from Ohio State University found that moms in two camps tend to post more frequently than others to Facebook: those who feel societal pressure to be perfect moms, and those who identify very strongly with their motherhood role.

The same mothers also reported feeling bad if, for instance, a photo they posted of their new baby didn’t get enough positive comments. This disappointment could result in a mixed bag of emotions for new moms, researchers say.

Lead author of the study and professor of human sciences at Ohio State University, Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, says the results suggest that some mothers may gravitate toward Facebook for the wrong reason. Namely, to be assured that they are a good mother.

“If a mother is posting on Facebook to get affirmation that she’s doing a good job and doesn’t get all the ‘likes’ and positive comments she expects, that could be a problem. She may end up feeling worse,” Schoppe-Sullivan said in a statement.

Indeed, Schoppe-Sullivan and her team found that moms who posted more on Facebook reported more depressive symptoms after nine months of parenthood.

Women who uploaded their child’s photo as their profile picture were found to identify more strongly with their role as a mother than those who didn't. 

“What these mothers are saying is that my child is central to my identity, at least right now. That’s really telling,” Schoppe-Sullivan said.

She adds that these types of mothers are also more likely to pay close attention to -- and be more emotionally affected by -- the comments rolling in beneath a photo of their baby. Either the outpouring of likes and comments would leave them feeling validated, or the lack thereof would cause them to feel disappointed.

Jill Yavorsky, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State, wasn't surprised by these results given the fact that, "the easiest way for women in our society to get validation is still through being a mother because other roles that women take on are still not as valued.”

Kids rarely regard food as anything more than fuel. And the rare meal that isn’t mom-curated is usually selected by a child’s taste buds.Pondering how ...

Kids rarely regard food as anything more than fuel. And the rare meal that isn’t mom-curated is usually selected by a child’s taste buds.

Pondering how food choices affect the planet generally isn't on the menu among middle school-aged children -- but soon, a new app may change that.

The University of Illinois has begun developing a new educational software application that will introduce middle school students to the topic of climate change and show them how the food they eat affects the environment.

Students who use the Food for Thought computer app can drag food selections to a virtual plate on the screen. The app will then tally the nutritional data and carbon footprint associated with each item and reveal just how much Mother Earth will be sacrificing to produce the meal.

Curriculum and instruction professor, Emma Mercier, says the app focuses on two main learning goals: to make kids aware of the causes and impacts of climate change and help them become “data literate” -- which is to say, she adds, “knowledgeable consumers of the media.”

At the end of a nine-day curriculum on the topic of climate change, Mercier and her research team gathered together the children in their test group. Then, on a big computer screen, kids could enter the information they recorded in their food diaries over the weekend.

After kids looked at the carbon footprints associated with their meals, they were challenged to put together a calorie-sufficient meal that had the least impact on the planet.

"The excitement level -- and noise -- in this room was astounding," Mercier said in a statement. "The teachers who observed their students' work in the lab said that even the kids who are usually difficult to engage were very engaged with this activity.”

One student even said she was inspired to eat something other than a steak while out to dinner with her parents -- a true testament to the idea that kids are very much on board with the idea that small choices do matter.

Americans are living longer. That's the good news.The bad news is, longer life could mean you live your last years in poverty, if you end up outliving ...

The bad news is, longer life could mean you live your last years in poverty, if you end up outliving your money.

As you might expect, this is a growing fear among the aging population. Northwestern Mutual has released its 2016 Planning & Progress Study, showing two thirds of Americans think there is some chance that they will outlive their savings.

Drilling down in the numbers, the survey found that just over one third believe there is a better than 50% chance of that happening. Notably, 14% are convinced that will be their fate.

Despite this prevailing belief, the survey found that Americans aren't doing much about it. Just 21% reported increasing their savings while more than four in 10 say they have taken no steps at all.

Not only are Americans doubtful about their ability to save enough for retirement, they also express strong doubts about the government's minimal safety net – Social Security. Just 25% of those polled are very confident that Social Security will be there when they retire.

About 28%, in fact, mentioned uncertainty about Social Security as one of the main obstacles to having a financially secure retirement.

The survey found just 35% of Americans who have yet to retire expect that Social Security will be the major part of their retirement income compared to 49% of current retirees.

Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning for Northwestern Mutual, says the survey should serve as an incentive for Americans to get serious about their non-working years.

"The prospect of an extended retirement in an environment of diminishing safety nets makes it even more essential that your financial plan is flexible enough to stretch as long as needed," she said.

While money for retirement doesn't have to be contained in an account designated for that purpose, there are tax advantages to using a retirement account, like a 401(k) offered through your employer or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The advantage is that money grows without being taxed, until it is withdrawn.

Many people don't have access to retirement plans through their employers. To address that need, the government last year introduce MYra, a basic IRA that has no fees. It carries no risk of loss but returns only a small amount of interest.

Surveys have shown the biggest impediment to retirement savings is most people think they have enough trouble just paying the bills each month. Talking to a non-profit credit counselor or financial advisor may help you establish a savings plan, even if it is a very small amount each month.

Personal finance experts say that once a savings plan is in place, it will be easier to build on it over time.

It's true that dealers have a big weekend of Memorial Day sales ahead, but it appears the string of record new car sales will end in May.Both Edmunds.c...

It's true that dealers have a big weekend of Memorial Day sales ahead, but it appears the string of record new car sales will end in May.

Both Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book (KBB) are projecting lower car sales this month, with an estimated year-over-year decline of around 6%.

Edmunds estimates that 1,537,436 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in May for an estimated Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of 17.5 million. That would be a 2.3% gain over April's sales but a 5.8% decline from May 2015.

It would be no surprise for sales to slow this month, as industry analysts have predicted a peak for the last few months. Even though it sees a slowdown, Edmunds says that 2016 should still be a record, breaking last year's mark of 17.47 million new car sales.

"It's easy to look at May's sales and conclude that the retail car market is losing steam, but it's too soon to say for sure that auto sales are leveling off," said Edmunds.com Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell.

She says carmakers still have plenty of incentives in their promotional arsenals and will likely bring them out during the summer months, attracting consumers to new car showrooms. How consumers respond, she says, will tell the industry how the market is trending.

KBB is projecting a 6% year-over-year sales decline to a total of 1.53 million units, resulting in a SAAR of 17.4 million vehicles. KBB analysts Tim Fleming notes May has two fewer selling days and cautions not to read too much into May's final sales numbers.

"While this year may not bring the growth the industry has become accustomed to, it is important to remember that sales are still at record levels and economic factors point to continued strength in the near future," he said.

Fleming also believes the 2016 sales tally could end up being another record, with total sales approaching 18 million vehicles.

KBB projects General Motors (GM) will see the largest decline, mainly due to its shift away from emphasizing rental sales, selling fewer Chevrolet Cruze, Impala, and Equinox.

“GM is keeping the end-game in mind here; by reducing the volume of GM vehicles in rental fleets, the company will eventually see strengthened residual values," Fleming said.

Nissan could be May's big winner, benefiting from the redesigned Maxima. Fleming says the Maxima has proved an outlier to the overall decline in full-size car sales. Nissan should also get a boost from the Murano crossover, with projected sales growth of around 10%.

A second look at how the nation's economy was doing in the first quarter shows the growth rate was a bit stronger.The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)...

A second look at how the nation's economy was doing in the first quarter shows the growth rate was a bit stronger.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports real gross domestic product (GDP) -- the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy less the value of the goods and services used up in production, adjusted for price changes -- increased at an annual rate of 0.8%.

While that's a bit better than the 0.5% reported in the advance estimate released a month ago, it pales in comparison to the 1.4% growth rate chalked up in the final three months of 2015.

The increase in real GDP results from increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE), residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending.

Those advances were partly offset by declines in nonresidential fixed investment, exports, private inventory investment, and federal government spending. Imports -- a subtraction in the calculation of GDP -- decreased. 

The overall slowdown from the fourth quarter of last year reflects a larger decrease in nonresidential fixed investment, a deceleration in PCE, and a downturn in federal government spending. Those were offset -- in part -- by an upturn in state and local government spending, and a speedup in residential fixed investment.

The price index for gross domestic purchases -- GDP inflation -- increased 0.2% in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2016. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” GDP rate increased 1.4%, compared with a 1.0% advance in the final three months of last year.

Corporate profits were finally in the black. Following a plunge of $159.6 billion in the fourth quarter, they increased $6.5 billion in the first three months of this year.

BMW tweaked its 2016 X1 model and walked away with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) top award for safety.The key was earning a good ...

BMW tweaked its 2016 X1 model and walked away with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) top award for safety.

The key was earning a good small overlap rating. The driver's space was maintained reasonably well in the test, with maximum intrusion of about 4 inches at the lower door hinge pillar and at the instrument panel.

In the test of the previous version, intrusion reached 16 inches at the footwell, trapping the dummy's right foot.

Like its predecessor, the new X1 earns good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests.

The X1's newly available front crash prevention system earns an advanced rating from IIHS. In track tests at 12 mph, impact speed was reduced by an average of 10 mph.

In the 25 mph tests, impact speed was reduced by 7 mph. The system includes a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

To qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must have good ratings in all five crashworthiness tests and an available front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating.

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 487 aftermarket Mopar Canvas Seat Covers for certain 2012-2016 RAM 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks. These seat cover...

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 487 aftermarket Mopar Canvas Seat Covers for certain 2012-2016 RAM 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks.

These seat covers, sold through Chrysler dealerships beginning October 15, 2015, can impede the deployment of the seat thorax airbags.

If the seat cover impedes the air bag deployment, the seat thorax air bags may not provide adequate protection in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of a injury.

Chrysler will notify owners to remove the front seat covers and return them for a full refund. The recall is expected to begin June 30, 2016.

Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is S30.

Dakota Style Foods of Clark, S.D., has expanded its product recall to include 15,158 cases of sunflower kernels. The product may be contaminated wi...

Dakota Style Foods of Clark, S.D., has expanded its product recall to include 15,158 cases of sunflower kernels.

The sunflower kernels were distributed to 34 customers nation-wide, and are sold through retail outlets.

The affected lots are identified by lot codes 8B6M02, 8B6M09, 8B6M17, 8B6M18, 8B6M24, 8B6M25, 8C6M02, 8C6M08, 8C6M10, 8C6M28, 8C6M31 and 8D6M01.

The product comes in plastic packages bearing the company logo and product name, with the lot code located on the back right hand panel.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-446-2779 between 8:30 am and 5 pm (CST) Monday through Friday.

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 7,180 model year 2011-2016 Right Hand Drive Jeep Wranglers manufactured February 16, 2010, to May 2, 2016. The c...

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 7,180 model year 2011-2016 Right Hand Drive Jeep Wranglers manufactured February 16, 2010, to May 2, 2016.

Failure of the air bag circuit may prevent the driver's front air bag from deploying in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the clockspring, wheel back cover, and column shroud, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is S40.

General Motors is recalling 66 model year 2016 Chevrolet Malibus manufactured March 7, 2016, through March 12, 2016. The memory chip in the electro...

General Motors is recalling 66 model year 2016 Chevrolet Malibus manufactured March 7, 2016, through March 12, 2016.

The memory chip in the electronic brake control module (EBCM) may fail and cause the loss of electronically controlled brake systems including anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC). As such, these vehicles fail to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 126, "Electronic Stability Control Systems."

If the EBCM fails the primary braking system will still function, however, the loss of ABS and ESC increase the risk of a crash.

GM will notify owners, and dealers will install a replacement EBCM, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on June 10, 2016.

Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020). GM's number for this recall is 39440.

Hy-Vee, Inc., of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling six trail mix products across its eight-state region. The products may be contaminated with Li...

Hy-Vee, Inc., of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling six trail mix products across its eight-state region.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should discard or return them to their local Hy-Vee store for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact Hy-Vee customer care representatives 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-772-4098.

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 10,944 model year 2009-2016 Dodge Journeys manufactured July 31, 2007, to November 12, 2016. After exposure to c...

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 10,944 model year 2009-2016 Dodge Journeys manufactured July 31, 2007, to November 12, 2016.

After exposure to cold temperatures, the power steering return hose may rupture at engine start-up causing a loss of power steering assist.

A loss of power steering assist may require extra steering effort, especially at lower speeds, increasing the risk of a crash.

Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the power steering return hoses, steel tubes, and power steering oil cooler, free of charge. The recall began on May 24, 2016.

Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is S08.

Traditional cigarettes are really bad for you, but at least they don't blow up in your face, as e-cigarettes have been doing lately. In one of the most rec...

Traditional cigarettes are really bad for you, but at least they don't blow up in your face, as e-cigarettes have been doing lately. In one of the most recent cases, an Albany, N.Y., man said his e-cig blew up and knocked him to the ground.

“Like a M80 bomb went off in my mouth,” Kenneth Barbaro said. “When I hit the button, I saw a huge yellow light. The next thing I know, I’m on the floor and my arms are paralyzed.”

Barbaro was hospitalized with burns to his hands, knocked-out teeth, and a splt tongue, he said in a televised report.

“When it blows up in your face, you’re not having a good time,” he said in a televised news report.

In an even more serious case, an e-cig exploded on April 15, tearing through a man's eye, smashing two cheekbones, and starting a fire. Joseph Cavins, now blind in one eye, has filed a lawsuit against vaping retailers and distributors, Courthouse News Service reported.

He said he was working at his computer when his vaping device exploded, hitting him in the eye, then hitting the ceiling, and finally landing on top of the computer, where it started a fire.

Cavins, a public school counselor, underwent seven hours of surgery. Doctors removed his left eye and performed surgery to fix broken bones in his face and to repair his sinus cavity.

The problem, according to Cavins' lawsuit, is that the batteries in vaping devices have "an inherent risk of fire and explosion," exacerbated by what it says is the cheap construction and poor design of many of the devices. 

If the temperature inside the lithium-ion battery builds up high enough, it can cause an explosion that propels the battery "like a bullet or rocket," Cavins' suit says. 

The trouble with mass transit, of course, is that it is run by the government. What's wrong with that? You need only look at the Washington D.C. Metro syst...

The trouble with mass transit, of course, is that it is run by the government. What's wrong with that? You need only look at the Washington D.C. Metro system. Just a few decades ago, it was a bright and shining multi-billion-dollar symbol of what a subway system could be.

Now it's a dangerous, broken-down, unreliable symbol of what a subway system becomes when it's not properly maintained. A new general manager and federal safety officials are planning a yearlong series of sweeping shutdowns to do emergency repairs, threatening to paralyze a region that already has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country.

There is much hand-wringing throughout the D.C. region, which includes parts of Virginia and Maryland as well as the District of Columbia, as commuters ponder life without Metro.

The system is more than just an urban subway. As it rattles into the suburbs, it emerges above-ground and becomes a commuter railway -- offering expensive rides on crowded trains to the legions of federal workers and contractors who are the region's lifeblood and who persist in living in far-flung neighborhoods that put them at the mercy of the transit and highway bureaucrats.

It's a disaster in the making, but it's also an opportunity for Uber and other disruptive innovators to show what they can do -- at no cost to taxpayers. Uber is announcing today a $10 million initiative to promote its carpooling service and to expand service into all areas covered by Metrorail.

Of course, $10 million probably wouldn't be enough to fix one of Metro's chronically broken escalators, but Uber says it will be enough to put lots more Uber cars on the road, incentivize more drivers to work longer hours, and steer riders towards UberPool, its car-pool option.

Government types, like Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who represents parts of Northern Virginia, are skeptical.    

"Candidly, I don't know that the existing infrastructure -- Uber and private taxicab companies and so forth -- frankly have the capacity that's going to be required," Connolly said, according to Politico. He didn't mention, of course, that nobody thought about how they would maintain the Metro system before spending billions of dollars to build it in the first place.

If Uber has an Achilles' heel, other than having to share the region's miserable street system with everyone else, it is its propensity to slap riders with surcharges when demand is high.

Some riders paid 3.9 times the usual rate for an UberX ride during a March 16 emergency Metro shutdown. Uber isn't saying that won't happen again, but it is saying it is planning to "play it by ear" as the region adjusts to a "new normal."

The Washington area has always had a high percentage of carpoolers, thanks to high-occupancy (HOV) lanes on many of its freeways. The system is somewhat haphazard. Would-be riders, called "slugs," gather at informal but well-known pick-up spots and passing drivers, looking to zip along in the HOV lanes, pick them up.

It sounds scary, but it actually works quite well, except when government interferes with it and tries to restrict pick-ups in selected locations. Most slugs say they get a faster and much more comfortable ride in someone's back seat than they would crammed into a jolting, lurching Metro train. Not to mention that most such slug rides are free. 

If Uber's slick software can put riders together with empty seats in UberX cars, it could help Uber rise above some of the bad press it has received in places like Austin, Texas, where it recently had a much-publicized spat with local officials. 

It would be especially sweet for Uber if it could demonstrate -- directly under the nose of the federal government -- that it and other ride-hailing/sharing services can provide adequate transit without investing billions of taxpayer dollars and setting up bloated, slow-moving bureacracies to mismanage it.

Amid all the fad diets and weight control programs, there is one very simple way to lose weight: eat less.Easier said than done, however. Over the year...

Amid all the fad diets and weight control programs, there is one very simple way to lose weight: eat less.

Easier said than done, however. Over the years, the portion sizes consumers expect – and get – have gotten significantly larger. That might be fine for a portion of steamed broccoli, less fine for a portion of meatloaf.

When you look on a food nutrition label, it will tell you how many servings the product contains. But once on a plate, chances are the serving will look pretty small to some consumers who are accustomed to larger portions. Sticking to the serving size, however, could make it easier to lose or maintain weight.

New research published in the scientific journal Obesity has confirmed what diet product companies have long known – when you package food in small, controllable portions, it is easier to lose weight.

“Participants who were prescribed twice-daily prepackaged meals lost about 8% of their initial weight, compared to participants in the control group – who could select their own diets – who only lost about 6%,” said lead researcher Cheryl Rock, of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

The real key, she says, is removing the guesswork involved in planning and preparing low-calorie meals.

It all sounds simple enough, but Martin Binks, a spokesperson for The Obesity Society, says it may be hard for someone who is overweight or obese to put it into practice. He notes that it is important to reduce the body's energy intake for weight loss, but a body accustomed to large amounts of energy will crave it when it's denied. Still, he notes this strategy is a step toward reducing obesity.

According to research published in Food Technologists magazine, consumers may be slowly moving away from giant-sized portions. Among the trends uncovered by the research, there was a conscious shift to smaller portion sizes reported by one-third of the consumers in the survey.

Many restaurants, however, still serve up huge portions – more than a human being should eat in a day, in some cases. The reason is competition. Restaurants know consumers can choose to dine out anywhere. They conclude that their chances are better of attracting consumers if they provide a generous spread – and in many cases, they are correct.

Food products that come in prepackaged portions are an easy way to both control portion size and keep track of calories. The downside is these meals often contain large amounts of sodium. A steady diet might expose you to excessive amounts of salt.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers a number of tips for controlling portions when cooking from scratch, including using smaller plates and cups and sticking to suggested serving sizes. If you're still hungry, eat more vegetables but skip dessert.

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With recent bottlenecks at security checkpoints at some busy airports, consumers may be thinking twice about flying anywhere.But for those who are plan...

With recent bottlenecks at security checkpoints at some busy airports, consumers may be thinking twice about flying anywhere.

But for those who are planning a trip outside the U.S., there are definitely advantages to booking at the right time.

Cheapair recently examined fares for over a million international flights and found these fares behave very differently than for domestic flights. Here's what it found:

If you are traveling to Central and South America, the best time to book is 70 days out from travel dates. That's the closest match to domestic travel, which shows the best fares are available around 54 days from departure.

Canada and Mexico are also similar to flying to U.S. destinations. Buying your ticket 75 days out should get you the lowest fare.

You need to give yourself a lot more time when traveling to Europe or Asia. The best fares to European destinations are available about 120 days in advance. Booking flights to Asia requires even more advance time – 160 days.

But that's far from the most lead time needed to secure the best fare. If you are flying to the Middle East or Africa, try to book 215 days in advance.

Cheapair says there are some other things to consider with international travel that don't necessarily apply when flying within the U.S. If you are traveling to a tourist destination, going during the off-season can help reduce the airfare.

For example, peak season for Europe is summer. But winter is the busy tourist season for sunny spots in the Caribbean and Latin America.

If you are traveling with a group of people and need to sit together, consider booking early. If you are going alone, you might get a very good deal by waiting until just days before departure.

This year, one might expect flights to Brazil during the Olympic games would be expensive and hard to get. However, Brazil is battling the Zika virus, and it remains to be seen how and if that affects Americans' desire to go there.

The recent political turmoil in Turkey has reduced tourist travel there. That popular destination has become something of a bargain, as a result.

Whole Foods Market has taken the first step toward countering the complaint that its prices are too high, opening a 365 by Whole Foods Market in the Silver...

Whole Foods Market has taken the first step toward countering the complaint that its prices are too high, opening a 365 by Whole Foods Market in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles.

The store, named for Whole Foods' store brand, is designed to appeal to the Whole Foods customer, but it is smaller, has fewer employees, and has lower prices than Whole Foods Market stores.

The store promotes organic products and food without artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives.

“Whether you’re looking for a quick in-and-out shop for a few items, stocking up for the week, or having a sit down dinner at by CHLOE, with a beer from Allegro’s craft brew bar, you’ll find a blend of innovation and convenience,” said Jeff Turnas, president, 365 by Whole Foods Market.

Turnas says the store is built on the same foundation as its parent, but offers more value. In addition to lower prices, it will also be easier to navigate.

A large grab-and-go section offers prepared food options. Consumers can order a hot dog, bowls made with quinoa, rice and vegetables, and pizza from self-serve kiosks.

The hot dogs, of course, are a little different than you might find elsewhere. They include the vegan “carrot dog” made with a braised carrot, tamarind chutney slaw, cilantro, and avocado.

Pizza products include a vegan veggie, featuring Kite Hill ricotta and chicken bulgogi with sauce made from Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes.

Whole Foods Market won an early following among food purists, who favor organic produce and food without artificial ingredients. As prices for those products rose over the years, so did the the complaints, with the store earning the moniker “Whole Paycheck.”

It didn't help when New York City consumer authorities accused Whole Foods of systematically overcharging customers. The grocery chain eventually agreed to a $500,000 settlement.

There has also been some friction with food activists, who claim the chain has been cutting back on its organic selections. Just days after Whole Foods announced the launch of 365, the Cornucopia Institute, which advocates organic growing, took the popular brand to task for its “Responsibly Grown” marketing plan.

The group charged that the label had devalued the Certified Organic label while promoting conventionally grown food products.

While devising a new labeling program that identifies fruits and vegetables as “Good,” “Better,” and “Best,” Cornucopia says Whole Foods is asking the growers to pay for participating in the retailer’s verification program.

The 365 spin-off is designed to be something of a fresh start. In addition to lower prices across the board, the company says these stores will be designed with convenience and efficiency in mind, “to create an easy flow and streamlined customer experience.”

Pending home sales advanced in April for the third time in as many months and are now at their highest level since Febr...

Pending home sales advanced in April for the third time in as many months and are now at their highest level since February 2006.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), which is based on contract signings, jumped 5.1% last month and is 4.6% higher than it was in April 2015. The PHSI has now increased year-over-year for 20 consecutive months.

"The ability to sign a contract on a home is slightly exceeding expectations this spring even with the affordability stresses and inventory squeezes affecting buyers in a number of markets," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "The building momentum from the over 14 million jobs created since 2010 and the prospect of facing higher rents and mortgage rates down the road appear to be bringing more interested buyers into the market."

Regarding mortgage rates, which have been below 4% in 16 of the past 17 months, Yun says it remains to be seen how long they will stay this low. For now, he foresees rates continuing to hover around 4% in coming months, but inflation could potentially surprise the market and cause rates to increase suddenly.

Even if rates rise soon, added Yun, “sales have legs for further expansion this summer if housing supply increases enough to give buyers an adequate number of affordable choices during their search."

From the government this morning, we have word of another sizable decline in the number of people filing first-time applications for state unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims fell by 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level to a seasonally 268,000 in the week ending May 21. This marks 64 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, which lacks the weekly tally's volatility and is seen as a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was up 2,750 to 278,500.

Prices for houses across the U.S. were up during the first three months of the year, marking the 19th consecutive quarterly increase.According to the F...

Prices for houses across the U.S. were up during the first three months of the year, marking the 19th consecutive quarterly increase.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI), prices rose 1.3% in the first quarter of 2016 and were up 5.7% from the period a year earlier.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

"While the overall appreciation rate was robust in the first quarter, home price appreciation was somewhat less widespread than in recent quarters," said FHFA Supervisory Economist Andrew Leventis. "Twelve states and the District of Columbia saw price declines in the quarter -- the most areas to see price depreciation since the fourth quarter of 2013. Although most declines were modest, such declines are notable given the pervasive and extraordinary appreciation we have been observing for many years."

Papa John’s Salads and Produce of Tolleson, Ariz., is recalling approximately 373 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with chicken products. The products ...

Papa John’s Salads and Produce of Tolleson, Ariz., is recalling approximately 373 pounds of ready-to-eat salad with chicken products.

The recalled products bear establishment number “P-40280” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and were shipped to retail locations in Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but thrown them away or return them to the place of purchase.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Brandy Rousselle at (480) 894-6885 ext. 125.

TreeHouse Foods is expanding its earlier recall of products containing sunflower kernels following word that it's supplier has expanded its recall of sunfl...

TreeHouse Foods is expanding its earlier recall of products containing sunflower kernels following word that it's supplier has expanded its recall of sunflower kernels.

Customers who purchased any of the recalled products should dispose of or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 394,258 model year 2007-2010 Jeep Wrangler JK vehicles manufactured March 2, 2006, to August 13, 2010. The clock...

Toyota Motor Sales, USA is recalling approximately 3,100 model year 2015 Yaris hatch back vehicles. There is a possibility that a front upper shock...

There is a possibility that a front upper shock assembly bearing could be damaged. If this occurs, the driver may experience an abnormal noises while driving on rough road surfaces or when turning the steering wheel.

If the vehicle continues to be operated in this condition, a front shock absorber piston rod could separate, causing a loss of vehicle stability and increasing the risk of a crash.

Owners of the affected vehicles will be notified by first class mail and Toyota dealers will replace the strut mounting bearings with improved ones. If a strut mounting bearing is found to be damaged, the dealer will replace the strut and front suspension support sub-assembly with a new one.

Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-800-331-4331 and Lexus customer experience at 1-800-255-3987.  

Listen, gentlemen -- even an unhappy marriage may be good for you. Researchers say a wife's nagging may annoy her husband, but it may also slow the onset o...

Listen, gentlemen -- even an unhappy marriage may be good for you. Researchers say a wife's nagging may annoy her husband, but it may also slow the onset of diabetes and promote successful treatment once the disease develops.

Michigan State University sociologist Hui Liu led the study, which found that an increase in marital unhappiness actually lowered the risk of developing diabetes. 

"The study challenges the traditional assumption that negative marital quality is always detrimental to health," said Liu. "It also encourages family scholars to distinguish different sources and types of marital quality. Sometimes, nagging is caring."

Diabetes requires frequent monitoring and it could be that while wives' prodding may be annoying, it may also be beneficial to the husbands' health.

The study found that, for women, a good marriage was related to a lower risk of being diabetic five years later. Women may be more sensitive than men to the quality of a relationship and thus more likely to experience a health boost from a good-quality relationship, Liu said.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. More than 29 million Americans had diabetes in 2012, or 9.3 percent of the population.

Since diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in the United States, implementation of public policies and programs designed to promote marital quality should also reduce the risk of diabetes and promote health and longevity, especially for women at older ages," the study says.

Liu and her team used data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. They analyzed survey results from 1,228 married respondents over five years.

At the onset of the study, the respondents were 57 to 85 years old; 389 had diabetes at the end of the study.

A new federal law implemented six years ago was supposed to resolve the issue of bank overdraft fees, which often blindsided consumers with unexpected expe...

It’s a fact that not too many people realize, but the ability to fight and beat diseases like cancer is already inside of us. In fact, under normal circums...

WeWork, an early purveyor of the co-working space movement, is taking the concept of shared office space and applying it to apartments. In April, the o...

WeWork, an early purveyor of the co-working space movement, is taking the concept of shared office space and applying it to apartments.

In April, the office-sharing company launched WeLive: an apartment complex with an abundance of shared, open spaces. Renters can have their own private space, as well -- but the draw of WeLive is the sense of community.

Founding partner, Rebecca Newman, explains that WeLive is centered on community and “the belief that we’re basically as good as the people we surround ourselves with.”

The fully-furnished apartments are part of a concierge-staffed complex -- one that boasts free coffee and beer, events, and hotel-like bonuses such as free housekeeping. Young urban dwellers might also appreciate the lack of commitment required to set up home base at WeLive.

The units aren’t cheap; shared spaces start at $1,375 while private units begin at $2,250. But for those looking to skip the long-term apartment commitment, WeLive may be just right. Renters can live month-to-month in the shared space, which teems with opportunities to be social.

The dorm-style residences might also appeal to those who lack the time or motivation to go out and decorate their apartment, especially if they will only be there for a short time. Each residence comes decked out in the type of decor you might find at a trendy hostel.

The first WeLive location was recently unveiled on Wall Street in New York. Others are slated to pop up soon near Washington, D.C., and in Arlington, Va.

Microsoft is giving up on the consumer phone business, shuttering what little is left of its Finland-based hardware business, which it acquired in its disa...

Microsoft is giving up on the consumer phone business, shuttering what little is left of its Finland-based hardware business, which it acquired in its disastrous $7 billion acquisition of Nokia's phone unit.

It's the second shoe to drop. Last week, Microsoft said it was selling off the remains of its "feature phone" business.

But CEO Satya Nadella says the company isn't completely abandoning the phone business. Instead, it is working to adapt its software and services to the Android and iOS platforms, rather than trying to get consumers to buy Windows phones.

“We are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation — with enterprises that value security, manageability and our Continuum capability, and consumers who value the same,” Nadella said. “We will continue to innovate across devices and on our cloud services across all mobile platforms.”

Nadella also says Microsoft will continue to support its phones aimed at the business market and license Windows 10 to any hardware maker who wants to use it.

Artificial sweeteners have come a long way over the years, now closely mimicking natural sweeteners but without the calories.The sweeteners are effecti...

Artificial sweeteners have come a long way over the years, now closely mimicking natural sweeteners but without the calories.

The sweeteners are effective tools to help obese consumers reduce calorie consumption, but researchers at York University's Faculty of Health say that weight management may come at a price.

"Our study shows that individuals with obesity who consume artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, may have worse glucose management than those who don't take sugar substitutes," Professor Jennifer Kuk, obesity researcher in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, said in a release.

Artificial sweeteners lack caloric content because they are not digested by the body. If they can make food taste better without adding calories, it can help consumers manage their weight. But the York University study found that in some cases, bacteria in the stomach may be able to break down the artificial sweetener. When that happens, researchers say there can be negative effects on health.

Kuk said the research team didn't find this adverse effect in people consuming saccharin – an early artificial sweetener – or natural sugars. The findings, however, left them with more questions than answers.

"We will need to do future studies to determine whether any potentially negative health effects of artificial sweeteners outweigh the benefits for obesity reduction," Luk said.

This is hardly the first research to suggest there could be some downside to using food and beverage products containing artificial sweeteners. A 2008 study by psychologists at Purdue University found that compared with rats that ate yogurt sweetened with sugar, rats given yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin later consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat, and didn't make up for it by cutting back later.

Later that same year a Duke University study that focused on the artificial sweetener Splenda concluded the product contributes to obesity, destroys beneficial intestinal bacteria, and could even interfere with absorption of prescription drugs.

Last year Pepsi announced it would remove aspartame from its beverages sold in the U.S., reacting to research that suggests the artificial sweetener – while not imparting calories – might creating sugar cravings among people who consume too much, thus negating the benefits of a no-calorie beverage.

Today, food manufacturers have many options when it comes to new sugar substitutes. The York researchers says more investigation should be carried out to determine if there are any health effects of using these sweeteners.

Millennials aren’t anxious to leave the nest. In fact, a new study by the Pew Research Center finds that more millennials are currently living at home than...

Millennials aren’t anxious to leave the nest. In fact, a new study by the Pew Research Center finds that more millennials are currently living at home than in any other living arrangement.

Pew’s analysis concludes that this is the first time in American history that such a large percentage (32.1%) of young adults are living with mom and dad, rather than with a partner or roommates.

The force behind the change? According to Richard Fry at Pew, it’s primarily the fact that more millennials (defined as ages 18 to 34) are waiting to settle down romantically.

Since the 1880s, living with a romantic partner has been the most common living arrangement among young people. But with more millennials choosing to delay their walk down the aisle (often until closer to age 35), life with parents may be a more practical living arrangement.

Millennial men were found to be more likely to live with their parents than with a spouse or partner. About 35% are opting to stay with parents, while 28% are living with a romantic partner.  

The scales tip the other way for young women, albeit only slightly. Thirty-five percent of millennial women live with a significant other and 29% live with their parents.

Fry notes that changes in economic status may be partially responsible for the difference between men and women. While the percentage of young men employed in the workforce has decreased since the 1960s, the opposite is true for young women.

As job prospects for women improve, more young women are choosing to put off setting up a household with a romantic partner in favor of following a career path.

Other economic factors -- including student debt, the high cost of first-time homes, and slow wage growth in recent years -- may also be contributing to the cohort’s desire not to leave the nest as early as older generations.

Worried about getting the Zika virus? Don't count on the Viatek Mosquito Shield Band to keep you safe. Viatek has agreed to settle federal charges that it ...

Worried about getting the Zika virus? Don't count on the Viatek Mosquito Shield Band to keep you safe. Viatek has agreed to settle federal charges that it made deceptive claims for the wrist bands, which supposedly create a "vapor barrier" to keep mosquitoes at bay.

“With Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses in the news, consumers might be looking for products that protect them from mosquitos,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The defendants took advantage of those concerns, and peddled a product without having scientific support that it effectively prevented mosquito bites.”

Viatek took exception to Rich's comment. "Viatek sold this product in 2010-12, prior to the declaration of a global health emergency due to the Zika virus," the company noted in an email to ConsumerAffairs.

Viatek also denied that it could not support its claims for the wrist bands, saying it "stands behind the empirical scientific evidence that resulted from multiple tests performed as to the efficacy of their mosquito bands."

It said the tests "were conducted by a leading American university and a distinguished professor of entomology, who provided competent and reliable evidence for the claims."

Besides the deceptives claims alegation, the FTC also charged Viatek and company owner Lou Lentine with violating a 2003 administrative order prohibiting Lentine from making product claims without competent and reliable evidence to back them up.

According to the FTC’s February 2015 complaint, Lentine and Viatek marketed Mosquito Shield Bands, wristbands containing mint oil, directly to consumers and through retailers, including the home shopping channel HSN. Viatek claimed the wristbands would protect users from being bitten by mosquitos.

They claimed the wristbands create a “vapor barrier” that shields people within five feet of the product from being bitten and provides users with 96-120 hours of protection. The FTC alleged that the defendants did not have competent and reliable scientific evidence to back up the claims.

The settlement requires the defendants to have competent and reliable scientific evidence for future claims, prohibits the defendants from violating the 2003 FTC order, and requires them to pay $300,000 to the Commission.

"Recent history demonstrates that the FTC will appeal any case it loses, needlessly costing substantial amounts of time and money to all involved," the company said. "Fighting a government entity with unlimited resources that allows themselves to carry an 18 trillion-dollar debt is a losing battle for any company. Viatek’s management team decided it was a good business decision to cut their losses and focus on their extremely successful products and business."

Gasoline prices are rising and have reached their highest level so far in 2016. But despite that, motorists hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend will...

Gasoline prices are rising and have reached their highest level so far in 2016. But despite that, motorists hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend will encounter pump prices well below last year.

The national average price of self-serve regular is $2.30 a gallon, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey. But at this time last year, it was 44 cents higher – $2.74 a gallon.

Gasoline prices have risen over the course of the late winter and early spring as they have each year, as refineries perform routine maintenance and switch over to production of summer gasoline blends. The rise has been slower this year, thanks to soft oil prices.

Oil prices have spiked a bit in recent weeks, due to production slowdowns in some oil producing nations. But industry analysts say any increase will likely be temporary since the world remains oversupplied with oil.

Prices normally peak around Memorial Day, the start of the summer driving season. AAA says drivers are likely to pay the least amount for gasoline since 2005 this year.

An estimated 38 million Americans will travel over the holiday weekend, which would be an increase of 700,000 compared to a year ago. Even more consumers are likely to travel by car, since long lines at the nation's busiest airports have discouraged air travel.

AAA reports this is the first time since last August that drivers in every state and Washington, D.C. are paying averages above $2 per gallon.

A stronger dollar and increasing supply are sending the price of coffee lower. To underscore that fact, Smucker cut the list price of its packaged coffee p...

A stronger dollar and increasing supply are sending the price of coffee lower. To underscore that fact, Smucker cut the list price of its packaged coffee products this week.

In the U.S., Smucker sells primarily under the Folgers and Dunkin' Donuts brands. Prices have fallen an average of 6% for the two brands' packaged coffee. The K-Cup pods are unaffected by the price cuts.

"For the last several quarters, lower green coffee costs were reflected in promotional pricing for the majority of our packaged coffee products, and we do not anticipate those prices changing significantly," said Steve Oakland, Vice Chair and President, U.S. Food and Beverage.

Oakland says the company move will allow consumers to benefit from lower prices on an everyday basis.

According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the composite price of green coffee has fluctuated 9%, from high to low, so far in May.

The price declines will only apply to the coffee your brew at home. Typically, stores and restaurants that serve coffee don't pass along the savings to customers.

CNN Money noted back in January that when coffee prices plunged around 33%, coffee shops like Starbucks did not adjust their prices. It quoted an industry analyst as pointing out retail establishments are facing increased wage costs, which off-set the lower cost of the raw product.

The trend of lower packaged prices, however, could linger for a while. Good weather during the growing season in Latin America has resulted in a bumper crop, which has softened the market.

Should the Federal Reserve hike interest rates in June, as expected, it should result in a further strengthening of the U.S. dollar. That will generally lower the price of imported commodities like coffee.

Mortgage applications are rising again following a decline the previous week.According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications were up 2.6% d...

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications were up 2.6% during the week ending May 20, with the average loan size hitting a survey high of $307,700.

The Refinance Index inched ahead 0.4%, with the refinance share of mortgage activity slipping to 53.7% of total applications from 54.6% the previous week.

The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity came in at 5.7% of total applications, the FHA share rose to 12.7% from 12.5%, the VA share slipped to 11.5% from 12.1%, and the USDA share of total applications was unchanged at 0.7%.

SunOpta is expanding its recall sunflower kernel products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been confirmed re...

SunOpta is expanding its recall sunflower kernel products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The initial recall was limited to sunflower kernel products produced at SunOpta’s Crookston, Minn., facility between February 1 – 19, 2016.

The expanded recall includes products produced February 20 – April 21, 2016, the date on which the facility ceased production of the products.

The following items, sold in clear printed plastic packages and marked with Best By Dates located on the front or back of the packages, have been added to the recall:

37216074 37216075 37216076 37216077 37216078 37216081 37216082 37216083 37216084 37216085 37216088 37216090 37216091 37216092 37216095 37216096 37216098 37216099

14MAR17 15MAR17 16MAR17 17MAR17 18MAR17 21MAR17 22MAR17 23MAR17 24MAR17 25MAR17 28MAR17 30MAR17 31MAR17 01APR17 04APR17 05APR17 07APR17 08APR17

The recalled products were sent to distribution centers during March and April 2016, in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas, and may have been be redistributed to other states nationwide.

Customers should not consume these products, but return them to the store where purchased for a refund, or simply discard them.

Consumers with questions may call 1-888-886-4428 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (CDT), or email the firm at contactus@sunopta.com.

Ford Motor Company is recalling certain model year 2009-2012 Flex; 2008 and 2010-2012 Taurus; 2008-2009 Taurus X; 2008 Mercury Sable; and 2009 & 2011 Linco...

Ford Motor Company is recalling certain model year 2009-2012 Flex; 2008 and 2010-2012 Taurus; 2008-2009 Taurus X; 2008 Mercury Sable; and 2009 & 2011 Lincoln MKS vehicles.

The driver front air bag may inflate improperly during second-stage deployment in the event of a high speed crash. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, "Occupant Crash Protection."

Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the driver's front air bag module, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on June 13, 2016.

Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods is recalling various not-ready-to-eat frozen food items. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes....

The following products, distributed throughout the U.S. in both retail and foodservice packaging, are being recalled:

Customers who purchased the recalled items should not eat them , but dispose of them or return them to the place of purchase for a refund or exchange.

Consumers with questions may call the firm's consumer affairs hotline at (877) 772-3437 from 8 am – 5 pm (ET), Monday through Friday, or email the company at info@drpraegers.com.

A lawsuit by the State of Washington accuses Johnson & Johnson of knowingly hiding the risks of surgical mesh used to treat pelvic floor conditions in wome...

A lawsuit by the State of Washington accuses Johnson & Johnson of knowingly hiding the risks of surgical mesh used to treat pelvic floor conditions in women. 

Complications from insertion of the mesh left women permanently disabled and in chronic pain, the lawsuit filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson charges.

“It’s difficult to put into words the horrific injuries and pain many women are still suffering as a result of Johnson & Johnson’s deception,” Ferguson said. “They believed they were making informed medical decisions, but that was impossible when Johnson & Johnson was spreading inaccurate information about its products’ risks, essentially duping doctors into using their own patients as clinical trials. This is an unacceptable way of doing business, and I will hold the company accountable.”

The complications include urinary and defecatory dysfunction, loss of sexual function, chronic inflammation, chronic pain, and risk of chronic infection. The complications can crop up years after the surgery, and are in many cases irreversible, Ferguson said. Removal of the mesh is nearly impossible.

“I experienced excruciating pain from day one. I felt as though my urethra was being strangled, I couldn’t pee, walking was out of the question, sitting was agony, & I couldn’t lie on my left side due to severe pain and numbness at my left groin area.  Over the course of the next 14 weeks I visited/was admitted to the [hospital] 10 times. … I had no quality of life.  My consultant likened the mesh removal as to ‘trying to remove chewing gum from hair.’  … I still suffer left side groin pain and numbness, buttock pain, sharp pains in my lower stomach and I am less continent now than I was pre-op.” 

The lawsuit alleges tens of thousands of violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act, due to deceptive informational and marketing materials distributed to consumers and doctors. Ferguson is seeking a fine of $2,000 for each violation plus costs, fees, and restitution.

Johnson & Johnson is the largest manufacturer and seller of the mesh devices in the U.S. The mesh is made of woven polypropylene threads, and is marketed to doctors and patients as a way to treat pelvic organ prolapse, or when organs shift from their normal position, and various bladder issues. The lawsuit alleges that the company never told consumers that the mesh can cause, and consumers are likely to experience, chronic foreign body reaction and chronic inflammation as the body constantly fights to rid itself of this foreign material.

Flame retardant chemicals have penetrated just about every corner of the Earth, and now a Harvard study finds they may be implicated in thyroid diseases in...

Flame retardant chemicals have penetrated just about every corner of the Earth, and now a Harvard study finds they may be implicated in thyroid diseases in women, with a significantly higher risk among post-menopausal women.

“These chemicals are just about everywhere, from the blood in polar bears to eagles to humans on every continent,” said Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the study’s lead author. “This near ubiquitous exposure means we are all part of a global experiment on the impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals on our bodies.”

The new paper, published online today in the journal Environmental Health, found that women with elevated blood levels of certain types of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are at higher risk. It is the first to suggest a link between PBDEs and thyroid disease.

PBDEs have been used as flame retardants for decades, largely in furniture, in quantities up to 20% of the weight of the product. Over time, they migrate out of the furniture into the air, settle into dust in homes, schools, offices, and the outdoors, and accumulate in people’s bodies.

Previous research has shown that these chemicals accumulate in fatty tissue and interfere with hormonal functions, including interference with thyroid hormones. Because it’s known that estrogen levels regulate thyroid hormones, researchers theorized that post-menopausal women may be particularly vulnerable to PBDE-induced thyroid effects.

For the study, researchers looked at a nationally representative sample of women and compared the levels of four common PBDEs with their history of thyroid problems. They found that, overall, women were about five times more likely than men to have a thyroid problem. The percentage ranged from 13-16% among women, compared with 2-3% among men.

Women with the highest flame retardant concentrations in their blood were significantly more likely than those with lower concentrations to have a thyroid problem. The effect size was doubled in post-menopausal women.

“To our bodies, these flame retardant chemicals look and function exactly like endogenous hormones our bodies produce. Should we be surprised that we see downstream health effects for women with higher body burdens of these chemicals? I think no. This is all too predictable and preventable,” said Allen.

One limitation of the study is that it couldn’t determine effects from newer flame retardant chemicals because they are not currently reported in medical research databases.

Recent reports have indicated that e-cigarette use amongst teens is rising, but how much of it is attributed to the way these products are advertised? Acco...

Recent reports have indicated that e-cigarette use amongst teens is rising, but how much of it is attributed to the way these products are advertised? According to a study from The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, quite a lot.

Researchers have found a significant association between marketing for e-cigarettes and product use among middle and high school students. The teens report seeing advertisements for these products in many different places – a marketing tactic that closely resembles those used by the tobacco industry.

“E-cigarette companies are following what cigarette companies did. There are no restrictions on the messaging they can use, and health warnings do not appear on e-cigarettes like they do on cigarette packages. Flavored e-cigarettes are widely available and appeal to youth,” said Dr. Maria Cooper, co-author of the study.

The study utilized data from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which asked young people about their exposure to tobacco products. The researchers found that out of over 22,000 middle and high school students, 20% had tried e-cigarettes before and 9% were currently using them.

The researchers found that those who had tried e-cigarettes before were 16% more likely than their peers to have seen an advertisement for the products in print, online, in a retail setting, or in a movie or television show. Current users were 22% more likely to have seen these ads.

While teens reported seeing ads the most in retail settings or online, the researchers point out that the products are becoming more and more widespread.

“You go to a convenience store and the entire wall behind the cashier is tobacco advertising. We’re seeing e-cigarettes are following that trend. The internet and social media are also a concern because e-cigarette companies have a big online presence,” said Dale Mantey, lead author of the study.

The increase in advertising is no accident either. The researchers state in their paper that marketing for e-cigarette products nearly tripled from 2011 to 2012 – from $6.4 million to $18.3 million.

That trend would continue into subsequent years; expenditures for e-cigarette ads in the second quarter of 2013 eclipsed all of the spending for 2012. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that spending increased to $115 million in 2014.

While more research must be done to prove a definitive link between e-cigarette advertising and its use, the researchers believe that their study has laid some of the groundwork for future studies.

Health activists have waged a decade-long war on sodium, citing its role in high blood pressure and cardiovascular risks. They've urged consumers to avoid ...

Health activists have waged a decade-long war on sodium, citing its role in high blood pressure and cardiovascular risks. They've urged consumers to avoid foods that have high sodium content.

International researchers have produced a study that takes a contrary view. Yes, too much sodium is harmful to people with high blood pressure, but they maintain that a low-sodium diet for everyone else is not only not beneficial, but may be harmful, increasing cardiovascular risk and even death.

The study, which may prove to be controversial, included more than 130,000 people from 49 countries. It was led by researchers at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, in Canada. The researchers focused on the relationship between sodium consumption and death, heart disease, and stroke.

What made the study different was the separation of the subjects into those with high blood pressure and those with a normal blood pressure reading.

The results found that subjects who had a reduced sodium consumption level were more likely to have suffered a heart attack, stroke, or death.

“These are extremely important findings for those who are suffering from high blood pressure,” said lead author Andrew Mente. “While our data highlights the importance of reducing high salt intake in people with hypertension, it does not support reducing salt intake to low levels.”

The take-away from the study, Mente says, is a low-sodium diet is best used for people with high blood pressure, but not the public in general. This conflicts with current medical conventional wisdom.

The Mayo Clinic staff notes that Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. But the staff says “less is usually better,” especially for consumers who are have a sodium sensitivity.

“If you aren't sure how much sodium your diet should include, talk to your doctor or dietitian,” the staff says on the Mayo Clinic website.

Without mentioning the Canadian study, the American Heart Association (AMA) has underscored its belief that all people should reduce sodium consumption. It says its lifestyle guidelines on sodium reduction were based on more than 30 scientific studies.

The organization stands behind a 2014 consensus statement among scientists that concluded “population-wide reduction of sodium intake is an integral approach to reducing cardiovascular disease events and mortality in the United States.”

But the Canadian researchers say their findings are conclusive, showing that risks associated with low-sodium intake, which they define as less than three grams per day, are consistent whether or not someone has high blood pressure.

They state that there is a limit below which sodium intake may be unsafe and the risk associated with high sodium consumption appears to only affect those with hypertension.

Leashing up your labrador and going for a walk can help your physical health, yes. But the benefits of dog walking don’t end there. Studies show that, ...

Leashing up your labrador and going for a walk can help your physical health, yes. But the benefits of dog walking don’t end there.

Studies show that, for older adults, walking the dog may also come with some social and emotional benefits. And it’s the special bond between man and dog that may be to thank for this unintentional byproduct of walking.

Walking the dog may be good exercise, but it can also help establish a deeper connection with one’s community, explains Dr. Alice Pomidor, a geriatrics professor at Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee.

“Pet ownership can lead to increased physical activity, as well as a greater sense of feeling connected to your community and to other pet owners,” she told HealthNews.

Dog walking may also help reduce stress levels and overall health. How? While the act of walking itself may have something to do with it, experts say the bond you share with Fido may amplify the effects of walking.

One study found that individuals who reported a strong bond with their dog were likely to spend more time walking it, therefore leading to less isolation and better overall health. 

Setting out for a quick spin around the neighborhood with your loyal companion may also help your body stave off stress and illness.

Daniel Promislow, an American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) spokesperson, and director of the Canine Longevity Consortium at the University of Washington in Seattle, explains how dog ownership can positively impact one’s health:

“On average, dog owners walk more and score better on stress tests and other measures of psychological well-being,” Promislow said, adding that there is even some evidence that dog owners may be better at staving off disease.

“There is some suggestion in scientific literature that owning a dog is associated with a lower risk of various diseases [perhaps from that extra exercise], and faster recovery times when disease does occur,” he explains.

Health boons such as these may be especially beneficial to older adults, notes Promislow. Indeed, as we've reported, owning a dog has been proven to be highly beneficial to the health of the elderly.

As warmer weather approaches, public swimming pools will inevitably begin to repopulate. But while taking a dip may be a fun way to beat the heat, the acti...

As warmer weather approaches, public swimming pools will inevitably begin to repopulate. But while taking a dip may be a fun way to beat the heat, the activity may not be as sanitary as you might hope.

A three-year CDC investigation found that 78.9% of swimming pools failed at least one safety test. The study, which began in 2013, inspected swimming pools in five states including Arizona, California, New York, Florida, and Texas.

The results of 12.3% of these examinations -- which also included spas and hot tubs -- led to the immediate closure of the area.

Women’s Health reports that in 14.9% of cases, irritating pH levels were cause for concern; another 12.7% of pools had safety equipment violations that could increase the risk of drowning.

Pool chemical-associated health events land many swimmers in the emergency room each year, while drowning remains the second-leading cause of injury deaths in children aged 1 to 4.

The CDC notes that approximately half of fatal drownings in this age group happen in swimming pools. Pools with fences can help reduce the risk of a child drowning, as can teaching children how to swim before the age of 5.

Additionally, there are a few steps adults can take to ensure that the pool water itself is safe. 

The report notes that “only 68% of U.S. local public health agencies regulate, inspect, or license public aquatic facilities,” so consumers may want to take pool safety into their own hands.

One way to reduce the risk of a pH level-related health issue is to test the water yourself. Bring pH strips to see if the water’s pH is between 6 and 8. Other ways to protect yourself from pool irritants include wearing goggles while swimming, never drinking the water, and showering afterward. 

Twitter, whose stock has been battered on Wall Street in recent weeks, has announced some changes that it says will allow users to do more with their Tweet...

Twitter, whose stock has been battered on Wall Street in recent weeks, has announced some changes that it says will allow users to do more with their Tweets.

What isn't changing is the 140 character limit on messages. However, the company said it plans to change what counts as characters. For example, it says @names in replies and attachments, such as photos, videos, and polls, will no longer count as characters.

That, Twitter says, will make Twitter conversations easier and more straightforward. The company also said it will enable the Retweet button on users' own Tweets, making it easy for users to Retweet or Quote Tweet themselves.

The changes will simplify rules for Tweets that begin with a username. Those Tweets will reach all followers. It allows user to drop the “@” at the beginning.

“If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly,” the company said in the company blog.

The changes have not yet taken effect. Twitter says it will take a few months to roll them out gradually. It says its developer partners need the time to make needed adjustments.

The company perhaps hoped the announcement would help lift its sagging stock price, but the timing was unfortunate. Just before the announcement, investment research firm MoffettNathanson downgraded Twitter's stock from neutral to sell. It also cut its price target from $15 to $12.

To make matters worse, MoffettNathanson wasn't alone. Monnes Crespi Hardt maintained its buy rating on the stock but slashed its price target.

As a result, Twitter shares sank further in heavy trading Tuesday, reaching a new low of $13.73 a share.

Facebook is inviting publishers to start streaming live video feeds. You won't be able to save them for future viewing, so you'll need to keep your eyeball...

Facebook is inviting publishers to start streaming live video feeds. You won't be able to save them for future viewing, so you'll need to keep your eyeballs pinned to the screen.

The idea is not necessarily to build traffic. Facebook has plenty of traffic already, but it wants its users to share more personal fare -- you know, cute kittens, spring graduates, and so forth. 

A recent survey found that users shared 21% fewer personal stories last year, while posting more news stories and other posts from professional outlets. That stuff's OK, but it doesn't build the user loyalty and engagement that Facebook is counting on.  

It's hoping that live, high-quality video will excite users and cause them to post more of their stuff. Just how that's supposed to work isn't quite clear, but Facebook seems to think it's a logical progression.

The live video will be accessibe through a tab in the Messenger app. It was one of many initiatives announced at Facebook's F8 Conference, which featured a "10-year roadmap to connect everyone and to give people new ways to share using artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

New York has sued Domino's Pizza and ten of its stores, charging that they underpaid workers by at least $565,000. It's the first time New York has charged...

New York has sued Domino's Pizza and ten of its stores, charging that they underpaid workers by at least $565,000. It's the first time New York has charged a fast food corporation along with its franchisees, treating them as a joint employer.

“At some point, a company has to take responsibility for its actions and for its workers’ well-being. We’ve found rampant wage violations at Domino’s franchise stores. And, as our suit alleges, we’ve discovered that Domino’s headquarters was intensely involved in store operations, and even caused many of these violations,” said New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. 

“Under these circumstances, New York law – as well as basic human decency – holds Domino’s responsible for the alleged mistreatment of the workers who make and deliver the company’s pizza. Domino’s can, and must, fix this problem,” Schneiderman said.

The lawsuit alleges that Domino’s urged franchisees to use payroll reports from the company’s computer system (called “PULSE”), even though Domino’s knew for years that PULSE under-calculated gross wages.

Domino’s typically made multiple updates to PULSE each year, but decided not to fix the flaws that caused underpayments to workers, deeming it a “low priority,” the lawsuit charges.

The lawsuit also alleges that Domino’s is a joint employer because, it says, the company micromanaged employee relations at its franchisee stores. A years-long investigation by the AG's office found the company played a role in the hiring, firing, and discipline of workers; pushed an anti-union position on franchisees; and closely monitored employee job performance through onsite and electronic reviews, the suit alleges.

The investigation uncovered internal documents showing that over a two-year period, 78% of New York franchisees listed rates for at least some employees below the required minimum wage, and 86% listed rates below the required overtime rate, according to the suit.

The Attorney General’s Office has already settled cases with 12 Domino’s franchisees, who collectively own 61 stores and who have agreed to pay approximately $1.5 million to date.  

Domino’s is the world’s second largest pizza restaurant chain, and is the largest pizza delivery chain in the U.S.  The company has 136 franchisee-owned stores in New York, along with 54 owned by Domino’s itself.

When consumers want to eat fast food, they would prefer to find a Chick-fil-A or a Subway. The two restaurant chains emerged as favorites in the 2016 Temki...

Consumers approaching retirement are no doubt confused at all the conflicting advice they receive about how much income they will need for a “comfortable” ...

Consumers approaching retirement are no doubt confused at all the conflicting advice they receive about how much income they will need for a “comfortable” retirement.

Financial advisors generally suggest that most retirees will need at least 70% of the annual income they earned before retirement. By that metric, a new study from personal finance site Bankrate shows seniors in all but three states – Alaska, Hawaii, and South Carolina – are coming up short.

"Americans are facing a shortfall of retirement income because their saved assets are not enough to fund their desired or even current lifestyle," James Carlson, chief investment officer at Questis, a financial services firm based in Charleston, South Carolina, told Bankrate.

The study authors looked at the incomes in each state, broken down by age. The median household income in South Carolina for people age 45 to 64 is $52,289. The median income for those 65 and up is $36,694, which is just over 70% of the younger group.

The biggest shortfall is found in Massachusetts, where those 65 and older earn just 48% of what those age 45 to 64 earn.

What causes the discrepancies between states? For one thing, Alaska has very generous retirement benefits for state employees who remain in the state after they retire. Hawaii, another state with a high cost of living, is generous to seniors when it comes to tax breaks. Seniors in Hawaii also tend to spend less on health care.

South Carolina has become a major retirement destination, and many of the people moving to the state have significant investment and pension income, which boosts the average.

In today's low-interest environment, savings will yield almost no income. Retirees living off savings will need to consider investments that have potential to either grow the value through capital appreciation or generate income through dividends.

Those who have a defined benefit pension are fortunate, but since pensions have been phased out over the last couple of decades, fewer workers have access to that kind of steady income.

Social Security is another defined benefit, but in most cases doesn't go far enough to be a sole source of income.

One of the best ways to generate income in retirement is by working. Someone who has worked for nearly 50 years might not want to contemplate that, but a part-time job in retirement that coincides with the retiree's interest or passions might not seem like work at all.

If you love animals, for example, you can make pretty good money, with flexible hours, as a pet sitter.

Along with adding to income, look for ways to cut expenses. Relocating to a state with a low cost of living, for example, might allow you to live on less money.  

Sales of new single-family houses have made up for their March decline -- and then some.The Commerce Department reports that sales shot up 16.6% in Apr...

The Commerce Department reports that sales shot up 16.6% in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 619,000. That's the highest level since January 2008 and 23.8% higher than they were a year ago. The increase was the sharpest since January 1992.

The advance came, according to Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza, on “continued positive gains in employment, low energy costs, favorable lending conditions, and a relatively stable confidence level, housing activity accelerated in April.”

Despite earlier signs of stagnant momentum, she said, “the spring selling season appears to be kicking off with a more than decent level of consumer activity.”

The median sales price of new houses was a record $321,100 -- up $28,400 from a year earlier, while the average sales price rose $45,100 to $379,800. The median is the point at which half the house sold for more and half for less.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 243,000, representing a supply of 4.7 months at the current sales rate.

The term “muscle car” conjures up images of performance, speed, and power. Safety? You would think these behemoths would offer all the protections you need...

The term “muscle car” conjures up images of performance, speed, and power. Safety? You would think these behemoths would offer all the protections you need. But, as the song goes, “it ain't necessarily so.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently ran three top sports coupes through their tests and found that none of them racked up the scores necessary for a TOP SAFETY PICK award.

The Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang took part in the full battery of crashworthiness evaluations, with the Mustang coming closest to earning TOP SAFETY PICK. The Camaro missed the mark in one category and lacks an available front crash prevention system. The Challenger is most in need of improvement.

To qualify for the IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK, vehicles must earn good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint evaluations and have a basic-rated front crash prevention system.

The Camaro, Challenger and Mustang earn good ratings for occupant protection in a moderate overlap front crash, as well as a side impact.

In the small overlap front test -- the newest and toughest IIHS crashworthiness evaluation -- the Camaro earns a good rating, the Mustang earns an acceptable rating, and the Challenger is rated as marginal.

"The Mustang is just one good rating away from earning TOP SAFETY PICK," IIHS President Adrian Lund pointed out. "Its small overlap rating holds it back."

The small overlap test replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole or clips another vehicle that has crossed the center line. It is an especially challenging test because it involves a vehicle's outer edges, which aren't well-protected by the crush-zone structures.

The Challenger wasn't up to the challenge of the small overlap test. Extensive intrusion into the lower occupant compartment limited the driver's survival space and resulted in a poor rating for structure and for leg/foot protection. Measures taken from the dummy indicate a high likelihood of serious lower leg injuries.

In contrast, survival space for the driver in the Camaro was well-maintained, and the risk of injuries to the dummy's legs and feet was low. The Camaro was redesigned for the 2016 model year.

"The Camaro's safety cage is built to resist intrusion in a small overlap crash, and that's good news for Camaro drivers," Lund says.

The Camaro and Mustang earn good ratings for head restraints and seats to protect against neck injuries in rear crashes. The Challenger's head restraints are rated as acceptable.

The Mustang earns a good rating for roof strength, and the Camaro and Challenger earn acceptable ratings.

IIHS doesn't typically crash-test sports cars, as they make up a small share of the consumer market. However, IIHS engineers decided to evaluate these models with optional V-8 engines because they are big sellers in their class, and consumers often ask how they would perform in crash tests.

Insurance data points to high losses for sports cars. As a group, they have the highest losses among passenger vehicles for crash damage repairs under collision coverage, data from the Highway Loss Data Institute shows. Collision coverage insures against physical damage to the at-fault policyholder's vehicle in a crash.

"Given that sports cars have high crash rates, it's especially important that they offer the best occupant protection possible in a crash," Lund concluded.

Pacific Cycle of Madison, Wis., is recalling about 129,000 infant bicycle helmets with magnetic no-pinch buckle chin straps. The magnetic buckle on...

Pacific Cycle of Madison, Wis., is recalling about 129,000 infant bicycle helmets with magnetic no-pinch buckle chin straps.

The magnetic buckle on the chin strap contains small plastic covers and magnets that can come loose, posing a risk of choking and magnet ingestion to young children.

The company has received three reports of the plastic cover coming loose. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves infant bicycle helmets made for infants ranging from one to three years old. The helmet and its straps come in various colors and design patterns. The buckles have small plastic covers and enclosed magnets. “SCHWINN” is printed on the front of the helmets. Only helmets with the magnetic no-pinch chin strap buckles are affected by this recall.

The helmets, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively at Target stores and online at www.target.com from January 2014, through April 2016, for between $18 and $25.

Consumers should immediately take the helmets away from children and contact Pacific Cycle for instructions on how to receive a free replacement helmet.

Consumers may contact Pacific Cycle toll-free at 877-564-2261 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CST) Monday through Friday, by email at customerservice@pacific-cycle.com or online at www.schwinnbikes.com and click on “Support” then “Safety & Recalls” or www.target.com and click on “Product Recall” for more information.  

The Quaker Oats Company is recalling a small quantity of Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars. The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes....

Customers who purchased the recalled products should dispose of or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 800-856-5781, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (EST), or online at www.quakeroats.com.

Fresh Express and Giant Eagle are recalling three cases (containing six (6) salads each) of 6.25-oz. The Farmers Market Chopped Asian Salad Kit . T...

Fresh Express and Giant Eagle are recalling three cases (containing six (6) salads each) of 6.25-oz. The Farmers Market Chopped Asian Salad Kit .

Giant Eagle has already retrieved all but three individual salad kit bowls and prevented them from being sold.

Customers who purchased the recalled product should discard it, or return it to the place of purchase for a refund.

Consumers with questions may contact Fresh Express toll-free at (800) 242-5472 from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. (E) Time or Giant Eagle at (800) 553-2324 from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

Toyota Motor Sales, USA is expanding its recalls involving Takata front passenger air bag inflators by approximately 1.584 million vehicles. A safe...

Toyota Motor Sales, USA is expanding its recalls involving Takata front passenger air bag inflators by approximately 1.584 million vehicles.

A safety defect may arise in front passenger air bag inflators in the involved vehicles due to inflator propellant degradation occurring after prolonged exposure to high absolute humidity, high temperatures and high temperature cycling.

Toyota, Scion and Lexus owners will be notified by first class mail. Depending on the vehicle model, dealers will replace the air bag inflator, or the air bag assembly, at no cost.

Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-800-331-4331, or Lexus customer service at 1-800-255-3987.  

Your will and other estate planning documents are completed, so you may think you have it covered. But what about your social media accounts? What will hap...

A combination of dieting and exercise is important to staying healthy, but doing too much of either can be dangerous.A new study from Georgia College &...

A combination of dieting and exercise is important to staying healthy, but doing too much of either can be dangerous.

A new study from Georgia College & State University discusses how unrealistic expectations of beauty, coupled with using certain mobile applications and social media platforms, may be contributing to unhealthy eating disorders and compulsive exercise.

“The results of our study indicate that the use of mobile applications, such as Eating Thin, Lose It!, or Fasting Secret, is linked with reports of disordered eating and compulsive exercise,” the researchers said.

“In other words, those young people who use these digital applications on their mobile devices are more likely than other individuals to engage in anorexia- or bulimia-related behaviors, as well as to reveal that they have to exercise in order to feel good about themselves.

The researchers want to be clear that sharing health/exercise progress or using certain apps is not an assurance of unhealthy behavior; however, someone who engages in this behavior is more likely to suffer from these problems.

“It seems from our study that ‘fitspiration’ content is specifically related to risky behaviors like compulsive exercise and eating disorder symptoms, especially among those young people who use mobile apps on a frequent basis,” said Veronica Hefner, co-author of the study.

The researchers came to their conclusions after administering several tests to 262 participants. These assessments consisted of surveys that gauged behaviors for compulsive exercise, eating disorders, social media use, blog use, microblog use (i.e. Twitter, Instagram), and use of mobile apps.

After collecting all of the data, the researchers concluded that using mobile apps and engaging with microblogs that feature “fitspiration” content had a strong association with compulsive exercise and symptoms of eating disorders.

Other forms of social media, such as traditional blogs, were less associated with these disorders; the findings indicated that this weakened connection may be due to a reduced level of interactivity and feedback that microblogs like Twitter and Instagram provide more of.

The researchers admit that future research must be done to verify their results, but they believe that the positive associations that they found speak to the dangers of negative health behaviors in an ever-evolving digital world.

“If an effort could be made to reduce the amount of time people spend using these types of social media, as well as the activities they perform on these platforms, we could potentially decrease the negative health effects du to these pervading fitspiration messages online, unattainable ideals of beauty, and the constant drive to create and maintain the perfect body,” they said.

U.S. military personnel sometimes face greater personal risk than the average American, especially when deployed to hostile regions.But a survey by the...

U.S. military personnel sometimes face greater personal risk than the average American, especially when deployed to hostile regions.

But a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) shows that they also face greater financial risk when they return home. The survey highlights a number of reasons.

With multiple deployments, military consumers are seldom in the same place for very long. With frequent rotation, it's hard for military spouses to maintain consistent employment. When their military careers are over, it can be expensive for military personnel to transition to civilian life.

The survey found military personnel tended to have more unsecured debt than the average consumer. Their real assets were about 84% of the average consumer in the survey.

Thirty-six percent of military personnel in the survey were also paying off student loan debt. While that was less than the general student-age population, the survey found they had more car loan debt, averaging nearly $14,000 per person, and more credit card debt, averaging $11,000 per person.

Former Marine Cory Hixson served in Iraq and now works as a financial adviser for Edward Jones in Marysville, Ohio. Hixson says he can relate to a lot of the experiences of the military personnel who participated in the survey.

“After serving in Falluja and returning home, I hit the fast forward button on life,” Hixson said. “I had seen how short life could be. I set out to have the house, the new cars in the driveway, the picket fence and a family. My savings quickly went to zero and I found myself in financial trouble.”

Too often, military personnel who face financial challenges turn to payday lenders, which usually makes the situation worse. Payday lenders, meanwhile, consider military personnel a lucrative market and often locate storefronts near military bases.

Congress passed the Military Lending Act to protect service personnel from abusive lending practices. Active duty members of the armed forces, and those on Guard or Reserve duty, cannot be charged more than 36% on payday loans, auto title loans, and tax refund anticipation loans. It also provides similar protections for spouses and some dependents.

NFCC says it has found more members of the military are taking advantage of its credit counseling resources and programs so far this year. The Foundation says, in particular, its Sharpen Your Financial Focus program serves more active duty, reserve, guard, retired, veterans, and family members. Military participation jumped from 13% of the total in 2013 to 26% this year.

NFCC represents non-profit credit counselors who provide free or low-cost financial literacy education.

An Illinois law regulating "faceprints" is unconstitutional, Google argues in a court filing. The law requires companies to obtain written releases from in...

An Illinois law regulating "faceprints" is unconstitutional, Google argues in a court filing. The law requires companies to obtain written releases from individuals before collecting their biometric data, including facial scans.

"Illinois legislators cannot decide policy for the rest of the world," Google says in a motion filed last week with U.S. District Court Judge Edmond Chang in Illinois. The search giant says it can't be expected to know which people in its database are from Illinois. 

At issue is the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, passed in 2008. Besides requiring companies to get permission before making facial scans, it also requires them to notify people about the practice in advance and to publish a schedule for destroying the information if permission is not granted.

The filing came after Illinois resident Lindabeth Rivera filed a potential class action lawsuit charging that Google Photos unlawfully stores millions of faceprints of Illinoisians. 

Facebook faces a similar lawsuit and experienced a legal setback earlier this month when U.S. District Court Judge James Donato cleared the suit to continue, saying that Illinois law would be "written out of existence" if companies did not have to comply with it.

In the Google case, Rivera, who does not have a Google Photos account, said someone else took photos of her and uploaded them. Google subsequently used the photos to create a template of Rivera's face, she charged.

A second person, Joseph Weiss, charged in a separate suit that he does have a Google Photos account and uploaded 21 photos of himself but didn't give permission for Google to use them to make a permanent record of his biometric data.

In its filing, Google says Donato's ruling in the Facebook case was incorrect, basically arguing it has no way of knowing which faces in its database belong to Illinois residents. Therefore, the law would "effectively regulate conduct having no connection to Illinois," the company argued. 

The window of time right before sleep may seem like the perfect opportunity to catch up on your social media feeds or stream a video or two. But if you wan...

The window of time right before sleep may seem like the perfect opportunity to catch up on your social media feeds or stream a video or two. But if you want to feel well-rested the next day, experts say you might want to ditch the device before dozing off.

Sleep disorders are common, affecting roughly 80 million Americans. And nearly 90% of adults sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedroom, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Think there may be a correlation there? You may be right. Studies have found that using electronic devices around bedtime can throw off your body’s 24-hour internal clock, which may lead to poor quality of sleep.

The blue light pouring out of your phone, TV, computer, or tablet can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, thus suppressing the production of melatonin and delaying your normal sleep cycle. This can lead to a variety of sleep problems, ranging from moderate difficulty falling asleep to full-on sleep disorders like insomnia.

Getting a good night’s sleep can often be the difference between a productive day and one spent fighting the urge to fall asleep at your desk. So how can you prevent technology from robbing you of rest? These tips may be a good place to start. 

To get the 7-9 hours of quality sleep your body so desperately needs, experts recommend keeping electronics out of your bedtime routine. 

Using your bed for sleep only -- this habit will create a connection in your mind between your bed and sleep.

For those whose smartphone is their alarm clock: try turning on your phone’s “do not disturb” function to keep texts and calls at bay while you sleep.

Using a program like f.lux, which changes the color of your computer's display to adapt to the time of day.

Worried about tsunamis? How about earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes? Storm surges? Riots, dam breaks, societal collapse?Well, the good news is you...

Worried about tsunamis? How about earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes? Storm surges? Riots, dam breaks, societal collapse?

Well, the good news is you don't need to dig up your back yard or construct a full-scale panic room. Instead, you can just get a Survival Capsule or two, depending on the size of your family. (The base model seats two; others go up to ten).

The Survival Capsule is, as its name implies, a capsule that you can curl up in when times get tough. Actually, you don't curl up, you're seated comfortably in a sort of bucket seat with four-point harness. That way, if the capsule is battered by the forces of destiny, you don't bounce off the walls and hurt yourself.

It might sound unlikely, but the manufacturer says the little red balls are just the thing to get you through the perils of modern life. They float, can withstand battering, and most models have their own water and air supply.

We're told the sphere will "withstand the initial impact of a natural disaster, as well as sharp object penetration, heat exposure, blunt object impact, and rapid deceleration."

The manufacturer says the capsules -- which are patented as a "personal safety system" -- are tailor-made for people who don't want to depend on the government to keep them safe.

"Using a PSS, as opposed to a municipal safety system like a safe house, allows individual groups and families to be more in control of their survival in an emergency situation," the company's website says. "The capsule is also a variable disaster solution, which means it can vary position according to the water depth, so it will never be inundated by water levels rising too high. It also provides warmth, safety, and shelter during the initial post-disaster period before rescue crews and relief workers have arrived on the scene."

The units are available for pre-order, but production hasn't quite ramped up yet, so you'll be on your own this tornado season. 

Consumers have been on a spending spree in the last few months. And since wages haven't grown much in the last eight years, they've gone deeper into debt t...

Consumers have been on a spending spree in the last few months. And since wages haven't grown much in the last eight years, they've gone deeper into debt to do it.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the total U.S. credit card debt will likely surpass $1 trillion before the end of the year. It would be close to a record level. The record is $1.02 trillion in July 2008, just before the financial crisis.

Consumers have also borrowed huge sums to buy cars and trucks. Experian Automotive reports open automotive loan balances rose 11.1% in the first quarter of the year, going over $1 trillion for the first time ever.

But balances on auto leases grew more than twice as much. Open leases hit an all-time high of $76.9 billion, up a staggering 27.55% from the first quarter last year.

“Automotive financing certainly has started off the year with a bang, seeing steady growth in balances and loan volumes throughout the first quarter,” said Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive finance for Experian.

Zabritski notes there is nothing inherently troubling about the rising financing totals. As long as consumers can make the payments and manage their debt, their spending can benefit the economy.

But, she says, with so much debt, lenders will need to keep a close eye on delinquency trends to make sure the market remains healthy. Consumers, she says, need to stay current on their obligations to keep their credit scores up.

So far at least, there is nothing in the numbers to set off alarm bells. Experian reports that there were increases in both the 30 and 60 day delinquency rates for auto loans in the first quarter. However, they both remain relatively low when compared to the period just before the Great Recession.

There is one thing to keep an eye on, however. The report shows fairly significant increases in less-than-prime auto lending in the first three months of the year. Non-prime lending rose 9.5% while subprime loans increased by 10.9%. Both categories carry less-favorable lending terms, including higher interest rates.

One Texas mom found herself to be the star of a viral video over the weekend, and it all started with an impulse buy at Kohl’s. When Candace Payne reco...

One Texas mom found herself to be the star of a viral video over the weekend, and it all started with an impulse buy at Kohl’s.

When Candace Payne recorded a Facebook Live video of herself trying on a Chewbacca mask, the internet took notice. Payne’s infectious, childlike glee radiated from behind the Star Wars mask, turning the video into the hit it would soon become.

The four-minute video quickly amassed a record setting number of views. At 130 million views and counting, it is now the most watched Facebook Live video of all time.

Kohl’s representatives thanked their newest spokeswoman by showing up to her door with $2,500 in Kohl’s gift cards, several more Chewbacca masks, and a plethora of Star Wars merchandise.

"We don't want you to have to share your Chewbacca mask, so we 'confinsctated' masks for everybody," a Kohl's rep tells Candace Payne in a follow-up video posted to Facebook.

"We want to thank you for being a loyal Kohl's shopper," he says. "We can't tell you how much we appreciate that."

But while Payne and her family may be set on masks, Kohl’s has struggled to keep up with sudden demand. The Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens Chewbacca Mask by Hasbro is flying off the shelves at Kohl's and other retailers. 

The now-famous electronic mask is currently sold out on Kohl’s.com, a Kohl’s spokesperson told CNBC.

For years, consumers had to pay a fee – or apply for a loan – to see their proprietary FICO credit score. Increasingly, however, financial services firms a...

In November 1965 an obscure young lawyer named Ralph Nader published a book called “Unsafe At Any Speed.” Specifically, it focused on the Chevrolet Corvair...

In November 1965 an obscure young lawyer named Ralph Nader published a book called “Unsafe At Any Speed.” Specifically, it focused on the Chevrolet Corvair, but in general it was an indictment of the U.S. auto industry.

At the time, cost was the biggest factor guiding automotive design and production. Safety was not much of a concern. Cars were not even required to be equipped with seat belts.

But Nader's book struck a nerve with the public, and 10 months later President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act into law. It created an agency that would become the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and not long afterward came the first auto safety recall.

There were 803 vehicle recalls in 2014, involving 63.9 million vehicles, including two of the largest vehicle recalls in history.

This week in Washington, consumer advocates will celebrate Nader's book and the safety changes it helped usher in. In addition to Nader, speakers at a four day conference will include Phil Donahue, Patti Smith, Jim Hightower, Chris Hedges, Winona LaDuke, and several other citizen activists.

“The theme of this citizen mobilization will be discovering ways to break through power to secure long-overdue democratic solutions made possible by a new muscular civic nexus between local communities and Washington, D.C.,” the Center for Study of Responsive Law, a sponsoring organization, said in a press release.

Over the four days at Constitution Hall, speakers will try to motivate existing civic groups to take steps that will make them more effective, using Nader's campaign for auto safety as inspiration.

When he signed the auto safety legislation nearly a half century ago, President Johnson noted that over the previous weekend, 29 American servicemen had died in Vietnam, while 614 Americans died on the nation's highways.

“In this century, more than 1.5 million of our fellow citizens have died on our streets and highways: nearly three times as many Americans as we have lost in all our wars,” Johnson said. “Auto accidents are the biggest cause of death and injury among Americans under 35. And if our accident rate continues, one out of every two Americans can look forward to being injured by a car during his lifetime--one out of every two!”

The bill Johnson signed into law that day required all vehicles on U.S. roads, starting with 1968 models, to meet improved safety standards. It also improved tire standards and set up research and testing centers to investigate the causes of traffic accidents.

And what became of the Chevrolet Corvair? The car was in its second generation in 1966 when Johnson signed the traffic safety bill. Plans for a third generation were dropped and the car went out of production in 1969.

HMSHost of Bethesda, Md., is recalling multiple brands of trail mix that have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. There a...

HMSHost of Bethesda, Md., is recalling multiple brands of trail mix that have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The 7-oz. packages of trail mix were sold under the brand names Fresh Attractions, 1897, Ciao, Farmers Market, Grounded In, La Tapenade, Marche, MKT, Pronto, PZA, The Local, and Urban Market in stores in the following markets: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.

Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but return it to the store for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the firm at 1-877-672-7467 24/7 or by email at customerservice@hmshost.com.

Hy-Vee of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling its frozen Hy-Vee Vegetable Fried Rice and frozen Hy-Vee Chicken Fried Rice products across its eight-state r...

Hy-Vee of West Des Moines, Iowa, is recalling its frozen Hy-Vee Vegetable Fried Rice and frozen Hy-Vee Chicken Fried Rice products across its eight-state region.

The Vegetable Fried Rice was sold in 1-lb. bags with the UPC number 000007545012530 and a “use by” date of Nov. 5, 2017, or earlier.

The Chicken Fried Rice was sold in 20-oz. bags with the UPC number 0075450125290 and a “use by” date of Nov. 5, 2017, or earlier.

The recalled products were sold at Hy-Vee stores in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin between July 24, 2014, and May 12, 2016.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should discard them or return them to their local Hy-Vee store for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact Hy-Vee customer care 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-772-4098.

McCall Farms is recalling Piggly Wiggly brand frozen Yellow Cut Corn that may contain Listeria monocytogenes. The following product is being recall...

McCall Farms is recalling Piggly Wiggly brand frozen Yellow Cut Corn that may contain Listeria monocytogenes.

Consumers with questions may contact McCall Farms consumer affairs line at 1-800-277-2012 from 8am – 5pm (ET).

No matter how you travel these days -- airplane, bus, or train -- one thing is certain, it will be crowded. It is helpful to pack a carry-on bag with all t...

No matter how you travel these days -- airplane, bus, or train -- one thing is certain, it will be crowded. It is helpful to pack a carry-on bag with all the essentials to keep you occupied and comfortable.

Choose a carry-on bag that is roomy and lightweight and can easily fit under a seat. If you prefer to store it in an overhead compartment, keep your frequently used travel essentials handy in a smaller zippered bag.

Reading glasses If you wear glasses, you’ll be lost without them, so pack an extra pair. If the dry air bothers you, pack some eye drops along with eye glass wipes.

Travel documents What will you need upon arrival or in case of an emergency? Your tickets, travel confirmations, itinerary, emergency contacts, and a list of medications. Bring photocopies of your passport, photo identification, health insurance cards, and your credit cards.

Medications Always travel with your prescription medications. Never pack them in your luggage as they might get lost.

Something warm You never can tell what the temperature will be. While it is easy to shed layers, pack something for the cold. A fleece, sweater, large scarf, or a lightweight blanket will do.

Neck pillow Lightweight neck pillows provide needed support while traveling. Look for ones that attach right on your carry-on bag.

Water bottle If traveling by airplane, bring an empty water bottle to fill after passing through security or purchase a bottle inside the terminal. It’s important to keep yourself hydrated on a flight so drink plenty of water.

Reading material E-readers or an app on your tablet device make it easy to carry several books. Paperback books, magazines, or work will also keep you occupied.

Pack of travel tissues When you need a tissue, you need a tissue. In a pinch, tissues can also double for napkins.

Antibacterial cleansing wipes Use these to sanitize your seating and eating area and even for cleaning your hands.

Headphones Tune out the noise with noise cancelled headphones or earbuds. It’s helpful to bring an extra pair of earbuds should you have a noisy seatmate.

Snacks Onboard food purchases are limited so it pays to pack your own snacks and food. Dried nuts and fruit, hard candies, gum, granola or granola bars, fresh fruit, and packs of crackers and cheese pack well. If it’s a long trip you can pick up a sandwich or yogurt from the terminal.  

As you travel, pay attention to what makes you most comfortable and add that to your carry-on bag. It might be hand lotion or lip balm. After a long flight with a smelly seatmate I added an herbal balm to my carryon-on bag. It has the added benefit of helping me sleep.

Hillary Clinton is urging the Obama Administration to withhold final approval of Norwegian Air Shuttle's application to launch low-fare flights between the...

New nutrition labels unveiled today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) take aim at sugar in packaged foods, a prime culprit in obesity, type 2 ...

A new approach to immunotherapy has the potential to provide an improved diagnostic tool for treating breast cancer and malignant melanoma.In a study c...

A new approach to immunotherapy has the potential to provide an improved diagnostic tool for treating breast cancer and malignant melanoma.

In a study conducted at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, researchers were able to create a class of antibodies that are able to reprogram macrophage cells that are found in tumors. Reprogramming these cells allows a person’s immune system to better recognize tumor cells so that the body can kill them off and fight the disease.

This new approach has shown some promise in animal models, and researchers hope that it points to a possible way to combat the most dangerous diseases.

“We’ve found a new way of using antibodies for immunotherapy that activates immune cells, called macrophages, in the tumour. . . This makes it easier for the immune system to recognize the tumour and animal studies of three different cancers have given promising results,” said researcher Mikael Karlsson.

Most consumers may recognize immunotherapy as the therapy that allowed Jimmy Carter to beat cancer. It works by pumping up a person’s immune system so that it can combat harmful tumor cells; this is different from other forms of therapies that seek to attack the tumors themselves.

For the purposes of this study, the researchers focused on macrophages – immune cells whose purpose is to fight infection. Macrophages that inhabit tumor cells don’t do much to fight the disease under normal circumstances – in fact, they can sometimes prevent other immune cells from doing their jobs.

However, the researchers were able to use a modified antibody to reprogram these macrophages so that they were able to stop the spread of tumors in mice models. They noted that these macrophages are also present in human breast cancer and malignant melanoma, so there is hope that this type of therapy could be used on people suffering from these diseases in the future.

“We now hope that this new therapy, which has so far been tested preclinically, will one day be used in combination with another immunotherapy to make it even more efficacious. . . We are also looking into whether the presence of this type of macrophage in human tumours can be used clinically for the diagnosis of cancer diseases,” said Karlsson.

Losing a spouse can leave a deep, lasting wound. But widows and widowers just might be emotionally hardier as a result of the loss, new research suggests....

Losing a spouse can leave a deep, lasting wound. But widows and widowers just might be emotionally hardier as a result of the loss, new research suggests.

A study led by Virginia Commonwealth University found that widowed patients suffering from a neurological illness were happier than married patients with a similar illness.

The study -- published recently in the journal Healthy Aging Research -- builds upon the findings of a 2013 study, in which VCU and Virginia Tech researchers examined post-traumatic growth following loss of a spouse in chronic pain suffers.

In both studies, widowed patients experienced less emotional suffering and greater psychological hardiness than those who were married, divorced, separated, or single.

According to researchers, the reason for the discrepancy may have something to do with a widowed individual's ability to cope.

“Humans are incredibly resilient,” said principal investigator James B. Wade, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the VCU School of Medicine.

“By being confronted by and forced to deal with challenge, we develop new strategies for coping that allow us to better deal with future lifestyle threats.”

In other words, having already coped with major lifestyle adversity can leave individuals better prepared to face adversity the next time it comes along.

Wade says the study's findings have important implications for all people, especially now that humans are living longer.

“Everybody is going to experience their own challenges, and this study shows that being confronted with adversity changes you,” Wade said.

He adds that people grow, adapt and develop new coping strategies following the death of a partner, ultimately leading to higher levels of psychological resilience.

A New Zealand study finds that smokers who used a nicotine inhaler were twice as likely to quit smoking as smokers using a placebo inhaler. The study also...

A New Zealand study finds that smokers who used a nicotine inhaler were twice as likely to quit smoking as smokers using a placebo inhaler. The study also found that adding a nicotine inhaler to a nicotine patch doubled the chances of quitting over using a nicotine patch alone.

"There is considerable debate about whether inhaled nicotine is helpful for people who wish to stop smoking," said Julian Crane, a professor at the University of Otago, Wellington. "This is the first study to show that inhaled nicotine from a metered dose inhaler in the context of a smoker wanting to stop doubles their chances of quitting."

Crane says the findings are the first evidence that inhaled nicotine from a simple inhaler is highly effective and substantially increases a smoker's chances of quitting compared to the best current nicotine replacement treatment.

"Currently most smokers use nicotine patches to help them stop smoking. This study shows that if you add a nicotine inhaler to a nicotine patch, it doubles the chances of quitting over a nicotine patch alone," Crane said.

The results of the New Zealand study funded by the Health Research Council appear in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

Crane said an advantage of the nicotine inhaler is that, unlike electronic cigarettes, it has no physical associations with the act of smoking.

"It also has benefits in that it is much less likely to be used inappropriately to administer other drugs given that it is a completely sealed unit," notes Crane.

The researchers are currently looking at how to make the inhaler available to all smokers who would like to use it.

All dogs need adequate amounts of physical exercise and mental stimulation, and dog parks can be a great place to accomplish both. City dogs, especially, m...

All dogs need adequate amounts of physical exercise and mental stimulation, and dog parks can be a great place to accomplish both. City dogs, especially, might benefit from a little off-leash time to socialize with other dogs.

However, dog parks can also be a dangerous place. It’s not uncommon to witness fights between dogs. Additionally, there is the possibility that your dog may come into contact with an ill (and potentially contagious) dog.

According to Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co, soft tissue injuries or sprains affected over 24,000 dogs last year, making it the most common medical condition to come out of dog parks. Head trauma takes the top spot for most expensive dog park injury, setting pet parents back roughly $591.

Other dog park related medical conditions include lacerations or bite wounds, kennel cough or upper respiratory infection, insect bites, and heat stroke.

Keeping your dog safe from dog park injuries doesn’t have to mean foregoing the fun altogether. Experts say many of the medical conditions that crop up as a result of dog parks can be avoided, simply by taking a few precautions.

"The dog park is a great place for dogs to socialize and exercise, but there are safety measures dog owners need to be aware of," said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Nationwide, in a statement.

Pay attention to your dog at all times. By keeping a close eye on your dog, you’ll be able to notice right away if playtime becomes too rough.

If a dog park has designated areas for large dogs and small dogs, keep your dog in the appropriate area.

Keep a collar on your dog with proper identification tags that include contact information. Microchipping your dog can also be beneficial.

On warm days, avoid the dog park during peak temperature hours. Treating heat stroke in dogs can cost pet owners up to $579.

Look for any signs of overheating. Signs might include profuse and rapid panting, a bright red tongue, thick drooling saliva, glassy eyes, and lack of coordination. If this occurs, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.

Real estate experts surveyed by Zillow believe the real estate market would perform better under Hillary Clinton as President, rather than Donald Trump, ev...

Real estate experts surveyed by Zillow believe the real estate market would perform better under Hillary Clinton as President, rather than Donald Trump, even though Trump has spent his career in real estate.

While the survey covered a wide range of economic topics, the real estate professionals and economists in the survey had fairly uniform views of how each presidential candidate might impact home values.

"As the presidential election nears, candidates' individual plans for the economy are increasingly under scrutiny," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "Many of the candidates' proposals sounds [sic] appealing to voters, but a closer look through the panelists' economic lens reveals the potential impact of those proposed policies on our economy.”

Gudell says the results indicate a predictable, centrist candidate would be best for the economy as a whole and for the real estate market in particular. The panelists saw the more polarizing political leanings of Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, should he secure the Democratic nomination, as having a negative effect.

Should either man become President, the panelists said they would lower their projections for both home value appreciation and economic growth. Clinton, meanwhile, received mostly positive marks from the panelists for the market and the economy.

While home values have been increasing, at least half the panelists credit the price acceleration to tighter inventories of homes for sale, instead of more people being able to buy homes. While mortgage rates remain low, many people still cannot meet the new tighter mortgage qualification standards.

As for prices, the experts don't expect the recent increases to continue, and predict they might even slowly start to decline in the years ahead.

After adjusting for expected inflation, the expert panel's forecast for national home value appreciation averages 1.7 percent annually through 2020.

Earnings season on Wall Street has been revealing when it comes to retail fortunes. Shifting loyalties, emerging priorities, and evolving ways of shopping ...

Earnings season on Wall Street has been revealing when it comes to retail fortunes. Shifting loyalties, emerging priorities, and evolving ways of shopping have been on display.

Amazon.com has been the major disruptive force, but traditional brick and mortar outlets like TJ Max and Ross have been big winners as well.

And there have been losers. Venerable retailer Nordstrom's earnings disappointed Wall Street and its stock price took a tumble. One major analyst downgraded the stock after Nordstrom reported a drop in comparable store sales in the first quarter and badly missed its projected earnings number.

Nordstrom has always enjoyed a sterling reputation among mid to high end consumers. It is valued for its quality merchandise and attentive service. Walk into a Nordstrom and you'll hear lovely music, played by a person sitting at a baby grand piano. That's Nordstrom.

But how does that play in today's mobile, Millennial-driven consumer culture? The retailer is making some adjustments.

To compete for the value-oriented consumer, Nordstrom has announced changes in its loyalty program, making it easier for customers to earn $20 Nordstrom Notes. Customers can rack up benefits no matter how they pay for purchases, whether it's in a store or online.

"As customers' definition of service continues to evolve, we are focused on being responsive and delivering services and experiences that are important to them," said Erik Nordstrom, co-president, Nordstrom, Inc.

Nordstrom said the flexible rewards program is something customers specifically requested, so the company responded.

Under the adjustment, Nordstrom Rewards members earn one point per dollar when paying without a Nordstrom card. It's also easier to enroll. All you do is enter your name, mobile phone number, and email address.

Participation is easy too, the company says. Customers are not required to carry a card or remember an account number. The whole thing is keyed to the consumer's mobile phone number.

Nordstrom has also served notice that it is going after a younger clientèle. Bryan Galipeau, Nordstrom’s director of social media and display, told emarketer this week that the company is stepping up its use of Snapchat to reach college-age consumers.

Social media, he says, gives the 115-year old retailer a chance to translate the quality of the brick-and-mortar experience to a mobile, digital generation.

All the public service announcements, all the lectures, and all the traffic tickets don't seem to have made a dent in texting-while-driving cases. At least...

All the public service announcements, all the lectures, and all the traffic tickets don't seem to have made a dent in texting-while-driving cases. At least, not yet.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 3,100 people died in traffic accidents in 2014 as the result of distracted driving, and Beverly Shirk, pediatric trauma coordinator at Penn State Children’s Hospital, says texting behind the wheel was undoubtedly a factor in most of those accidents.

“People sending or receiving a text have four seconds or more that their eyes are off the road,” Shirk said. “If you’re traveling 55 miles per hour, that’s the length of a football field. Your reaction time might not allow for you to stop.”

Shirk is well-acquainted with the problem because every year she works closely with teens in workshops on safe driving. She says it's a challenge to make teens understand the many distractions present in the car and why it calls for making good choices.

Besides talking or texting, she says teens tell her that today's sophisticated infotainment systems can be a distraction, as well as operating navigation systems. Eating behind the wheel is still a major distraction, she says.

Shirk says many teens feel compelled to respond to messages from their friends instantly, even if they are in heavy traffic. The way around that, she suggests, is setting a phone to silent and stowing it out of sight while the vehicle is moving.

To alleviate anxiety over not being able to respond instantly, she recommends downloading an app that automatically responds to incoming contacts with a message that the recipient is driving and will respond shortly.

With the tools available to reduce cellphone distractions, more and more safety advocates are pushing to hold drivers accountable when they don't take advantage of them and cause accidents. Deborah Becker, co-founder of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs), says accountability works.

Drunk driving is down, she says, because drunk drivers are facing much stiffer penalties. These days, she says a fatal car crash is most likely to be caused by someone looking at their cellphone.

"When people were held accountable for drunk driving, that's when positive change occurred,” she said. “It's time to recognize that distracted driving is a similar impairment, and should be dealt with in a similar fashion.”

Becker's group is backing proposed legislation that would have drivers submit their phone to roadside testing to see if it were in use at the time of an accident or traffic stop.

Shirk says it all comes down to making good decisions. If you are driving and you need to use your phone, load music into the infotainment system, or pull up a map, simply pull off the road while you are doing it.

Consumers keep spending more money on new cars. The average transaction price on a new car these days is almost $34,000.That doesn't mean all new cars ...

Inventory shortages and faster price growth notwithstanding, sales of previously-owned homes rose for a second consecutive month in April.The National ...

Inventory shortages and faster price growth notwithstanding, sales of previously-owned homes rose for a second consecutive month in April.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports total existing-home sales -- completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, -- rose 1.7% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million. Sales are now up 6.0% from the same month a year ago.

“Primarily driven by a convincing jump in the Midwest, where home prices are most affordable, sales activity overall was at a healthy pace last month as very low mortgage rates and modest seasonal inventory gains encouraged more households to search for and close on a home,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Except for in the West -- where supply shortages and stark price growth are hampering buyers the most -- sales are meaningfully higher than a year ago in much of the country.”

The median price for all types of existing homes last month was $232,500, up 6.3% from April 2015, marking the 50th consecutive month of year-over-year gains. The median is the point at which half the prices are higher and half are lower.

Total housing inventory at the end of April was up 9.2% to 2.14 million previously-owned homes available for sale, but it is still 3.6% lower than a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace, versus 4.4 months in March.

“The temporary relief from mortgage rates currently near three-year lows has helped preserve housing affordability this spring,” Yun noted. However, he stated that “there's growing concern a number of buyers will be unable to find homes at affordable prices if wages don't rise and price growth doesn't slow.”

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell from 3.69% in March to 3.61% in April -- the lowest since May 2013, when it was 3.54%.

The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index (LEI) is picking up steam.After holding steady in March and inching up...

Rocky Mountain Bicycles of Canada is recalling about 78,000 bicycles in the U.S. and Canada. An open quick release lever on the bicycle’s front whe...

An open quick release lever on the bicycle’s front wheel hub can come into contact with the front disc brake assembly, causing the front wheel to come to a sudden stop or separate from the bicycle, posing a risk of injury to the rider.

This recall involves all 2003 through 2016 models of Rocky Mountain bicycles equipped with front disc brakes and a black or silver quick-release (QR) lever on the front wheel hub. Bicycles that do not have disc brakes are not included in this recall.

When the front QR is fully opened, if there is less than 6 mm -- or the width of a #2 pencil -- between the QR and disk brake rotor on the wheel, the bicycle is included in this recall.

The bicycles, manufactured in Canada, China, Taiwan and Vietnam, were sold at Rocky Mountain bicycle dealers nationwide and online at www.Bikes.com (Rocky Mountain Bicycles), www.Ems.com (Eastern Mountain Sports), www.JensonUsa.com, www.MikesBikes.com and www.PerformanceBike.com from May 2002, through April 2016, from between $250 and $15,000.

Consumers should stop using the recalled bicycles immediately and contact an authorized Rocky Mountain retailer for free installation of a new quick release on the front wheel.

Consumers may contact Rocky Mountain toll-free at 800-663-2512 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, by email at info@bikes.com or online at www.bikes.com and click on Safety/Recall at the bottom of the page.

Publix Super Markets is recalling cranberry nut and seed mix that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes. There have been no reported cases...

Publix Super Markets is recalling cranberry nut and seed mix that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The 7.05-oz. plastic containers of prepackaged cranberry nut and seed mix with a UPC of 41415-34986 and with use by dates August 7, 2016, through August 30, 2016, were sold at Publix retail produce departments in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Consumers with questions may contact the firm's consumer relations department at 1-800-242-1227 or online at www.publix.com.

SCOTT USA of Salt Lake City, Utah, is recalling about 1,600 SCOTT bicycles with SYNCROS seat posts in the U.S. and Canada. The seat post can break,...

SCOTT USA of Salt Lake City, Utah, is recalling about 1,600 SCOTT bicycles with SYNCROS seat posts in the U.S. and Canada.

The firm has received 11 reports of broken seat posts outside of the U.S. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves model year 2016 SCOTT men’s and women’s road bicycles with SYNCROS FL 0.1 seat posts. Bicycle models included in the recall are: Addict CX 10 disc, Addict SL, Addict Team Issue, Addict 10, Addict 15, Addict 20, Addict Gravel disc, Solace Premium disc, Solace 10 disc, Frame set Addict 10 (HMF), Frame set Addict CX 10 disc (HMX) mech / Di2 and Seatpost Syncros FL1.0 Carbon Offset 27.2mm. “SCOTT” is printed on the bicycle down tube and “SYNCROS” is printed on the seat post.

The bicycles were sold in black, grey and white with yellow, orange, green or blue decals. A complete list of serial numbers included in the recall can be found at http://www.scott-sports.com/global/en/company/safety-and-recalls. The serial number is printed on a white sticker and embossed on the underside of the bicycle frame near the pedals.

The bicycles, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold at authorized SCOTT dealers nationwide and online from June 2015 through March 2016 for between $3,300 and $9,700.

Consumers should immediately stop riding the recalled bicycles and return them to an authorized SCOTT dealer to have a free replacement seat post installed.

Consumers may contact Scott USA toll-free at 888-607-8365 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CT) Monday through Friday, by email at recall@scott-sports.com or online at www.SCOTT-Sports.com and click on “Safety” at the bottom of the page, then “Recalls” for more information.

Vending Nut Company is recalling a limited number of sunflower kernel products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses h...

Vending Nut Company is recalling a limited number of sunflower kernel products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The following products, in clear printed plastic packages marked with pack dates on the front, are being recalled:

The recalled products were packaged and sold at Vending Nut Company’s Ft. Worth, Texas, facility between February 24 and March 9, 2016.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but bring them back to the store for a refund, or simply discard them.

Consumers with questions may email the company at info@vendingnut.com or call 1-800-429-9260 Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (CT).

The Transportation Department has issued a final rule banning battery-powered electronic smoking devices – primarily e-cigarettes – from checked bags aboar...

The Transportation Department has issued a final rule banning battery-powered electronic smoking devices – primarily e-cigarettes – from checked bags aboard commercial aircraft.

“Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous, and a number of recent incidents have shown that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who called the ban a “prudent and important safety measure.”

The move was not unexpected. Back in October the agency issued an interim rule to the same effect, opening it to an extended comment period.

The final rule does allow passengers to carry e-cigarettes in the cabin of the aircraft, but it does not allow them to charge the devices during a flight.

Batteries, as a rule, make aviation officials nervous. There have been instances of lithium ion batteries in laptop computers and smartphones overheating, with some catching fire. Officials have long worried what would happen if a computer, packed in a suitcase and stowed in the body of a jetliner, caught fire.

In 2014 a plane in Tel Aviv had to be evacuated after the lithium-ion battery powering a passenger's iPhone 5 caught on fire, filling the cabin with smoke. A decade earlier a California teenager suffered second-degree burns when her cell phone caught fire without warning, with investigators pinning the blame on the lithium ion battery.

Granted, the batteries powering e-cigarettes are much smaller, but officials say it only takes a tiny spark to create a catastrophe.

“This final rule is the next step in hazardous materials safety standards following our interim final rule issued last October,” Marie Therese Dominguez, a Transportation Department officials, said. “The rule addresses the risk of fire brought about by carrying these electronic devices in checked baggage or charging them on board aircraft.”

The rule, however, does not stop people from carrying other devices powered by lithium ion batteries -- like computers, phones, and cameras -- in checked bags. It also does not stop a passenger from carrying battery-powered devices in carry-on luggage.

Just last week, a merger between Staples and Office Depot was finally derailed after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction requested by the Fede...

Just last week, a merger between Staples and Office Depot was finally derailed after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction requested by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The deal would have officially bound the two biggest office supply retailers together.

Now, the FTC’s administrative trial has been called off, a move that effectively closes the case and signals the conclusion of a struggle that started back in December of 2015. In the end, the agency said that the amount of corporate business that would have been dominated by these merged companies would have been unfair to competitors and consumers.

“This outcome bodes well for business customers in the market for office supplies. These customers will continue to reap the benefits of the direct competition between Staples and Office Depot, which would have been eliminated if the top two suppliers had been allowed to merge,” said Edith Ramirez, Chairwoman of the FTC.

Before calling off the merger, Staples and Office Depot had stated that the merger would not discourage competition due to the existence of local and regional office supply companies – and perhaps more importantly, Amazon Business. However, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan disagreed with this assessment.

“The evidence produced during the evidentiary hearing does not support the conclusion that Amazon Business will be in a position to restore competition lost by the proposed merger within three years,” he said.

So, for now, it seems that Staples and Office Depot will resume their rivalry in vying for consumers’ office supply needs.

Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers have only one gram of dietary fiber in a 30-gram serving, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York today alleges. ...

Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers have only one gram of dietary fiber in a 30-gram serving, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York today alleges. 

“Consumers are seeking out whole grain foods, and expect that when they see the words ‘whole grain’ on the package that whole grain is the main ingredient,” said Maia Kats, litigation director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). “Kellogg’s Whole Grain Cheez-Its have more white flour than whole grain. It’s effectively a junk food, and Kellogg is taking financial advantage of consumers who are trying to make better decisions for their health.”

"While we don’t normally comment on pending litigation, this suit is completely without merit. Our Cheez-It Whole Grain labels are accurate and in full compliance with FDA regulations. We stand behind our foods and our labels," Kris Charles, Kellogg Company spokesperson, said in an email.

The lawsuit says the “whole grain” crackers are nearly identical nutritionally to the original version of Cheez-Its, which contain "less than one gram" of fiber.

"The words “WHOLE GRAIN,” or in some cases, “MADE WITH WHOLE GRAIN” appear prominently on five of the six package panels, including the front of the box, known as the principal display panel. In small print on the front of the box, Kellogg states that the product has just 5 grams of whole grain per serving; some boxes state that the product has 8 grams. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half of the grains people eat be whole grains. Less than half the grains in both versions of Whole Grain Cheez-Its are whole," CSPI said.

Earlier this year, CSPI sued General Mills over its marketing of Cheerios Protein, saying the cereal has only negligibly more protein than original Cheerios but has 17 times as much sugar. That case is pending.

Life is a little more difficult for the estimated 37 million Americans who suffer from migraines. In addition to being painful, migraine attacks can impact...

Life is a little more difficult for the estimated 37 million Americans who suffer from migraines. In addition to being painful, migraine attacks can impact relationships and cause productivity to come to a screeching halt.

Light sensitivity (photophobia) often accompanies throbbing pain as one of the main symptoms of a migraine. Now, experts say exposure to a certain kind of light could actually help ease migraine pain.

According to researchers from Harvard Medical School, “pure wavelength green light” helps reduce the intensity of headaches and ease migraine sufferers’ sensitivity to light.

The study had patients with migraines report on how light of different colors and intensity affected their headache. Blue, amber, or red lights at the high-intensity light level of a typical office made headaches worse.

Green light, however, tended to reduce the intensity of patient’s pain by about 20%. The researchers say this might be because green light creates the least amount of electrical signals generated by the eye’s retina and brain’s cortex.

"My hope is that patients will be able to benefit directly from these findings one day very soon," said lead author Rami Burstein, professor of Anesthesia at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School, in a statement.

Burstein is currently trying to create sunglasses that block out all light but green, as well as a lightbulb that can emit pure green light at a low intensity. He notes that affordability will be a challenge, as the cost of one such lightbulb is currently "astronomical."

Dr. Noah Rosen, director of Northwell Health’s Headache Center in Great Neck, N.Y., says Burstein's findings are valuable. He calls the treatment “potentially beneficial,” but notes that further research is needed.

"In general, it seems a safe treatment but one that is limited by cost, access and whether its use on a regular basis would decrease disability," Rosen told HealthDay.

Back in 2012, LinkedIn said a data breach had exposed about 6.5 million users' passwords. Now it says the number is more like 117 million and it's advising...

Back in 2012, LinkedIn said a data breach had exposed about 6.5 million users' passwords. Now it says the number is more like 117 million and it's advising users to change their passwords.

The latest discovery came about when cybersecurity types noticed a posting on a cybercrime forum offering to sell account information on 117 million LinkedIn users, according to the Krebs on Security blog. 

Shortly after the 2012 breach, LinkedIn forced password resets on 6.5 million accounts, but this time around it's just advising users of the situation and suggesting they change their passwords to ensure they have "the best experience possible."

The predicament may not be all that dire for most users. LinkedIn is primarily a business-oriented network and users don't generally reveal too much actionable information. There's also the little matter of how many signed-up users ever bother to log in to their accounts.

LinkedIn claims it has more than 400 million users, but analysts say only about 25 percent of them sign in on a monthly basis.

Are we letting kids spend too much time in front of screens? It’s a question to which there is no real scientific answer, yet there is no shortage of opini...

Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching, and with it the start of the summer travel season. Consumers typically choose that holiday weekend to take a shor...

Cars have gotten safer for the people inside them, but that's not much consolation if one of them runs into you when you're crossing the street. Google has...

Cars have gotten safer for the people inside them, but that's not much consolation if one of them runs into you when you're crossing the street. Google has come up with an idea to improve the situation. 

To put it simply, Google was granted a patent this week for an adhesive hood. It would have an egg-shell-like covering that would crack if struck with enough force, releasing a gooey substance that would basically glue the pedestrian to the hood.

The idea is that this would limit the number of impacts suffered by the pedestrian. Currently, someone hit by a car often bounces off and slams into another surface -- the car's roof or windshield, the street, a tree or some other unyielding substance.

It would also discourage hit-and-run accidents, since the evidence would be glued to your hood in plain view of everybody. The drawback is that the pedestrian would be all sticky.

Pedestrian accidents are far from a minor problem. Pedestrian deaths as a percentage of traffic fatalities have been rising sharply -- from 11% in 2005 to 15% in 2014. About 4,800 pedestrians die each year in the United States -- 13 every day.

Experts differ on whether the rising death toll is the result of the trend towards making cities and towns more "walkable" or whether drivers have become more careless than ever because of smartphones and other distractions.

In December, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced plans to expand its safety ratings to assess how well a vehicle protects pedestrians.

Much of the hype surrounding self-driving cars is that they will be much less likely to mow down humans, but until then, we soft-shell humans need some help.

A Google spokeswoman quoted by The Washington Post declined to say more about the company's plans but said a patent isn't the same thing as a product announcement.

No longer do we just have the internet, a way to connect computers, tablets, and smartphones.Now, all manner of devices – cars, home appliances, even h...

Now, all manner of devices – cars, home appliances, even heart monitors – are connected, in an environment that has come to be called the Internet of Things (IoT).

Security firms have a hard enough time keeping your PC secure, so the question may arise, just how secure is your thermostat, and all the other products that work in the IoT universe?

Not very, says Experian. The company notes too many of these connected products are vulnerable because of weak security and controls. That, it says, can create points of weakness in users' critical private networks, systems, and data that are ripe for exploitation.

"The Internet of Things is only as strong as its weakest link, and it is important to fully understand what an interconnected environment means," said Adam Fingersh, senior vice president and general manager of Experian's fraud and identity business.

Weak security controls on connected products dramatically increase the chances for cybercriminals to hack inside your connected products and gain entry into your broader systems.

"As more and more products are connected, a casual mindset about the security risks inherent in IoT can create significant risk,” Fingersh said.

Experian has developed some proactive steps for both consumers and businesses. The company first suggests that consumers only buy products that operate in the IoT environment from reputable sources. An unvetted source could sell you a product with malware preloaded.

As you research a product that connects to the internet, make sure you understand the company's privacy policy and how they intend to use any data they collect from you. Data from any IoT device could end up with a third party and might be used for a variety of purposes.

Ask how access to these systems are controlled and guarded. If devices are enabled for downloading apps, exercise the same caution you would on your smartphone – download only from reputable providers.

Fingersh says the bar may be set higher for businesses. He says businesses tend to be bigger targets, and therefore should look at any IoT product it deploys within its system as a potential threat.

Consumers have been warned that using debit cards is inherently more dangerous than credit cards. If thieves manage to steal your debit card information, t...

Consumers have been warned that using debit cards is inherently more dangerous than credit cards. If thieves manage to steal your debit card information, they can clean out your bank account.

There have been numerous accounts of identity thieves planting “skimmer” devices on ATMs and gasoline pumps. These fake keypads usually fit over the real key pad and record PINs as they steal account information.

But these skimmers are now old fashioned, and consumers have been cautioned to inspect key pads before they punch in their PINs. So some thieves have become more clever and diabolical. They hijack the ATM itself, turning it into one big skimmer.

Security company Kaspersky Lab says one of its teams recently made the discovery while investigating an incident report at an unnamed bank. The team found traces of Skimer malware on one of the bank's ATMs. The cybercriminals had planted it sometime earlier, but had not activated it.

The Kaspersky team believes the thieves gained access to the bank's ATM system, either physically or by hacking into the bank's network. After that, they installed Backdoor.Win32.Skimer, malware that infects the core of the ATM, which controls the ATM's interaction with the banking infrastructure, including cash processing and credit cards.

Even though the cybercriminals have full control over the compromised ATMs, Kaspersky says they move slowly and deliberately, not wanting to raise suspicions. They no longer need the fake card readers that are getting easier to spot. Instead, when they throw the switch, they turn the entire ATM into a skimmer.

The malware allows the thieves to withdraw all the money in the ATM, or to intercept data from all debit cards used at the machine, which will continue to work perfectly.

The problem is fairly obvious. There is no way for a consumer to tell whether the machine they're using to withdraw money is stealing their card's data.

The security firm says most cybercriminals successfully breaching an ATM won't steal money directly. Rather, they'll use the software to steal debit card data, because they can do it for months before their scheme is uncovered.

They make duplicate cards using the stolen data and use those cards in uninfected ATMs to withdraw large amounts of cash.

Countering the threat isn't easy, but Kaspersky recommends banks undertake regular AV scans and upgrade security systems and policies. The company said its investigation is ongoing, and that it is sharing intelligence with the banking industry.

Financial losses due to skimming continue to mount. A year ago FICO Card Alert Service reported a 173% year-over-year increase in card and PIN skimming points at bank-owned ATMs. At the same time, it said compromised merchant debit card transaction points had declined sharply.

Airline passengers didn't have as much to gripe about in March as they did a year earlier or even a month before.The  Department of Transportation (DOT...

Airline passengers didn't have as much to gripe about in March as they did a year earlier or even a month before.

The  Department of Transportation (DOT) says the number of consumer complaints it received that month was down 17.7% from March 2015 and down 5.0% from February 2016.

According to DOT's Air Travel Consumer Report, there were 1,429 complaints about service compared with 1,736 the year before and 1,504 in February. However, during the first three months of 2016, complaints are up 1.0% from the same period the previous year.

Carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 81.5% in March 2016, up from the 78.7% on-time rate in March 2015 but down from the 83.6% mark in February 2016.

In addition, airlines reported six tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and one tarmac delay of more than four hours on an international flight. Five of those domestic delays and the international delay were in Denver during a snowstorm on March 23.

The consumer report also includes data on chronically delayed flights and the causes of flight delays, along with problems regarding baggage, reservation and ticketing, refunds, customer service, disability, and discrimination.

There's a good chance all of this will change when the report for May is released, given the problems airports have been experiencing lately.

Ajinomoto Windsor, with facilities in Fort Worth, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; Carthage, Mo.; and Portland, Ore., is recalling approximately 47,112,256 poun...

Ajinomoto Windsor, with facilities in Fort Worth, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; Carthage, Mo.; and Portland, Ore., is recalling approximately 47,112,256 pounds of not-ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.

The following heat-treated, not fully cooked, not shelf stable meat and poultry items, produced between May 1, 2014, and May 1, 2016, are being recalled:

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 21225,” “EST. 9281,” “EST. 1623A” or “EST. 18356” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped nationwide and to Canada and Mexico.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not to consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

phil&teds; of Fort Collins, Colo., is recalling about 870 phil&teds; dash strollers in the U.S. and Canada. The hinge used to fold the dash v5 stro...

phil&teds of Fort Collins, Colo., is recalling about 870 phil&teds dash strollers in the U.S. and Canada.

The hinge used to fold the dash v5 stroller can become damaged while opening and closing the stroller, posing a pinch hazard to the consumer.

The firm has received one report of the stroller hinge joint separating. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves phil&teds dash v5 buggy-style strollers with serial numbers ranging between PTRV 0715/0746 and PTRV 0815/2525. The serial number is printed on the lower left rear cradle, next to the identification label.

The strollers, manufactured in China, were sold at Baby Street, Dainty Baby, Mega Babies and other baby product and specialty stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, diapers.com and philandteds.com from August 2015, through April 2016, for about $550.

Consumers should immediately stop using the dash v5 stroller and contact phil&teds to have the stroller frame replaced free of charge.

Consumers may contact phil&teds toll-free at 855-652-9019 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (MT) Monday through Friday or online at www.philandteds.com and click on “Support,” then “Upgrades” and “Recalls” for more information.

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 32,267 model year 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees manufactured May 15, 2015 to February 19, 2016. The brake transmissi...

Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling 32,267 model year 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees manufactured May 15, 2015 to February 19, 2016.

The brake transmission shift interlock solenoid may have a loose electrical connection which could result in a loss of solenoid function.

If the solenoid loses function, the transmission may lock in the Park or Neutral position when the vehicle comes to a stop, possibly rendering the vehicle disabled in traffic, increasing the risk of a crash.

Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the shifter assembly, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on May 27, 2016.

Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's number for this recall is S28.

Woodstock Farms Manufacturing of Edison, N.J., is recalling a limited number of lots of conventional walnuts and walnut-containing products sold under the ...

Woodstock Farms Manufacturing of Edison, N.J., is recalling a limited number of lots of conventional walnuts and walnut-containing products sold under the Nature’s Promise, Woodstock, Market Basket, and Woodfield Farms brands.

The lot numbers are printed on the back of each retail bag. The walnut and walnut-containing products were shipped to retailers and distributors in limited quantities throughout the United States.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but discard them, retaining their store receipts, packaging reflecting lot numbers or any other proof of purchase they may have.

Consumers with questions may call Melissa McCullough at customer service at 732-650-9905 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (EST) Monday – Friday.

Frontier Co-op is recalling its Organic Hojicha Tea which may be contaminated with Salmonella. No illnesses have been associated with these product...

The four-digit lot code on the foil bulk packages follows the item number (#2920) on the front label directly above the UPC code.

Customers should not consume these products and either throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a refund.

Consumers with questions may contact Frontier Co-op at 1-800-669-3275 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (CT).

Garland Ventures of Garland, Texas, is recalling approximately 114,870 pounds of chicken fried rice products. The products may be adulterated with ...

Garland Ventures of Garland, Texas, is recalling approximately 114,870 pounds of chicken fried rice products.

The following heat-treated, not fully cooked, not shelf stable chicken fried rice products, produced between September 24, 2015, and March 23, 2016, are being recalled:

Case Codes associated with the “ANJOY Chicken Fried Rice” product are: 092415, 092915, 100215, 101325, 101615, 102015, 102715, 110315, 110615 and 032316.

The recalled products bear establishment number “P-31993” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and were shipped to retail distributor locations in Colorado, Georgia, Missouri and Utah.

Customers who purchased these products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

Kiddy USA is recalling 1,429 World Plus combination forward facing child restraints that convert to a high back booster seat, model 51 100 WP, manufactured...

Kiddy USA is recalling 1,429 World Plus combination forward facing child restraints that convert to a high back booster seat, model 51 100 WP, manufactured from July 2, 2012, through October 5, 2013.

The buckle/tongue on the booster seats may only partially engage. As a result, the consumer may have a false impression that the buckle is fully latched when it is not. As such, these seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, "Child Restraint Systems."

A partially engaged buckle will not adequately restrain the child in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

The remedy for this recall is still under development. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

The Kroger Co. is recalling Simple Truth Organic Mixed Vegetables. The product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No customer...

The recall affects stores operating under the following names: Kroger, Jay-C, Dillons, Bakers, Gerbes, King Soopers, City Market, Fry’s, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, QFC and Smith’s.

The following product, sold in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming, is being recalled:

Customers who purchased the above product should not consume it, but return them to a store for a full refund or replacement.

Customers with questions may contact Kroger at 1-800-KROGERS, Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 12:00 am (EDT) and Saturday through Sunday 8:00 am to 9:00 pm (EST).

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is shining a harsh light on car title loans -- the high-cost, small-dollar loans consumers use to cover une...

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is shining a harsh light on car title loans -- the high-cost, small-dollar loans consumers use to cover unexpected expenses.

A CFPB study being released today finds that one in five borrowers who take out a title loan wind up having their car or truck seized by the lender. More than four in five of the loans are renewed on the day they're due and two-thirds of car title loans are made to borrowers who end up taking out seven or more consecutive loans.

“Our study delivers clear evidence of the dangers auto title loans pose for consumers,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Instead of repaying their loan with a single payment when it is due, most borrowers wind up mired in debt for most of the year. The collateral damage can be especially severe for borrowers who have their car or truck seized, costing them ready access to their job or the doctor’s office.”

Car title loans are similar to payday loans except the borrower puts up their car, truck or motorcycle as collateral. The lender holds the title as security; if the loan is repaired then the title is returned, but if it isn't then the consumer loses his vehicle and all the money he has invested in it.

The typical loan is about $700 and the typical annual percentage rate is about 300 percent, far higher than most forms of credit, the study found. For the auto title loans covered in the CFPB report, a borrower agrees to pay the full amount owed in a lump sum plus interest and fees by a certain day. These single-payment auto title loans are available in 20 states; five other states allow only auto title loans repayable in installments.

The study looked at nearly 3.5 million car title loans and found them presenting issues similar to payday loans, including high rates of consumer reborrowing, which can create long-term debt traps.

A borrower who cannot repay the initial loan by the due date must re-borrow or risk losing their vehicle. Such reborrowing can trigger high costs in fees and interest and other collateral damage to a consumer’s life and finances.

Today's report follows an earlier study on online payday loans which found that borrowers get hit with steep bank penalties and risk losing their checking account due to repeated attempts by their lender to debit payments. With auto title loans, consumers risk their car or truck and a resulting loss of mobility, or becoming swamped in a cycle of debt.

The CFPB says it is considering proposals to put an end to payday debt traps by requiring lenders to take steps to determine whether borrowers can repay their loan and still meet other financial obligations.

Rising drug costs have been a hot topic of debate recently, but a new study suggests that these are not the only medical costs that consumers have to worry...

Rising drug costs have been a hot topic of debate recently, but a new study suggests that these are not the only medical costs that consumers have to worry about.

Researchers from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice surveyed a selection of doctors from Atrius Health – the largest ambulatory care provider in Massachusetts. The participants were asked questions related to the cost of medical tests and procedures; they were also asked about how much they believed they were responsible for controlling costs for patients.

The researchers found that while the vast majority of physicians believed they were responsible for controlling costs for their patients (92.2%), little more than a third of the respondents (36.9%) actually admitted to having an understanding of how much certain procedures and tests actually cost.

The researchers began their study in an effort to support a new initiative called “Choosing Wisely,” a campaign started in 2012 by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) that seeks to educate doctors on low-value health care services – tests and procedures that may be expensive or take a lot of time but don’t actually give much of a benefit to the patient.

A good portion of physicians in the study had strong feelings about doing their part to keep costs down. While they recognized that it actually was their responsibility to keep costs down, about one third of the respondents felt that it was unfair for doctors to have to be both concerned about costs and the welfare of their patients.

Another third of respondents said that they try not to think about costs at all while considering medical decisions, with roughly the same amount saying that they’re simply too busy to worry about costs on top of everything else.

However, the study also revealed that different types of doctors face different pressures when it comes to dealing with their patients and costs.

Primary care physicians, for example, reported feeling much more pressured by patients to order medical tests and screenings than medical or surgical specialists (68.3% vs. 58% and 55.8%, respectively.)

Despite these patient pressures, many of the participants stated that they were aware of the Choosing Wisely campaign. Nearly half of all physicians stated that they were aware of the program (47.2%), while medical and surgical specialists seemed less informed, with 37.4% and 27% being aware of it, respectively.

The researchers hope that extra support from the medical community can help keep medical costs low, but they also know that the responsibility for creating a tangible change is up to more than just the doctors.

“Our analysis points to the fact that there is willingness on the part of physicians to forgo low-value care services, if they have appropriate support that addresses patient demand, malpractice concerns, and other drivers of overuse,” said Dr. Carrier Colla, lead author of the study.

“But, it’s also clear that to get a meaningful reduction in the use of low-value services, we need to engage more than just physicians. The behavior and attitudes of patients, regulators and other stake holders all play a part in the consumption of these low-value services.”

Forty percent of all food in America is wasted, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). When food goes to waste, so do our resources....

Forty percent of all food in America is wasted, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). When food goes to waste, so do our resources.

At some point or another, you’ve probably contributed to the issue of food waste -- but you might not have realized it. Experts say up to 90% of us misinterpret expiration date labels and throw food away prematurely.

Now, a new bill introduced today in the U.S. Senate and House aims to make expiration date labels a little clearer. The ultimate goal: to reduce food waste and save resources.

We’ve been taught to believe that a looming expiration date signals that food is about to become unsafe to eat. Often, however, that’s not the case.

“Contrary to popular belief, expiration date labels often don’t indicate whether food is still safe to eat,” said Dana Gunders, Senior Scientist at the NRDC in a statement. “As a result, we are tossing massive amounts of perfectly good food in the trash -- along with all of the water, climate pollution, and money it took to get it to our fridge.”

Gunders explains that the bill will help clarify the real meaning of the dates on food labels, while the companion bills would establish standard federal rules for the dates on food labels.

The NRDC and Ad Council recently unveiled a new national public service campaign called Save The Food (video below). The campaign seeks to combat waste by showing consumers just how many resources go into a product before it reaches their home.

In a country where one in seven Americans is food insecure, we still tend to waste a substantial amount of food each year. It is estimated that we throw away $162 billion worth of food annually (about $1,500 worth per household).

Both the bill and the campaign seek to cut down on food waste by raising awareness of the issue and altering consumer's perceptions surrounding date labels.

Sears and Kmart are slowly fading from the scene, Macy's is cutting back, and JC Penney is adding appliances to make up for slumping sales in other departm...

Sears and Kmart are slowly fading from the scene, Macy's is cutting back, and JC Penney is adding appliances to make up for slumping sales in other departments. Gap's sales are weak and Aeropostale has filed for bankruptcy.

The answer, it turns out, is yes, and that retailer is TJX Companies, owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods, among other brands. It is announcing plans to grow its number of stores by more than 50 percent, to a total of 5,600 when it is finished, up from the current total of nearly 3,700.

"We are confident that we can continue to open stores around the world," CEO Ernie Herrman told investors Tuesday.

The company opened 219 stores last year and said it is not planning on closing any of them this year. Sales have been strong, rising 7% in the first quarter. Nearly all of the sales are the brick-and-mortar stores, not online.

“We are particularly pleased with our very strong customer traffic, which drove the comp increases at every division. This tells us that our strategies to bring consumers exciting values on an eclectic and ever-changing mix of the right fashions and brands, sourced from across the globe, are working," Herrman said. "We are confident that we are growing our customer base and gaining market share."

One answer is fairly obvious: shoppers like the stores and feel that it's a small adventure to stop in for a quick browse. That's because the stores are, or at least present themselves as being, akin to outlets. No two stores have exactly the same items and the inventory changes constantly.

"I like to come here because you never know what you're going to find but you know there'll be something you just have to have," said a shopper outside a HomeGoods store in Palm Desert, Calif., recently.

This shopper was expensively dressed and drove off in a new Audi, headed for the expensive country club area of Palm Desert. Other shoppers arrived in old pickup trucks with children in tow, illustrating the rather unique appeal of the TJX stores -- they draw consumers from all ends of the socio-economic scale.

Some people shop there because their budget requires them to look for bargains while others who could afford to go to Neiman Marcus (and probably do, once in a while) go there often because they enjoy the eclectic selection. 

It's a formula that few other national chains have managed to duplicate, and the jury is out on how long it will work for TJX.

Categories of complaints to the FCCPeople are mad about a lot of things, and now the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is helping put some numb...

Just about everything in California has one of those little labels saying it may give you cancer, make you fat, or cause other difficulties. San Francisco ...

Just about everything in California has one of those little labels saying it may give you cancer, make you fat, or cause other difficulties. San Francisco is going one step further, requiring warnings on advertisements for sugary drinks.

“WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.”

The idea, of course, is to slow the rise of obesity and related diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The beverage industry objected and went to court to block the law, but it failed. Now the measure is set to go into effect July 25.

The soft drink makers argued that the law violates their free speech rights, but U.S. District Judge Edward Chen Tuesday denied a request for an injunction, saying the soda barons were unlikely to prevail in court. 

The warnings won't appear on soda cans but must cover 20 percent of the area of any ad for sugary drinks that appear on billboards, posters, walls, bus shelters, and transit vehicles. Newspapers and magazines aren't included.

Other government agencies have tried to curb Americans' thirst for sugary drinks, most notably New York City which tried to outlaw the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. A state court struck down the law in 2014, saying the city had exceeded its authority.

Phildealphia is currently considering a tax of three cents per ounce on drinks with added sugar and several states are considering requiring warning labels, although none of the efforts appear likely to be implemented anytime soon.

Such draconian measures may not be necessary. It was reported in March that U.S. soda consumption was at its lowest level since 1985. 

"Drinking nine or 10 teaspoons of sugar makes no sense, and most Americans have wised up to what’s really in a single soda,” said Michael F. Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest when the figures were released.

Personal finance experts are quick to tell you that the best way to stay out of financial trouble is to not carry a credit card balance. When the bill come...

Personal finance experts are quick to tell you that the best way to stay out of financial trouble is to not carry a credit card balance. When the bill comes in each month, pay the full amount.

But not everyone follows that advice. Statistics vary depending on the source, but the average U.S. household carries $5,000 to $6,600 in credit card debt at any given time. Making matters worse, they may be paying 20% or more in interest, depending on their credit ratings.

Most consumers who carry a balance probably didn't intend to do so – there was an unexpected dental bill or car repair here and there, and debt just started to pile up.

Credit card debt is very expensive. There are almost no interest rates in single digits. If you have excellent credit, maybe you'll pay 12% APR. If your credit is so-so, you can expect your rate to be significantly higher.

So if you are thinking of applying for a credit card and using it to make a major purchase, you want a card that charges as little interest as possible. In that case, your best choice will probably be a card that charges no interest for an introductory period – and the period should be as long as possible.

These cards are mostly marketed for transferring balances from high interest cards, but fortunately they also extend the same 0% perk for purchases, at least for a limited time. If you need a few months to pay for a new refrigerator, for example, one of these cards might be worth considering.

The Citi Diamond Preferred Card is a favorite of consumers who are transferring a balance, because it provides a 21-month 0% interest introductory period on balance transfers. Fortunately, it also offers a 21-month interest-free period on purchases.

Other benefits include no annual fee and 24/7 access to personalized concierge service, providing help in booking hotels and flights and finding entertainment. You'll need an excellent credit score to get it, however.

The Citi Simplicity Card also offers 21 months with no interest on both balance transfers and purchases. Other perks include no late fees, no penalty rate, and no annual fee.

Both of the Citi Cards carry a 3% balance transfer fee, but if you only plan to use the card to make a purchase that you will pay off during the 21 month introductory period, you don't really care. This card also requires an excellent credit score.

If your credit score isn't excellent, but only good, you might consider the Chase Freedom Card. It has a 0% introductory period, but for only 15 months.

But since it's a rewards card, it offers some other benefits as well. For example, if you spend $500 during the first three months the account is open, it pays you a bonus of $150 cash back, which can go toward that new refrigerator. You can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending in different rotating categories.

Just remember that after you've made your major purchase with any of these three cards and paid for it, interest-free over 15 to 21 months, regular interest rates will apply on any remaining balance. so you'll want to make sure the purchase is completely paid for by then.

Looking into the eyes of an adorable puppy can cause serious side effects, including visions of puppy-filled days and a strong desire to bring it home. But...

Looking into the eyes of an adorable puppy can cause serious side effects, including visions of puppy-filled days and a strong desire to bring it home. But before signing those adoption papers, it’s important make sure you’re prepared.

It goes without saying that puppies are a big responsibility. And while they often atone for their misdeeds with cuddles and cuteness, it’s certainly not always easy to be a puppy parent. Accidents, chewed shoes, and lots of training are all part of the journey.

But with some reading and preparation, you might find it a little easier to transition into dog ownership. So how can you prepare yourself and your home for a new puppy?

If puppy season has you tempted to take home a furry friend, take a look at these tips for adopting a new puppy.

This week the government reported the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped 0.4% in April compared to March, and was up 1.1% compared to last year. Economists ...

This week the government reported the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped 0.4% in April compared to March, and was up 1.1% compared to last year. Economists pounced on the news that inflation is picking up, justifying the Federal Reserve's policy of boosting interest rates.

But Adobe, which recently launched a price-measuring system of its own, says prices are actually falling, not rising. It says its Digital Price Index (DPI), which measures online transactions, points to a continuing deflationary trend.

It's possible, of course, that both are correct. Prices for some things are going up. The cost of other things are going down. As a consumer, it all depends whether prices are higher or lower for the things you consume.

April's CPI shows the cost of gasoline went up, along with food prices, education, car insurance, housing costs, and recreation.

But Adobe’s April report for consumer goods prices found deflation between 0.2% and 2.4% for all the categories it tracks. The sole exception was hotel prices, which went up over the last 12 months.

Between March 2015 and March 2016 Adobe's DPI found that prices for TVs, computers, flights, appliances, toys, furniture, bedding, and sporting goods went down between 2.2% and 19.8%. In fairness, the government's CPI tracked similar price declines in those categories – they just had less impact in the overall CPI.

Adobe gets its data by analyzing billions of digital transactions involving 2.2 million products sold online. It says it is able to provide a more accurate picture of what is happening with prices consumers pay.

“With brands rapidly innovating and introducing new products and consumers increasingly shopping online, it’s essential that we have a mechanism to identify digital pricing trends quickly and accurately,” said Mickey Mericle, Vice President, Marketing and Customer Insights at Adobe.

What causes prices to go down? In a word, competition. The money consumers spend on a particular thing gets spread around among a larger number of providers, who must then lower prices in order to win or keep customers.

While deflation might sound like a good thing for consumers, it usually isn't in the long run. Businesses that can't raise their prices over time don't grow, and might even close their doors, leading to higher unemployment.

As the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) struggles to screen passengers at the nation's busiest airports, its job may be about to get a lot hard...

As the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) struggles to screen passengers at the nation's busiest airports, its job may be about to get a lot harder.

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade group for major U.S. airlines, has issued its summer air travel forecast, projecting this summer's passenger traffic to beat last year's by 4%. And last year was an all-time record.

“We saw airfares fall throughout 2015 and that trend continued in the first three months of 2016,” said John Heimlich, A4A Vice President and Chief Economist. “As airlines compete for passengers across an increasing portfolio of markets, air travel is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible.”

That might sound like good news, but it probably isn't. Already the bottlenecks at security check points have sent tempers boiling, as passengers can't get through the lines in time to make their flights.

As Chicago television station WLS reported over the weekend, 450 American Airlines passengers became stranded at O'Hare Airport Sunday when they couldn't get through security in time and the planes left without them.

Airline personnel rounded up hundreds of cots so the stranded passengers could spend the night in the terminal – a scene usually occurring only during a major weather emergency. It could well become a routine occurrence this summer at other busy airports.

A4A expects about 2.51 million passengers a day will book passage on U.S. airlines from June 1 through August 31 – 231 million over the course of the summer. To meet the record demand, it says airlines will offer 2.78 million seats per day.

The airlines may be able to accommodate that number, but the real question is whether the TSA's security system can. A4A says TSA should move to “quickly optimize staffing” to reduce boarding wait times.

“Research shows that people who get through security more efficiently have a significantly better travel experience,” said Sharon Pinkerton, A4A Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs.

Pinkerton notes that spring travel has already proven to be a challenge, with some passengers waiting an hour and a half to get through lines. Some passengers at O'Hare told CNBC that they arrived three hours early, as instructed, only to find the security checkpoint was not staffed during the early morning hours.

TSA says it is working with fewer screeners and has tightened security procedures. Congress last week approved a measure that shifts $34 million in the TSA budget to the hiring and training of additional screeners.  

If you ask most consumers about credit cards, they'll tell you they are handy ways to make a purchase online or in a store.Since millions of consumers ...

If you ask most consumers about credit cards, they'll tell you they are handy ways to make a purchase online or in a store.

Since millions of consumers carry credit card balances, they will also likely tell you that a credit card is an easy – albeit expensive – way to borrow money, since you could theoretically make payments on something forever.

Beyond that, consumers don't think much about the credit cards in their wallets. We know that because of a new study by NerdWallet, in which researchers asked consumers about their credit card knowledge.

Among the key takeaways is the fact that 41% of cardholders don't consider foreign transaction fees and fees for cash advances when they select a credit card. Nearly a third admitted to being confused by fees in general.

About one-third of consumers with credit cards are also unsure how to rack up rewards. Although most – 73% – attach value to rewards, 19% said they don't really understand the dollar value attached to their card's rewards.

“Most Americans would get more value from a general purpose, 3% cash-back card than a gas card issued by a national station chain,” the authors write. “Our analysis showed that gas prices would need to fall to $1.20 per gallon or lower for the typical gas card rewards to top a general purpose card that offers 3% cash back on gas purchases.”

Admittedly, if you aren't planning to travel outside the U.S., foreign transaction fees might not be a concern. However, NerdWallet reports that the foreign transaction fee on major credit cards can be as high as 3% on purchases.

When it comes to fees, most consumers are focused on whether a card has an annual fee. Eighty-seven percent said they consider an annual fee when they decide to apply for a card.

It's probably not surprising that many consumers don't understand their card's rewards system, since systems and rules can differ card to card and be somewhat confusing. General rewards can come in the form of dollars, points, or miles. The value of each can vary, even within card types.

The NerdWallet study found in the case of airline cards that points or miles earned can be worth as much as three cents or less than a penny. The way the cardholder decides to redeem the reward can also affect its value.

After inching higher last week, mortgage applications are headed lower.According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications fell 1.6% in the wee...

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications fell 1.6% in the week ending May 13, while refinance applications rose 1%. That pushed the refinance share of mortgage activity to 54.7% of total applications from 52.8% the previous week.

The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity fell to 5.5% of total applications, the FHA share dipped to 12.6% from 13.0%, the VA share came in at 12.2%, and the USDA share of total applications was unchanged at 0.7%.

WCD Kitchen of Fontana, Calif., is recalling Trader Joe’s Kale & Edamame Salad.   The product may be contaminated with Salmonella.   No illness...

The 3,763 recalled salads (UPC 00967112), with a “USE BY May 05, 2016 through May 14, 2016,” were distributed to Trader Joe’s stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The salad is packaged in a 10-oz. plastic clamshell and the “Use By” Date is stickered on the front of the label.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-909-574-4140, 8 AM – 4:30 PM, (PST), Monday – Friday.

Ford Motor Company is recalling 39 model year 2016 Ford Fusions manufactured from March 10, 2016, through March 16, 2016Ford Motor Company. The fro...

Ford Motor Company is recalling 39 model year 2016 Ford Fusions manufactured from March 10, 2016, through March 16, 2016Ford Motor Company.

The front driver seat track assembly's rear riser may have been improperly welded to the seat track rail, and as a result, the driver may not be adequately restrained in a crash. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) numbers 207, "Seating Systems" and 210, "Seat Belt Assembly Anchorages."

An improperly welded driver seat riser may fail to adequately restrain the driver during crash, increasing the risk of injury.

Ford quarantined the affected vehicles at dealerships prior to their sale. Dealers will replace the front driver seat track rail, free of charge.

Rucker’s Makin’ Batch Candies of Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling Dollywood Sweet & Salty Trail Mix. The product may be contaminated with Listeria mo...

Rucker’s Makin’ Batch Candies of Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling Dollywood Sweet & Salty Trail Mix.

The recalled product is packaged in an 11-oz. clear bag with “Dollywood Theme Park” label, UPC 490000503272, and best by codes 11-22-16 and 1-6-17, and was distributed at Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Consumers desiring a refund or who have questions may contact Rucker’s at 618-945-7778 or 888-622-2639 Mon – Fri. 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (CST), or by email at

Pirelli Tire is recalling 42 P Zero Trofeo tires, size 225/50RR15 91Y, manufactured from April 1, 2015, through April 7, 2015. The tires may not be...

Pirelli Tire is recalling 42 P Zero Trofeo tires, size 225/50RR15 91Y, manufactured from April 1, 2015, through April 7, 2015.

The tires may not be marked with a date code and, as such, fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 139, "New Pneumatic Radial Tires for Light Vehicles."

A missing date code could render the tire difficult to identify in the event of a safety-related issue, possibly causing them not to be removed from service. This could increase the risk of crash.

Pirelli will notify owners, and dealers will replace the tires missing the date code, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin during May 2016.

NORPAC Foods of Salem, Ore., is recalling two (2) frozen private label vegetable items -- Natural Directions Organic Mixed Vegetables and Natural Direction...

NORPAC Foods of Salem, Ore., is recalling two (2) frozen private label vegetable items -- Natural Directions Organic Mixed Vegetables and Natural Directions Organic Green Peas.

The recalled products may have been sold in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Guam.

Customers who purchased the recalled products may return them to the store where they were purchased for a refund, or discard them.

Consumers with questions may call the company at 888-641-9349, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (PDT).

Researchers are continuing to gather more evidence on the beneficial health effects of eating certain foods. As we reported recently, certain products like...

Researchers are continuing to gather more evidence on the beneficial health effects of eating certain foods. As we reported recently, certain products like onions, turmeric, and red grapes can go a long way towards protecting consumers from chronic inflammation; now, new research shows that eating horseradish can help protect against cancer.

The study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois, has documented how certain compounds found in horseradish, called glucosinolates, can help detoxify and eliminate free radicals in the body, chemicals that are known to cause cancer.

"We knew horseradish had health benefits, but in this study, we were able to link it to the activation of certain detoxifying enzymes for the first time,” said University of Illinois scientist Mosbah Kushad.

Previous research done by Kushad and other researchers had identified that horseradish contained glucosinolates, noting that it contained levels that were up to ten times higher than those found in other foods like broccoli.

The new study, however, set out to see if different grades of horseradish were able to detoxify or eliminate free radicals and other cancer-causing agents to a greater degree.

“There was no information on whether the USDA grade of the horseradish root is associated with cancer preventive activity, so we wanted to test that,” said Kushad.

The team tested 11 horseradish strains that were graded by the USDA into three different categories: U.S. Fancy, U.S. No. 1, and U.S. No. 2. The findings suggest that strains rated as U.S. Fancy had significantly higher levels allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), a particular type of glucosinolate that is good at fighting cancer.

The researchers state that incorporating foods that have AITC into your diet can go a long way towards fighting cancer. In addition to being particularly strong at eliminating cancer-causing agents, it is very easily absorbed by the body; researchers estimate that up to 90 percent of it is absorbed when ingested.

Consumers who are worried about having to eat a ton of horseradish to gain these health benefits can also rest easy; the researchers say that consuming just a teaspoon of the potent condiment is necessary to reap the rewards.

It's currently popular to portray foods made from genetically engineered (GE) crops as hazardous to human health, but a report issued today by the National...

It's currently popular to portray foods made from genetically engineered (GE) crops as hazardous to human health, but a report issued today by the National Academy of Sciences finds no such risks.

While not declaring genetically engineered foods perfectly safe, the academy's National Research Council found they cause no more health problems than other foods, which aren't perfectly safe either.

The council said it found no evidence of cancer or other health problems caused by genetically engineered foods and said that "sweeping statements about GE crops are problematic because issues related to them are multidimensional."

The 407-page report examined in detail the evidence for and against GE crops and said it found no evidence that foods from GE crops were less safe than "natural" foods, finding instead that the two are "substantially equivalent."

The report comes as controversy over GE foods seems to be reaching a climax. In July, Vermont will impose the country's first law requiring that GE foods be labeled and legislatures and activists in other states are pressing for similar measures.

The report was greeted warmly by food and scientific interests. The Center for Science in the Public Interest called it "a thorough and comprehensive evidence-based report."

"One of the report’s most significant findings is that there are no food safety or human health impacts from eating foods and ingredients made from currently engineered crops. That should give consumers confidence about the safety of eating foods that have those ingredients," said CSPI Biotechnology Director Gregory Jaffe.

However, Jaffe said it was "disappointing that the report does not recommend that FDA’s oversight change from a voluntary to a mandatory process." He said that "would have been consistent with the report’s acknowledgement that federal oversight is important to ensure both safety and public confidence."

Other groups weren't so kind. Some claimed the NAS panel was heavily influenced by industry interests. 

"More than half of the invited authors of the new NRC study are involved in GMO development or promotion or have ties to the biotechnology industry," the group Food and Water Watch said.

Since the beginning of the year, the financial community has been in a funk. One bank, analyst, economist, and major Wall Street player after another has w...

Since the beginning of the year, the financial community has been in a funk. One bank, analyst, economist, and major Wall Street player after another has worried out loud about a recession.

These worries are being expressed as the stock market has churned along near recent highs, employment has been rising, and workers' wages have begun to increase.

One of the latest to warn of a coming recession is hedge fund manager John H. Burbank III, of Passport Capital.

Yahoo Finance quotes Burbank in an investment letter as saying he believes that within the next year the world will experience a major Chinese currency devaluation and a U.S. recession.

“It is for certain in seven months we will see a U.S. election whose outcome may provoke or have discounted one or both,” Burbank wrote. “China will enter their liquidity crisis with likely the largest amount of non-performing debt in the world; the U.S. will enter its recession with the smallest rate reduction potential in history. For both it will be a normal ending after decades of extending their booms with the first quarter’s flip-flops possibly being their final policy moves."

Investment bankers have also been wearing grim expressions lately. JP Morgan is predicting even lower bond rates on the belief that the economy is running out of gas. The New York Post reports that 2016 has so far been one of the most pessimistic on Wall Street since the 2008 financial crisis.

“We’ve had crises in the past. What’s different about this is there’s not a crisis and we still feel pessimistic,” Paul Mortimer-Lee, chief economist at BNP Paribas, told The Post. “If something nasty comes around the corner, we’re in trouble.”

Then there are the nation's retailers, who have turned in disappointing earnings over the last couple of weeks. Both Kohl's and Macy's reported a drop in same store sales as consumers disappeared from sight.

If consumers are earning more and have a better chance of being employed, why aren't they spending? While some see that as a sign the economy is slowing, others see it as a sign the economy is shifting. Amazon.com, it turns out, is doing quite well. So are Home Depot and Lowes.

Where, then, is all the recession worry coming from? Perhaps it is coming from those segments that are losing business in the new environment. After all, when your sales go down and your costs go up, it's a recession for you.

The question, of course, is will it become a recession for everyone else? A growing number of people think so.

Takata Corporation is recalling nearly 14 million airbags in the latest of a massive series of recalls, although it is not yet known which cars have the po...

Takata Corporation is recalling nearly 14 million airbags in the latest of a massive series of recalls, although it is not yet known which cars have the potentially defective units.

Takata said it has determined that certain PSPI, PSPI-1.1, PSPI-2, PSPI 6, PSPI-L, and SPI airbag inflators assembled as part of the front airbag modules and used as original equipment or replacement equipment -- such as equipment installed after a vehicle crash necessitating replacement of the original airbags -- may rupture due to propellant degradation.

An inflator rupture may result in metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

Takata will be working with vehicle manufacturers to determine which vehicles the affected inflators were installed in, either as original equipment or as replacement equipment during service.

As this work progresses, numerous vehicle recalls will likely be announced by the affected vehicle manufacturers.

Owners may contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153).

Everybody knows that chocolate is bad for dogs. But the dangers of sugarless chewing gum aren't as well known, even though the consequences can be just as ...

Everybody knows that chocolate is bad for dogs. But the dangers of sugarless chewing gum aren't as well known, even though the consequences can be just as severe.

Sugarless gum often contains xylitol, a sweetener known as sugar alcohol. It's used in many products and foods for human use but can have devastating effects on your pet.

Over the past several years, the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received several reports—many of which pertained to chewing gum—of dogs being poisoned by xylitol, according to Martine Hartogensis, a veterinarian at FDA.

It's not just gum that often contains xylitol. You can also find it in sugar-free candy, including mints and chocolate bars. Other products that may contain xylitol include:

Put simply, the problem with xylitol is that it can cause a rapid decrease in blood sugar. That's because -- unlike in humans -- xylitol causes a rapid increase of insulin from the dog's pancreas, which in turn can cause blood sugar levels to plunge to dangerous levels.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include vomiting, followed by symptoms associated with the sudden lowering of your dog’s blood sugar, such as decreased activity, weakness, staggering, incoordination, collapse, and seizures.

If you think your dog has eaten xylitol, take him to your vet or an emergency animal hospital immediately, Hartogensis advises. Because hypoglycemia and other serious adverse effects may not occur in some cases for up to 12 to 24 hours, your dog may need to be monitored.

The surest way to keep your dog from accidentally woofing down xylitol is to keep all human food, drugs, and cosmetics in a safe place, keeping in mind that many dogs are adept at counter-surfing. 

And by the way, note that human toothpaste often contains xylitol and should never be used for dogs. 

What about cats? Their tolerance for xylitol is uncertain, but since most cats hate sweets, it's not usually a problem. 

One of the body’s first lines of defense against injury, infection, or outside toxins is inflammation – the signature, and sometimes painful, swelling and...

One of the body’s first lines of defense against injury, infection, or outside toxins is inflammation – the signature, and sometimes painful, swelling and redness that you may have experienced after sustaining an injury.

But the effects of chronic inflammation can be especially painful, and it can be devastating to your health if left unchecked. In fact, chronic inflammation can often trigger the onset of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, and it is especially potent in individuals as they get older.

There are certain anti-inflammatory drugs that can reduce swelling and inflammation, but a new study from the University of Liverpool has identified several foods that can prevent inflammation as well, including products like onions, turmeric, red grapes, green tea, and açai berries. The researchers say that the common trait that many of them share are the inclusion of certain chemicals called polyphenols.

Polyphenols are classified as micronutrients, and the researchers say that they have already been proven to be beneficial at preventing degenerative diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

They help by contributing to the release of cytokines in the body – a type of molecule that helps cells communicate with each other. When cytokine is released, cells are able to mobilize more quickly to fight infection or trauma so that inflammation can be reduced.

Although the researchers admit that a lot of research must be done to fully understand the potencies of different polyphenols, they recognize that fruit and vegetable intake modulate cytokine, and that certain products have more of an impact than others.

“The results of our study suggest that (poly)phenols derived from onions, turmeric, red grapes, green tea and açai berries may help reduce the release of pro-inflammatory mediators in people at risk of chronic inflammation,” said Sian Richardson, one of the senior researcher.

Grooming is more than just a means of making your pooch the prettiest on the block. It's also important to your dog's health.The brushing, bathing, and...

Grooming is more than just a means of making your pooch the prettiest on the block. It's also important to your dog's health.

The brushing, bathing, and general once-over given by groomers can help alert owners that something is amiss in a dog’s physical health. Brushing may help remove dead hair, dirt, and dandruff, but checking a dog’s skin and coat can also reveal abnormalities that should be treated.

Regular grooming appointments can help pet parents stay on top of any health concerns that may arise. Groomers check for ticks, fleas, and dry patches on the skin, as well as issues with a dog's nails, teeth, ears, or eyes. Noticing health problems such as these early on enables pet parents to seek treatment early.

What do groomers look for when assessing a dog's physical health? Take a look at Petco’s 7-Point Pet Care Check list, which is designed to help identify possible issues.

PetMD suggests starting dogs off with regular grooming appointments while they’re young (as early as three weeks old). Waiting too long to expose dogs to grooming practices like these (nail clipping and ear cleaning, especially) could make the experience more stressful and unfamiliar to them later.

Hawaii is suing Takata and Honda, accusing them of covering up defects in Takata's airbags. It's the first state to take Takata to court over the massive r...

Hawaii is suing Takata and Honda, accusing them of covering up defects in Takata's airbags. It's the first state to take Takata to court over the massive recall of airbags, which have been linked to 13 deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide.

Takata announced today that it is recalling 14 million more airbags, although it doesn't yet know which cars contain the potentially defective units.

“Companies that supply and market goods to Hawai’i consumers are obligated to deliver products that are safe and to provide consumers with full, accurate, and timely information when dangers become known," said Stephen Levins, Executive Director of the State Office of Consumer Protection. "Takata and Honda put their own profits and reputations ahead of honesty and their customers’ safety. We intend to hold them accountable for their conduct.”

Takata is also being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and faces an avalanche of lawsuits. Federal regulators earlier this month said an additional 40 million Takata airbags need to be replaced, in addition to 28.8 million already recalled.

Hawaii is one of the high-humidity states where the recall was initially focused. In its suit, the state says its tropical climate puts residents at a “significantly greater risk of overly aggressive combustion, rupture, and injury and/or death caused by Takata’s unsafe airbags.”

“Goodbye, sleep” tends to be the thought most closely associated with bringing home a baby. There is great joy in parenting a newborn, of course, but there...

“Goodbye, sleep” tends to be the thought most closely associated with bringing home a baby. There is great joy in parenting a newborn, of course, but there are also many sleepless nights.

Now, a new trend is here to help parents navigate the confusing world of infant sleep schedules. Instead of going it alone, more parents are hiring baby sleep coaches.

A CBS affiliate in San Francisco reports that more parents are tapping into the wisdom of baby sleep consultants, who come armed with such advice as, “No binkie. No swaddle, no bouncing, no rocking … calm before (the baby) goes down.”

Sleep consultants like Vivian Sonnenberg believe that, in addition to following the guidelines for safe sleep set forth by The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, it’s important to keep sleep practices consistent.

Crying babies may be the squeaky wheel in the equation, but it’s parents who often need the attention. Sleep consultants’ efforts are primarily geared toward teaching parents how to get their babies on good sleep schedules.

“She’s definitely training me,” Lisa, one of Sonnenberg’s clients, tells CBS. ”I think she is an important resource for me as a new mom. In our society nowadays, we don’t necessarily have the aunts and the grandmas and all of that support around us.”

The services of a sleep consultant don't come cheap; prices range from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000, depending on how much coaching a parent requests. Small amounts of coaching can be dished out via phone call, but some coaches also offer overnight stays.

New mom Susan Sanders says her baby sleep consultant, Melissa Zdrodowski of Sleep Sisters, had her daughter sleeping through the night in just a few weeks.

But because baby sleep consultants are not currently required to have state licenses, training and experience can vary. Sanders suggests parents do a little research before hiring a sleep consultant. 

“Like anything, you really want someone who is educated,” Sanders told CBS.” And as a doctor, I was drawn to someone who has an evidenced-based practice.”

Insurance companies are there to write a check when someone runs into your car. But Allstate is expanding its role, teaming with a company to perform routi...

Doctors are taking a new look at how they prescribe pain medication for children, as rates of opioid drug abuse rise nationwide.While it may be helpful...

Doctors are taking a new look at how they prescribe pain medication for children, as rates of opioid drug abuse rise nationwide.

While it may be helpful that physicians reduce or eliminate these prescriptions for children, it doesn't address the issue of drugs that are still in the medicine cabinet. And a survey suggests there are a lot of them.

Researchers at the University of Michigan report nearly half of parents whose children received opioids after surgery or illness reported keeping the leftover drugs at home. In many cases, parents who had disposed of the leftover pills had been advised to do so by the child's healthcare provider.

“We found that the amount of pain medication prescribed for children is frequently greater than the amount used, and too few parents recall clear direction from their provider about what to do with leftover medication,” said Sarah Clark, associate research scientist in the department of pediatrics at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Clark calls it a “missed opportunity” to head off prescription drug misuse among children. The leftover pills, she says, provide easy access to narcotics for teens and their friends.

When parents admitted to keeping the pills, the survey shows about 60% were for narcotics, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone.

The Michigan doctors say leftover drugs should be returned to a hospital, doctor's office, or pharmacy. A number of counties, responding to what has become an epidemic of opioid abuse, stage periodic “take-back” events to collect unused painkillers.

Many health officials believe one answer is for doctors to prescribe fewer opioid drugs, especially for children. In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines for prescribing opioids, noting that in 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.

Opioid prescriptions per capita increased 7.3% from 2007 to 2012. Oddly, the CDC found that opioid prescribing rates increased more for family practice, general practice, and internal medicine compared with other specialties.

The Michigan researchers say healthcare providers should not assume that parents understand the risks of keeping leftover pain medication in the home. They say doctors need to explain the risks to parents, and offer guidance on appropriate options for disposing of the pills.

Applebee's made a name for itself by providing predictable food in a predictable atmosphere. But maybe that was something of a problem.How do you set y...

Applebee's made a name for itself by providing predictable food in a predictable atmosphere. But maybe that was something of a problem.

How do you set yourself apart when you remind customers of another place they've been to? It might work for McDonald's, but maybe not for a casual dining restaurant that needs to attract food-obsessed Millennials.

So Applebee's has carried out something of a reboot, characterizing it as “taking back America's neighborhoods.” The centerpiece is wood-fired grills as the cooking medium of choice.

A new national advertising campaign invites guests to “follow the enticing aroma of American oak smoke” into their neighborhood Applebee's. The ad campaign is aimed at cutting through the clutter and letting consumers know that, when it comes to taste, something has fundamentally changed.

"We're in the midst of a transformation at Applebee's, and we are recommitting ourselves to every aspect of the guest experience," said Julia Stewart, chairman and CEO of Applebee's parent company DineEquity, Inc.

We are, after all, in a food-centric culture, when today's young consumers savor every flavor and demand something special and unique when they pick up a knife and fork. So Applebee's hopes to differentiate itself with terms like “hand-cut in-house,” and “wood-fired.”

"This goes far beyond a few new menu items or a limited-time offer,” Stewart said. “This is the biggest investment in culinary excellence in the company's history – transforming the menu, instilling pride in franchisee team members, delighting current guests and giving others a reason to come back."

The company expects the mainstays of its new menu to be certified USDA Choice Top Sirloin Steaks and Bone-In Pork Chops. It says both items are being hand-cut in Applebee's restaurants by trained meat cutters before they hit the grill.

Fortune magazine reports Applebee's move from gas-fired grills to wood smoke will cost $75 million, and represents a huge gamble for the restaurant chain. It notes the transformation will change the taste of 40% of the items on the menu.

Then again, the payoff could be significant. Amid rising competition in the casual dining sector, Applebee's has seen same store sales drop for three straight quarters.

That comes at a time when casual restaurant sales have been rising, so a bold change could be a positive catalyst to reignite profits. Applebee's obviously hopes that where there's smoke, there's fire.

Housing construction in April regained some of the ground it lost a month earlier.The Commerce Department reports privately-owned housing starts came i...

A big jump in the cost of gasoline helped send the cost of living up in April at the fastest clip in three years.The Department of Labor (DOL) reports ...

A big jump in the cost of gasoline helped send the cost of living up in April at the fastest clip in three years.

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports its Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% last month and is up 1.1% over the last 12 months.

An 8.1% increase in the cost of gasoline helped push overall energy prices up 3.4% last month. Also on the rise were the cost of fuel oil (+1.9) and natural gas (+0.6). Electricity prices dipped 0.3%. Despite the big April increase, energy costs are down 8.9% over the past year, led by gasoline which has plunged 13.8%.

Food prices inched up 0.2% last month with the food at home category, a reflection of grocery store prices, advancing just 0.1%. The cost of dairy and related products rose 0.4%, while cereals & bakery products and nonalcoholic beverages both increased 0.3%. The largest of the increases came in the “other food at home” group, which jumped 0.5 percent. Fruits and vegetables were lower (-0.5%), as were meats, poultry, fish, and eggs (-0.1%). In the past 12 months, food prices are up 0.9%.

The core rate of inflation, which excludes the volatile energy and food categories, rose 0.2% in April, with prices for shelter, medical care, motor vehicle insurance, airline fares, recreation, and education up 0.3%. Costs for household furnishings and operations, apparel, new vehicles, used cars and trucks, and communication were lower. Over the last 12 months, the core rate is up 1.1%.

Rucker’s Wholesale and Service Co. of Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling Uncle Bucks Sweet & Salty Trail Mix The product may be contaminated with Liste...

Rucker’s Wholesale and Service Co. of Bridgeport, Ill., is recalling Uncle Bucks Sweet & Salty Trail Mix

The recalled product is packaged in a 3-oz, clear bag with Uncle Buck paper header card, UPC 752545073390, and the best by codes 031417 & 041817. It was distributed in Bass Pro Shops stores nationwide.

Consumers wishing to receive a refund or who have questions may contact Rucker’s at 618-945-2411, or 800-663-1857 Monday – Friday, 7:30AM - 4:30PM (CST), or by email at customerservice@ruckerscandy.com

The Kroger Co. is recalling Kroger Broccoli Raisin Salad because sunflower kernels included in the package may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes....

The Kroger Co. is recalling Kroger Broccoli Raisin Salad because sunflower kernels included in the package may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled product was distributed to Kroger, Jay-C, Dillons, Bakers, Gerbes, and Food 4 Less (Mid-West only) stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but return it to the store for a full refund or replacement.

Consumers with questions may contact Kroger at 1-800-KROGERS, Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 12:00 am (EDT) and Saturday through Sunday 8:00 am to 9:00 pm (EST).

Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 366 model year 2016 Touregs manufactured July 7, 2015, to March 3, 2016. The Tire Pressure Monitoring Syst...

Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 366 model year 2016 Touregs manufactured July 7, 2015, to March 3, 2016.

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) may be improperly calibrated and, as a result, may fail to warn the driver that the tire pressure is low. Additionally, the tire pressures printed on the Safety Certification labels are incorrect. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 138, "Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems."

If the vehicle is driven on underinflated tires, the tires may fail suddenly, increasing the risk of a crash.

Volkswagen has notified owners, and dealers will correct the TPMS settings and replace the safety certification label, free of charge. The recall began on May 13, 2016. Volkwagen's number for this recall is 44M9.

The Pictsweet Company is recalling certain frozen vegetable products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes The following products, w...

Hobby Lobby Stores of Oklahoma City, Okla., is recalling about 14,400 Little Wishes Chenille Stuffed Rattles. The rattle seams can separate, exposi...

Hobby Lobby Stores of Oklahoma City, Okla., is recalling about 14,400 Little Wishes Chenille Stuffed Rattles.

This recall involves Little Wishes Chenille Stuffed Rattles, including the Pink & Green Fish rattles, item number 5141577, and the Blue & Yellow Fish rattles, item number 5127642. The rattles are made of a soft chenille fabric with a fiber stuffing, and are 8.5 inches by 7 inches and have a hole cut out in the middle.

The item number is printed on the top left corner of the product hang tag. Rattles have a sewn-in label with “Reg. No. PA-15130(CN)” and “Hobby Lobby 9123069” printed on the front of the label.

The rattles, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively at Hobby Lobby Stores nationwide from January 2016, through April 2016, for about $7.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled rattles and return them to the nearest Hobby Lobby store for a full refund or store credit.

Consumers may contact Hobby Lobby Stores at 800-326-7931from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday, or online at www.hobbylobby.com and click on the “Recall” tab at the bottom of the page for more information.  

Spring is prime time for lots of things, including college graduations and snowbirds heading back home from sunny climes -- and both help to make May the s...

Spring is prime time for lots of things, including college graduations and snowbirds heading back home from sunny climes -- and both help to make May the second busiest time for car transport companies, second only to  the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Let's face it -- shipping your car is a lot easier than driving it, but the auto transport business needs to be approached with caution. There are lots of careful, reliable, and reputable companies, but there are also lots of quick-buck artists who went into business yesterday and may disappear tomorrow.

Horror stories abound, but there are plenty of other consumers who have shipped cars numerous times with no complications. As with anything, it pays to be realistic; things can go wrong and perfection isn't always possible.

The most common problem is scheduling delays. Car carriers operate on public highways and are affected by weather and congestion, just like the rest of us. Also, drivers get sick or sometimes are called off the road for family emergencies. Things happen, in other words. If your car shows up a few days late, it may be an inconvenience, but it's not a disaster.

Also, don't expect your car to arrive in showroom condition. Unless you are willing to pay a premium price for an enclosed carrier, your car will be exposed to the elements while it's being transported. It may get dirty and may even pick up a few new chip marks from flying gravel or other road debris.

Besides maintaining reasonable expectations, it's vital to pick the right company. There are basically two kinds of car transport companies out there -- brokers and the actual carriers.

Many of the companies that appear to be carriers are actually brokers. They advertise on the internet and elsewhere, but they don't own any trucks and can't move your car from Point A to Point B themselves. Instead, they line up business and farm it out to carriers, sort of the way Uber finds someone to take you to the airport on a minute's notice.

This isn't necessarily bad. The brokers make it possible for lots of small, mom-and-pop haulers to stay in business. The problem is that some brokers make promises they can't keep, quoting unrealistically low prices and delivery times. 

The safest course of action is to avoid brokers and book your job with a carrier. How can you be sure? Ask the company for its seven-digit USDOT number, something that is issued only to carriers, not brokers. 

Once you get that number, you can go to Protect Your Move, a U.S. Department of Transportation website where you can check out your carrier's record and find some helpful tips.  

It would almost be easier to write a news story about what Amazon is not doing rather than trying to keep up with everything it is doing. In the latest dev...

It would almost be easier to write a news story about what Amazon is not doing rather than trying to keep up with everything it is doing. In the latest development, the Wall Street Journal says Amazon will soon roll out its own private-label perishable foods under a variety of brands.

The new house brands include Happy Belly, Wickedly Prime and Mama Bear, according to the Journal. They include everything from nuts to coffee to baby food to vitamins.  

Private-label brands are nothing new, of course, but they are increasingly popular at supermarkets and specialty outlets. Trader Joe's, in particular, sells almost exclusively its own brands and has succeeded in positioning them as superior, or at least more economical, to competing national brands.

Amazon, of course, already has a houseful of house brands, including Pinzon linens and Elements baby wipes. Its AmazonBasics line includes hundreds of gadgets and convenience items, including audio cables, computer mouse units, and even dumbbells. It recently introduced new fashion lines including Lark & Ro and North Eleven.

Retailers like store brands because they're more profitable. Consumers once regarded what were once called "generic" items as lower quality but now mostly accept the notion that they are backed by the retailer, whose brand is often better etched into customers' consciousness than national brands once were.

Amazon is itself one of the most powerful brands on earth today, ranking at number twelve on Forbes' listings of the world's most valuable brands. The Kindle line of e-readers and tablets is also a well-established brand these days.

Gardening with kids is a great way to get them thinking about how food is grown. There are thrills to be found in the process of growing something edible, ...

The U.S. Supreme Court today dealt a blow to privacy class-action cases that do not clearly establish that plaintiffs have been harmed, but it side-stepped...

The U.S. Supreme Court today dealt a blow to privacy class-action cases that do not clearly establish that plaintiffs have been harmed, but it side-stepped setting any major precedents. The case involved information published by Spokeo, a "white pages" website that claims to provide accurate information about individuals.

Plaintiff Thomas Robins charged in the suit that Spokeo's site contained information about him that was incorrect and said that this had resulted in damage to his reputation and job prospects. He alleged that this constituted a violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) of 1970.

But in a 7-2 decision written by Justice Samuel Alito, the high court vacated a February 2014 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had held in Robins' favor.  

The trial court had originally dismissed Robins' case, saying he had not proven injury, but the Ninth Circuit disagreed and reinstated the case. Spokeo subsequently appealed, leading to today's Supreme Court ruling which split various hairs having to do with Robins' injury. It stated that while the harm was "tangible," it may not have been sufficiently "concrete" to warrant a trial.

Craig A. Newman, a partner with Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP and chair of its privacy group, called it "a bit of a lateral pass back to the appellate court."

"Not surprisingly, the Court was focused on whether there was a concrete enough injury to allow standing. It concluded that this issue wasn’t given proper attention by the appellate court, and sent it back on those grounds,” Newman said.

The suit alleged that by setting itself up as a "people search engine," Spokeo had fallen under the requirements of FCRA, which apply primarily to consumer credit reporting agencies.

FCRA requires consumer reporting agencies to follow certain procedures to ensure the accuracy of their reports, limits the use of reports for employment purposes, and requires posting a toll-free number for consumers to request reports.

Robins, 29, alleged that his Spokeo profile "states that he is married, has children, is in his 50’s, has a job, is relatively affluent, and holds a graduate degree" yet, according to Robins’ complaint, all of this information is incorrect. 

The high court did not definitively rule on whether Robins' injuries were sufficient to warrant legal action, merely returning the case to lower courts for adjudication.

It also dodged ruling on whether a mere statutory violation is sufficient grounds for consumers to bring suit. 

Newman noted, however, that both Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonya Sotomayor dissented from the ruling, saying they "concluded that misinformation about a consumer, such as educational information, family circumstances and economic status, was enough to satisfy the concreteness threshold that this sort of information – at the beginning of a lawsuit – could cause the plaintiff actual harm."

JoikuSpot, an app that could once magically turn a humble Nokia phone into a free WiFi hotspot, is back with some new features.Finnish mobile software ...

Value investor Warren Buffett is said to be among a group of investors making a bid to acquire the core assets of Yahoo, the moribund internet portal that ...

Value investor Warren Buffett is said to be among a group of investors making a bid to acquire the core assets of Yahoo, the moribund internet portal that has been slowly sinking into obscurity.

Press reports, citing unnamed sources, say that Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has teamed with Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and other investors to make the bid. AOL parent Verizon had been seen as the leading contender to acquire Yahoo's assets.

Buffett is not a fan of high-tech investments and generally sticks to bread-and-butter companies like railroads and food processors, although his group has become a leading investor in community newspapers. 

Yahoo and other websites are generally regarded as technology companies, as illustrated by the way their managers mangle their media components but underneath all the tech hype, a website like Yahoo is not fundamentally different from a TV network or newspaper.

All provide content that is primarily ad-supported but most tech ventures for some reason put editorial functions in the hands of engineers, often producing results that are similar to what would happen if newspapers turned over publishing duties to their pressmen.  

Through his investments in community newspapers, Buffett has been seen as voting for the concept that content is king, especially in smaller communities where a local newspaper has a virtual monopoly on local content. 

Gilbert built Quicken Loans and went on to become a professional investor, taking chunks of numerous high-tech and traditional ventures. He also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Verizon's interest in Yahoo is thought to center on the added heft it would bring to AOL, which has emerged as the cornerstone of Verizon's attempt to become a major content player. 

Others thought to be circling Yahoo include Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's former company, and other private equity firms. 

Yahoo once ruled the internet roost with an elaborate catalog of online resources but was displaced by Google's keyword-driven cataloging strategy. It has suffered through an endless series of CEOs, including the incumbent, Marissa Mayer, who left Google to attempt a Yahoo turnaround that most analysts agree has fallen flat.

A few years ago, U.S. consumers had to be extremely careful with their cellphones when they traveled outside the U.S.Reciprocal agreements among cellph...

A few years ago, U.S. consumers had to be extremely careful with their cellphones when they traveled outside the U.S.

Reciprocal agreements among cellphone carriers were nearly non-existent. When a U.S.-based cellphone landed in France, for example, the roaming charges quickly mounted up, even if it were turned on but not in use.

ConsumerAffairs routinely heard from consumers who were shocked when they opened their cellphone bills after a trip abroad and discovered they owed thousands of dollars in roaming charges.

We even heard from consumers who never left the U.S., but who traveled close to the borders of either Mexico or Canada, and found their phones had connected with a tower across the border.

Companies finally responded by developing international roaming packages that drastically lowered the cost of using a cellphone outside the U.S. And starting May 20, AT&T; will launch a new roaming feature for Mexico, providing service for no additional charge if they switch to the company's new Mobile Share Value 15GB and higher plans.

As a result, these customers will get unlimited calling, texting, and may access their data in and between Mexico and the U.S.

For customers on the AT&T; Unlimited Plan, there will be no roaming charges in both Mexico and Canada. They can talk, text and use data in Mexico and Canada for no roaming charge. These customers will need to separately add the AT&T; Roam North America apps to each phone and tablet to access the free service.

"We know our customers want the same experience abroad they're used to domestically,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T; Entertainment Group.

Christopher says about 20% of AT&T;'s postpaid base crosses a North American border at least once a year.

Rival T-Mobile has been among the most aggressive of the carriers to reduce the cost of using a cellphone while traveling. Last September it added 20 more nations and destinations to its international roaming package. Using the package, customers can get unlimited data and texting at no extra cost and calls for 20 cents a minute. The program also extends coverage and calling across the U.S., Mexico and Canada for all Simple Choice customers at no extra charge.  

Verizon Wireless offers international roaming for $2 per day per device for travel in Mexico and Canada and $10 a day per device in 100 other countries.

There are many ways to measure whether it makes more sense to rent than own. Many rental advocates correctly point out that you can't just compare mortgage...

There are many ways to measure whether it makes more sense to rent than own. Many rental advocates correctly point out that you can't just compare mortgage payments to rent. There are other costs associated with owning.

But it is also true that rents have been steadily rising, while fixed rate mortgage payments stay the same, with small increases in taxes and insurance from time to time.

Maybe for that reason, renters tend to worry more about housing costs than homeowners do, according to a Gallup Poll. When pollsters asked consumers if they were moderately to very worried about not being able to pay housing costs, 49% of renters admitted to being worried while only 25% of homeowners said the same.

The pollsters found the same level of worry at all income levels. However, as you might expect, lower-income consumers were more likely than those earning higher incomes to express worry about housing costs.

But Gallup also notes that homeowners might be less worried because their payments are more stable. Renters expect their payments to go up each month, and lately they've tended to go up a lot.

Gallup attributes much of that disparity to the declining percentage of homeowners in the wake of the housing crash. Fewer buyers – including homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure – swelled the ranks of renters. That competition for existing rental property escalated the price of rents.

“From 2001 through 2007, before the housing market crashed, an average 24% of Americans worried about paying their housing costs,” the pollsters write. “Since then, an average of 35% have. Although Americans' worry about a variety of financial matters is up since 2007, worries about making housing payments are up the most.”

The housing story of 2015 was rising rents. It could be much the same in 2016, according to research produced by The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. Apartment construction increased at its fastest rate in decades, but it hardly put a dent in vacancy rates, which were the lowest last year since 1985.

The Harvard researchers found the number of renters spending more than 30% of their monthly incomes on rent at a record high. There is no evidence that has moderated so far in 2016.

Part of the problem may be a growing housing shortage. Inventories of homes for both sale and rent have gotten tighter over the last 12 months, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says it may be due, in part, to the fact that not enough new homes are being built.

It's a safe bet that millions of consumers subscribed to some service long ago are no longer using it. Yet, thanks to an auto renew feature, a charge for i...

It's a safe bet that millions of consumers subscribed to some service long ago are no longer using it. Yet, thanks to an auto renew feature, a charge for it shows up regularly on credit card bills.

Anti-virus software is a perfect example. You might have signed up long ago and no longer even have the computer the software was purchased to protect. In 2009 Dan, of Odessa, Tex., said he replaced his Windows based computer with an iMac .

“The old PC was off to the land fill,” Dan wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “I did not install Norton on my IMac. Since then Norton security has helped themselves to about $90 a year of my money even though I never approved this auto renewal.”

Dan probably did, but just wasn't aware of it. Auto renewal language is common in anti-virus user agreements and is often the default position unless the user opts out at the beginning.

Other consumers sign up for one of those free trials, then forget to cancel, or were unaware they were required to do so. Once the trail period ends, that $9.99 charge shows up on a credit card bill like clockwork.

Enter Truebill, a free app that identifies and then takes action to terminate subscriptions consumers are paying for but no longer using.

When you sign up with Truebill, it connects with your bank and credit card statements. It scans each one looking for fees that show up on a regular basis.

After each scan, it sends the user a list of these charges for review. If the user looks at the list and finds one he or she no longer wants or needs, a simple click targets it for elimination.

Perhaps the most attractive part of the service is that Truebill handles the cancellation without the user's active participation.

“No more waiting on hold, our one-click cancellation system instantly saves you time and money,” the company promises on its website.

It says it uses extremely tight security protocols, along with a 256-bit SSL encryption to safeguard users' financial data. Its algorithms also identify and track your subscriptions, bills, and fees. It will then make suggestions to help users save money.

When subscribing to a new service or signing up for a free trial, consumers should be aware of auto renewal features and make sure they aren't checked – or reconsider the purchase if it isn't an option.

If you build them, they will come.That seems to be the outlook of the nation's home builders, who remain confident in the market for newly-built single...

That seems to be the outlook of the nation's home builders, who remain confident in the market for newly-built single-family homes.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) is unchanged in May at a level of 58. A reading above 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

“Builder confidence has held steady at 58 for four straight months, which indicates that the single-family housing sector remains in positive territory,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady. “However, builders are facing an increasing number of regulations and lot supply constraints.”

The HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair," or "poor." The survey asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average," or "low to very low." Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index.

The HMI components measuring sales expectations in the next six months increased three points to 65, while the component charting current sales conditions and the index gauging buyer traffic both held steady at 63 and 44, respectively.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South and Midwest both registered one-point gains to 59 and 58, respectively. The West was unchanged at 67 and the Northeast fell three points to 41.

“The fact that future sales expectations rose slightly this month shows that builders are confident that the market will continue to strengthen,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Job creation, low mortgage interest rates and pent-up demand will also spur growth in the single-family housing sector moving forward.”   

Certain Kroger brand frozen vegetables sold in Fry’s, King Soopers, City Market, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Smith’s, QFC, and Fred Meyer are being recalled. ...

Ajinomoto Windsor is recalling various not-ready-to eat frozen food items. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Th...

Customers who purchased the recalled products should discard them or return them to the store where purchased.

Consumers with questions may call the firm's consumer affairs hotline at (855) 742-5011 Monday through Sunday from 7 am – 5 pm (PDT).

Pilgrim’s Pride of Waco, Texas, is recalling an additional 376,380 pounds of fully cooked chicken products The products may be contaminated with ex...

Pilgrim’s Pride of Waco, Texas, is recalling an additional 376,380 pounds of fully cooked chicken products

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the recalled products.

The following items, produced on July 11, 2015, September 15-16, 2015, are being added to the recall:

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

Ford Motor Company is recalling 184,000 model year 2011-2012 Ford F-150 trucks manufactured August 19, 2011, to March 9, 2012; 2012 Ford Expeditions and Li...

Ford Motor Company is recalling 184,000 model year 2011-2012 Ford F-150 trucks manufactured August 19, 2011, to March 9, 2012; 2012 Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators manufactured August 19, 2011, to December 19, 2011; and 2012 Ford Mustangs manufactured August 19, 2011, to February 21, 2012.

The vehicles are equipped with an automatic transmission that may unexpectedly downshift to first gear, regardless of vehicle speed.

An unexpected downshift into first gear can cause the vehicle to slow down suddenly without warning and the rear tires may slide or lock, increasing the risk of a crash.

Ford will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the powertrain control module with updated software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 23, 2016.

Harris Teeter is recalling its brand of frozen organic corn and frozen mixed vegetables. The products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogen...

The recalled products may have been sold in Harris Teeter stores between October 19, 2015, and December 24, 2015.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but return them to Harris Teeter for a full refund.

Graco Children's Products is recalling 20,505 Graco TurboBooster booster seats, models 1967886, 1963973, 1963974, 1963975, 1963976, and 1975173, manufactur...

Graco Children's Products is recalling 20,505 Graco TurboBooster booster seats, models 1967886, 1963973, 1963974, 1963975, 1963976, and 1975173, manufactured between December 22, 2015, and April 5, 2016.

The instructions for the booster seats are missing the information that the seats should be securely belted to the vehicle at all times, even if the seat is unoccupied. As such, these seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, "Child Restraint Systems."

In the event of a vehicle crash, an unoccupied and unsecured child restraint may strike other occupants and cause injury.

Non-registered owners may obtain the missing printed instructions by contacting Graco customer service at 1-800-345-4109. The recall is expected to begin on, or about, June 10, 2016.

General Motors is recalling 317,572 model year 2013-2016 Chevrolet Sonic and Trax vehicles and 2013-2015 Chevrolet Spark vehicles equipped with a Bring You...

General Motors is recalling 317,572 model year 2013-2016 Chevrolet Sonic and Trax vehicles and 2013-2015 Chevrolet Spark vehicles equipped with a Bring Your Own Media radio.

The radios may fail to provide an audible warning chime when the driver, after turning off the ignition and leaving the key in the cylinder, waits 10 minutes or longer to open the door. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 114 "Theft Protection."

Without audible indicators, the driver may leave the key in the ignition, increasing the risk of theft.

GM will notify owners, and dealers will update the radio software, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is 17130.

General Motors says it mistakenly overstated the gas mileage estimates on the EPA window labels for several of its crossover vehicles. The automaker has in...

General Motors says it mistakenly overstated the gas mileage estimates on the EPA window labels for several of its crossover vehicles. The automaker has instructed dealers to stop selling all new Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave models until the stickers can be replaced, Automotive News reports.

“GM is stopping sale of the affected models until a corrected label is printed and affixed,” a memo to dealers reads, the trade publication said. A document sent to dealers lists 59,823 vehicles that cannot be delivered to customers until they get the correct label.

GM said an "inadvertent error" resulted in the stickers carrying fuel economy ratings that are 1-2 mpg higher than they should have been.

The stickers are called the Monroney sticker. They show the EPA's official fuel-economy ratings along with other information.

For women looking to become pregnant, there are many nutrients that need to be taken in order to promote the healthy growth of their future baby. One such ...

For women looking to become pregnant, there are many nutrients that need to be taken in order to promote the healthy growth of their future baby. One such nutrient, called folate, has long been considered a staple for proper development, but researchers are now questioning whether too much of it may be a bad thing.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study and found that women who had folate levels that were too high right after birth were much more likely to bear children who would later develop an autism disorder. These findings suggest that expecting mothers need to walk a line between having enough folate for development, but not having too much to the point that it may be harmful.

“Adequate supplementation is protective: That’s still the story with folic acid. . . We have long known that a folate deficiency in pregnant mothers is detrimental to her child’s development. But what this tells us is that excessive amounts may also cause harm. We must aim for optimal levels of this important nutrient,” said Dr. M. Daniele Fallin, one of the senior authors of the study.

For the purposes of the study, researchers examined nearly 1,400 mother-child pairs from the Boston Birth Cohort between 1998 and 2013. Researchers measured each mother’s blood folate level within three days after the time of birth, after which each mother and child was tracked over the course of several years.

The researchers found that mothers who had very high folate levels right after giving birth (more than four times the adequate level) had double the risk of bearing a child that would later develop an autism spectrum disorder; women who had high levels of vitamin B12, another important nutrient for development, had triple the risk of having a child that would develop an autism spectrum disorder.

If levels of folate and vitamin B12 were both high right after birth, the risk that the child would develop an autism spectrum disorder was 17.6 times higher.

The researchers note that there could be many possible explanations for the high levels of folate or vitamin B12. Many of the mothers who participated in the study reported that they were taking multivitamins throughout their pregnancy, many of which contain folic acid and vitamin B12.

Other explanations for the high levels could be tied back to eating habits or genetic predispositions. Many fruits and vegetables naturally contain folic acid, and other products like cereal, bread, rice, and pasta are fortified with it. Consuming too many of these foods during pregnancy could result in high levels, especially if an individual is predisposed to absorbing more of the nutrient or metabolizing it more slowly.

The researchers want to stress that pregnant women should not actively avoid consuming food products or supplements containing folate or vitamin B12.

“This research suggests that this could be the case of too much of a good thing. . . We tell women to be sure to get folate early in pregnancy. What we need to figure out now is whether there should be additional recommendations about just what an optimal dose is throughout pregnancy,” said study lead author Ramkripa Raghavan.

The findings of this research are due to be presented on May 13 at the 2016 International Meeting for Autism Research in Baltimore, Maryland.

No matter how often you cruise, there is something special about boarding the ship. Wouldn’t it be nice to make that initial entry onboard extra special?...

No matter how often you cruise, there is something special about boarding the ship. Wouldn’t it be nice to make that initial entry onboard extra special?

Imagine how it would feel to open your cabin door and be greeted with a beautiful bouquet of flowers or an iced bottle of champagne. If there is no bon voyage party or no one to send you off, it’s not a problem. You can welcome yourself aboard.

All cruise lines have an onboard gift shop with a variety of merchandise at all price points. You can purchase items online to be delivered to your stateroom that will make you and your fellow travelers feel welcome.

You can choose from standard fare, such as: flower arrangements, fruit baskets, an array of cheeses, snack packages, champagne, beer, or wines. If you want to get creative, the sky is the limit.

Most cruise lines offer specific bon voyage packages. For example, Holland America will provide sparkling wine, a balloon, and a ribbon for $31. Almost all the cruise lines will decorate your room, with costs averaging $35 and $49 for a bon voyage theme. If you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary or this is a romantic getaway, there’s a decoration package for you.   

If you would like to treat someone in your party, you can purchase gift cards for spa services, specialty restaurants, and drink packages.

What a fun way for kids and teens to be welcomed onboard with a special something waiting in their cabin. You will find no shortage of clever gifts for your young travel companions.

Disney has an array of branded merchandise with “Star Wars” and “Frozen” themes while Carnival offers a full range of “Seuss at Sea” items.

Cabin decorations are available with special décor targeted to children and teens. Other packages will help your kids feel right at home with all the cruise accessories they’ll need onboard. Disney has a Mickey cruise kids package including a backpack, character themed sun glasses, water bottle, and more -- and Celebrity offers an X-Club Backpack, Visor, Wallet, or Laniard and Key Chain. Carnival and Royal Caribbean offer beach packages that can include anything from sandals, towels, and tote bags to beach games.

Disney offers cleverly packaged bon voyage edibles for kids (or the kid in you), such as Rice Krispy treats in the shapes of Mickey Mouse, a life buoy and sandals, “Frozen” cookie treats, or a milk chocolate pirate ship.  

Signature gifts with the cruise line logo as well as travel-themed towels, totes, robes, and slippers are both festive and useful for your cruise. If you are celebrating a special milestone and have something unique in mind, contact the cruise line directly. They’re often willing to work with you.

Something as simple as water packs, insulated water bottles, and coolers are welcome items that you will need during your cruise. Carnival offers a Chill Out Water Package with a portable cooler and water bottles for $36.00.

Traveling with a special someone? You’ll find an abundance of romance packages that often include sparking beverages, robes, chocolates, and flowers.

You can give yourself a special welcome onboard for as little as $25 to $45. What a fun thing to add to your holiday at sea experience.

With an improved economy, more consumers are taking to the skies. Air traffic is up in early 2016 and is expected to break records this summer.As we re...

With an improved economy, more consumers are taking to the skies. Air traffic is up in early 2016 and is expected to break records this summer.

As we reported this week, J.D. Power's latest survey shows passengers are more satisfied with the nation's airlines than they have been in the last 10 years. But the survey didn't ask about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) check-in system.

There, complaints have been mounting, and not just from frustrated passengers. Gizmodo reports that even the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has taken TSA to task, where wait times at New York area airports reportedly approached an hour during the spring.

Now there's an infamous YouTube Video (below), shot Thursday at Chicago's Midway airport, that purports to show an endless line of passengers waiting to get through the security check point. To say the video has gone viral is something of an understatement – more than a million views in less than 24 hours – so it has apparently touched a nerve.

If there's one thing that gets Congress' attention and promotes bipartisan action, it's crowded airports and the inability to make a speedy getaway on a Thursday afternoon. This week, lawmakers approved TSA's request to hire more than 700 new screeners and get them in place before the summer.

TSA, meanwhile, is pushing back against some of the criticism, suggesting at least some of the delays at checkpoints could be alleviated if passengers were better prepared when they show up.

In a press release directed at passengers traveling through New York area airports, TSA said the reasons for checkpoint delays include a significant increase in passengers, more people with carry-on bags -- many of which have more than the limit of one carry-on bag and one personal item per passenger, and budget cuts that have reduced the ranks of screeners.

“Passenger preparedness can have a significant impact on wait times at security checkpoints nationwide,” the agency said in its release. “To facilitate the security screening process, travelers should arrive at the airport two hours in advance of a domestic flight and three hours prior to an international flight to ensure that they have time to park their cars (or return rental cars), check their bags with their airline, get their boarding pass, and make their way through the security screening process.”

TSA says being prepared means getting there early, having ID handy, knowing what you can and cannot take on board the aircraft, and not packing banned items in bags.

Nissan has come to the rescue of rival Mitsubishi, agreeing to purchase 34% of the stock in the Japanese automaker.Mitsubishi had been behind the eight...

Nissan has come to the rescue of rival Mitsubishi, agreeing to purchase 34% of the stock in the Japanese automaker.

Mitsubishi had been behind the eight-ball after admitting that it had cheated for years on its gas mileage ratings. The company faces penalties in the U.S. and Japan.

In the deal announced this week, Nissan and Mitsubishi agreed to cooperate in areas that would provide efficiencies to both companies. They include purchasing, common vehicle platforms, technology-sharing, joint plant utilization, and growth markets.

Carlos Ghosn, chief executive and president of Nissan, called the deal a win-win for both automotive companies.

"It creates a dynamic new force in the automotive industry that will cooperate intensively, and generate sizeable synergies,” he said. “We will be the largest shareholder of MMC, respecting their brand, their history and boosting their growth prospects.”

Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, says the partnership makes sense for both companies.

“There’s plenty of opportunity for product synergy with minimal product overlap,” she said in a statement emailed to ConsumerAffairs. “This could result in an improved financial picture for both OEMs as they tackle emissions mandates around the world, along with an ever-growing gap between the demands of the U.S. and China markets for larger vehicles and the demand for minicars amongst the developing nation markets.”

Nissan has quietly been making strides into the U.S. automotive market, boosting sales in the compact and mid-size segments. The Altima recently won rave reviews from CNET, which called the car a good compromise between the sporty and the cushy, saying it gives drivers a little bit of both.

Under the terms of its deal with Mitsubishi, Nissan will acquire more than 500 million shares of Mitsubishi at a discounted price. The purchase hinges on the signing of a definitive Alliance Agreement, which should take place by the end of this year.

Weddings can be a pricey, budget-busting affair. Keeping costs to a minimum can be enough of a challenge as is, but it can get even more difficult when ven...

Weddings can be a pricey, budget-busting affair. Keeping costs to a minimum can be enough of a challenge as is, but it can get even more difficult when vendors’ pricing is working against you.

The "Wedding Markup" isn’t a myth; many vendors do, indeed, charge extra for their services upon hearing the “W” word. To see where couples may be charged more than a vendors’ usual price, Consumer Reports dispatched a team of secret shoppers.

In comparing the results of price inquiries for a 50th anniversary party versus a wedding, the team discovered built-in wedding gratuities as high as 26%. The takeaway from the investigation? Consumers should be on the lookout for wedding-related fees hidden in fine print.

The secret shopper investigation revealed that some caterers charge a $7 per person cake-cutting fee. Photographers and limousine companies also charged higher fees for identical services if shoppers said “wedding” rather than “anniversary party.”

To help keep costs down, brides and grooms-to-be should speak up, ask questions, and even negotiate. Bargaining is allowed, experts say, and doing so can pay off.

“If you’re planning a wedding, you need to be aware that you may be paying a premium for products and services in some cases,” said Tobie Stanger, senior editor at Consumer Reports in a statement. “You may not think to bargain, but you should.”

Stanger adds that while these findings "aren’t enough to indict an entire industry," they do serve as a warning to read the fine print before signing on the dotted line.

Charter's takeover of Time Warner cable is a done deal. The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) approved the $55 billion deal at a standing-room-on...

Charter's takeover of Time Warner cable is a done deal. The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) approved the $55 billion deal at a standing-room-only meeting Thursday, the last remaining hurdle after the Federal Communications Commission and state regulators in New York and New Jersey approved it earlier.

“We are pleased to have now obtained all approvals," said Charter CEO Tom Rutledge. "We look forward to closing these transactions next week and to begin delivering the many benefits of these transactions to consumers.” 

No one seems very excited about the transaction, though. In its 466-page final order, the FCC said that it had concluded that "with the adoption of certain conditions designed to address specific harms and confirm certain benefits that would result from the transaction, the license transfers will serve the public interest."

The FCC rather glumly notes that the merged company, to be known as New Charter will have incentives "to impose data caps and usage-based prices in order to make watching online video more expensive, and in particular more expensive than subscribing to a traditional pay-TV bundle."

It then outlines the measures it has imposed to try to avoid that. For the next seven years Charter will not be allowed to impose data caps or charge subscribers based on the amount of data they consume.

It also won't be allowed to charge Netflix and other companies extra fees to "interconnect" directly with Charter's servers. In addition, the company will be unable to impose programming terms that could harm over-the-top online video distributors.

California also imposed a set of conditions, including hiring a "chief diversity officer," expanding minority progamming, upgrading cable systems, and providing low-price broadband to low-income families.

The California stipulations also require New Charter to upgrade to 300 Mbps by 2019 and allow all customers to buy their own modems and set-tops without added cost. 

Charter is also purchasing Bright House Networks, which will increase its broadband footprint to about 30 percent of the country. 

Kids and dogs can be a wonderful combination for a multitude of reasons. Dogs are silent teachers of responsibility and compassion, as well as loyal compan...

Kids and dogs can be a wonderful combination for a multitude of reasons. Dogs are silent teachers of responsibility and compassion, as well as loyal companions. They also make great backyard play pals.

But dogs don’t speak our language and may occasionally misinterpret our movements and gestures -- especially those of children. For this reason, experts say it’s important to take steps early on to prevent the possibility of dog bites.

Veterinarians believe that most dogs bites are preventable. The effort will be a two-way street, but dogs and humans can get on the same page through socialization and education.

Dogs are often considered members of the family, and members of the family should know how to read each other’s body language. But since dogs are an entirely different species, getting to know them can be slightly more complicated.

Taking your dog to obedience classes can help teach it to feel more comfortable around people and other animals. As Dr. Bonnie Beaver, former president of the AVMA and internationally recognized expert in animal behavior says, "Dogs not raised with good social skills can become dogs that bite.”

But even well-trained, kid-friendly dogs can bite if provoked, explains Beaver. She suggests never assuming that a dog won't bite. In addition, it can be helpful to expose kids to resources that can teach them how to safely approach and interact with dogs.

Teaching kids to respect dogs can help prevent bites, which can in turn prevent families from having to give up their dog.

"A dog bite can have a profound effect on the dog's family, especially the children, who, if the dog is euthanized, might have to cope with loss for the first time," said Dr. Amy McCullough, American Humane Association's National Director of Humane Research and Therapy, in a statement.

To help prevent bites and maintain a healthy relationship between kids and dogs, the American Humane Association suggests children be taught to adhere to the following guidelines:

Never approach an unknown dog or a dog that is alone without an owner, and always ask for permission before petting the dog.

The American Human Association also offers a free online book called "Pet Meets Baby," which provides useful information on introducing a new child to a home with a pet (or new pet to a home with a child).

Sometimes modern marketing is just too mind-bending to ignore. First we had cigarettes without tobacco, then milk made from peas, and now, courtesy of McDo...

Sometimes modern marketing is just too mind-bending to ignore. First we had cigarettes without tobacco, then milk made from peas, and now, courtesy of McDonald's, hamburgers made from fresh ground beef.

It's only being tested at 14 stores in the Dallas area, but McDonald's says if customers like the concept -- you never know, it just could spread.

Of course, McDonald's hamburgers have always been made from beef but, as just about everyone knows, the stuff arrives in the form of pre-frozen hockey-puck patties delivered from who-knows-where in great big tractor trailer trucks. It's the fresh-never-frozen concept that's being tested in Dallas.

USA Today says the burgers included in the test are the Bacon Clubhouse and Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese. The patties for these burgers are being made from the same grade of beef as the frozen stuff and are cooked to order, we're told.

You can thank chains like In-N-Out and Shake Shack, which have eaten McDonald's lunch with their fresh-never-frozen promotions.

The company says it's just part of McDonald's never-ending attempts to stay on top of consumer trends and preferences. That might lead one to think that McDonald's would also be looking at the other end of the spectrum -- you know, the no-beef-burger option.

Chains like Native Foods make some pretty colossal burgers despite the notable lack of beef. We recently sampled an Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger at the Native Foods outlet in Palm Springs, Calif., where the crowd routinely spills onto the sidewalk at just about any hour.

Although it contained no bacon, no cheese, and no burger -- and, as far as we could tell, no trace of Oklahoma -- the thing was damned good. It was actually bursting with flavor, which is something you hear about but seldom experience.

McDonald's told USA Today its fresh-not-frozen experiment is intended to "see what works and what doesn't." Maybe it would want to try some veggie options?

We checked McDonald's FAQ page, where a hungry diner had asked if the chain served veggie burgers. The verdict: 

No, we don’t currently sell veggie burgers. Although, we are always looking to evolve our menu. We have many customizable menu items like our Premium McWraps and Salads that we’re happy to make for you without meat; although, these aren’t certified vegetarian.

If you plan to get a new set of wheels this month, you should find some pretty good deals. Even though car sales seem to go up each month, manufacturers an...

If you plan to get a new set of wheels this month, you should find some pretty good deals. Even though car sales seem to go up each month, manufacturers and dealers are having to offer more attractive incentives to keep the sales tally going higher.

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) has analyzed this months offerings and picked the top 10 deals. Of the 10, six involve lease deals instead of purchases.

"Whether you're looking for a midsize sedan, a sporty hatch, an SUV or a luxury model, this month's deals have something that will grab your attention, including a compact luxury sedan that offers sporty performance at a surprisingly good price holding the top spot," said Jack R. Nerad, Kelley Blue Book's executive editorial director.

Topping the list is a lease from Acura – the 2016 ILX. This luxury sedan carries an MSRP of $30,840, but KBB says it should sell for $26,892. The current lease deal is for 36 months at $219 per month and $2,499 down.

Number two is a purchase deal on the 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth. Its MSRP is $23,295 but KBB's Fair Purchase Price is $21,152. What vaults it to the number two spot is the $3,250 cash back offer.

Not only does that amount to a 15% discount, buyers using the cash as their down payment can drive away with essentially no money down and have a payment of $314 for 60 months, assuming a 2% interest rate.

Number three is another lease – the 2016 Buick Enclave, a full-size SUV. The MSRP is just under $40,000 but Kelley's Fair Purchase Price is $37,699. The 39 month lease costs $331 a month with $1,831 due at signing.

May's fourth-best deal is on the 2015 Nissan Versa Note. The car's MSRP is $16,265 but can go for as little as $14,692. It comes with $2,000 cash back.

How about a 2016 Ford Fusion? The compact lands at number five of the hot deals list, with a Fair Purchase Price of $22,808 and a lease payment of $189 for 36 months and $1,999 due at signing.

If luxury is more your style, the 2016 Cadillac XTS is going this month for $43,124. The purchase deal offers 0% financing for qualified borrowers and $3,500 cash back.

At number seven is another lease deal, on the 2016 Toyota Corolla. Its $19,023 price translates into 36 monthly payments of $149 with $1,999 down.

The eighth-best deal is a purchase of the 2016 Hyundai Sonata, going for $21,178. Qualified buyers can get 0% financing and $1,750 cash back.

At number nine is a lease of the 2016 Lexus GS200t. Its Fair Purchase Price is the highest on the list, at $46,565. Lease payments are $399 for 36 months with $2,299 down.

Rounding out the list of May deals is a lease of the 2016 Chevrolet Trax. It goes for $22,483, with payments of $199 for 39 months and $1,619 down.

KBB says some of these deals may extend into June but that savvy buyers will hit showrooms over the Memorial Day weekend, when dealers might be even more generous in their deals.

You may have heard of the old adage that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but it may be more true than many of us realized. A new study has linked h...

You may have heard of the old adage that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but it may be more true than many of us realized. A new study has linked higher consumption of fruits and vegetables in adolescence with lowered risk of breast cancer later in life.

Up until this point, some experts had posited that eating fruits and vegetables affected breast cancer risk, but many established studies had only analyzed these eating habits for middle-aged or older individuals.

In order to rectify this, a team of researchers followed a group of 90,000 nurses in early adulthood over the course of 20 years, asking the participants to report on their diets and recall how they ate when they were younger. They found that those who consumed a high amount of fruits and vegetables (2.9 servings per day versus .5 servings per day) had a 25% lower risk of breast cancer when they reached middle-age.

The researchers also found that certain fruits and vegetables had particularly strong ties to lower risks of breast cancer. They included foods like apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, and kale.

Interestingly, consumption of fruit juices in adolescence did not have any tangible effect on breast cancer risk, suggesting that eating the whole versions of these products was more beneficial.

When high profile retailers like Target or Home Depot suffer a data breach, it generally makes big news. When it happens to a federal agency, it's often le...

When high profile retailers like Target or Home Depot suffer a data breach, it generally makes big news. When it happens to a federal agency, it's often less noticed.

So some consumers may be surprised to learn that FDIC, the agency that safeguards the nation's consumer banking system, has suffered several data breaches since 2013. Members of Congress say all the breaches were the result of FDIC employees going to new jobs and copying agency data to portable drives to take with them.

In a hearing Thursday, a subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee heard testimony from both senior FDIC officials and the agency's acting Inspector General.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) said he was troubled by what he called inconsistencies in FDIC testimony. He also accused FDIC of obstructing the committee's probe by not providing all the documents that were requested. He forcefully made that point in the video below, while questioning Lawrence Gross, FDIC's chief information and privacy officer.

The House subcommittee members said they established that FDIC had failed to notify any of the nearly 160,000 consumers that their sensitive information had been compromised, a step private sector firms are required to take immediately.

Both Republican and Democratic members of the subcommittee were said to be upset when FDIC termed a 2015 data breach as “inadvertent.” The committee says documents from the Inspector General show that it took several weeks to recover the portable storage device responsible for the breach, and that the former FDIC employee who took the drive hired a lawyer to negotiate its return.

“The FDIC has been less than forthcoming with Congress,” the subcommittee said in a statement. “From providing incomplete document productions to mis-characterizing the facts, this agency is obstructing Congress’ oversight and failing to protect taxpayers personally identifiable information.”

Lawmakers points to the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA) that requires the FDIC to notify Congress of major security incidences within seven days.

The subcommittee says the October 2015 incident that involved personal data for more than 10,000 individuals was not reported until more than four months after the breach, and only then after the FDIC Office of Inspector General prompted the agency to do so.

Last year Target paid over $39 million to settle charges relating to its 2013 data breach, in which million of credit card accounts were compromised.

After declining 0.1% in March and 0.2% in February, the cost of living one step shy of the consumer level is on the rise again.The Bureau of Labor Stat...

Retail sales rose in April for the first time in four months.According to the Commerce Department, sales totaled $453.4 billion -- up 1.3% from March a...

According to the Commerce Department, sales totaled $453.4 billion -- up 1.3% from March and are 3.0% ahead of the same time a year ago. At the same time, the government revised its March report to show a sales drop of 0.3% rather than the 0.4% initially reported.

Eleven of 13 categories posted gains, with most of the strength coming in sales by auto and other motor vehicle dealers, which surged 3.5% followed by gas stations (+2.2%), nonstore retailers (+2.1%), and grocery stores (+1.1%).

The only category to post a decline was building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers, whose sales dipped 1.0%

TwinGo of Mclean, Va., is recalling about 4,200 baby carriers in the U.S. and Canada. The waist buckle can break, posing a fall hazard to children ...

The firm has received 13 reports of buckles breaking worldwide, including 10 in the U.S., one in Canada and two in the UK. No injuries have been reported.

The Twin Go Original Carrier is an infant carrier designed to carry one or two babies against the caregiver’s body at the waist. It is intended for babies that are from 10 to 45 pounds.

“Twin Go” is printed on a label located on the front of the carrier and an 11-digit batch number is printed on a label sewn to the waistband. Batch numbers included in this recall: 23014024003, 01515026003, and 21615019001.

The carriers, manufactured in China, were sold at boutique stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com and TwinGoCarrier.com from December 2014, through May 2016, for about $215.

Consumers should immediately stop using the infant carrier and contact TwinGo for a free repair kit. A free replacement buckle will be provided with instructions. A repair video is also available at http://twingocarrier.com/pages/repairkit.

Consumers may contact TwinGo toll-free at 888-288-9342 from 9am-5pm (EST) Monday-Friday, by email at safety@twingocarrier.com or online at www.TwinGoCarrier.com and click on “Product Recall” at the bottom of the page for more information.

Twin City Foods of Stanwood, Wash., is recalling items containing organic peas it received from CRF Frozen Foods. The products may be contaminated ...

Twin City Foods of Stanwood, Wash., is recalling items containing organic peas it received from CRF Frozen Foods.

The following products, shipped to distribution centers in California, Texas and Washington, are being recalled:

Customers who purchased the recalled products are urged not to consume them, but return them immediately to the store where purchased for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact Chad Bernard at (804) 775-1939, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (ET) or by email at cbernard@mwcllc.com.

Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,288 model year 2016 Ford F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 trucks manufactured April 5, 2016, to April 11, 2016. The...

Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,288 model year 2016 Ford F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 trucks manufactured April 5, 2016, to April 11, 2016.

The tires installed during assembly of the vehicles may have sustained damage to the inner sidewall, possibly resulting in a loss of air or a tire rupture.

A rapid loss of air or a tire rupture while the vehicle is being driven may cause a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash.

Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the tires for damage and replace them as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in May 2016.

Stahlbush Island Farms of Corvallis, Ore., is recalling 10-oz. Stahlbush IQF Green Bean retail packages. The products may be contaminated with List...

Stahlbush Island Farms of Corvallis, Ore., is recalling 10-oz. Stahlbush IQF Green Bean retail packages.

The following frozen products, with the UPC code 6 38882 00053 7 and distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada, are being recalled.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Sit in any traffic court and you will hear drivers say that everyone else was speeding too. That's a defense that doesn't usually fly, but it may be soundi...

Sit in any traffic court and you will hear drivers say that everyone else was speeding too. That's a defense that doesn't usually fly, but it may be sounding attractive to Volkswagen now that German press reports say emission defeat devices have been found on GM's Opel cars.

Germany's Der Spiegel is reporting that the devices cause “the exhaust gas treatment in those cars to be severely limited, allowing the emissions of more poisonous NOx than permissible by law. Experts say this is illegal,” according to a Fortune report.

The report follows an earlier admission that several European automakers were taking a liberal interpretation of a rule that allows diesel emission control devices to be turned off at temperatures that could damage the catalytic converter.

Opel issued a statement saying it does not "deploy any software that recognizes whether a car is undergoing an exhaust emissions test.” But Der Spiegel said the effect is the same, “namely that the exhaust treatment only works when the car is being tested.”

The Der Spiegel report says that Opel's exhaust treatment is switched off when the engine is running about 2400 rpm, at elevations above 2,788 feet and at speeds above 90 miles per hour.

A German environmental group has scheduled a news conference tomorrow to discuss the allegations against what it calls “Europe’s dirtiest diesel car.” 

Volkswagen, meanwhile, is said to be closing in on a solution for its 85,000 U.S. Audi, Porsche, and VW models equipped with 3.0-liter diesel engines. European regulators have already accepted the company's proposal and it is said to be in the final stages of negotiations with federal and state agencies in the United States, Autoweek reports.

VW is still working on the details of its plan to buy back some of the nearly half-million 2.0-liter diesels, although it may be a hard sell getting consumers to go along.

VW dealers say many consumers are saying they like the cars and don't want to give them up or accept a technical solution that degrades performance or gas mileage.  

That feeling is far from universal, however. Consumers like Passat owner Holly of Oak Harbor, Wash., want nothing more than to be rid of their TDIs.

"It has depreciated so much you can't pay anyone to take it yet. You can't drive it because it is so unreliable. Volkswagen didn't care they already have your money and they continue to lie, cheat and steal as we the consumers are stuck with their crap. Buy back is a must," Holly fumed in a recent ConsumerAffairs review. 

For years doctors have made a distinction about cholesterol. High levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) was bad, and needed to be controlled ...

For years doctors have made a distinction about cholesterol. High levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) was bad, and needed to be controlled through diet, and often medication.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), on the other hand, is often described as “good” cholesterol, and is believed to help guard against heart disease.

The American Heart Association states the prevailing view on its website, touting HDL's helpful role in removing LDL cholesterol from the arteries.

“Experts believe HDL acts as a scavenger, carrying LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and passed from the body,” the Heart Association says.

It says a healthy level of HDL cholesterol may also protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL cholesterol have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

But health researchers conducting a study in Baltimore are expressing second thoughts about that prevailing belief. At least, they think there should be a couple of caveats. They conclude that the protection you get from HDL all depends on the levels in the body of two other blood fats.

“There’s no question that HDL does have a protective role, as we also confirm in the study, but HDL has been hyped-up,” said senior author Michael Miller, MD.

Miller, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine says HDL really should be viewed as a third priority. Reducing LDL should come first, followed by a reduction in triglycerides.

The researchers set out to answer a number of questions; they wanted to know if the level of HDL by itself determined the risk of a person developing heart disease. They also wanted to know how risk factors are affected if LDL and triglyceride levels are abnormal.

“Nobody has really looked at an isolated low and isolated high HDL, and whether or not other factors, such as triglycerides and LDL, make a difference in the risk of cardiovascular disease,” Miller said.

The study concluded that “good” cholesterol levels were not always a good predictor of heart disease risk. It also found triglyceride and LDL levels were a bigger influence on heart disease risk, regardless of whether or not the patient had high or low levels of HDL.

A political battle between Republicans in Congress and the White House could cost low-income Americans who rely on the subsidized coverage provided by Obam...

A political battle between Republicans in Congress and the White House could cost low-income Americans who rely on the subsidized coverage provided by Obamacare.

A federal judge ruled today that the Obama Administration has been improperly spending money to support the subsidy program. That's because Congress authorized the program but allegedly didn't appropriate any funds to finance it.

"Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, a George W. Bush appointee, who had earlier heard arguments in an unusual lawsuit brought by the House of Representatives against the White House.

The program, which helps consumers pay out-of-pocket healthcare costs like co-pays, will continue, pending an appeal.

Former House Speaker John Boehner filed the lawsuit two years ago, portraying it as a check on the Administration's authority to act without Congressional consent.

"This is not the first time that we’ve seen opponents of the Affordable Care Act go through the motions to try to win this political fight in the court system," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

When he filed the House v. Burwell lawsuit two years ago, former House Speaker John Boehner framed it as a check on the executive branch’s ability to change legislation once it was approved by Congress.

Several million Americans are receiving the subsidy. It's estimated that if the subsidies are eliminated, Obamacare premiums would rise as much as 30 percent to make up for the loss of funding.

The lawsuit is the latest challenge by Republicans to the Affordable Care Act. It is thought to be the first lawsuit ever filed by Congress against the White House in a dispute over how to interpret a statute.

Prom has always been an important rite of passage in a teen’s life, but the dance hasn’t always been so much of a financial burden. Families are now spendi...

Prom has always been an important rite of passage in a teen’s life, but the dance hasn’t always been so much of a financial burden. Families are now spending an average of almost a thousand dollars on prom, according to a recent survey by Visa.

Where is all that money being spent? As it turns out, the spending begins long before it comes time to pick out an outfit.

These days, teens are going all-out when it comes to asking someone to prom. They’re turning the once simple (yet nerve wracking) task of asking a lucky guy or gal to prom into an elaborate, proposal-esque experience -- one that accounts for about one-third (around $324) of their overall prom cost.

Popular promposals have included airplane banner flyovers, posing the question on a jumbotron, and using the pepperonis on a pizza to spell out “prom.”

Once a date is secured, the outfit selection can begin. And guys and girls alike are sparing no expense in an effort to look their best for the big night.

For ladies, prom is usually all about the dress. A 2012 survey by Seventeen magazine found that girls planned to spend around $231 for a dress, $100 for shoes and other accessories, and $118 on hair, nails, and makeup.

Looking sharp is equally important to guys, though they’re spending a little less on their grooming efforts. According to research from USA Today, guys spend an average of $127 for a tuxedo, $20 on their date’s corsage, and $100 on other accessories.

And who's footing the bill? If you guessed mom and dad, you'd be right. The Visa survey finds that parents plan to pay for a majority of the cost (73%), while kids will be expected to cover 27% of the expenses.

Some teens, however, have been slashing prom costs by getting creative. Instead of embarking on the painstaking journey of finding the right outfit, some students are taking matters into their own hands -- using duct tape.

Crafting your way to a prom outfit can help cut costs, and it may even score teens some scholarship money. Prom-bound DIY-ers may be interested in the Duck brand’s “Stuck at Prom” Scholarship Contest, which awards more than $50,000 in scholarship dollars each year.

There's been a lot of chatter about Adblock and other programs that remove advertisements from the web pages that show up on your browser. But while we kno...

Most restaurant meals are designed to be filling and satisfying. That, after all, is how restaurants fill tables.For that reason, restaurant meals tend...

Though they may be small, splinters can produce a river of tears -- especially when the tweezers come out. To a child, the splinter removal process can...

Tornadoes have been around forever but people haven't. And since we're still making people, there are more of us in the path of tornadoes each year, so it'...

Tornadoes have been around forever but people haven't. And since we're still making people, there are more of us in the path of tornadoes each year, so it's a good idea to review a few simple safety tips as the spring storm season opens.

Don't stop reading just because you're in Vermont, Alaska, or some other state that doesn't see many tornadoes. They can happen anywhere, and have. Tornadoes have been recorded in every state in the country, including Alaska. 

To stay alert, experts recommend you buy a weather radio, the kind that will sound an alert tone when there's severe weather in your area. Many smartphones will do this too but may not be as reliable. 

It's not a good idea to rely too heavily on the web. Pages often aren't updated as quickly as they should be and if you forget to refresh your browser, you may not see the latest information anyway.

If you're in your car when conditions are threatening, listen to a local radio station. Satellite radio isn't local and won't be much help.

The one good thing about tornadoes is that they cut a pretty narrow swath, unlike hurricanes, floods, or other natural disasters. But if you're in the path, you're in trouble.

Experts advise you pick a safe spot in your home, school, or workplace and then clear a path so you can get to it quickly. The ideal spot will have several walls between you and the outdoors -- perhaps a closet or bathroom. Having this spot in the basement or on the ground floor is best.

When a warning is issued, go to your safe spot and stay there. Don't go outside to see if you can spot the storm. 

Reminder: A tornado warning means an actual tornado has been sighted in your area. A tornado alert means conditions for a tornado are ripe and you should stay alert for updates.

Aside from being mobile, a car is not a good place to be in a tornado. If at all possible, head for a safe indoor location and stay there until conditions clear up. Better yet, stay home when it's stormy outside.

This may sound obvious, but drive carefully. There are lots of traffic accidents when tornadoes strike and many are caused not by the storm itself but by drivers trying to get out of the way.

Don't take shelter under an overpass or bridge. The wind is likely to be stronger there and it may be prone to flash flooding. 

There's some debate about whether there are more tornadoes these days, but it does appear to be the case that they are getting stronger. Bridge Creek, Oklahoma measured a tornado that had winds of 302 miles per hour in 1999. The same storm later killed 36 people at Moore, Okla.

While it's true that tornadoes can happen anywhere, there are some areas that are more dangerous than others. Texas, Kansas, Florida, and Oklahoma are the most tornado-prone.

No doubt many smartphone owners will take issue, but a new report by a technology company maintains that Android devices are no match for Apple's iOS when...

No doubt many smartphone owners will take issue, but a new report by a technology company maintains that Android devices are no match for Apple's iOS when it comes to technical performance.

In its Q1 “2016 State of Mobile Device Performance and Health,” Blancco Technology Group, an international data security firm, cites a series of diagnostics tests performed on a wide variety of iOS and Android devices using the SmartChk platform.

The results, the company says, show a “glaring disparity in failure rates” for Android devices when compared to Apple. It says Android devices failed 44% of the time in the tests, compared to just 25% for Apple's operating system.

The report said some of the most popular Android devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Lenovo K3 Note, logged the highest failure rates.

Older iPhones performed better than newer ones. The company said the iPhone 6 and 5s had the highest failure rates among iOS devices – 25% and 17%, respectively.

The tests found crashing apps on 74% of Android devices. Open/cached apps were detected on 44% of the devices. There were many more failures on both platforms in Asia than in North America.

The report's authors note that sales figures confirm that consumers buy more Android phones than iPhones. In fact, the latest numbers show Android increased its marketshare in the latest monitoring period, which ended in February. Android enjoyed strong growth in the U.S., Europe, China, Japan, and Australia.

"Android devices seem to be a contradiction in terms," said Pat Clawson, CEO, Blancco Technology Group. "On the one hand, Android is the number one operating system in terms of global market share. But despite this advantage, Android device performance still lags behind iOS and tends to be plagued by high rates of crashing apps and app cache.”

Of course, late 2016 could witness a shift, when there may be new products on the market for both platforms. Industry reports suggest Samsung could launch the S7 and LG G5 on the Android platform, while Apple is said to be preparing the launch of the iPhone 7.

For more information on the best available phones, providers, and consumer reviews, check out ConsumerAffairs cell phone guide.

Despite complaints about the unpleasantness of air travel, and the addition of fees in recent years, airline passengers are giving carriers their best rati...

Despite complaints about the unpleasantness of air travel, and the addition of fees in recent years, airline passengers are giving carriers their best ratings in 10 years.

The J.D. Power and Associates 2016 North America Airline Satisfaction Study credits lower fares, better on-time arrivals, and a reduction in lost luggage for winning over the flying public. It says investments in improved in-flight services, such as Wi-Fi, hasn't hurt either.

“While the perception of the airline experience still has a lot of room for improvement, there is notable progress in terms of satisfaction among the highest-ranked airlines in the study due to their keen focus on meeting or exceeding passenger needs,” said J.D. Power's Rick Garlick.

He says airlines are paying attention and taking action when customers complain or make suggestions. He credits that responsiveness for increasing satisfaction across all touch points of the passenger experience.

The improvement can even be seen in ConsumerAffairs reviews, which tend to often focus solely on an airline's shortcoming. But Mark, who took a Delta flight from Austin to Atlanta, was mostly complementary.

“My experience with Delta over the years has been mixed at best,” Mark wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “They did very well this time. The MD-90 outbound to ATL was a bit cramped and noisy, but the flight was on time. No luggage problems. The B757 back to AUS was very comfortable. Ground and cabin crews were friendly and attentive. A good experience, I am pleased today.”

“Airlines are making positive strides by adding value to its products and services with newer and cleaner planes, better in-flight services, improving on-time arrivals and bumping fewer passengers from their flights,” Garlick said.

For airlines seeking to improve their standing, he says investing in product and service improvements now may reap big rewards in the future.

J.D. Power's metric for measuring air travel satisfaction is an index that improved significantly over 2015, hitting its highest point in a decade. It found passengers were more tolerant of fees, perhaps because fares have moderated a bit in recent months.

In-flight service is the area where airlines scored lowest, although it was up 12 points over last year. The airlines that invested in in-flight entertainment upgrades, including more screens, Wi-Fi, and power outlets at seats, benefited most in this area.

Individual winners include Alaska Airlines, which placed first in the traditional carrier segment. Delta was second.

JetBlue took the honors for the highest rated low-cost carrier, edging out Southwest by a single point.

Lower mortgage interest rates and favorable prices translated into a slight increase in housing affordability in the firs...

Lower mortgage interest rates and favorable prices translated into a slight increase in housing affordability in the first quarter.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), 65% of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of January and end of March were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $65,700. In the fourth quarter, 63.3% of homes sold were affordable to median-income earners.

The national median home price fell from $226,000 in the fourth quarter to $223,000 in the first three months of 2016. The median is the point at which half the prices were higher and half were lower. At the same time, average mortgage rates edged lower -- from 4.09% to 4.05%.

“With interest rates near historic lows and attractive home prices, this is a great time to buy a home,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady.

Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., was rated the nation’s most affordable major housing market for the second consecutive quarter. More than 93% of all new and existing homes sold there in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $53,900.

Rounding out the top five affordable major housing markets in respective order were Syracuse, N.Y.; Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.; Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, Pa.; and Toledo, Ohio.

Cumberland, Md.-W.Va., claimed the title of most affordable small housing market in the first quarter of 2016. There, 98% of homes sold during the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $55,100.

Smaller markets joining Cumberland at the top of the list included Wheeling, W.Va.-Ohio; Fairbanks, Alaska; Binghamton, N.Y.; and Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill.

For the 14th consecutive quarter, San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, Calif., was the nation’s least affordable major housing market. There, just 10.4% of homes sold in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $96,800.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart were located in California. In descending order, they included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara; and San Diego-Carlsbad.

Four of the five least affordable small housing markets were also in California. At the very bottom of the affordability chart was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., where 16.1% of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $85,100.

Other small markets at the lowest end of the affordability scale included Salinas, Calif.; Napa, Calif; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif.; and Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii.

“This is the second consecutive quarter that we’ve seen a nationwide improvement in affordability due to favorable home prices and mortgage rates,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “These factors, along with rising employment, a growing economy and pent-up demand will provide a boost for home sales in the second half of 2016.”

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports first-time jobless claims jumped by 20,000 in the week ending May 7 to a seasonally adjusted 294,000, an increase of 20,000. While that's the highest level since February 28, 2015, the claims level has been under 300,000 for 62 weeks in a row, the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, considered a more active gauge of the labor market because of its low volatility, came in at 268,250, up 10,250 from the week before.

Schulze and Burch Biscuit Co., of Chicago, Ill., is recalling a variety of Millville Protein Chewy Bars products. The products may be contaminated ...

Schulze and Burch Biscuit Co., of Chicago, Ill., is recalling a variety of Millville Protein Chewy Bars products.

Consumers who purchased the recalled products should dispose of or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Ford Motor Company is recalling 75,364 model year 2014-2015 Ford Explorers manufactured January 17, 2014 to May 31, 2014. The recalled vehicles may...

Ford Motor Company is recalling 75,364 model year 2014-2015 Ford Explorers manufactured January 17, 2014 to May 31, 2014.

A fracture of the rear suspension toe link may result in a loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.

Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replaced the rear suspension toe links, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in May 2016.

La Autentica Foods of Hialeah, Fla., is recalling approximately 117,350 pounds of meat tamale products. The products may be contaminated with Liste...

La Autentica Foods of Hialeah, Fla., is recalling approximately 117,350 pounds of meat tamale products.

The following heat-treated, not fully cooked, not shelf stable tamale in corn husk items, produced from September 4, 2015, to April 26, 2016, are being recalled:

The recalled products bear establishment number “EST. 11154” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and were shipped to a retail and restaurant locations in Florida and New Jersey.

Customers who purchased these products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

Pilgrim’s Pride of Waco, Texas, is expanding its recall of fully cooked chicken products for a second time. Approximately 5,176,844 pounds of produ...

 Pilgrim’s Pride of Waco, Texas, is expanding its recall of fully cooked chicken products for a second time.

The first recall in early April was for 40,780 pounds of fully cooked chicken nugget products. The expansion in late April added 4,524,980 pounds of fully cooked chicken products.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

Google is banning all ads for payday loans, the short-term high-interest loans that trap many consumers in a cycle of debt they can't escape. Many payday l...

Drug prices have been a hot topic of conversation recently. Drug companies have come under government scrutiny for buying the rights to certain drugs and h...

Drug prices have been a hot topic of conversation recently. Drug companies have come under government scrutiny for buying the rights to certain drugs and hiking up prices to make a profit.

While some generic drugs could provide a less expensive alternative, critics argue that this business practice plays on the tendencies of many consumers who want to buy a brand that they recognize, are comfortable with, and is recommended by their physician.

But how much have these tendencies hurt consumers financially? Apparently, quite a bit. A recent study estimated that consumers spent an extra $73 billion on brand name medications between 2010 and 2012, money that could have been saved if they had chosen to buy less expensive, generic drugs.

However, the same researchers who conducted this study believe that therapeutic substitution, the practice of taking drugs that are not preferred by pharmacists and physicians but have equivalent results, could save consumers money in the long run.

The study, which was led by Dr. Michael E. Johansen from Ohio State University and Dr. Caroline Richardson from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, collected data on 107,132 individuals who had taken part in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

Participants were asked about which prescription drugs they used between 2010 and 2012, with the researchers noting which drug classes had generic or over-the-counter (OTC) alternatives to the brand name drugs.

The researchers found that, out of the $760 billion that was spent on prescription drugs between 2010 and 2012, 9.6% of total prescription medication expenditures were spent on brand drug overuse – that equates to nearly $73 billion. The amount of money that consumers spent out of pocket for these brand name drugs came to nearly $24.7 billion.

The findings indicated that consumers opted for brand name drugs most often for drug classes like statins, atypical antipsychotics, proton pump inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers.

While the authors of the study admit that their work would need further verification, they are quick to note that therapeutic substitution could be a viable option for decreasing drug costs to consumers. The fact that many physicians view therapeutic substitution as an affront to their autonomy may be a sticking point, but they assert that it should be considered nevertheless.

“There was a large amount of excess expenditure on branded drugs between 2010 and 2012 in classes that could have incorporated therapeutic substitution. Although therapeutic substitution is controversial, it offers a potential mechanism to decrease drug costs if it can be implemented in a way that does not negatively affect quality of care,” they said.

The U.S. Treasury Department sees risks and rewards in the fast-growing online loan business. It can be a lot easier to get a loan online than to go throug...

The U.S. Treasury Department sees risks and rewards in the fast-growing online loan business. It can be a lot easier to get a loan online than to go through the sometimes frustrating process of dealing with a bank, but in a white paper, the department notes that there are fewer consumer protections for online borrowers than for those who deal with more traditional lenders.

Treasury said it received opinions from about 100 industry and consumer stakeholders earlier this year and based its white paper largely on that input.

The white paper notes that online lenders increasingly use algorithms that rely on massive databases of information on consumers and businesses, streamlining the time needed to evaluate loan applicants. It found both pluses and minuses in the practice, which bypasses the credit scores relied on by more traditional lenders.

"While data-driven algorithms may expedite credit assessments and reduce costs, they also carry the risk of disparate impact in credit outcomes and the potential for fair lending violations. Importantly, applicants do not have the opportunity to check and correct data potentially being used in underwriting decisions," the document notes.

The online lending industry took a hit recently with the surprise ouster of Lending Club CEO Renaud Leplanche. He was fired Monday by the company's board of directors because of what were said to be problems with the firm's lending practices and an undisclosed issue with a personal investment.

Lending Club pioneered data-driven lending and is the leader in the field. It and similar firms bypass banking laws by relying on investors to fund loans. They might be called an Uber of the finance world -- as they basically act as a middleman between borrowers and lenders. 

Investors range from individuals who fund a few thousand dollars worth of loans to giant institutions that plop down millions to bankroll loans that meet specific criteria. 

Many smaller investors have flocked to the online lenders because they are able to earn 10 percent or even more instead of the paltry interest currently paid by banks and money market funds. 

Likewise, the interest rates charged to borrowers tend to be several points lower than those offered by credit cards and banks. Consumers also like being able to apply for loans without having it show up on their credit score.

Indeed, online lending is expanding access to credit among those who might have problems qualifying for regular loans and, the paper suggests, some of the technology now being used online could be adapted for traditional lenders as well.

But caution is called for since the online lending business has not yet been tested in a time of tight credit, the paper suggests:

"New business models and underwriting tools have been developed in a period of very low interest rates, declining unemployment, and strong overall credit conditions. However, this industry remains untested through a complete credit cycle. Higher charge off and delinquency rates for recent vintage consumer loans may augur increased concern if and when credit conditions deteriorate."

The department said it would be willing to work with Congress to develop additional safeguards for consumers and small businesses.

Millennials are buying more, but somehow spending less than the average consumer. Despite “going out” twice as often as Generation X and three times as...

A Mississippi check-cashing service and payday lender used deceptive tactics to trick and trap customers into taking out high-cost loans and paying excessi...

A Mississippi check-cashing service and payday lender used deceptive tactics to trick and trap customers into taking out high-cost loans and paying excessive fees to cash checks, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) charged today.

The agency said in a federal court complaint that All American Check Cashing, Inc., tried to keep consumers from learning how much they would be charged to cash a check and used deceptive tactics to stop consumers from backing out of transactions.

The CFPB also alleged that All American made deceptive statements about the benefits of its high-cost payday loans and also failed to provide refunds after consumers made overpayments on their loans. The CFPB’s lawsuit seeks to end All American’s unlawful practices, obtain redress for consumers, and impose penalties.

"Today we are taking action against All American Check Cashing for tricking and trapping consumers," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Consumers deserve accurate and honest information from the financial institutions they depend on, but All American instead devised elaborate schemes to hide costs and take advantage of vulnerable borrowers."

The company is based in Madison, Miss. and offers check cashing services and payday loans at approximately 50 stores in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.

The CFPB said that All American collects approximately $1 million per year in check-cashing fees. The company charges fixed amounts that vary only by state and by whether a check is government issued.

The business also deceptively promotes its payday loan program for consumers who are paid monthly, like those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the bureau said.

The complaint alleges that, in Mississippi, for example, many of All American’s competitors offer 30-day loans to borrowers who are paid monthly, but All American frequently provides borrowers with three or more two-week loans instead.

The first loan is given at the beginning of the month, followed by a second loan to pay off the first, and finally a third loan to extend the borrowing until the end of the month, even though Mississippi law prohibits rollovers of payday loans, the complaint charges.

Buying or selling items on Craigslist comes with all the risks that one might associate with meeting a complete stranger. It's recommended that users have...

Back in December, when the Federal Reserve boosted its Federal Funds Rate off 0% for the first time in six years, it was believed to signal the end of chea...

Back in December, when the Federal Reserve boosted its Federal Funds Rate off 0% for the first time in six years, it was believed to signal the end of cheap money.

The Fed has not chosen to raise that interest rate again, but more importantly, the interest rates the Fed doesn't control have been going lower, and that includes mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate last week fell to 3.74%. The average 30-year FHA mortgage rate also went down, to 3.64%.

Not surprisingly, MBA reported mortgage applications increased nearly half a percent from the previous week. The increase for refinancings was slightly less than for purchases.

By realtor.com's measure, rates were even lower. The real estate marketplace reports the average 30-year conforming rate nationally was 3.60%, a three-year low.

But realtor.com's chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, predicts mortgage rates will become more volatile as the home buying season picks up its pace. He also says low interest rates can present a downside to some borrowers.

“One disadvantage is that credit availability declines marginally as the rates decline” Smoke said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “With little margin, lenders become more risk averse, so indicators of credit tightness like the average FICO score have ticked up as rates have gone down.”

Still, for consumers with a good credit score, a strong employment situation, and a significant down payment, mortgage rates under 4% make for more affordable monthly payments. Smoke sees rates no higher than 4.12% by the end of the year.

With home prices steadily rising, the interest rate on a mortgage carries added importance. On a $200,000 mortgage, the difference between a rate of 3.62% and 4.62% is $116 a month.

“In this type of environment, it will be crucial for would-be buyers or refinancers to stay on top of rates, work closely with mortgage brokers or lenders, and learn about options like locks and float-downs,” Smoke said.

If rates remain volatile, a borrower could see either higher or lower rates while the mortgage process is taking place. Smoke says rate options can be attractive, but can come at a price.

Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, has filed a lawsuit in New York against Visa, charging that the payments network had blocked implementation of a PI...

The Commerce Department has no statistic to track it, but by all accounts, spending on doomsday prepper products has not let up since it began to grow at t...

The Commerce Department has no statistic to track it, but by all accounts, spending on doomsday prepper products has not let up since it began to grow at the beginning of the decade.

There are websites selling all manner of products to help consumers prepare for an apocalypse, whether natural or man-made.

Survival-Supply.com sells practical, non-apocalyptic products like car emergency kits, from $20 on up, to emergency food supplies, including 120 servings of freeze-dried vegetables for $135.40.

DoomsdayPrep.com also offers products, as well as how-to information, like putting together a bug-out bag.

“In short, a Bug Out Bag is designed to be a relatively light-weight, self-contained, kit stored in a home, or Bug Out Vehicle, which will enable you or your family to survive for 72 hours while en-route to a Bug Out Location,” the company explains on its website. “A Bug Out Bag is an essential item for any prepper and must be readily deploy-able at a moment’s notice.”

Business is apparently good, because a growing number of consumers have apparently decided the status quo can't go on much longer in the face of terrorism, global epidemics, and economic turmoil. And perhaps the same lack of confidence in U.S. leadership that has fueled insurgent candidacies on both sides of the aisle this political season is also driving prepper sales.

It's even spread into the real estate industry. Realtor.com, a real estate marketplace, reports preppers are buying up remote property to build escape hatches. While rural real estate might otherwise be a sluggish market, “survivalist properties,” complete with fortification potential and self-sustainable food and energy options, don't linger on the market long.

It quotes an agent at American Redoubt Realty, in northern Idaho, as saying sales in the region are up 50% in 12 months, with most buyers coming from Texas and California.

City dwellers are also making preparations. Realtor.com says the business of disaster readiness is high tech and high priced. Specialized remodeling contractors stay in business by building bunkers and safe rooms in single-family homes and condos.

One panic room builder, whose market includes New York, says the fortified rooms can cost anywhere from $250,000 to $1.5 million.

This isn't the first time in recent history that fear has been a driving economic force. During the early 1960s, when Cold War tensions were especially prevalent, thousands of Americans built fallout shelters in their back yards, convinced that nuclear war was imminent.

In the last two years of the Carter Administration, when Iran held U.S. hostages and motorists had to line up to buy expensive gasoline, survivalist businesses and publications thrived.

Advertorials are ads made to look like news stories, and a study finds that they are often successful in misleading consumers about important health topics...

Advertorials are ads made to look like news stories, and a study finds that they are often successful in misleading consumers about important health topics. 

The Dartmouth-Stanford study found that because they look like credible news stories, advertorials "tamp down" the skepticism that readers normally bring to advertising. 

The study, which appears in the journal Communication Research, is the first to systemically examine whether specific communication tactics used in advertorials are persuasive and, if so, why they are more effective than traditional advertisements. 

"Unlabeled advertorials, compared to labeled advertorials and regular advertisements, were less likely to trigger consumer awareness of persuasive intent, and increased favorable attitudes toward advertising messages and purchase intention," says lead author Sunny Jung Kim, an e-health communication researcher at Dartmouth. "Because of their design and structure, advertorials tend to sway readers into believing that they are viewing credible information in the form of an editorial or news source."

The Federal Trade Commission last year issued guidelines on advertorials, also known as native advertising. The guidelines suggest using a clear label of "advertisement" and placing disclosures in front of or above the headline. These two guidelines were empirically examined in the Dartmouth-Stanford study.

 The researchers examined the cognitive processes and persuasive effects of health product-related advertorials on more than 670 people. They found that advertorials were less likely to trigger consumer awareness of persuasive intent, especially when the "advertisement" label was not present.

Advertorials appeared as early as the late 1940s in television and print media and have been increasing lately as the internet increases the competition for consumers' time and attention. 

"This form of advertising appears to be on the rise as advertisers try to embed their ads in the stories we read and the photos we see in almost every platform of social media," said co-author Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication at Stanford University. "Understanding how these advertorials operate cognitively can improve guidelines for the prevention of misleading or confusing consumers."

The proposed merger between Staples and Office Depot is officially off. The companies abandoned their effort to join forces after a federal judge granted t...

The proposed merger between Staples and Office Depot is officially off. The companies abandoned their effort to join forces after a federal judge granted the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) request for a preliminary injunction to halt the acquisition.

The FTC went to court to block the union, charging further consolidation of the retail office supply market would hurt consumers.

“We are extremely disappointed that the FTC’s request for preliminary injunction was granted despite the fact that it failed to define the relevant market correctly, and fell woefully short of proving its case,” said Ron Sargent, Staples’ chairman and chief executive officer. “We believe that it is in the best interest of our shareholders, customers, and associates to forego appealing this decision, terminate the merger agreement, and move on with our strategic plan to drive shareholder value.”

The defeat will be costly. Staples will have to pay Office Depot a break-up fee of $250 million. Staples has also pulled the plug on plans to sell more than $550 million in assets, which was designed to appease government regulators.

Staples' attempt to acquire its competitor has been a long-playing drama. Back in December the FTC rejected the proposed merger, saying it would oppose it in court should the two parties not voluntarily withdraw it.

In January Staples and Office Depot waived their merger agreement termination date and extended it to May 16, giving the government's lawsuit time to be resolved. The judge's ruling in favor the the FTC effectively shuts the door on the two companies' merger plans.

Staples, which says it is focused on the serving the needs of businesses with up to 200 employees, said it will seek other avenues that will allow it to diversify. It said it is increasing its offering of products and services beyond office supplies.

It will also try to make inroads in core categories like office supplies, ink, toner, and paper. To improve its competitive position, the company said it would invest in lower prices and improved supply chain capabilities and add personnel to its mid-market sales force.

Staples attempted to acquire Office Depot in 1997, meeting a similar fate at the hands of government regulators. It said it believed it could be successful this time, claiming the office supply business had become more competitive.

It wasn't by much, but mortgage applications rose last week.The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports mortgage applications were up 0.4% in the we...

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports mortgage applications were up 0.4% in the week ending May 6 -- the first increase in three weeks.

Refinance applications rose 0.5% from the previous week, but the refinance share of mortgage activity slipped to 52.8% of total applications from 52.9% a week earlier.

The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity rose to 5.7% of total applications, the FHA share dropped to 13.0% from 13.5%, the VA share of total applications edged up to 11.7% from 11.5%, and the USDA share of total applications was unchanged at 0.7%.

The number of completed foreclosures and the foreclosure inventory were lower in March from the same month in 2015.Property information, analytics and ...

The number of completed foreclosures and the foreclosure inventory were lower in March from the same month in 2015.

Property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider CoreLogic reports completed foreclosures fell 14.9% from March 2015, and are down 69.7% from the peak in September 2010.

The foreclosure inventory, which represents the number of homes at some stage of the foreclosure process, dropped 23.2% from the same time a year ago.

On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures rose 9.3% from February, while inventories were down 2.2%.

Since the financial meltdown began in September 2008, there have been approximately 6.2 million completed foreclosures nationally; and since home-ownership rates peaked in the second quarter of 2004, there have been approximately 8.2 million homes lost to foreclosure.

American Honda Motor Company of Torrance, Calif., is recalling about 3,300 side-by-side recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs). The front door ca...

American Honda Motor Company of Torrance, Calif., is recalling about 3,300 side-by-side recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).

The front door can open unexpectedly while the vehicle is in use, posing a risk of injury to occupants.

The company has received one report of an unexpected door-release incident during a dealer set-up of the vehicle. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves model year 2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 side-by-side recreational off-highway vehicles. The ROVs are motorized off-road vehicles with a steering wheel, a gas pedal, a brake pedal, bucket or bench seats, seat belts and an occupant protection structure. The recalled ROVs were sold in three-seat and five-seat models in red, silver or camouflage color. “HONDA” is printed on the front grill and rear tail gate. “Pioneer 1000” is printed on the sides of the vehicle near the tailgate. The model and serial numbers are on a certification label located at the top rear of the left front wheel well.

The ROVs, manufactured in the U.S., were sold at authorized Honda Powersports dealers nationwide from February 2016, through April 2016, for between $14,000 and $17,200.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact their local authorized Honda dealer to schedule an appointment to have the original front door striker plates removed and replaced, free of charge.

Consumers may contact American Honda toll-free at 866-784-1870 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.powersports.honda.com and click on Recall Information at the bottom of the page for more information.

Publix Super Markets is recalling Wheatberry Salad sold in plastic containers in the Publix Delis.   The product contains sunflower kernels that may ...

The recalled product was sold in all Publix retail stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Consumers with questions may call our the firm's customer care center at 1-800-242-1227 or visit the company's website at www.publix.com.

Creative Snacks of Greensboro, N.C., is recalling specific lot codes of bulk and packaged sunflower seed products. The products may be contaminated...

Creative Snacks of Greensboro, N.C., is recalling specific lot codes of bulk and packaged sunflower seed products.

The following products, distributed to retailers nationwide and sold in a variety of formats including plastic rigid containers, small re-sealable bags and in bulk, are being recalled:

Best before dates can be found on bottom lower right corner of rigid containers and the back lower right corner of resealable snack bags.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 336-668-4151 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (EST).

ConAgra Foods is recalling Watts Brothers Farms Organic Mixed Vegetables, Organic Super Sweet Corn (Yellow/Gold), and Organic Peas and Trader Joe’s Organic...

ConAgra Foods is recalling Watts Brothers Farms Organic Mixed Vegetables, Organic Super Sweet Corn (Yellow/Gold), and Organic Peas and Trader Joe’s Organic Super Sweet Corn.

The products, which contain vegetables that are part of the recent CRF Frozen Foods recall, may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

The following Watts Brothers Farms products, sold at Costco. and Trader Joe’s products, sold at Trader Joe’s, are being recalled:

The Best Before Date and Package Code is located on the back of the package above the zipper. The HH:MM portion of the Package Code indicates the time product was made and varies by package.

The Package Code is located on the back of the package. The HH in the Package Code indicates the time the product was made and varies by package. 

Customers who purchased these items are should discard them or return them to the store where purchased.

Consumers with questions may call the firm's consumer affairs hotline at (800) 881-3989, from 9 am – 7 pm (CDT) Monday through Friday.

Swaddling – the act of wrapping a baby in a thin blanket or cloth -- is an extremely common parenting technique that has been practiced around the world fo...

Swaddling – the act of wrapping a baby in a thin blanket or cloth -- is an extremely common parenting technique that has been practiced around the world for centuries.

Many believe that it has a calming effect that encourages sleep and relaxation, but new research indicates that it can actually be very dangerous.

An analysis conducted at the University of Bristol led researchers to conclude that swaddling a child for sleep can actually increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a condition defined by the sudden death of an infant younger than one year old.

The researchers initially began their review to determine if there was a tangible link between swaddling for sleep and SIDS, but ran into complications with the prior studies. Despite these limitations, they found that the way in which a baby was put down for sleep made a huge difference when it came to increasing the risk of SIDS.

“We only found four studies and they were quite different, and none gave a precise definition for swaddling, making it difficult to pool the results,” said Dr. Anna Pease, lead author of the review. “We did find, however, that the risk of SIDS when placing infants on the side or front for sleep increased when infants were swaddled.”

This finding reinforces that it is important for babies to sleep on their backs, especially if they are being swaddled. The researchers found that the risk of SIDS nearly doubled for babies who slept on their sides while being swaddled.

The analysis also revealed that swaddling becomes a more dangerous practice as a baby gets older. Pease explains that being able to move independently can increase a child’s chances of putting themselves in danger while they’re swaddled.

“We found some evidence in this review that as babies get older, they may be more likely to move into unsafe positions while swaddled during sleep, suggesting an age is needed after which swaddling for sleep should be discouraged,” she said, adding that most babies start being able to roll over at about 4-6 months.

The researchers hope that their findings will allow parents to examine their own parenting techniques and help them adjust so that their baby remains safe.

“On a practical level what parents should take away from this is that if they choose to swaddle their babies for sleep, always place them on their back, and think about when to stop swaddling for sleep as their babies get older and more able to move,” said Pease.

A new development in drug design could pave the way for a new generation of drugs that could be used to treat a range of diseases. By precisely targeting g...

A new development in drug design could pave the way for a new generation of drugs that could be used to treat a range of diseases. By precisely targeting genes and sequences that allow diseases to proliferate, the researchers believe that they can stop or slow their progression to make them more manageable.

While the development has only been tested in rat models, researchers have been able to design a drug that decreases the growth of tumor cells in triple negative breast cancer, one of the most difficult forms of the disease to treat.

“The study represents a clear breakthrough in precision medicine, as this molecule only kills cancer cells that express the cancer-causing gene – not healthy cells,” said Prof. Matthew Disney, a researcher at The Scripps Research Institute where the drug was designed. “These studies may transform the way the lead drugs are identified – by using the genetic makeup of a disease.”

This method for fighting disease involves inserting certain compounds or molecules into the disease’s structure to disrupt harmful activity. For example, the drug created to fight triple negative breast cancer, called Targaprimir-96, causes breast cancer cells to kill themselves by targeting a specific RNA.

The researchers have named this sort of approach Informa; by creating compounds that specifically attach onto RNA folds – usually specific ones called microRNAs – the activity of dangerous genes can be suppressed. MicronRNAs can be thought of as a sort of dimmer switch for certain genes, and they are not always helpful.

For example, the MicroRNA that was targeted for triple negative breast cancer actually promoted cancer by discouraging cell death, which invariably allowed cells to grow out of control and form tumors. By attaching a compound to this microRNA, scientists are able to allow cell death to happen so that tumor formation decreased.

The researchers believe that this new method of developing precise drug candidates can be a huge improvement over existing therapies, which can kill cells indiscriminately or cause harmful side effects. It may also open the door to treating diseases that were considered untreatable up until this point.

“In the future we hope to apply this strategy to target other disease-causing RNAs, which range from incurable cancers to important viral pathogens such as Zika and Ebola,” said Sai Pradeep Velagapudi, first author of the study.

Always wanted to be a movie producer? Here's your chance -- Amazon is launching Amazon Video Direct (AVD), a program to compete with Google's YouTube. ...

Always wanted to be a movie producer? Here's your chance -- Amazon is launching Amazon Video Direct (AVD), a program to compete with Google's YouTube. 

Video Direct will let consumers post videos and earn money from advertising, royalties, and other revenue streams, just as they can do on YouTube, which now claims over a billion viewers.

“It’s an amazing time to be a content creator,” said Jim Freeman, Vice President of Amazon Video. “There are more options for distribution than ever before and with Amazon Video Direct, for the first time, there’s a self-service option for video providers to get their content into a premium streaming subscription service. We’re excited to make it even easier for content creators to find an audience, and for that audience to find great content.”

While Amazon seems to feel compelled to enter every line of business imaginable, its Video Direct may also be at least partly in response to YouTube's announcing that it will be starting a video subscription service similar to Netflix and Amazon's Prime Video.

Amazon says Video Direct is intended for professional filmmakers, but the only requirement it's imposing is that the videos be high definition and have closed-captioning for the hearing-impaired.

Amazon hasn't released exact numbers, but it says it has "tens of millions" of Amazon Prime members who get video streaming along with their free shipping and other goodies.

Amazon also announced today its AVD Stars program, which will split $1 million per month among video creators, based on how many customers watch their titles for how long. It's similar to an Amazon program that lets authors post their e-books for free distribution and pays them based on how many pages are read each month.

Video creators and providers who use AVD to make their titles available in Prime Video will automatically be enrolled. The AVD Stars program launches today and the $1 million monthly fund will make its first bonus distributions based on streaming activity from June 1 to June 30.

Adblock Plus says it has passed 100 million users and presents this as a feat that has restored sanity and calm to the web. The head of an advertising trad...

Adblock Plus says it has passed 100 million users and presents this as a feat that has restored sanity and calm to the web. The head of an advertising trade group says it's "an extortion-based business and hurts publishers.” 

Adblock head of operations Ben Williams argues that there is nothing cast in stone that says publishing needs to be supported by a torrent of ads.

"The pioneers of the world wide web envisioned it as a public service, and it existed as such for a couple of years," Williams says on the company's blog. "Then came the ads, and with them the false notion that journalism and other content on this very public medium must be reliant on ads."

Noting that most publishers still earn the majority of their revenue from online ads, Rothenberg grumbled that AdBlock Plus is in the business of taking the revenue that these publishers should earn in order to “divert it into their own pockets.”

He's talking about Adblocker's "whitelist" -- a program that lets some ads squeak through the company's ad roadblocks. These are supposedly ads that users don't find offensive. Translation: Adblocker gets a percentage of the payment that goes to the publisher. Hence Rothenberg's "extortion" comment.

Rothenberg is actually somewhat more conciliatory than he sounds. At a recent ad conference, he admitted that some ads are intrusive and others slow down page-loading and said his group is working with advertisers to correct that. He also said that, its 100-million-user claim notwithstanding, Adblocker and similar companies are not having a huge effect on websites, except those in the tech and gaming sector.

The 100 million figure, by the way, doesn't necessarily translate to 100 million people. Williams says his company's "stupid smart data scientists" count each download to a device as a user. Thus, a person who runs Adblock Plus on a laptop, smartphone and tablet would count as three users.

U.S. health officials are still ramping up their efforts to combat an expected Zika virus outbreak this summer, but maybe there's another potential threat ...

JC Penney has been struggling as of late. Fresh on the heels of its attempted recovery, the New York Post reported that the company eliminated jobs and fro...

JC Penney has been struggling as of late. Fresh on the heels of its attempted recovery, the New York Post reported that the company eliminated jobs and froze overtime due to “unexpected light sales” in April.

Now, perhaps in another attempt at reinvigoration, Penney’s is getting into the business of selling appliances. This July, the company will begin rolling out appliance showrooms at nearly 500 locations.

The showrooms (as well as jcp.com) will include kitchen and laundry appliances from Samsung, LG, GE Appliances, and Hotpoint.

The decision to incorporate home products and an appliance showroom was a strategic one. According to JC Penney’s chief executive officer, Marvin R. Ellison, the decision was based largely on opportunities afforded by the current housing market.

"The current housing market presents a lucrative opportunity to diversify our Home assortment and strategically align with consumer spending patterns,” Ellison said in a statement. By ramping up its Home department, the company hopes to connect with families and become a destination for home products.

Ellison also hopes this move will help “weather-proof” the company during seasonal periods of the year and increase its revenue per customer.

Partnerships with other companies, such as Empire Today and Ashley Furniture, will be tested to determine whether they warrant inclusion in more stores and markets. By the end of 2017, the company hopes to achieve $1.2 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

This isn't the company's first foray into the world of home furnishings. At one point in time, the company was credited with covering one-third of the windows in America.

Walking down the aisle isn’t cheap. The average cost of putting on a wedding is now approximately $30,000, according to a survey by the Knot. Also not ...

With gasoline prices leveling off after climbing over the late winter and early spring – and supplies getting even larger – look for more crowded highways ...

With gasoline prices leveling off after climbing over the late winter and early spring – and supplies getting even larger – look for more crowded highways this summer.

While noting that prices at the pump had unexpectedly moderated in the last week, AAA reported this week that the demand for gasoline reached its fourth-highest weekly estimate for 2016, weeks before the Memorial Day weekend and the official start of the summer driving season.

“Refineries nationwide are ramping up production, which should help increase supplies in regional markets,” AAA said in its weekly report. “This is good news for the average driver, because if supply can keep pace with demand, averages should remain relatively low and drivers should continue to benefit from comparative savings at the pump.”

Normally, gasoline prices rise over the early spring because refineries are both performing annual maintenance and switching over to production of summer blend fuel. Both tasks tend to reduce output and put a crimp in supply. In a normal year, prices start to slowly fall after Memorial Day.

The fact that prices have already started to moderate is unusual and may be a hopeful sign for consumers, especially since demand for gasoline has been increasing. It suggests that, even with a significant uptick in gasoline demand during the summer months, it should not result in price spikes, as long as refineries keep operating at near capacity. So far, AAA says that appears to be happening.

“According to the latest data from the U.S. EIA, total U.S. gasoline supplies are at their highest levels to start May on record,” the AAA report said.

With low gasoline prices, AAA said it expects drivers to take to the road this summer in record numbers. It compares the outlook for this summer to the summer of 2007, just before the Great Recession, when demand for motor fuel hit an all time high.

What happened next, however, was not pleasant. Oil prices – along with gasoline prices – rose sharply over the winter of 2008. In July, the national average gasoline price was over $4 a gallon and oil was selling at $122 a barrel.

Whether it is booking a flight, arranging for a hotel or rental car, or purchasing items for the trip, most consumers world-wide turn first to the internet...

Yes, we know gasoline prices are lower than they were at this time last year, and last year they were cheaper than the year before. We also know that's why...

Yes, we know gasoline prices are lower than they were at this time last year, and last year they were cheaper than the year before. We also know that's why more car buyers have been gravitating towards trucks and SUVs lately.

But remember the law of supply and demand – when demand goes up, usually the price does too. At the very least, when buying a car that is in demand, you'll find you have less negotiating room.

That's why a savvy car buyer might take a close look at a small, fuel efficient model. It was selling at a premium three years ago when gasoline was $3.25 a gallon. Now, these compacts and hybrids are going begging and that means you can probably strike a pretty sweet deal.

In May, carmakers have rolled out a number of attractive deals on both leases and purchases. We're focusing on three small cars that get great gas mileage.

Back when gasoline was selling for nearly $4 a gallon, buyers had to pay a premium just for the privilege of buying a Toyota Prius. Now, the hybrid seems out of favor, as buyers are more enamored with larger cars that use more gasoline.

According to Truecar, consumers in the Chicago area can purchase a 2016 Toyota Prius for about $24,000 at area dealers, getting about 50 miles per gallon. To sweeten the deal, this month Toyota is offering 0% financing for 60 months to qualified buyers. As an alternative, buyers paying cash or using their own financing can get $1000 cash back.

Either way, buyers can drive the car for 90 days before making their first payment and the cars come with a two-year no cost maintenance plan.

If you prefer to lease, Toyota is offering a three year, 36,000 mile lease on the Prius for $219 a month, with $2,599 due at signing.

The 2016 Hyundai Elantra is a lot of car for the money. Edmunds.com says it has generous features for its price range, including a large trunk, quiet ride, and one of the longest warranties in the industry. The standard 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine delivers 27/37 MPG.

In May you can purchase the base SE model for around $19,000 and the value edition, with more options, for under $21,000.

The manufacturer's lease deal starts at $169 a month for 36 months and $1,399 due at signing. For those who want to purchase, the company offers 0% financing for up to 72 months and $1,750 bonus cash for qualified buyers.

The Honda Civic is one of the best selling compacts on the road, and in May, Honda has an assortment of deals on the Civic LX, with a purchase price starting at $18,640.

The LX has a 158-HP, 2.0-liter four-Cylinder Engine; electric parking break with automatic brake hold; multi-angle rearview camera; five-inch color LCD screen; and Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and streaming audio.

The number of jobs up for grabs inched lower during February.Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show there were 5.4 million job o...

Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show there were 5.4 million job openings at the end of the month, compared with 5.5 million the month before.

Hires, meanwhile, were up to 5.4 million from 5.0 million in January, and separations rose by 200,000 -- to 5.1 million.

The job openings rate February was about the same as a month earlier -- 3.7%. Openings rose in educational services (+48,000) and federal government (+19,000), but fell in health care and social assistance (-147,000), finance and insurance (-54,000), and mining and logging (-8,000). The number of job openings was lower down in the Midwest region.

The addition of 297,000 hires in February was the highest level since November 2006, putting the hires rate at 3.8%. Hires increased for total private (+278,000) and were little changed for government.

Retail trade added 102,000 positions followed by accommodation and food services (+78,000), educational services (+44,000), and state and local government -- excluding education (+25,000). Hires declined in mining and logging (-9,000). Hires increased in the South.

Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations, and is referred to as turnover. The total separations rate in February was 3.5% with little change for total private and government.

Separations were up in accommodation and food services (+98,000), while arts, entertainment, and recreation edged lower (-31,000). The number of total separations was little changed over the month in all regions.

Over the 12 months ending in February, hires totaled 62.1 million and separations totaled 59.4 million, for a net employment gain of 2.7 million. This includes workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

Pita Pal Foods of Houston, Texas, is recalling Corn Relish Salad, Texas Caviar Salad, Mediterranean 3 Bean Salad and Chipotle Quinoa Salad. The pro...

Pita Pal Foods of Houston, Texas, is recalling Corn Relish Salad, Texas Caviar Salad, Mediterranean 3 Bean Salad and Chipotle Quinoa Salad.

The following products, with expiration dates or use/ freeze by bates through June 13, 2016, and packaged in plastic containers with snap-on lids, are being recalled:

The recalled products were distributed through retail stores and food service distributors in California, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should return them to the place of purchase for a refund.

Consumers with questions may contact Pita Pal Foods at 713-777-7482, Monday – Friday between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm (CST).

Hickory Harvest Foods is recalling a limited number of products containing sunflower seeds that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No...

Hickory Harvest Foods is recalling a limited number of products containing sunflower seeds that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recalled products were packaged at, or distributed from Hickory Harvest between February 15, 2016, and May 2, 2016, and shipped to:

The following items, sold in packaged bags and deli tubs and marked with Best By Dates located on the front or back of the packages, are being recalled:

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but return them to the store where they were purchased for a refund, or simply discard them.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-877-237-4374 Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm or by email at askus2@hickoryharvest.com.

Giant Eagle is recalling sunflower seeds sold at four northeast Ohio area Giant Eagle and Market District stores. The products may be contaminated ...

Giant Eagle is recalling sunflower seeds sold at four northeast Ohio area Giant Eagle and Market District stores.

The recalled product was sold in the bulk foods sections of the Rocky River Giant Eagle, and the Solon, Portage Crossing and Strongsville Market District locations with a PLU of 65167.

The product was available for purchase both loose within the bulk bin between February 15, 2016, and May 3, 2016, and in pre-packaged containers with sell by dates of August 1, 2016 through August 19, 2016.

Customers who purchased the recalled product should dispose of it or return it to their local Market District store for a refund.

Customers with questions may call Giant Eagle customer care at 1-800-553-2324 Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.

TreeHouse Foods is recalling a variety of products containing sunflower seeds that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses ha...

TreeHouse Foods is recalling a variety of products containing sunflower seeds that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should dispose of them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with any questions may call 1-800-756-5781, Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m.– 6:00 p.m. (CST).

Brown & Haley of Tacoma, Wash., is recalling certain lots of Mountain Thins "Trail Mix" flavor. The product contains sunflower seeds that may be co...

The following product, distributed to select retail stores nationwide between March 7, 2016 and April 25, 2016, is being recalled:

Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but return it to the store where purchased for a refund, or discard it.

Consumers with questions may contact the company by email at sweets@brown-haley.com or call 1-800-426-8400 ext. 3085, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM (PT).

"Nice flowers but I'm nobody's grandmother," my wife said as she opened a bouquet of roses delivered Sunday morning by ProFlowers. "And I don't know anybod...

"Nice flowers but I'm nobody's grandmother," my wife said as she opened a bouquet of roses delivered Sunday morning by ProFlowers. "And I don't know anybody named Sydney."

Whoever Sydney is, she wanted to wish her grandmother a happy Mother's Day but her card wound up in the wrong box. It's a problem that crops up every year about this time, as a staggering number of orders are placed for delivery on Mother's Day. 

In fairness, we should note that while Sydney may still be fuming, others had a better experience with ProFlowers. 

"Ordered a pink azalea bonsai plant for Mother's Day, but a plant with white flowers was delivered. When I called the customer service line, they were very easy to work with," Sherry of Evanston, Ill., said. "They are sending a new plant free of charge which will be delivered in a week. I was pretty unhappy after receiving the wrong product, but am now very impressed with their customer service. I will use ProFlowers again in the future."

But not all stories end as happily as Sherry's, and the complaints begin blooming as soon as the sun rises each Mother's Day. They tell the story of flowers that don't show up, that show up at the wrong time, or that aren't what the customer expected.

"I ordered flowers for Mother's Day and they never delivered them," said Tracy of Los Angeles in a ConsumerAffairs review of JustFlowers. "They did not respond to calls, emails, contact from their website, or their own 'live chat' system. They did not offer to give me my money back." 

"My daughter had ordered flowers for me to have on Thursday. They never came. It's now Sunday Mother's Day and 9:53 PM... Still no flowers," she said. "She called yesterday and they said they would have them here today... Called tonight and the lady said they have till 9 to deliver them. Well sorry to say but I am over it. It is very expensive to send flowers and to get the runaround like this is just bad business."

Valerie is not as upset about the flowers as she is about her daughter's disappointment: "I told my daughter it's the thought that counts. I know she feels bad and I feel bad she wasted her money."

There are alternatives, of course. One is to send a trinket of some kind -- inexpensive jewelry or a handicraft. You can do it online from Etsy or a similar site or buy something locally and mail it yourself. 

Another option, as our Mark Huffman outlined last year, is to use an internet search to find a florist in your mother's city and neighborhood, then place your flower order directly with them. Keep in mind, though, that the national delivery services are also placing orders with local florists, so there's still a risk that yours will get lost in the shuffle. 

Of course, not all Mother's Day deliveries end badly. I awoke Sunday morning at 8 a.m. to the sound of the doorbell. It was a delivery of candy and balloons from Edible Arrangements. The delivery guy apologized for being so early but said he was swamped with orders and didn't want to disappoint anyone. 

Cigar smokers have for years felt beleagured. Their spouses make them smoke outside, bars and restaurants increasingly show them the door, their cardiologi...

Cigar smokers have for years felt beleaguered. Their spouses make them smoke outside, bars and restaurants increasingly show them the door, their cardiologists berate them mercilessly, and the U.S. government makes them go through silly charades to smuggle in the Cuban cigars they cherish.

The smoke cleared briefly when President Obama visited Cuba and began the process of restoring diplomatic relations. But then, back home, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week issued a proposed new 499-page rule that gives it authority over tobacco sales, including cigars. 

The FDA's proposed rule would require manufacturers to go through a certification procedure to demonstrate that their product is properly labeled and fits within whatever specifications are established for each type of product -- traditional cigarette, e-cigarette, etc. It also set the minimum smoking age at 18.

Although established brands will not have to go through the certification process, the rule will make it difficult to introduce new products and create especially thorny problems for mom-and-pop tobacconists.

The stated goal, of course, is to keep young people from taking up the tobacco and nicotine habits and to get a handle on the rapidly growing e-cig market, which health advocates like the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) argue is a gateway to addiction.

"Giving FDA authority over all tobacco products is a good thing," said Dr. Kenneth Michael Cummings, Professor, Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, and member of IASLC's Tobacco Control and Smoking Cessation Committee. "It clears up a loophole in the original law that excluded products like cigars."

The National Cancer Institute also takes a stern view of cigar and pipe smoking, warning on its Cancer.gov site: "There is no safe level of tobacco use. People who use any type of tobacco product should be encouraged to quit."

But Welch and other premium cigar aficianados say they shouldn't be lumped in with the types of tobacco products that appeal to teens. 

"Most of our customers are older than 40. In fact, our median customer is 55," Welch said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. "While we carry some small cigars (cigarillos) the majority of what is being bought at sites like ours are $5-$10 per cigar. I don’t think anyone would argue that’s a price-point that’s appealing to underage smokers."

Perhaps those most in peril from the new rule are the tobacconists who roll their own cigars and sell them to a select clientele. Check the commuter train stations around New York City and you'll find a surprising number of hole-in-the-wall shops that cater to Wall Streeters who duck in regularly to load up on their favorite custom-rolled smokes. 

The Miami area is also dotted with boutique cigar stores, many claiming to have ready access to Cuban-grown tobacco. When full relations with Cuba are restored, the tobacco may be legal but it's hard to see how these mom-and-pop purveyors will be able to create a legally saleable product.

"In my opinion, it’ll be very difficult for that independent cigar shop to not only jump through the FDA hoops to get their blends approved but also the costs associated with the testing," Welch said.

Then again, it's possible the FDA will devote its resources to e-cigarettes, cigarillos, and other products before getting around to cigars, giving cigar connoisseurs at least a brief respite.

"The FDA now has the authority to regulate the manufacturing elements of the products, such as ingredients, the introduction of new products, and more. The devil is in the details of how the FDA will do this, but presumably it will base actions on a continuum-of-risk basis, addressing the most dangerous products and practices first," Dr. Cummings said in a news release.

In the long run the only tobacconists likely to avoid the new regulations are those in Canada and elsewhere who now clandestinely sell supposed Cuban cigars to U.S. consumers via the Internet.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, isn't one to remain a prisoner of a previous position he's taken. So it is with taxes.In...

A new study disputes claims that e-cigarettes are a "disruptive technology" that can help smokers quit by replacing their traditional cigarettes. The study...

A new study disputes claims that e-cigarettes are a "disruptive technology" that can help smokers quit by replacing their traditional cigarettes. The study follows last week's action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigs and restrict their sale to anyone under 18.

The study by researchers at the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) at Georgia State University found that most smokers who have tried electronic cigarettes have rejected them as less satisfying than regular cigarettes, thus reducing their potential as a quit-smoking device.

E-cigs "need to improve as a satisfying alternative or the attractiveness and appeal of regular cigarette must be degraded to increase the potential of replacing regular cigarettes," according to lead author Dr. Terry F. Pechacek, professor of Health Management and Policy.

"It can be argued that efforts are needed by the public health community to reduce the appeal and attractiveness of the cigarette and other combusted tobacco products, namely, decreasing the product, promotion, placement and price advantage of these more lethal combusted tobacco products," the researchers wrote.

The researchers surveyed 5,717 U.S. adults in 2014, asking questions about their awareness of e-cigarettes, use of their products, and reasons for using traditional and novel tobacco products.

Among the 144 former cigarette smokers who had tried e-cigarettes, nearly 30 percent (or 43 people) continued to use them as a satisfying alternative to regular cigarettes.

But among the 585 smokers in the study, nearly 58 percent (or 337 people) reported they found e-cigarettes unsatisfying and stopped using them. 

If you have a vision that you are about to come into great wealth, don't count on supposed psychics Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin to help to rake in the b...

If you have a vision that you are about to come into great wealth, don't count on supposed psychics Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin to help to rake in the bucks. The U.S. Justice Department charges that they and six others have been running a multi-million dollar mail-fraud scheme that duped unwary consumers.

Duval and Guerin, both of France, claim to be psychics who have had a series of specific, personalized visions of great wealth that is soon to descend on many lucky Americans.

The only problem is the vision seems to be exactly the same for everyone and the "personal" letters they sent out were in fact form letters that were mailed to millions of prospective victims.

The letters urged the recipients to buy various products and services that would supposedly help the vision come true, thereby bestowing great wealth by winning the lottery, inheriting money, or otherwise striking it rich.

Unlikely as it all sounds, prosecutors say that more than one million Americans paid more than $180 million in hopes of becoming wealthy.

“This widespread scam targeted more than one million Americans, many of whom were elderly or in financial distress,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Justice Department is committed to stopping such fraud and pursuing all those responsible for lying to vulnerable consumers for their own financial gain.”

The defendants have agreed to be bound by a permanent injunction that bars them from pulling similar stunts. The injunction also bars them from selling the names of those who fell for the scam. 

Besides Duval and Guerin, the defendants are: Canadian company 9097-9394 Québec Inc. dba Infogest Direct Marketing (Infogest); Infogest employees Mary Thanos, Daniel Sousse and Philip Lett, all of Quebec, Canada; Hong Kong corporation Destiny Research Center Ltd.; and Destiny Research Center President Martin Dettling of Zurich, Switzerland.

All this year, moms who deliver their babies at Philadelphia’s Temple University Hospital will be sent home with something extra: a box for their babies to...

All this year, moms who deliver their babies at Philadelphia’s Temple University Hospital will be sent home with something extra: a box for their babies to sleep in.

Manufactured by the Baby Box Co, the boxes are a no-frills version of a bassinet. They come with a sheet and mattress and are packed with around $80 to $100 worth of essential baby supplies.

The goal of distributing these boxes is to decrease the rate of “co-sleeping” by sending parents home with a safe place for their baby to sleep.

Co-sleeping -- or, the practice of parents sharing the same bed with their new babies -- is especially common in North Philadelphia. Many parents view it as part of their culture, while others opt for co-sleeping due to their inability to afford a crib.

When paired with the fact that North Philadelphia has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, it’s easy to see the potential benefit of the program. Doctors have also been pleasantly surprised by how well-received the boxes have been.

"We weren't sure how people were going to react to putting their babies in a box, but it's been an overwhelmingly positive response," Dr. Megan Heere told ABC News.

The baby box distribution project is the result of a collaboration between Temple pediatrics and Temple’s maternity nurses and is part of the Sleep Awareness Family Education at Temple (the SAFE-T program). The program is the first of its kind here in the U.S., but we’re not the first to come up with the idea.

Temple’s program mirrors one implemented by the Finnish government. Since the 1930s, the distribution of baby boxes has successfully lowered Finland’s high infant mortality rates. The country now has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.

Experts will analyze the results of the year-long program at the end of its third phase, which began May 3 (phase one began January 15). Analysis will determine whether or not the program was successful in increasing safe sleep education among new moms in North Philadelphia, as well as what effect it had on high risk behaviors associated with Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID).

Gasoline prices are still cheaper than consumers have paid in recent years, but they have been rising sharply over the early spring, along with rising oil ...

Gasoline prices are still cheaper than consumers have paid in recent years, but they have been rising sharply over the early spring, along with rising oil prices.

In recent days, however, prices at the pump appear to have leveled off. The national average price of self-serve regular is $2.20 a gallon, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey.

That's down slightly from the day before, and about a penny less than the national average a week ago. In previous weeks, the price at the pump had been rising three or four cents every seven days.

Motorists in the Midwest have seen some of the sharpest price declines in the last week. Seven days ago the Ohio statewide average was $2.29 a gallon. Today. it's $2.16.

In Michigan, the statewide average has fallen from $2.30 a gallon to $2.20 in the last week. In Indiana, the statewide average is down 13 cents a gallon in the last week.

While oil prices have risen in recent weeks, prices are still well below recent historical norms. Supplies are ample and there is no indication that's going to change anytime soon. More important to regions like the Midwest, refineries are turning out gasoline at increased capacity, with no breakdowns or accidents that have reduced output periodically, resulting in price spikes.

Here's why that isn't like to change soon. Last week's report from the Energy Information Administration showed the U.S. supplies of both crude oil and refined gasoline are getting bigger.

While it hasn't had a huge effect on oil prices, mainly because of the Canadian wildfires threatening the Alberta oil fields, it's had a softening effect on the price of gasoline. The government energy report showed U.S. gasoline supplies increased by 500,000 barrels, adding to an already generous inventory, in the upper range of the average over the last five years.

As for oil, a lot of hedge funds are betting its price breaks $50 a barrel, but that price might prove elusive for a while. The Canadian fires should not impact U.S. oil supplies since the U.S. doesn't get a lot of its oil from those particular oil fields.

The firing of the Saudi Arabian oil minister over the weekend, and his replacement with an official firmly committed to the Saudi policy of lower prices, is another sign that oil prices could head lower in the short run.

Iran and Saudi Arabia agree on very little, but both countries seem to be in agreement that OPEC should not curtail production. All that oil has to go somewhere, and will likely depress prices, not raise them.

It is often felt that giving kids a two-minute warning prior to having them step away from the screen helps soften the blow. According to new research, how...

It is often felt that giving kids a two-minute warning prior to having them step away from the screen helps soften the blow. According to new research, however, this logic may be flawed.

A University of Washington study found that young children (aged 1 to 5) who were given a two-minute warning that “screen time” was about to end became the most upset. The researchers said they had anticipated the opposite reaction to this widely used parenting tool.

"We were really shocked -- to the point that we thought ‘well, maybe parents only give the two-minute warning right before something unpleasant or when they know a child is likely to put up resistance,'" said lead author Alexis Hiniker, a UW doctoral candidate in human-centered design and engineering, in a statement.

Hiniker adds that despite taking measures to control for this possibility, “every way we sliced it, the two minute warning made it worse.”

The findings were based on interviews and a diary study of 28 families who documented the type of screen time kids engaged in and how they transitioned from it.

In sorting through the results, the researchers discovered that the cessation of screen time gave way to neutral reactions the majority (59%) of the time. Nineteen percent of transitions actually spawned a positive reaction and 22% yielded a negative reaction.

But even though transitions usually go smoothly, just one negative reaction from kids can influence how parents deal with transitions in the future.

“If one out of five experiences is unpleasant enough that parents are always bracing themselves and worried about it, that colors their perceptions,” said senior author and associate professor of human-centered design and engineering Julie Kientz.

Certain things -- including having routines, turning off devices at a natural stopping point, or having the battery die -- did help smooth the transition between the pixelated world and the non-pixelated one. 

Because of this, the researchers believe that two-minute warnings from technology itself might actually be helpful. Kientz says this is because kids become much more accepting “once you take that parental withholding component out of it.”

Parents could have devices deliver the news by using apps to set a specific amount of screen time. To push the transition from neutral to positive, parents could let kids pick an activity for after screen time. The app could even remind children when it’s almost time to end screen time and do the activity.

Late last week, the New York Post speculated that JC Penney had suffered a sudden reversal of fortune.This followed the retailer's surprisingly positiv...

Chase is now advertising a new credit card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card, a companion to its Chase Freedom Preferred.While the Preferred pays 1% ca...

Chase is now advertising a new credit card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card, a companion to its Chase Freedom Preferred.

While the Preferred pays 1% cash back on most purchases, and 5% on rotating categories, the Unlimited, as its name implies, pays 1.5% cash back on an unlimited amount of everything, with no annual fee.

The card has four main features that make it attractive. First, the aforementioned 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Other cards usually have caps.

You can redeem for cash back at any time, and the rewards you rack up don't expire, assuming your account remains active.

The card also pays a $150 bonus after you spend $500 during the first three months the account is open. If you add an authorized user, you earn another $25 reward, if that user also makes a purchase during the first three months.

The Unlimited also has a 15 month introductory rate of 0% APR on purchases. That would allow you to finance a significant purchase and pay for it over 15 months without paying any interest.

If you want to transfer a balance from another card, you get the same 15 month introductory period at 0% interest. However, there is a 5% balance transfer fee.

After the 0% introductory period, the variable interest rate on both purchases and balance transfers is 14.24%, 19.24%, or 23.24%, depending on creditworthiness.

Like many credit cards, the Unlimited comes with some consumer protections. In case of fraud, the cardholder has zero liability. It also allows you to decline a rental car company's collision damage waiver, providing replacement coverage at no extra charge, as long as you use the card to pay the entire cost of the rental car.

There is also an insurance policy of sorts on new purchases. The Unlimited's Purchase Protection feature covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Its price protection feature can make sure you always get the best price. If a card purchase made in the U.S. is advertised for less in print or online within 90 days, you can receive the difference, up to $500 per item and $2,500 per year.

Giant Eagle is recalling sunflower seeds sold in the bulk section of three central Ohio area Market District stores. The product may be contaminate...

Giant Eagle is recalling sunflower seeds sold in the bulk section of three central Ohio area Market District stores.

The recalled product was sold in the bulk foods sections of the Kingsdale, Grandview Yard and Dublin Market District locations with a PLU of 65167.

It was available for purchase both loose within the bulk bin between February 15, 2016 and May 3, 2016, and in pre-packaged containers with sell by dates of August 1, 2016 through August 19, 2016.

Customers who purchased the recalled product should dispose of it or return it to their local Market District store for a refund.

Consumers with questions may call Giant Eagle Customer Care at 1-800-553-2324 Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (EST).

Kia Motors America is recalling 17 model year 2016 Kia Optimas manufactured November 10, 2015, to February 12, 2016. A chemical enhancer required f...

Kia Motors America is recalling 17 model year 2016 Kia Optimas manufactured November 10, 2015, to February 12, 2016.

A chemical enhancer required for the for the second stage deployment of the driver's front air bag was not loaded, resulting in the second stage not deploying in necessitating crashes, increasing the risk of injury or death.

Kia will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver's front air bag module, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in May 2016.

The Kroger Co. is recalling Kroger Sunflower Salad Toppers, Kroger Sunflower Kernels, and Kroger Cranberry Delight Trail Mix. The products may be c...

The Kroger Co. is recalling Kroger Sunflower Salad Toppers, Kroger Sunflower Kernels, and Kroger Cranberry Delight Trail Mix.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but return them to a store for a full refund or replacement.

Consumers with questions may contact Kroger at 1-800-KROGERS, Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 12:00 am (EST) and Saturday – Sunday 8:00 am – 9:00 pm (EST).

BRP U.S. of Sturtevant, Wis., is recalling about 10,600 side-by-side off-road vehicles. The steering coupling can strip on the rack and pinion asse...

The steering coupling can strip on the rack and pinion assembly and result in a loss of steering control, posing a crash hazard.

This recall involves model year 2013 Can-Am Commander side-by-side vehicles equipped with Dynamic Power Steering (DPS). The vehicles came in various colors. The model name and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is on a label under the glove box.

The vehicles, manufactured in Mexico, were sold at Can-Am dealers nationwide from April 2012, through April 2016, for between $12,600 and $20,100.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact a BRP Can-Am side-by-side dealer to schedule an appointment for a vehicle inspection and free repair. The free repair will be available on June 30, 2016. In the meantime, consumers who must use their vehicles can contact a BRP Can-Am side-by-side dealer and make an appointment to have their vehicles verified. This free verification is a temporary action to allow limited use of the vehicles until the availability of the free repair. BRP is notifying registered consumers directly about this recall.

Consumers may contact BRP toll-free at 888-272-9222 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET) Monday through Sunday or online at www.can-am.brp.com for more information.  

Ghiringhelli Specialty Foods of Vallejo, Calif., is recalling approximately 33,610 pounds of Trader Joe's Broccoli Slaw & Kale Salad with White Chicken Mea...

Ghiringhelli Specialty Foods of Vallejo, Calif., is recalling approximately 33,610 pounds of Trader Joe's Broccoli Slaw & Kale Salad with White Chicken Meat.

The following product, produced April 26 through May 1, 2016, with “USE BY” labels with the dates May 2-7 on the plastic packaging, is being recalled:

The recalled product bears establishment number “P-17156” inside the USDA mark of inspection and was shipped to Trader Joe’s distributors in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah.

Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Mike Ghiringhelli, Jr., at (707) 561-7670 extension 105.

SunOpta is recalling a variety of sunflower kernel products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported t...

SunOpta is recalling a variety of sunflower kernel products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The following products, sold in clear printed plastic packages marked with Best By Dates located on the front or back of the packages, are being recalled:

The recalled products were produced between February 1-19, 2016, sent to distribution centers in Illinois and North Dakota between February 22-25, 2016, and may be redistributed to other states nationwide.

Customers who purchased these products should not consume them but take them back to the store where they were purchased for a refund, or simply discard them.

Consumers with questions may contact the company by email atcontactus@sunopta.com or call 1-877-237-4374 Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (CT).

As the Queen Mary 2 leaves its dock in Southampton, its passengers stand on deck waving British flags. There may be few Brits to see them off, but the pass...

As the Queen Mary 2 leaves its dock in Southampton, its passengers stand on deck waving British flags. There may be few Brits to see them off, but the passengers wave anyway and the festive feeling is one that remains the entire voyage.

If you would like to experience what it must have been like to sail across the Atlantic in grand style, the Queen Mary 2 is the way to go. A true ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2 provides the only transatlantic service between the ports of Southampton in the UK and New York City. Service between these ports is called a “crossing,” not to be confused with a cruise. There are no ports of call and the crossing is typically seven nights and six days.

The Queen Mary 2 is set to begin a multi-million-dollar refurbishment of its décor, restaurants, staterooms, and suites and will be out of service between May 27 and June 21, 2016.

Experience Cunard’s White Star Service, expertly delivered from your white-gloved bellman to your waiter and cabin attendant. Be prepared to pack your finest for three formal nights with men in tuxedos and women in short or long evening attire. There are balls to attend, such as the Black and White Ball and the Masquerade Ball. If you prefer a more casual evening, restaurants and designated areas are available for those who choose not to dress up.  

The ship is truly grand in a classical style. The Grand Lobby boasts a sheet bronze relief mural and a portrait of the ship fabricated in bronze. There are over 5,000 commissioned works of art throughout the ship including the staircases and elevators.

If you are concerned about what you might do with six or seven days at sea, the Queen Mary 2 provides a list of 101 Things to Do. A sampling includes: the only planetarium at sea, performances and classes by members of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), dance lessons, Broadway-caliber shows, a Canyon Ranch spa and fitness center, and iStudy classes. Relax with a book from the largest library at sea with 8,000 volumes or partake of the delightful English tradition of a British Afternoon Tea in the Queen’s Room, with finger sandwiches, scones, and white-gloved service.   

If you don’t want to leave your beloved pet at home, cats, dogs, and ferrets can be boarded in the Queen Mary 2’s kennels. You and your pet will find all the comforts of home with a pet owner’s lounge, inside play, and outside walking areas.

Whether you sip evening cocktails in the Commodore Club while listening to live music, take a coffee break or light lunch in Sir Samuels in the afternoon, or visit the Golden Lion Pub for some darts, karaoke, or ale, you will surely find many memorable ways to spend your days.

The crowning touch of the transatlantic voyage is gliding by the Statue of Liberty and passing under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, with little room to spare. If you have taken the crossing from Southampton to New York, the glittering lights of Manhattan welcome you as the sun begins to rise.

Many of us enjoy a nice steak every now and then, but are your meat-eating tendencies shortening your lifespan? Researchers working at the Mayo Clinic in A...

Many of us enjoy a nice steak every now and then, but are your meat-eating tendencies shortening your lifespan? Researchers working at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona believe that may be case.

In a review of six different studies from around the world, which involved over 1.5 million participants in all, researchers have found that those who eat meat have a higher all-cause mortality than those who don’t. All-cause mortality measures the number of deaths in a given population, regardless of the circumstances that caused them.

In particular, it seems that red and processed meats may be doing the most harm. The researchers note that mortality rates increased most drastically in one 2014 study after accounting for the smallest increases in the intake of total red meat.

Another study from 2014 was defined as “statistically significant” by the Mayo Clinic researchers because of its shockingly similar results and the large number of participants involved; both studies analyzed over one million participants, and the latter tracked its results over the course of 5.5 to 28 years.

Another study dating back to 2003, which analyzed 500,000 participants, found a 25-50 percent decrease in all-cause mortality for those with a low meat intake. On the other side of the spectrum, these researchers also found that those who adopted a vegetarian diet for more than 17 years had an increased life expectancy of 3.6 years.

 “This data reinforces what we have known for so long – your diet has great potential to harm or heal,” said Dr. Brookshield Laurent, assistant professor of family medicine and clinical sciences at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The researchers hope that their work will provide guidance to primary care physicians when it comes to advising their patients about their diets. They recommend that doctors push patients to cut down on eating animal products and promote eating more vegetables and plant-based foods.

Additionally, the researchers hope that doctors can use this information to educate their patients on the importance of adopting a healthy diet.

“This clinical-based evidence can assist physicians in counseling patients about the important role diet plays, leading to preventive care, a key consideration in the osteopathic philosophy of medicine,” said Dr. Laurent.

Facebook's facial scanning software is the subject of a lawsuit that has just cleared one hurdle and may finally be headed to trial. The lawsuit charges th...

Facebook's facial scanning software is the subject of a lawsuit that has just cleared one hurdle and may finally be headed to trial. The lawsuit charges that Facebook is violating an Illinois state law by scanning uploaded photos and trying to put names with the faces.

The suit was filed last year by three Illinois residents who alleged that Facebook had violated state law by failing to properly alert users to the fact that it was storing millions of photographs and trying, through its Tag Suggestions feature, to match them with identifying information.

Facebook argued that the case could not be brought under Illinois law because its terms of use specify that California law governs any disputes.

But U.S. District Court Judge James Donato held that Illinois "has a greater interest in the determination of the case" and said that its Biometric Information Privacy Act would be "written out of existence" if Facebook's argument was allowed to stand.

Facebook is expected to appeal Donato's ruling, as it could set a precedent making it easier for users of social media to bring lawsuits based on the laws of the states where they reside.

Users can opt out of the Tag Suggestions feature, but the lawsuit says doing so is difficult, thanks to "ambiguous statements" in Facebook's help pages. We decided to take a look and see if the explanations were clear.

"When you’re tagged in a photo, or make a photo your profile picture, we associate the tags with your account, compare what these photos have in common and store a summary of this comparison. If you’ve never been tagged in a photo on Facebook or have untagged yourself in all photos of you on Facebook, then we do not have this summary information for you."

When you turn off tag suggestions, Facebook won’t suggest that people tag you in photos that look like you. Keep in mind that friends will still be able to tag photos of you.

There's more, but these perhaps somewhat murky examples may provide a preview of the semantic arguments likely to be tossed about if the case ever makes its way to trial.

Having someone steal your credit card information and use it to run up unauthorized purchases can be an unnerving experience. But in reality, it's not a co...

Having someone steal your credit card information and use it to run up unauthorized purchases can be an unnerving experience. But in reality, it's not a costly one. At least not for the victims.

A new report by MagnifyMoney shows most consumers who experience credit card fraud do not suffer a financial loss. The survey finds credit card companies are living up to promises of $0 liability in case of fraud.

Of course, it's a little easier for credit card issuers to do that now, since now the liability for fraud falls on the merchant. But even before that transition took place last October, Magnify Money found that 96% of credit card fraud victims never had to pay a dime.

While 22.1% of consumers have reported credit card fraud, 93% of those incidents involved a criminal compromising a card, not the cardholder's identity. There is a very clear distinction.

When someone gains access to your credit card information, he or she can use it to buy things, at least until the issuer finds out and blocks further transactions. But if a criminal opens a new credit card account in your name, because he or she has stolen your identity, that's a much more dangerous event, since it could be months before the fraud is discovered.

Nick Clements, the co-founder of MagnifyMoney, says consumers need to realize that some type of fraud will probably affect them at some point, and preventing it is probably going to be a difficult task. That said, he notes consumers can play a big role in reducing its effects.

“Our effort should be focused on early detection and rapid reporting of any credit card fraud,” Clements said.

The new chip and signature cards are supposed to bring credit card fraud to a halt, but Clements expresses some doubts. He says chip cards may help reduce some fraud at physical locations, but won't provide additional security in online and mobile transactions.

Additionally, many retailers – and even law enforcement – have said someone with a stolen credit card can easily forge a signature. Without requiring a PIN to complete the transaction, they say the new cards are less secure.

Many retail locations that have installed the new chip card readers still are not using them. Clements says there have been many complaints about transaction times. The survey showed that 20% of respondents complained that the chip cards are “painfully slow.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has some advice to project yourself against credit card fraud. It starts with keeping you card in a secure place at all times. It also suggests making a list – on paper, not electronically – of all your credit card numbers and contact information, so you can quickly report any suspicious activity.

All coffee is not created equal. And it's not brewed equally either, which can lead to unexpected health risks, according to nutrition expert Eric Rimm of ...

All coffee is not created equal. And it's not brewed equally either, which can lead to unexpected health risks, according to nutrition expert Eric Rimm of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Rimm is talking about European pressed coffee, which is gaining popularity among coffee lovers in the U.S. 

If you're not familiar with it, pressed coffee is made in -- what else? -- a press, a special glass pitcher. You put the ground coffee in the pitcher, pour in some boiling water, and then press a mesh plunger down to strain the grounds.

The catch is that, unlike other brewing methods, some coffee grounds can slip through and wind up in your cup. The problem with that is that coffee grounds contain oily substances, called diterpenes, that may raise your "bad" LDL cholesterol.

Rimm recommends that if you become enamored with pressed coffee you shouldn't drink too much of it, preferably no more than four cups per day. He also recommends checking your cholesterol regularly to make sure your LDL stays under control.

In general, coffee is considered healthful. It has been associated with lower blood pressure, slower weight gain with age, and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, hearth disease, and neurological problems.

But even so, there are limits, Rimm says. For non-press coffee, he suggests holding your intake to no more than five cups per day.

Pondering where to take mom out for dinner this Mother’s Day? A new survey suggests she might prefer seafood. The National Restaurant Association found...

Pondering where to take mom out for dinner this Mother’s Day? A new survey suggests she might prefer seafood.

The National Restaurant Association found that 35% of Americans plan to go out to eat this Mother’s Day, and that seafood is the meal most likely to be preferred by moms. Twenty-six percent of mothers surveyed said they’d like to celebrate their day with a meal from under the sea.

Ethnic cuisine -- including Mexican, Italian, or sushi -- came in second, while 16% of moms said they would appreciate a steak dinner. Finally, 12% of moms said they crave the kind of variety that can only be found at a buffet.

But while dining out appears to be a popular choice, just as many moms may be staying home for dinner. Thirty-four percent of families plan to celebrate mom with a home-cooked meal this Mother’s Day.

The survey also provides some details on the types of restaurants and which meals families may be opting to go out for on Mom's special day. It found that:

*The National Restaurant Association notes that numbers may add up to more than 100% because some consumers plan on dining out or ordering takeout more than once on May 8.

What do you do if you are young and facing rising home prices and escalating rents? Chances are you move into your old room at Mom's house.A new report...

What do you do if you are young and facing rising home prices and escalating rents? Chances are you move into your old room at Mom's house.

A new report from real estate marketplace company Zillow says that's exactly what an increasing number of Millennials are doing. In it's latest analysis, it found 21% of people age 24 to 34 live with their mothers, and the number has been steadily rising since 2005.

"With today's high rents and lagging income growth, many young people are having trouble setting aside enough money to buy their own home, delaying home ownership," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell.

She says living with parents, sometimes rent-free, may allow young people to continue their education. Others use the time to save up their money for a security deposit and first and last month's rent, in anticipation of being able to get a place of their own.

Friday's April jobs numbers show some of the things they are up against. Job creation slowed considerably in April and average income per hour, while rising slightly, is still lagging behind some faster-rising costs like rent.

Here's another intimidating statistic; in 2008, the year of the financial crisis, the median household income in the U.S. was $57,200, according to the Census Bureau. Last year it was $53,657. Meanwhile, home prices and rents – along with education and health care costs – continue to skyrocket.

Though living with parents into adulthood might seem usual, it has been a common practice at other periods in the not-too-distant past, usually because of economic dislocation.

During the Great Depression, multi-generational families often lived under the same roof because young families could not afford a place of their own -- and because of the economic collapse, there was less new housing being added.

In the aftermath of World War II, the same thing happened because home building had stopped during the four years of the war and there was no place for returning GIs to live. That situation gave rise to the suburbs and early housing developments like Levittown, N.Y.

Zillow has tracked the rapid rise of rents in the U.S., noting that rents have risen 3% while wages have increased just 1.8%.

Breaking the trend down geographically, Zillow finds the largest percentage of young people who have moved back home reside in El Paso, Tex., where almost 34% of Millennials live with Mom.

Other areas where Millennials have moved back home in large numbers include Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Ventura, Calif.

Unless there is a big change in economic fortunes, this multi-generational housing trend might not change anytime soon. Zillow reports the median rent in the U.S. is $1,389 a month and projects it will rise to $1,426 over the next 12 months.

Summer is just around the corner, but no need to sweat it. There are many ways to keep your home cool and comfortable, even when it’s anything but outside....

Summer is just around the corner, but no need to sweat it. There are many ways to keep your home cool and comfortable, even when it’s anything but outside.

By ensuring cool air stays inside where you want it, you’ll save money. In addition to seeking out an Energy Star qualified air conditioner, you can adhere to these summer cooling tips from the NRDC, some of which will cost you absolutely nothing.

Because you can set them to be warmer when you’re away and cooler when you get home, programmable thermostats can help you save. With the right settings, your thermostat can help you save up to $180 in energy costs each year.

Turn up the thermostat when you’re not home. The NRDC cites the second law of thermodynamics in explaining why this is the cheapest way to use your air conditioner. Heat will always flow from a hotter environment to a cooler environment until it reaches a state of equilibrium, and the science is the same in your home. If there’s a big difference in temperature inside versus outside, there will be greater heat flow.

So, attempting to combat a balmy, 90-degree day by setting your thermostat to 65 won’t work very efficiently; it just means that more warm air will want to creep into your house, making your AC work extra hard to replenish the cool air. Set thermostats to a temperature closer to the outdoor temperature to reduce heat flow from the outside.

In the summer, keeping cool air in is just as important as keeping warm air out. You can reduce the risk of having valuable cool air seep out by sealing up windows, doors, and other parts of your home. To determine where you’re losing the most energy, have your utility company or a local contractor perform a home energy audit. After that, you’ll know exactly what leaks to seal or where insulation or weather-stripping could be beneficial.

Window coverings can also be helpful when it comes to keeping your house all buttoned up. By keeping curtains and blinds closed during the day, your home’s interior can remain better protected from the blazing summer sun.

This is an easy one, but it works. Ceiling fans can make a room feel up to ten degrees cooler. The NRDC suggests making sure your fan is set in the forward (counterclockwise) direction so that it will pull up cooler air from the ground.

Researchers studying the blood thinner Warfarin have linked the drug with higher rates of dementia and higher risk of kidney failure. But they note the ris...

Researchers studying the blood thinner Warfarin have linked the drug with higher rates of dementia and higher risk of kidney failure. But they note the risks mostly affect those using the drug to treat atrial fibrillation.

In the first phase of the study, researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City focused on atrial fibrillation patients who had been treated with Warfarin, a popular anticoagulant, for an extended period of time.

They found these patients tended to have higher rates of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia compared to patients receiving other treatment.

Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia, a condition in which the heart beats at an irregular rate or rhythm. This condition has become more common in recent years, primarily due to an aging population.

In their study, the scientists followed 10,000 patients with no history of dementia. They took Warfarin to treat atrial fibrillation and other conditions.

After seven years, the researchers found an increase in dementia in the group taking Warfarin for atrial fibrillation but not in the group of patients who took the drug to treat other types of conditions.

But both groups had one thing in common. The risk of dementia rose when levels of the drug fluctuated. When the levels of Warfarin in the bloodstream were too high or low, all patients in the study were more likely to suffer some form of dementia.

Other than that, researchers found patients with atrial fibrillation were the most likely users of Warfarin to develop dementia. Patients under age 70 appear to be more at risk.

The second phase of the study looked at how Warfarin affects kidney function. In studying 2,753 patients with atrial fibrillation who were anticoagulated using Warfarin, the scientists found they were at a higher risk of developing kidney failure.

Again, the risk was linked to inconsistent levels of Warfarin in the body, not just from prescribed levels but also changes caused by Warfarin's interaction with food and other drugs. It's a delicate balance, the scientists say, because too much of the drug can lead to hemorrhaging and too little increases the risk of blood clots, leading to a stroke or heart attach.

“Patients who use Warfarin as part of their anticoagulation treatment for atrial fibrillation should have their anticoagulation levels closely monitored to ensure proper levels,” said Intermountain's Dr. Jared Bunch.

He also says people with moderate kidney disease and erratic levels of Warfarin, despite close monitoring and care, should consider other approaches, such as newer drugs that have more predictable blood effects.

The Walmart greeter is headed back to the front door after an absence of several years. The retailer, which shifted greeters to other duties in many of its...

The Walmart greeter is headed back to the front door after an absence of several years. The retailer, which shifted greeters to other duties in many of its stores a few years ago, announced their return in the company blog.

“We’ve been working to welcome customers to an improved Walmart for some time now, and of the countless details we’ve taken a look at, a key piece has been better utilizing an important role – our greeters,” the company wrote.

The return of the greeters has been preceded by a pilot program in some stores, where employees were redeployed from aisles to the front door, but in an expanded role and with a new title – “customer host.”

This employee will not only make sure customers feel welcome when they arrive, but also make sure they don't leave with items they didn't pay for. The company says the hosts will also assist with returns and police the entry way areas of the stores. They'll also trade in their blue vest for a distinctive yellow one.

“This pilot program was successful so we’ll begin rolling out these changes to all of our U.S. stores by mid-summer,” Walmart said.

The company said different stores will have different requirements, so it is using data about safety, security, and shrink risks – the loss of merchandise through theft – to decide which stores have the standard greeter and which will have the newly created host position. 

Theft, in particular, is something that Walmart is looking to rein in. Fortune Magazine reported last year that Walmart had made reducing its estimated $3 billion loss to shoplifting a key priority.

It said the data will dictate where hosts will be deployed. These personnel will get additional training to greet customers as they enter and also help deter would-be shoplifters.

“Greeters are a big part of our company and culture, and that’s why in the majority of our U.S. stores we will continue to rely on them to be the helpful first face customers see,” Walmart said.

Where stores are switching from greeter to host, Walmart said it is allowing current greeters to apply for the new roles, or to move to other nearby Walmart stores. It said that more than 80% of displaced greeters were able to find new positions during the pilot phase.

Job growth in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in seven months during April.According to the Department of Labor (DOL), nonfarm payroll employment ros...

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), nonfarm payroll employment rose by just 160,000 last month, with the unemployment rate holding at 5.0%. In addition, the government revised the job gains in March and February downward by 7,000 and 12,000 respectively.

The slowdown in job growth came as the labor force participation rate fell to 62.8% and the employment-population ratio dropped to 59.7%. On the bright side, average hourly earnings rose by eight cents to $25.53, following an increase of six cents in March. Over the year, average hourly earnings are up 2.5%.

Professional and business services added 65,000 jobs in April, followed by health care employment (+44,000) and financial activities (+20,000).

Mining employment declined again in April (-7,000) and, since reaching a peak in September 2014, has decreased by 191,000, with more than three-quarters of the loss in mining support activities.

There was little or no change in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics rose to 6.1%, while the rates for adult men (4.6%), adult women (4.5%), teenagers (16.0%), Whites (4.3%), Blacks (8.8%) and Asians (3.8%) showed little or no change.

The number of long-term unemployed (those out of work for 27 weeks or more) declined by 150,000 to 2.1 million, accounting for 25.7% of the unemployed.

Home prices were on the rise again in March according to CoreLogic.The provider of property information, analytics and data-e...

The provider of property information, analytics and data-enabled services says its Home Price Index (HPI) shows home prices nationwide -- including distressed sales -- posted a year-over-year gain of 6.7% and were up 2.1% from February.

“Home prices reached the bottom five years ago, and since then have appreciated almost 40%,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The highest appreciation was in the West, where prices continue to increase at double-digit rates.”

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates home prices will rise 5.3% on a year-over-year basis from March 2016 to March 2017, and 0.7% from March 2016 to April 2016.

“Housing helped keep U.S. economic growth afloat in the first quarter of 2016 as residential investment recorded its strongest gain since the end of 2012,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Low interest rates and increased home building suggest that housing will continue to be a growth driver.”

In other housing news, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says builder confidence in the single-family 55+ housing market remained in positive territory for the first quarter of 2016

Despite a six-point dip -- from 61 to 55 -- in the NAHB 55+ Housing Market Index from the previous quarter, this is the eighth consecutive quarter with a reading above 50. An index number above 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

"Although builder sentiment in the 55+ housing sector is down slightly from its peak, overall confidence is still in positive territory," said Jim Chapman, chairman of NAHB's 55+ Housing Industry Council. "Builders for the 55+ market are doing quite well in some areas across the country, while others are experiencing challenges that are hindering production."

Bridgestone/Firestone North America Tire is recalling 32 Firestone FR710 tires, size 205/65R16, and Champion Fuel Fighter tires, sizes 205/65R15 and 205/70...

Gulf States Toyota is recalling 844 model year 2015-2016 Toyota 4Runners manufactured September 22, 2014, to March 23, 2016 and equipped with accessories i...

Gulf States Toyota is recalling 844 model year 2015-2016 Toyota 4Runners manufactured September 22, 2014, to March 23, 2016 and equipped with accessories installed by Gulf States.

The Load Carrying Capacity Modification Label may not reflect the correct added weight of the installed accessories. As a result, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 110, "Tire Selection and Rims for Passenger Cars."

Gulf States will notify owners, and dealers will install an accurate label, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on June 1, 2016.

Owners may contact Gulf States customer service at 1-800-444-1074. Gulf States' number for this recall is 16R2.

Blue Bell Ice Cream is recalling select lots of Rocky Road pints produced in its Brenham, Texas, plant. The packages may actually contain Cookies '...

Blue Bell Ice Cream is recalling select lots of Rocky Road pints produced in its Brenham, Texas, plant.

The packages may actually contain Cookies 'n Cream ice cream, which contains soy and wheat, allergens not listed on the label.

The pints can be identified as a Rocky Road pint with a Cookies 'n Cream lid, and contain Cookies 'n Cream Ice Cream. They can also be identified by the code 022918576 located on the bottom of the pint.

The ice cream was distributed through retail outlets, including food service accounts, convenience stores and supermarkets in Texas and Louisiana.

Customers who purchased the recalled product may return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Hyundai Motor Company is recalling 33 model year 2015-2016 Sonatas manufactured May 29, 2014, to February 11, 2016; 2017 Elantras manufactured January 12, ...

Hyundai Motor Company is recalling 33 model year 2015-2016 Sonatas manufactured May 29, 2014, to February 11, 2016; 2017 Elantras manufactured January 12, 2016, to February 22, 2016, and one 2016 Sonata Hybrid manufactured October 15, 2015.

The driver's front air bag may be missing a chemical enhancer required for the second stage air bag deployment, resulting in the second stage not deploying in certain crashes. An air bag that does not inflate increases the risk of injury.

Hyundai will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver's frontal air bag module, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in May 2016.

Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-855-371-9460. Hyundai's number for this recall is 144.

Munchkin of Van Nuys, Calif., is recalling about 180,000 Latch lightweight pacifiers and clips. The clip cover can detach from the pacifier’s clip,...

The firm has received 10 reports (five in the U.S. and five in Canada) of the clip cover detaching from the pacifier clip. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves Munchkin’s Latch lightweight pacifiers and clips sold as a set. The pacifiers were sold in five styles: designer, rattle and heartbeat clips with 0m+ natural shape pacifiers, and designer and rattle clips with 6m+ orthodontic pacifiers.

The designer pacifiers and clips 0m+ and 6m+ are in three color patterns: blue and white strips, orange and with white polka dots and pink with white polka dots. The rattle pacifiers and clips 0m+ and 6m+ are green with beads in the pacifier cover to make a rattle sound and have a polka dot strap. The heartbeat pacifiers and clips have a red, heart-shaped pacifier cover and red and white polka dots on the strap.

The pacifiers and clips, manufactured in China, were sold at Babies R Us, Target, Wal-Mart and other mass merchandisers, juvenile product, baby boutique and discount stores nationwide and online at amazon.com, munchkin.com and other website from March 2014, through March 2016, for between $11 and $15.

Consumers should immediately take the clip away from young children and contact Munchkin for a free replacement Lightweight Pacifier pack with two pacifiers or a full refund.

Consumers may contact Munchkin toll-free at 877-242-3134 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday or online at www.munchkin.com for more information.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is proposing new rules that would outlaw mandatory arbitration clauses that deny consumers their day in cou...

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is proposing new rules that would outlaw mandatory arbitration clauses that deny consumers their day in court by prohibiting them from engaging in class action lawsuits.

Many financial products like credit cards and bank accounts now have contract "gotchas" that generally prevent consumers from joining together to sue their bank or financial company, leaving consumers with no easy way to settle disputes that are usually for small amounts.

“Signing up for a credit card or opening a bank account can often mean signing away your right to take the company to court if things go wrong,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Our proposal seeks comment on whether to ban this contract gotcha that effectively denies groups of consumers the right to seek justice and relief for wrongdoing.”

“The CFPB is proposing to give the biggest gift to plaintiffs’ lawyers in a half century—at the expense of the consumers the agency is charged with protecting," two U.S. Chamber of Commerce executives said.

“In the 50 years since the advent of modern day class action lawsuits, plaintiffs’ lawyers have made millions of dollars in fees from these suits while consumers often receive little benefit. With this rule, the CFPB doubles down on that trend," said  U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) President Lisa A. Rickard and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness (CCMC) President and CEO David Hirschmann.

At issue are the clauses in contracts issued by financial institutions, telecommunications companies, and other giant corporations that require consumers to give up their right to sue and instead force them to agree to arbitrate disputes.

The arbitrations that result are often stacked in favor of the company, consumer advocates charge. Consumers must often agree to use an arbitrator picked by the company and travel long distances for the arbitration session.  

Class action litigation, on the other hand, enables consumers to band together to litigate a complaint common to all of them. While this does not often result in huge awards to the consumer, it does discourage companies from riding roughshod over individual customers, consumer advocates argue.

A CFPB study released in March 2015 found that very few consumers ever bring – or think about bringing – individual actions against their financial service providers either in court or in arbitration. The study found that class actions provide a more effective means for consumers to challenge problematic practices by these companies.

The CFPB proposal is seeking comment on a proposal to prohibit companies from putting mandatory arbitration clauses in new contracts that prevent class action lawsuits. The proposal would open up the legal system to consumers so they could file a class action or join a class action when someone else files it.

Under the proposal, companies would still be able to include arbitration clauses in their contracts. However, the clauses would have to say explicitly that they cannot be used to stop consumers from being part of a class action in court.

The public is invited to comment on these proposed regulations, which have been published in the Federal Register. 

For years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been pondering new rules to regulate e-cigarettes. Today, it acted, prohibiting the sale of tobacco an...

For years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been pondering new rules to regulate e-cigarettes. Today, it acted, prohibiting the sale of tobacco and e-cigs to anyone under 18 and requiring manufacturers to submit their products for approval.

E-cigs, like regular cigarettes, will be required to carry a health warning that reads: "WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.”

“We have more to do to help protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco and nicotine, especially our youth. As cigarette smoking among those under 18 has fallen, the use of other nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, has taken a drastic leap. All of this is creating a new generation of Americans who are at risk of addiction,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. 

The requirement that manufacturers submit their products for approval and meet whatever standards the FDA eventually establishes is likely to be difficult for many of the start-up companies that now sell e-cigarettes and vaping material.

The FDA's action came as California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation raising the smoking age to 21 and banning outdoor vaping in the nation's most populous state.

In issuing its rule, the FDA noted that tobacco use is a significant public health threat and is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, responsible for 480,000 deaths per year.

A recent study found that, while the use of traditional cigarettes by young people has declined over the past decade, teens' use of e-cigs, hookahs, cigars and other alternative products has grown. 

The study, supported jointly by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that e-cigarette use among high school students has skyrocketed from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015 and hookah use has risen significantly.

In 2015, 3 million middle and high school students were active e-cigarette users, and data showed high school boys smoked cigars at about the same rate as cigarettes. Nearly 80 percent of current youth tobacco users reported using a flavored tobacco product, citing the availability of appealing flavors as a main factor in their decision.

The law giving FDA authority over tobacco gives it the authority to evaluate product design details, including ingredients, and to evaluate the health risks of those ingredients. 

It sets up a staggered timeline that gives most manufacturers two years to continue selling their products while they submit tobacco product applications. FDA then has one year to evaluate the applications.

Products that were on the market as of Feb. 15, 2007, do not have to go through the application and approval process.

When you go into the hospital, you trust the medical staff will do everything in its power to make sure you leave alive.But Johns Hopkins researchers c...

When you go into the hospital, you trust the medical staff will do everything in its power to make sure you leave alive.

But Johns Hopkins researchers calculate that more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die each year because of medical errors. The researchers say it is difficult to know for sure, however, because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have a category for “medical errors” on death certificates.

If the researchers are correct, mistakes made by health care professionals would be among the most common causes of death. The CDC's third leading cause of death, respiratory disease, kills a far fewer 150,000 per year.

The problem, says Dr. Martin Makary, professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is medical mistakes have never been recognized in a standardized way of collecting statistics.

“The medical coding system was designed to maximize billing for physician services, not to collect national health statistics, as it is currently being used,” Makary said.

But if that's true, how can the Hopkins researchers claim that medical mistakes kill a quarter million people each year?

The researchers say they looked closely at four different studies of the medical death rate from 2000 to 2008. Using hospital admission rates, they concluded that 251,454 deaths were caused by a medical error, translating into 9.5% of all U.S. deaths.

That would make medical mistakes the third leading cause of death in the U.S., behind heart disease and cancer.

The Johns Hopkins researchers are not exactly the first to suggest medical mistakes are a significant health and safety issue. ConsumerAffairs, in fact, has a Hospital Errors and Patient Safety category for articles we've written on the topic over the years.

A study as far back as 2004 projected at least 200,000 annual deaths from medical errors. In 1999, when in-hospital deaths were estimated to be half that, the Institute of Medicine called medical error deaths a national epidemic.

Makary says there is a very practical reason to begin acknowledging, and counting, deaths related to medical errors. Cause of deaths statistics, he says, set public health priorities.

“Right now, cancer and heart disease get a ton of attention, but since medical errors don’t appear on the list, the problem doesn’t get the funding and attention it deserves,” Makary said.

The researchers say most deaths caused by medical errors are not due to the quality or skill of medical personnel. Rather, they suggest poorly designed and inefficient health care systems are a threat to patient health and safety.

California has yanked away the welcome mat for tobacco and electronic cigarette companies. Gov. Jerry Brown signed bills Wednesday that have raised the smo...

California has yanked away the welcome mat for tobacco and electronic cigarette companies. Gov. Jerry Brown signed bills Wednesday that have raised the smoking age from 18 to 21, restricts e-cigs in public places, and expands no-smoking areas in schools. 

Brown vetoed a measure that would have let counties impose local tobacco taxes to cover healthcare costs for those with tobacco-related illnesses.

“The governor’s signature on Tobacco 21 is a signal that California presents a united front against Big Tobacco," state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa)  said in a statement. "Together, we stand to disrupt the chain of adolescent addiction."

The measure makes California the first state in the country to raise the minimum smoking age as high as 21. Similar proposals have failed in New Jersey, Utah, Colorado, and Maryland, according to Hernandez’s office.

Tobacco companies know that people are more likely to become addicted to smoking if they start at a young age,” Hernandez said. “We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while big tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them.”

Nine in 10 smokers take up the habit by age 18, according to the American Lung Association in California, and 36,000 California kids start smoking each year.

Hernandez said his bill is the latest front in a renewed anti-smoking push in California. A coalition of the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and American Cancer Society is seeking a $2-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes, either via the Legislature or through an initiative.

The California Medical Association applauded the measures, saying they will "save countless Californians from a deadly, lifetime addiction to nicotine."

“CMA thanks Gov. Brown, Senate and Assembly leadership, and the many legislators involved in passing the most robust package of tobacco control legislation in decades,” said Steven Larson, M.D., MPH, president of the association. “California was once a leader in tobacco control. These laws move us toward restoring that leadership position.” Tobacco use not only claims nearly 40,000 lives in California each year, but costs the state more than $13 billion in medical expenses annually and approximately $10.35 billion annually in lost productivity due to smoking-related diseases, Larson said.

Tobacco companies have threatened to mount a referendum drive to overturn the measures and e-cig manufacturers said they would mount a voter education effort.

It seems that changing shopping trends have claimed another well-established retailer. Aeropostale, a staple in many smaller, regional malls, filed for Cha...

It seems that changing shopping trends have claimed another well-established retailer. Aeropostale, a staple in many smaller, regional malls, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday, according to a Washington Post report.

The company said that it will be taking a $160 million loan through Crystal Financial LLC  in order to operate during the bankruptcy period. Executives hope that the move will give the chain a chance to reorganize and return to profitability; shares of the company had recently been selling for mere pennies, causing it to be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) two weeks ago.

While consumer preferences for online shopping are a large factor in Aeropostale’s decline, critics are quick to claim that a large amount of the blame rests on the retailer itself. They argue that the company, and others like it, have failed to adapt to the trends and preferences of their younger, teen-aged clientele. This has led to a drastic decline in the chain’s profits. In a recent earnings report, the company reported a 16% sales decline, contributing to a net loss of nearly $22 million.

“The majority of the blame for poor performance lies squarely with [Aeropostale’s] failure to realign itself to the changing fashion demands of younger shoppers. . . Against this backdrop Aero has a brand and range that is ill-defined, somewhat dull, and rather out of tune with modern tastes,” said Neil Saunders, chief executive of Conlumino, a retail analytics firm.

Despite the uphill battle it’s sure to face, Aeropostale says that it will try to “emerge from the Chapter 11 process within the next six months as a standalone enterprise with a smaller store base.” This “smaller store base” will be achieved through closing 113 U.S. locations and all 41 of its stores in Canada. A full list of the U.S. stores that are expected to close can be seen below.

Studies show that women often identify stress as their number one health concern. For this reason, it may not surprise you to learn that womens’ shopping p...

Studies show that women often identify stress as their number one health concern. For this reason, it may not surprise you to learn that womens’ shopping priorities are now primarily geared toward products and experiences that can increase their level of happiness.

In a new report, WSL retail explains that “feel good” experiences -- whether derived from where they shop or what they purchase -- are highly valued by shoppers. The research firm points to this as the reason why retailers are seeing disappointing numbers despite an improving economy.

Some retailers, however, seem to be getting it right. Amazon, Publix, Costco, Sephora, and Victoria’s Secret are a few chains that are succeeding in giving women the enjoyable shopping experience they’re after, according to WSL.

The results of a survey showed that four-in-ten women (an increase since 2014) now report feeling more financially secure, which seems to be something they aren’t taking for granted.

According to WSL, the role of buying and consumption in Americans’ lives has been permanently changed -- meaning, no more breaking the bank on new clothes or expensive beauty products.

Instead, the discretionary dollars of many consumers are being thrown at debt and savings. Fifty-five percent of female shoppers said paying off debt was their number one priority, while 48% percent said cushioning a savings account was most important.

So how has this changed the way women shop? According to WSL, women’s spending priorities can now be summed up by something they call “the trinity of happiness.”

In addition to allocating more money for debt and savings, shoppers have begun to focus their spending behaviors on products that can help them live an easier, more enjoyable life.

What makes for a more enjoyable life? For many shoppers, it's spending more time with friends and family, staying healthy, and helping the environment via recycling and saving energy.

To make life easier, women are simplifying the way they care for themselves and their home -- this includes simpler meals and simpler beauty routines. They’re also spending less time shopping in general, which could be another reason for retailers' dismal sales numbers. Half of shoppers said their version of a simpler life involves ditching the department stores, presumably in favor of spending more time on activities they find enjoyable.

If it seems to you that no one is happy with car insurance premiums, you're right. But don't leave out the insurers themselves -- they're not having such a...

If it seems to you that no one is happy with car insurance premiums, you're right. But don't leave out the insurers themselves -- they're not having such a great time either, according to a recent report from Fitch Ratings.

The company found that while property insurance has enjoyed three straight years of significant profits, car insurers as a whole reported an underwriting loss for the fifth straight year in 2015. 

“The poor performance is a reflection of previous overly aggressive pricing in commercial auto and a recent extended period of heightened claims severity, particularly relating to bodily injury claims,” said James Auden, managing director, Fitch Ratings, according to the Insurance Journal, a trade publication. 

In plain English, premiums are too low to pay all the collision and injury claims that result from a climbing traffic accident rate, transforming the once mighty auto insurance business into what Fitch called a “chronically underperforming product segment.” 

Fitch said insurers increased rates an average of seven percent in 2015 but that wasn't enough to keep pace with rising claims.

Insurers are also confronting growing consumer resistance to higher premiums and many state regulators are cracking down on rate increases. Earlier this week, Virginia became the 19th state to ban "price optimization," a procedure many insurers use to identify customers who may be more willing than others to pay higher premiums.

Consumer advocates and state insurance regulators argue that, since insurance is required, pricing should be based strictly on objective measurements of risk, not on how much the company thinks it can squeeze out of a given consumer. 

Fitch says, however, that despite consumer and regulator resistance, auto rates are likely to increase "significantly" in the near term. 

Progressive has grown to become the largest writer of commercial auto business based on net written premiums, while, according to Fitch, also generating substantial underwriting profits.

Progressive wrote $2.2 billion of commercial auto in 2015, just above Travelers, which wrote $2 billion. Nationwide ($1.7 billion), Zurich ($1.487 billion), and Liberty Mutual ($1.486) round out the top five, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), 

MetLife recently said it is entering the auto insurance market and introduced its first commercial auto policy. The product is now available in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, with more states planned in the near future.

The list of foods, activities, and products to be avoided by expectant mothers may have just gotten a little longer. A new study finds that the use of cert...

The list of foods, activities, and products to be avoided by expectant mothers may have just gotten a little longer. A new study finds that the use of certain personal care products during pregnancy may be linked to adverse effects in newborns.

The study, led by SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s School of Public Health, cautions mothers-to-be that the use of some soaps and creams could lead to several negative reproductive effects.

"The study found a link between women with higher levels of butyl paraben, which is commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics, and the following birth outcomes: shorter gestational age at birth, decreased birth weight, and increased odds of preterm birth," said Laura Geer, PhD, MHS, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate, in a statement.

Tricocarban, which is an antimicrobial compound often added to soaps, was associated with shorter gestational age at birth. Propyl paraben, commonly added to creams and lotions, was linked to decreased body length at birth.

Dr. Geer states that the long-term consequences of using personal care products containing these ingredients are not yet clear. Further research is needed.

However, she notes that the study adds to, “the growing body of evidence showing that endocrine-disrupting compounds can lead to developmental and reproductive problems in animals and in humans.” Previous studies observed animal models only.

The findings of this study provide evidence that the use of such endocrine-disrupting compounds can have adverse reproductive effects on humans as well as animals.

Larger follow-up studies will be needed to confirm these findings, but Dr. Geer says the new evidence justifies the need to reassess the safety in using these chemicals in our products.

While the changes in birth size and timing may not be large or provoke cause for concern in individual cases, Dr. Geer explains that even small shifts are worth examining. For the population as a whole, these subtle shifts can have “major impacts on the risk for adverse birth outcomes.”

The European Union has had regulations requiring the removal of triclosan from personal care products in place since 2015. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have not yet taken broader regulatory action.

Some U.S. manufacturers have voluntarily sought to remove triclosan from products. In Minnesota, a ban has been introduced on the use of triclosan in hand sanitizer and body cleaning products (effective beginning 2017).

Consumers are spending more money with credit cards, a stat that can have either positive or negative implications.The American Bankers Association (AB...

Consumers are spending more money with credit cards, a stat that can have either positive or negative implications.

The American Bankers Association (ABA), which has issued its May 2016 Monitor, sees mostly the positive. It says consumers are spending more, but are exercising discipline.

The report reflects data from the fourth quarter of 2015, when ABA counted more than 80 million new credit card accounts, a 16% rise from a year earlier. ABA did not express concern at a 26% increase in subprime credit cards, noting the number of accounts remains well below pre-Great Recession levels.

ABA says that number actually shows the results of efforts to extend more credit to people who have been unable to obtain it since the financial crisis. It said the number of prime and super-prime credit accounts also posted increases.

“Recent growth in the credit card market largely mirrors what we’re seeing in the economy’s consumer sector,” said Jess Sharp, executive director of ABA’s Card Policy Council.

Sharp says labor markets are still relatively strong, wages are slowly climbing, and gasoline prices remain low. He says it all translates into a healthier outlook for both consumers and the credit card market.

There were slight increases in both accounts where the cardholder carries a balance and accounts that are paid in full at the end of each month. According to the ABA report, 42.1% of all credit card accounts maintain a balance. It found nearly 30% of cardholders pay the full balance each month.

Outstanding credit card balances, as a share of disposable income, rose to 5.38%, but ABA said it is still relatively low.

“Even as consumers more actively use their credit cards, they continue to do a good job of managing credit to ensure they’re spending within their means,” said Sharp.

The report shows credit card issuers are consistently increasing consumers' credit lines, but mostly for cardholders with prime credit. Super-prime accounts saw credit limits rise 2.4% and prime consumers got 1.6% more on their credit line. Subprime credit lines expanded less than half a percent.

Hulu is one of those things that everybody knows about but can't quite describe. It's sort of like Netflix but also sort of like HBO. Or is it? To hear Hul...

Hulu is one of those things that everybody knows about but can't quite describe. It's sort of like Netflix but also sort of like HBO. Or is it? To hear Hulu tell it, it's becoming more like a TV network that just happens to be delivered via streaming video.

In industry jargon, Hulu has been known as an SVOD -- streaming video on demand service. But with lots of new original programming, it's positioning itself with viewers and advertisers as something more akin to a traditional network that includes a little bit of something for just about everybody.

For example, at a presentation for advertisers at New York's Madison Square Garden Wednesday, Hulu rolled out new content including "Curious George" for children, a Beatles documentary for Boomers, and the second season of "The Path" featuring "Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul.

“We have a captive audience waiting to discover our content and your ads,” Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins told the assembled ad reps. “We’re doubling down on the strategy that brought us this far. We’re expanding our content offerings to include many new acquisitions, exciting collaborations with top creative talent, and a richer, more diverse content library including kids programming and documentary.”

It's not all fun and games, though. Hulu also announced an election special from "Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog," premiering just in time for the November election.

For advertisers, Hulu is promoting what it calls "interactive advertising," apparently meaning that ads will be targeted to individual consumers, much as Internet ads are. 

Hulu's programming also includes current season content from five of the six largest U.S. broadcast networks. Subscribers pay $7.99 per month for a version with "limited" commercials or $11.99 per month for commercial-free programming.

Until recently, most cellphone customers could upgrade their smartphone every two years and pay around $200 or less. The carrier subsidized the price of a...

Until recently, most cell phone customers could upgrade their smartphone every two years and pay around $200 or less. The carrier subsidized the price of a $650 phone in return for the customer agreeing to two years of continuous service.

Because smartphone manufacturers were adding faster chips, better cameras, and more “gee whiz” features with each product cycle, it made sense to get the new top of the line phone, especially if the cost was limited to $200.

It's different now. Carriers no longer subsidize phones. You pay the full price upfront or finance it over 18 months to two years. Either way, consumers now pay the full price.

Though it's too early to call it a trend, some industry analysts expect consumers won't upgrade as often under the new system, especially since recent product upgrades have mostly been minor tweaks and haven't included earth shaking technology advancements.

So will consumers keep buying the name brand, top of the line device or will they seek out cheaper alternatives?

Apple's iPhone remains pretty expensive, but Android phones are not only cheaper than iPhones, some are actually $200 or less – what consumers paid for the formerly subsidized phones. Here are three, costing $150 to $200, that deserve a look.

Externally, the BLU Life One X has a sleek design, crafted from aircraft aluminum. Inside, the Mediatek 6753 1.3GHz Octa-Core processor hums along with 2G of RAM, providing the speed and seamless experience you expect with an Android phone.

You've got 16GB of internal storage to start with, but it can be expanded up to 64GB with a Micro SD card. It runs on all GSM Networks including AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket, MetroPCS, Straight Talk, and Pure Talk USA.

The phone features a 5.2 inch LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, for HD viewing. It has a 13 MP camera, augmented by a 5 MP camera in front. It runs Android Lollipop 5.1 and starts at $149.99.

The Motorola Moto G is a sharp-looking phone, powered by a fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, quad-core CPU supporting up to 1.4 GHz, and advanced Adreno graphics. With it, you can switch back and forth between apps without slowing down.

It boasts a five-inch HD display, featuring Corning Gorilla Glass, and has IPX7-rated protection from splashes and accidental drops in water.

It comes with a 13 MP camera that includes a color-balancing dual LED flash. The price starts at $179.99.

The third phone in our low-cost line-up is the Honor 5X, one of the slickest-looking phones at any price, featuring a sleek, metallic finish.

One of the unique features of the 5X is its fingerprint identification. Once set up, it's quick and easy to unlock and can be used to call people in your contacts or launch an app with just the touch of a finger.

The rear camera is 13MP, with the ability to go wide angle, as well as zoom in just inches from the subject. The front camera is 5MP, with an F2.4 aperture, 22 mm wide-angle lens with four elements, large 1.4 micron pixel size, and an 88-degree viewing angle.

It's powered by a Snapdragon big.LITTLE octa-core processor, along with 2GB of RAM. It starts at $199.99.

For more information on the best available phones, providers, and consumer reviews, check out ConsumerAffairs cell phone guide.

The unemployment rate has dropped significantly in the last couple of years, but the economy is still barely growing.Could it be because, even though m...

The unemployment rate has dropped significantly in the last couple of years, but the economy is still barely growing.

Could it be because, even though more people are working, they aren't earning what they once did? There has been a huge increase in the number of temporary and contract employees – partly because of competition for skilled workers and partly because temporary workers, who aren't receiving benefits, allow companies to be more flexible.

Employment site CareerBuilder and its economic modeling subsidiary Emsi have conducted research showing that more companies are moving toward a temporary workforce. Their findings project temporary employment will add 173,478 jobs from 2016 to 2018 – an increase of 5.9%. To create the report, researchers pulled data from more than 100 national and state employment resources.

Kyle Braun, President of CareerBuilder’s Staffing and Recruiting Group, says there are already some three million people in the temporary workforce, with that number growing at a healthy pace over the next few years.

“Opportunities are opening up in a variety of occupations and pay levels, and this is a trend we’re seeing in a wide range of industries and company sizes,” Braun said.

Some jobs and some industries are better suited to temporary work than others. CareerBuilder said there are hundreds of thousands of available temporary jobs that pay more than $15 an hour.

In CareerBuilder's rankings, software developers stand to earn the highest wages in the temporary workforce, at a median pay of $46.72 an hour. It says there are currently more than 14,000 job openings in that category.

But some traditionally salaried jobs are also trending toward temporary positions. For example, CareerBuilder says there are currently more than 42,000 temporary positions for registered nurses, paying a median $33.28 an hour.

Even some traditionally union jobs have transitioned to temporary positions. There are currently more than 21,000 openings for temporary machinists, paying $19.38 an hour.

Other temporary occupations paying more than $15 an hour include truck drivers, bookkeepers, administrative assistants, computer support personnel, construction workers, and human resource specialists.

Last December, CareerBuilder commissioned a Harris Poll which showed that 47% of employers planned to hire temporary personnel at some point in 2016, up slightly from the year before. But 58% said at least some of those temporary or contract workers would be transitioned into full-time, permanent positions in the future.

CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Wash., is expanding its earlier recall of frozen organic and traditional fruits and vegetables. The products may be cont...

CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Wash., is expanding its earlier recall of frozen organic and traditional fruits and vegetables, according to an announcement by the FDA.

The government has identified seven people from three states who became ill and were hospitalized due to Listeria. Some of these illnesses have been linked to consuming CRF-manufactured or processed products. Two of these individuals later died, but the government says Listeria was not the cause of death in either person.

The expanded recall of frozen vegetables includes all of the frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed in CRF Frozen Foods' Pasco facility since May 1, 2014. All recalled products have the best by dates or sell by dates between April 26, 2016, and April 26, 2018.

The FDA has provided a complete list (shown below) of all 358 affected consumer products sold under 42 separate brands. It inclues information on best-by dates, container sizes, and codes that can be found on the back of each bag:

CRF-Branded Products Instructions to Consumer: All Best By Dates, All Frozen Vegetables and Fruit Items Best By will include the following dates 04.26.16 thru 04.26.18 All Codes are found on the Back of the Bag in the following location down the back seam

Private Labels with CRF Identified through an unique number on bag Instructions to consumer: Look for the highlighted numbers as shown Below Best By will include the following dates 04.26.16 thru 04.26.18 All Codes are found on the Back of the Bag in the following location down the back seam

Private Labels with CRF Identified through an unique number on bag  Instructions to consumer: Look for the highlighted numbers as shown Below Best By will include the following dates 04.26.16 thru 04.26.18 All Codes are found on the Back of the Bag in the following location down the back seam

Private Labels with CRF Identified through an unique number on bag Instructions to consumer: Look for the code with one of the letters at the end A, B, C D Best By will include the following dates 04.26.16 thru 04.26.18  All Codes are found on the Back of the Bag in the following location down the back seam, lower right hand corner

The recalled products may have been purchased in all 50 U.S. states and the Canadian Provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Customers who purchased the recalled products may return them to the store where they were purchased for a refund, or simply discard them.

Consumers with questions may call the company's consumer hotline at 844-483-3866, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm (EST).

The services sector of the economy expanded for the 75th consecutive month in April.The Institute for Supply Management says its Non-Manufacturing Inde...

The Institute for Supply Management says its Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI), which is used to track the sector, registered 55.7% -- an increase of 1.2% from March. A reading above 50% indicates expansion; below 50% suggests contraction.

Within the NMI, the New Orders Index rose 3.2% to 59.9%, the Employment Index was up 2.7% to 53% and the Prices Index jumped 4.3% to 53.4%, the first increase in three months.

The pace of job-cutting surged in April as US-based employers announced plans to reduce their workforces by 65,141.According to the figures from outpla...

The pace of job-cutting surged in April as US-based employers announced plans to reduce their workforces by 65,141.

According to the figures from outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas (CG&C), that's an increase of 35% over March and 5.8% higher than the total for April 2015.

In the first four months of this year, planned job cuts -- at 250,061 -- are up 24%from the same period in 2015 and the highest January-April total since 2009.

“We continue to see large scale layoffs in the energy sector, where low oil prices are driving down profits,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of CG&C. “However, we are also seeing heavy downsizing activity in other areas, such as computers and retail, where changing consumer trends are creating a lot of volatility.”

Another 19,759 jobs disappeared in the energy sector in April, bringing the year-to-date total to 72,660, up 26% from first four months of 2015.

Computer firms cut 16,923 positions -- the highest total among all industries. Approximately 12,000 of those were from chipmaker Intel, which is shifting away from the traditional desktop and laptop market and toward the mobile market. To date, computer firms have announced 33,925 job cuts, a whopping 262% above a year earlier.

“For all intents and purposes, the economy remains strong,” Challenger noted. “The nation’s payrolls have experienced 66 consecutive months of net job gains, a trend that is likely to continue with the new report out Friday.”

The Department of Labor (DOL) reports initial jobless claims were up by 17,000 in the week ending April 30, to a seasonally adjusted 274,000. Still this was the 61st consecutive week of claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.

The four-week moving average, which is less volatile than the weekly headcount and considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market, was up 2,000 -- to 258,000.

Takata is in talks with U.S. safety regulators that could lead to the recall of another 35 million airbag inflators, in addition to the nea...

Takata will be required to recall another 35 to 40 million airbags, on the top of 28.8 million already recalled, in a process expected to last well into 2019. 

The recalled units were made with ammonium nitrate propellant but without a chemical drying agent. That allows moisture to, over time, degrade and become prone to explode. 

The defect is blamed for the deaths of 10 people in the United States and more than 100 injuries. The most recent to die was Huma Hanif, 17, of Houston. Police said her car tapped the one in front of her and her airbag exploded, sending sharp pieces of metal flying into her neck. She bled to death at the scene.

Takata said it will comply with the order but said it is "not aware of any ruptures, in the field or in testing, in the inflator products in vehicles that would be covered by this new order, nor is Takata aware of any new data or scientific analysis that suggests any substantial risk with respect to such vehicles."

"Nonetheless, the company has agreed to accept and support the expanded recalls respecting Takata’s and NHTSA’s shared interest towards future safety and restoring public confidence.  All vehicles in which field or testing ruptures have occurred are already subject to previous recalls in the U.S.," Takata spokesman Jared Levy said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. 

In an announcement today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the expanded recalls will take place in five phases, recalling airbags thought to be more dangerous first.

Congressional critics, including Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, said today's action was not adequate.

"The largest auto recall in our nation’s history just doubled but, unfortunately, the pace at which Takata and the automakers are replacing these faulty airbags has not,” said Nelson.  “The top priority must be doing whatever is necessary to get these potentially-deadly airbags out of people’s cars as quickly as possible.  If we wait another three or four years for these to get replaced more people are likely to die”

The airbags most at risk of exploding are thought to be those without the chemical drying agent. They are also the oldest and those that have been exposed to high humidity and fluctuating high temperatures that accelerate the degradation of the chemical propellant.

 "With these expanded recalls, all non-desiccated frontal inflators will be under recall in the U.S.," Takata said, adding that the "vast majority" of the frontal inflators Takata produces today contain desiccant.  

NHTSA said the most dangerous airbags have already been recalled, and in a statement, Takata Chairman and CEO Shigehisa Takada concurred. 

"Our actions, including the expansion of product recalls to cover all non-desiccated frontal inflator models, demonstrate our total commitment to safety and our intention to be part of the solution and to restore the confidence of the driving public," he said.

“NHTSA’s aggressive actions in 2015 means this recall is already a year ahead of where it would have been if the agency had waited for this research,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “As a result, all of the most dangerous inflators responsible for the deaths and injuries are already under recall.”

NHTSA said that a combination of time, environmental moisture and fluctuating high temperatures contribute to the degradation of the ammonium nitrate propellant in the inflators. Such degradation can cause the propellant to burn too quickly, rupturing the inflator module and sending shrapnel through the air bag and into the vehicle occupants.

“The science clearly shows that these inflators become unsafe over time, faster when exposed to humidity and variations of temperature,” Rosekind added. “This recall schedule ensures the inflators will be recalled and replaced before they become dangerous, giving vehicle owners sufficient time to have them replaced before they pose a danger to vehicle occupants. NHTSA will continue to evaluate all available research and will act quickly to protect safety.”

Rosekind noted the massive recall is the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history. He said NHTSA and auto manufacturers have committed to seek a 100-percent recall completion rate.

“Everyone plays a role in making sure that this recall is completed quickly and safely, including manufacturers, suppliers and vehicle owners themselves,” Rosekind said. “People who receive notification that there is a remedy available for their vehicle should act immediately to have their inflator fixed. All vehicle owners should regularly check SaferCar.gov for information about any open safety recall on their vehicle and what they can do to have it fixed free of  charge.”

Additional recalls will further strain Takata, a family-owned company that has lost 75% of its market value in the last year. Even without the recalls, Takata and other airbag manufacturers face a questionable future.

As cars increasingly are equipped with sophisticated accident-avoidance technology, so-called "passive" safety systems like airbags may not be considered as essential as they are today, many experts believe. 

Autonomous cars, which will supposedly be much safer than those driven by humans, are expected to be nearly accident-free once they are in wide use. Of course, none of that is any comfort to those injured and killed by defective airbags today. 

Imodium is a popular over-the-counter treatment for diarrhea but it's increasingly being used by opioid-addicted consumers trying to self-treat their withd...

Imodium is a popular over-the-counter treatment for diarrhea but it's increasingly being used by opioid-addicted consumers trying to self-treat their withdrawal symptoms. The results can be fatal.

Two case studies in Annals of Emergency Medicine tell of patients who overdosed on imodium -- also known as loperamide. Although both were treated by emergency medical crews with cardiac life support and naloxone, both died.

"Loperamide's accessibility, low cost, over-the-counter legal status and lack of social stigma all contribute to its potential for abuse," said lead study author William Eggleston, PharmD, of the Upstate New York Poison Center, in Syracuse, New York. "People looking for either self-treatment of withdrawal symptoms or euphoria are overdosing on loperamide with sometimes deadly consequences. Loperamide is safe in therapeutic doses but extremely dangerous in high doses."

Postings on web forums about loperamide increased tenfold between 2010 and 2011, according to the journal articles, with most of the postings discussing the use of loperamide to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. Some of the postings also discussed the euphoria imodium induces in some patients.

The Upstate New York Poison Center experienced a seven-fold increase in calls related to loperamide abuse or misuse from 2011 through 2015, which is consistent with national poison data that reported a 71% increase in calls related to intentional loperamide exposure from 2011 through 2014.

"Our nation's growing population of opioid-addicted patients is seeking alternative drug sources with prescription opioid medication abuse being limited by new legislation and regulations," said Eggleston. "Health care providers must be aware of increasing loperamide abuse and its under recognized cardiac toxicity. This is another reminder that all drugs, including those sold without a prescription, can be dangerous when not used as directed."

Virginia has become the 19th state to ban the insurance industry practice of "price optimization" -- a method many insurers use to get the highest possible...

Virginia has become the 19th state to ban the insurance industry practice of "price optimization" -- a method many insurers use to get the highest possible premium payments out of policyholders.

The term refers to insurance companies studying consumers' behavior to test their tolerance for price changes, then using that information to set rates, rather than basing rates on objective measurements of risk.

The practice may be profitable, but Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline Cunningham says it is illegal and she has issued an official bulletin to insurance companies reminding them of that fact.

Cunningham's bulletin clearly explains that insurance rates must be tied directly to risk and cannot be raised based on consumers' shopping habits. 

“Most Americans are required by law to buy auto insurance and by their mortgage company to buy homeowners insurance, and it is terribly unfair and entirely illegal for insurance companies to vary premiums based on whether or not they are statistically likely to shop around,” said J. Robert Hunter, Director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and former Texas Insurance Commissioner. 

“We applaud Commissioner Cunningham for her strong and clear stance in favor of protecting consumers from the unfair practice of price optimization," Hunter said. 

Price optimization marks a radical departure from the actuarial practice of pricing insurance premiums according to the risk of loss posed by the policyholder, CFA said. 

“Price optimization by insurers is Big Data run amok and simply price gouging by a fancy name. Consumers are being punished for activities and circumstances unrelated to risk and without any disclosure or transparency by insurers,” said Birny Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Center for Economic Justice. “The state actions by 19 insurance commissioners are the first steps in returning insurance practices to the foundation of pricing insurance based on risk of loss.”

Virginia is the 19th jurisdiction to notify insurers that price optimization violates state insurance statutes that require cost-based pricing and prohibit unfair discrimination in setting insurance premiums. Maryland, California, Ohio, Florida, Vermont, Washington, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maine, Washington, D.C., Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, Minnesota, Colorado, Connecticut, Alaska, and Missouri have previously issued notices to insurers with the same message as the Virginia bulletin: utilizing non-risk related consumer characteristics to set insurance prices is illegal.

Envied are the children whose birthday parties include bouncy castles. But before peeling back the velcro-lined doors to join their friends inside, kids pr...

Strawberry season -- as well as National Strawberry Month -- is officially underway. Whether you buy them from the store or pick them from a field, your bo...

Strawberry season -- as well as National Strawberry Month -- is officially underway. Whether you buy them from the store or pick them from a field, your body is sure to thank you.

Strawberries are packed with essential nutrients, dietary fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. While they’re a smart snacking choice for people of any age, a new study suggests that older adults might especially benefit from upping their intake of the seed-covered fruit.

In one of the first clinical studies of its kind, USDA researchers found that incorporating two cups of strawberries per day into the diets of older adults can improve cognition.

The study, which took place at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, looked at the effects of daily strawberry consumption over the course of 90 days.

Over this time period, 37 healthy older adults between the ages of 60 to 75 consumed either two cups of strawberries per day in freeze-dried powder form or an equal amount of a control powder containing no strawberries. Participants, otherwise, followed their normal diets.

The results of intermittent mobility and cognitive testing showed an overall improvement in spatial memory and word recognition at the end of the 90 days for those who consumed strawberries.

The research, Dietary Strawberry Improves Cognition in Older Adults: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial, was first presented at the 2015 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago.

As we’ve reported, the anthocyanins in strawberries have been shown to reduce insulin resistance. Other recent studies have concluded that the flavonoids in strawberries may help reduce inflammation in obese adults and age-related weight gain.

Clearly, there is a lot to be gained from eating strawberries -- and luckily, incorporating them into your diet isn't hard.

Strawberries are one of the most versatile fruits. They can be used in lieu of tomatos, used to make salsas or chutneys, or even roasted in the oven to create a jam. For more creative ways to get your daily serving of strawberries, check out these recipes from the California Strawberry Commission.

States have been loosening fireworks laws and emergency doctors say the result has been an increase in both the number of injuries to children and the seve...

States have been loosening fireworks laws and emergency doctors say the result has been an increase in both the number of injuries to children and the severity of the injuries.

In a study presented at a meeting of the Pediatrics Academic Societies in Baltimore, researchers looked at federal and state data from the National Inpatient Sample, with data on 8 million hospital stays each year, and the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, which annually compiles information on 30 million discharges from emergency medicine facilities.

They found that the number of patients under age 21 treated and released by emergency departments between 2006 and 2012 rose modestly. Significantly larger increases were seen in injuries requiring inpatient hospital admission, which skyrocketed from 29% of cases in 2006 to 50% in 2012.

"The increase in fireworks-related injuries and the severity of these injuries in children since 2006 are very concerning," said Charles Woods, MD, FAAP, one of the study's authors and associate chair of pediatrics at the University of Louisville.

"Although our findings do not prove a direct link to relaxations in state laws governing fireworks sales, it may be time for lawmakers to reassess this issue. Parents and caregivers of children also should be aware of these increasingly serious injuries and the potential dangers involved in allowing young children to handle and play with fireworks," he said.

The findings mirror those of other studies. In 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 injuries related to fireworks in 2013, compared with 8,700 injuries in 2012. 

Injuries were frequently the result of the user playing with lit fireworks or igniting fireworks while holding the device, CPSC researchers said.

Consumers also reported injuries related to devices that malfunctioned or devices that did not work as expected, including injuries due to errant flight paths, devices that tipped over, and blowouts.

In 2013, children younger than five years old experienced a higher estimated per capita injury rate than any other age group. Sparklers and rockets accounted for more than 40% of all estimated injuries.

Lately real estate news has focused on rising home prices. Just last month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that existing home prices ju...

Lately real estate news has focused on rising home prices. Just last month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that existing home prices jumped 5.7% in March, year-over-year.

But home buyers aren't the only consumers paying more to put roofs over their heads. Rents have been rising just as fast – faster in some cases.

Both home prices and rents are rising for the same reason – a supply and demand imbalance. And both have their roots in the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession.

A new report by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) traces the origins of the rental affordability crisis and finds few short-term solutions.

"Demand for rental housing has greatly outstripped supply, rapidly pushing vacancies down and rents up even as incomes fell. The supply is still trying to catch up with the demand," said Lynn Fisher, MBA's Vice President for Research and Economics.

The financial crisis hit just as members of the Millennial generation were preparing to leave home and form households. Those lucky enough to find jobs had to compete for rental housing with their older peers, who ordinarily would be shopping for a home purchase after renting a few years.

But mortgage lenders radically altered course, almost overnight. Instead of making mortgage loans to anyone with a pulse, lenders imposed tough underwriting standards, requiring a 20% down payment and an excellent credit score.

As a result, far fewer people were able to purchase homes than in previous years. Home sales sagged but rents surged, since vastly more consumers were renting instead of buying.

"The most visible indicator of the rental housing crisis is the record-high affordability problem created by rising rents while renters' incomes have declined,” the authors write. “Yet the evidence presented in this report suggests the root of the problem is that many more renters have been added than was expected according to the trends before 2006.”

The housing market has recovered in terms of price, in large part because interest rates are so low and there has been a dramatic decline in the inventory of homes for sale. Despite the rising prices, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says first time buyers have begun to return to the market, albeit somewhat slowly.

"With rents steadily rising and average fixed rates well below 4%, qualified first-time buyers should be more active participants than what they are right now," Yun said. "Unfortunately, the same underlying deterrents impacting their ability to buy haven't subsided so far in 2016. Affordability and the low availability of starter homes is still a major barrier for them in most markets."

The MBA report projects six million consumers since 2006 would have become homeowners, if they could have found an affordable home and qualified for a mortgage. Instead, they have remained renters, helping to drive up demand – and thus, costs.

The report notes one bright spot; apartment construction has nearly doubled from 2010 to 2012 and rose another third from 2012 to 2014. But with a sharp reduction in new single-family home construction, even sharp increases in multi-family building may have a difficult time meeting demand, as more would-be homeowners remain renters.

How's your credit score? If it is a number that's considered “excellent,” you shouldn't respond to just any random credit card offer.If you do, you cou...

How's your credit score? If it is a number that's considered “excellent,” you shouldn't respond to just any random credit card offer.

If you do, you could be leaving money and services on the table. That's because credit card companies have cards for different levels of credit worthiness. They save the best benefits for consumers with excellent credit and, as a rule, have no annual fee.

The Chase Slate has a couple of features that make it an attractive choice. If you are carrying a balance on another card, you can transfer the balance to your Chase Slate card with no transfer fee, as long you do it during the first 60 days the account is open.

On the other hand, if you have an excellent credit score, you might not be carrying a balance, negating one of the card's primary benefits.

Another nice feature is a monthly FICO credit score, given at no charge. While there are several sites now that provide a “free credit score,” these scores are not always your FICO score, a proprietary formula that most lenders rely on to make credit decisions.

What you won't get with the Chase Slate are generous cash back rewards, so it might be wise to consider a rewards card instead if you don't need the balance transfer feature.

While there are many cash back rewards cards for consumers with excellent credit, the BankAmericard Cash Rewards card is definitely worth a look, especially if you are already a Bank of America customer.

Upon signing up, the card pays a $100 cash bonus after you spend $500 in the first 90 days the account is open. You earn 3% cash back at the gas pump, 2% at the supermarket, and 1% on all other purchases. In all, you can earn up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter.

If you are a Bank of America customer, you can get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into your checking or savings account. For Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients, that bonus can be 25% or more.

If you would like a lot of extra services with your credit card, then you might consider the Citi Diamond Preferred card. VIP treatment is its main attraction.

Cardmembers are entitled to 24/7 access to personalized concierge service, providing help in booking hotels, flights, and concert tickets.

It also has a fairly lengthy 0% introductory period for balance transfers – 21 months. However, there is a fee for these transfers, ranging from a minimum of $5 to a maximum of 3% of the transferred amount.

A new study shows that making small dietary and physical activity changes, at the very least, can have a big impact on weight management for young adults....

A new study shows that making small dietary and physical activity changes, at the very least, can have a big impact on weight management for young adults.

Researchers funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute tracked the weight changes of a large group of individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 over the course of two to three years. They found that those who actively made small or large changes to their diet and physical activity were much more likely to lose or maintain weight, while those who were left to their own devices actually gained weight or became obese.

The study was made up of 599 participants; half of these individuals were considered to be at a normal weight and the other half were overweight. All participants were asked to weigh themselves frequently and track any changes, but different groups of people were asked to do more with the information they gathered.

In the “small change” group, individuals were asked to track their weight and then make small lifestyle changes if they noticed any weight gain. These actions could involve small alterations to their diet or increasing physical activity – for example, making portions smaller at meals and electing to take the stairs instead of an elevator.

Another group, called the “large change” group, was asked to initially lose 5-10 pounds and then work towards maintaining that weight loss. Like the small change group, this could include anything from dieting changes to increasing exercise.

The control group of the study was asked to track their weight, but they were given a minimal amount of instruction about what to do with that information.

When the study period was over, researchers observed that members of the small change and large change groups were much more successful at preventing weight gain than the control group. The small change group averaged a weight loss of 1.2 pounds, while those in the large change group lost an average of 5.2 pounds over two to three years.

Those in the control group tended to drift in the opposite direction. By the end of the study, participants in this group gained half a pound on average; 20% of these participants became obese, while only 8% were able to maintain their weight.

The researchers believe that these results underscore the importance of making dietary and physical activity changes for young adults. They posit that maintaining a healthy weight during this time period is crucial because it is usually when a person puts on the most excess weight in their lifetime.

Additionally, the researchers believe that making these changes at this stage of life may help pass on healthy habits to younger generations, allow individuals to avoid obesity, and make it easier to manage weight when consumers get older.

Suburban areas across America are dotted with one subdivision after another, where residents are required to belong to a homeowner association (HOA). Resid...

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are effective pain relievers. They include a lot of over the counter drugs that are probably in your medi...

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are effective pain relievers. They include a lot of over the counter drugs that are probably in your medicine chest – products like aspirin, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, and Nuprin.

But if you are at risk for heart disease, your physician may have advised you not to take these drugs on a regular basis. Research has found evidence these drugs can increase cardiovascular risks.

They found these drugs can reduce cardiac cells' ability to produce energy. They can also cause the production of a compound that puts stress on heart cells. That stress has been associated with heart disease.

NSAIDs have also been shown to inhibit production of proteasome, which controls harmful proteins. Uncontrolled, these proteins can build up and eventually kill off cardiac cells.

“We knew these non-steroidal anti-inflammatories had negative side effects for heart disease and stroke risk, “ said corresponding author Aldrin Gomes, a UC Davis associate professor of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. “But now we have an idea of some of the mechanisms behind it.”

To reach their conclusions, the California scientists compared naproxen, considered the safest available NSAID and available over the counter, with the more powerful prescription drug meclofenamate sodium.

Meclofenamate sodium, they found, was more likely to have negative heart impact than naproxen. In fact, naproxen did not have any effect on proteasome function or cause heart cells to die.

But naproxen did not receive a clean bill of health. The researchers found the over the counter NSAID impaired mitochondrial function and was more likely to harm cardiac cells. It was also associated with increased stroke risk.

But if you use the products only occasionally, not daily for chronic pain, the risk appears to be less.

“We were surprised to see that many of the NSAIDs we tested were causing the cardiac cell to die when used for prolonged periods,” said Gomes. “Some people are taking these drugs too often, and this is a problem. These drugs are abused.”

The researchers also suggest that getting a dose of vitamin C, either through food or supplement before taking an NSAID, might work to prevent cell damage.

If you have high blood pressure, or have been found to be at risk of heart disease, it is a good idea to discuss NSAIDs with your health care provider before taking one.

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year strengthened its NSAID warning, saying even people in good health need to be careful with these drugs. The concern is that NSAIDs are often present in a wide range of drugs. People taking multiple medications are in danger of getting too much.

While the nation's job-producing machinery is still running well, there's been something of a slowdown that continued into April.The ADP National Emplo...

Mortgage applications continued their slide last week.Figures released by the Mortgage Bankers Association show applications fell 3.4% in the week endi...

Nissan North America is recalling 108,503 model year 2014-2016 Rogues manufactured July 31, 2013, to January 16, 2016. The rear lift gate support s...

Nissan North America is recalling 108,503 model year 2014-2016 Rogues manufactured July 31, 2013, to January 16, 2016.

The rear lift gate support stays may corrode due to insufficient anti-corrosion treatment, which could cause a sudden release of pressure. If this occurs, the support stays may break off, increasing the risk of injury.

Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will replace the rear tailgate stays, free of charge. Parts are not currently available. Owners will be sent interim notifications by mid-June 2016. A second notice will be sent when remedy parts become available.

The NBC reality series “The Biggest Loser” has been an inspiration to many obese people. They have watched as contestants embraced a supervised, on-camera ...

The NBC reality series “The Biggest Loser” has been an inspiration to many obese people. They have watched as contestants embraced a supervised, on-camera lifestyle transition to a healthy diet and exercise.

Even the contestants who didn't win went home happy, with slimmer, lighter bodies. But a team of U.S. researchers wondered what happened next? Did the feel-good story continue, off-camera? In most cases, it did not.

The researchers investigated 16 of the show's contestants, 14 of whom participated in the follow-up study. All but one gained back some of the weight. Four regained everything they lost, and then some.

The study found the 14 participants lost an average of about 128 pounds, regaining about 90 pounds over six years.

But that wasn't the point of the study – the researchers suspected they might find some regained weight, since that often happens to dieters. The real question they wanted to answer was “why.”

The “why” appears to center on changes to metabolism, which is kind of like your body's miles-per-gallon (MPG) rating. You want your body to have the MPG of a Hummer, not a Prius.

In their study, the researchers determined that the dramatic weight loss altered the body's metabolism, the rate at which it burns calories. As subjects dropped pounds, the body slowed the rate at which it burned calories. They call it metabolic adaptation.

Using before and after data for the contestants, the researchers found their resting metabolic rate (RMR) slowed in the years following the show.

The researchers said their study, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is probably the longest follow-up investigation of the changes in metabolic adaptation and body composition following weight loss and regain.

“We found that despite substantial weight regain in the six years following participation in 'The Biggest Loser,' RMR remained suppressed at the same average level as at the end of the weight loss competition,” the authors wrote.

They found mean RMR after six years was about 500 calories a day lower than expected, based on the measured body composition changes and the increased age of the subjects. The contestants who lost the most weight, they said, also experienced the greatest slowdown in RMR at that time.

Those most successful in keeping the lost weight off after six years also experienced greater ongoing metabolic slowing.

“Metabolic adaptation persists over time and is likely a proportional, but incomplete, response to contemporaneous efforts to reduce body weight,” the study concludes.

The takeaway, however, is not that obese people should not try to lose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle, far from it. Rather, it's an acknowledgment of the physical obstacles your body can throw up to maintaining the weight loss.

Despite their weight regain, the contestants were “quite successful” at long-term weight loss compared with other lifestyle interventions, the study found. The researchers also found that those who experienced the biggest metabolic change did not experience the greatest weight regain and those who were most successful in keeping the weight off had pretty much the same metabolic slowdown.

So the lesson, the researchers say, is “long-term weight loss requires vigilant combat against persistent metabolic adaptation that acts to proportionally counter ongoing efforts to reduce body weight.”

It should be noted that participants in “The Biggest Loser” all had close medical monitoring during the show. You should not undertake any sort of significant weight loss effort without consulting a doctor first.  

Johnson & Johnson has lost another talcum powder case in St. Louis. A jury on Monday returned a verdict against the company and awarded $55 million to a So...

Johnson & Johnson has lost another talcum powder case in St. Louis. A jury on Monday returned a verdict against the company and awarded $55 million to a South Dakota woman who said the J&J; Baby Powder caused her to develop ovarian cancer.

It was the second loss in recent months for the company, which is facing about 1,200 lawsuits that claim it did not adequately warn consumers of talcum powder's cancer risks. Most of the pending cases are in Missouri and New Jersey.

Gloria Ristesund said she had used the powder on her genital region for years before developing ovarian cancer and undergoing a hysterectomy and other surgeries. The jury awarded her $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. 

It's the second case Johnson & Johnson has lost in St. Louis in recent months. In March, another jury ordered the company to pay $72 million to an Alabama woman who said she had used talcum powder for years to "stay fresh and clean."

Johnson & Johnson says it is preparing to file an appeal of the latest verdict and says the verdicts contradict 30 years of scientific research supporting the safety of talc-based powders.

"Jury verdicts should not be confused with regulatory rulings or rigorous scientific findings,” Bloomberg quoted Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson Consumer, as saying after the earlier verdict. “The overwhelming body of scientific research and clinical evidence supports the safety of cosmetic talc.”

Imerys Talc America, which supplies talc to Johnson & Johnson, also insists the product is safe. "Our confidence is supported by the consensus view of qualified scientific experts and regulatory agencies,” the company said in a statement.

Talc is the softest naturally occurring mineral. It absorbs odors and moisture naturally and is composed of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It also often contains asbestos, which is linked with lung cancer when inhaled. Talc is commonly used to treat and prevent diaper rash and is used in cosmetics, paint, paper, and rubber products.

The Federal Trade Commission says it has caught up with the perpetrators of a series of subscription scams that victimized newspaper and magazine readers. ...

The Federal Trade Commission says it has caught up with the perpetrators of a series of subscription scams that victimized newspaper and magazine readers. 

According to the FTC’s complaint, through a complicated web of companies, the defendants send consumers “Notice of Renewal/New Order” mailers for subscriptions to newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Seattle Times and The Denver Post, and for magazines.

The notices claimed that the subscription prices offered were “one of the lowest available rates” and were authorized by the publisher.

In fact, the FTC alleges the defendants did not have publishers’ authorization and have been charging up to 40 percent more than the newspapers typically charge. Only in fine print on the back of the fake notices do the defendants state that they “do not necessarily have a direct relationship with the publishers or publications” – and that disclosure refers only to magazine subscriptions, according to the complaint.

Many consumers have complained about the fake notices, paying an inflated price, delays in receiving publications they ordered, or receiving the wrong publications. In some instances, consumers have paid twice for the same subscription.

Consumers who learned the defendants did not represent their regular newspaper and tried to cancel payment or obtain refunds have found it hard to reach customer service. Those who have reached the defendants often received no refund or only a partial refund, or they succeeded only after complaining to the Better Business Bureau or to state or federal law enforcement agencies.

More than 375 newspapers have told the defendants to stop, and many have placed “alerts” on their websites and/or in their publications to warn consumers. The complaint alleges that to circumvent law enforcement actions and publishers’ letters telling them to “cease and desist,” the defendants have created shell corporations to process and submit orders paying the publishers’ normal subscription rate and pocketed the additional amount the defendants received from consumers.

A federal court has entered a $13.4 million judgment against the CEO of BlueHippo, a notorious scam that took payments for computers that were often never...

A federal court has entered a $13.4 million judgment against the CEO of BlueHippo, a notorious scam that took payments for computers that were often never delivered to consumers.

“This scheme preyed on cash-strapped consumers looking for computers to improve their lives and the lives of their children,” said Jessica Rich, the Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This case shows that the FTC not only takes decisive action against wrongdoers, but also does whatever it takes to see the case through to a fair conclusion.”

At the FTC's request, the court found BlueHippo Funding LLC, BlueHippo Capital LLC and CEO Joseph Rensin in contempt for continuing to operate a deceptive computer financing scheme in violation of a federal court order that the defendants agreed to in 2008. The court also entered judgment against Rensin, BlueHippo’s CEO, for $13.4 million, the harm consumers suffered as a result of the scheme.

The FTC charged the BlueHippo defendants with contempt in 2009, alleging that, between April and December of 2008, they flouted the 2008 order by contracting with thousands of consumers to finance new computers, most of which were never delivered.

After a hearing, the court found that the defendants violated the 2008 order, but awarded consumer redress of only $609,000. The FTC prevailed on its appeal of the redress award, and ultimately the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a $13,400,627.60 judgment on April 19, 2016.

Parents might think that a brighter academic future waits for their teens on the other side of academia-related extracurricular activities, but a new study...

Parents might think that a brighter academic future waits for their teens on the other side of academia-related extracurricular activities, but a new study suggests that this isn’t the case.

When it comes to inspiring teenagers to continue their education after the age of 16, researchers from the University of Warwick found that study time pales in comparison to spending quality time with mom and dad.

Taking part in cultural activities with parents -- such as going to museums, concerts, or galleries -- was found to be a bigger motivator than participating in homework clubs or other extracurriculars.

According to lead researcher Dr. Dimitra Hartas, associate professor in the Centre for Educational Studies at the University of Warwick, emotional closeness to parents and cultural capital are better predictors of an adolescent's academic aspirations.

Problem solving abilities were also a strong predictor of educational aspiration -- namely, the likelihood that a teen would consider GCSEs important.

Teens who didn’t feel confident solving problems on their own were 30% less likely to rate gaining GSCEs as important. The researchers also found that participants with lower levels of self-efficacy were 18% more likely to choose not to continue their studies.

Emotional closeness to parents also played a big role in predicting whether or not an adolescent would rate GSCEs important. It did not, however, seem to have any significantly influence on a teen's desire to attend college or university. 

Dr. Hartas and her team found that developing “cultural capital” also inspired teens to want to further their studies. Those who participated in various cultural activities with their parents were 23% less likely to consider getting a job instead of attending college after the age of 16.

According to Dr. Hartas, these findings showcase the importance of the filial dynamics and “raise the issue of reconsidering the role of the home environment as a web of emotionally and intellectually charged relationships between parents and children rather than an extension of the school day.”

The full study, Young people's educational aspirations: psychosocial factors and the home environment, has been published in the Journal of Youth Studies.

It seems hardly a month goes by without a report of a passenger flying into a rage while on board a commercial aircraft. It has become so common there is e...

It seems hardly a month goes by without a report of a passenger flying into a rage while on board a commercial aircraft. It has become so common there is even a web site devoted to cataloging these incidents.

The displays of emotion are often chalked up to the decline in service by commercial airlines – long lines, delays and cancellations, and having to pay fees for things that were once included in the fare.

Katy DeCelles and Michael Norton studied these incidents and concluded they are more likely to occur on aircraft that have a first class cabin. They say the odds of an air rage incident go up even more if coach passengers have to walk through first class to reach their cramped seats.

Just having a first class cabin, the study found, made air rage four times more likely to occur than if the plane were a single class cabin.

"I expected there to be more support for a lack of leg room as a contributor to air rage, given the attention that leg room has had -- but there wasn't," said DeCelles, an associate professor of organizational behavior and human resource management.

The study relied on a database of thousands of flight incident reports, covering several years, on a large international carrier. The incidents had to be of a serious nature and included passengers refusing to sit down, yelling obscenities at a flight attendant of belligerent behavior closely associated with too much alcohol consumption.

While there may be a lot of factors contributing to air rage, the researchers suggest an overlooked one is perceived class inequality, feeling slighted because someone else is enjoying better accommodations.

However, the research does not explain why celebrities, and others who are sitting in first class, sometimes engage in air rage. Actor Alec Baldwin, who presumably flies first class, has been bounced off at least one flight for allegedly getting into a tussle with a flight attendant.

Flight attendants, themselves, have been known to flip out at passengers. In one case a couple of years ago, one member of the flight crew deployed an emergency chute on the tarmac to escape the aircraft.

Another possible explanation for the rash of air rage incidents is an increase in the number of passengers who simply feel that deserve better than what they're getting. Mental health author Joseph Burgo writes that people who erupt in what he calls narcissistic rage may also express a frustrated sense of entitlement.

“By which I mean the feeling that one has a right to be given something which others believe should be obtained through effort, and unrealistic expectations of favorable treatment or automatic compliance with one’s expectations,” he writes.

If you’ve got a dog who enjoys spending time in the backyard, you might have already considered him or her when planning your garden. Not every plant falls...

Drivers are always complaining about potholes, lousy signage, potholes and poor lane markings on the nation's highways. And now they're being joined by sel...

Drivers are always complaining about potholes, lousy signage, potholes and poor lane markings on the nation's highways. And now they're being joined by self-driving car manufacturers who say their robots are having trouble seeing the lines and reading the signs on American streets.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has called it "crazy" and Volvo's North American CEO lost his cool recently when one of his company's autonomous prototypes refused to budge during a press event at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Reuters reported. 

"It can't find the lane markings. You need to paint the bloody roads here," Lex Kerssemakers exclaimed to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Automakers are finding it difficult to cope with the patchwork of laws and standards in the U.S., unlike European and Asian nations, where government tends to be more centralized and the same standards are used nationwide for things like traffic signals, signs and lane markings.

In the U.S., some states use reflectorized paint while others use colored bumps to mark lanes. Some use both. Others seem to have forgotten that lanes are supposed to be marked.

Then there's the little matter of traffic signals. In some states and cities, they are stacked vertically, in others horizontally. Still others use what traffic engineers call "doghouse style," a combination of vertical and horizontal.

There is also the little matter of snow, which tends to pile up on roads and block lane markings. It's unheard of in Silicon Valley, where Google and other technology companies are working on self-driving cars but very common in much of the country. 

Some carmakers and technology companies will want the U.S. to retrofit its roads to suit them, while others say they are finding ways to work around the problem. Mercedes-Benz, for example, says its "drive pilot" system uses 23 different sensors to figure out what's what and can keep a car in the proper lane at speeds up to 84 miles per hour under most conditions.

Some mapmakers, like TomTom, are working to make their maps accurate within centimeters, so they can keep cars on the road even when there are no lines. That's assuming, of course, that the maps are up to date.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (Photo credit: Fathom)The first U.S. cruise ship to dock in Cuba in nearly 40 years sailed into Havana Monday. The 7...

The first U.S. cruise ship to dock in Cuba in nearly 40 years sailed into Havana Monday. The 704-passenger MV Adonia had set sail from Miami the day before.

The Adonia is sailing under Carnival Corporation's new Fathom brand, which sails to Cuba and the Dominican Republic.  

“This is a historic opportunity, and we know there is pent-up demand amongst Americans who want to experience Cuba," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "We believe there is no better way to experience so much of Cuba in seven days."

Fathom Cuban itineraries feature three ports of call. During each sailing, ships will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained berthing approval.

The Florida Straits were off-limits for most of the last 50 years following the U.S.-Cuban missile crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war during the John F. Kennedy Administration. Kennedy imposed a travel and trade embargo that endured except for a brief period during the administration of President Jimmy Carter. 

Tens of thousands of Cubans fled to the U.S. during the embargo, often using homemade rafts. Many died but others made it to Florida where they became some of the most vocal critics of the Fidel Castro regime.

The nearby Dominican Republic became the site of the first permanent European settlement after Christopher Columbus landed there in 1492.

Seven-day itineraries on Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand depart from PortMiami on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The ship will arrive at its first destination, Havana, the following morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. The MV Adonia returns to its homeport, PortMiami, at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time Sunday.

Prices for seven-day itineraries to Cuba start at $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses and including all meals on the ship, onboard experiences and on-the ground activities. Prices will vary by season. More information is available at www.fathom.org.

Technology continues to disrupt long-established industries, creating crisis for some and opportunity for others. So far, it has been a hallmark of the 21s...

Technology continues to disrupt long-established industries, creating crisis for some and opportunity for others. So far, it has been a hallmark of the 21st century.

There used to be thousands of book stores before Amazon.com came along. More recently, hotels have had to compete with consumers renting spare rooms on Airbnb.

Increasingly, the disruptive forces of technology have descended upon the banking industry, through something called FinTech.

FinTech is a word that describes businesses that harness technology to provide financial services. Some use technology to support the traditional banking system -- things like fraud protection. But others use technology to actually compete with banks.

Inc Magazine cites a recent Goldman Sachs study predicting these alternative lenders could eventually pull away $4.7 trillion in business now going to banks. According to Inc, these services are not only easy to use, they often end up being more affordable.

For example, Lending Club is an online marketplace that connects borrowers with investors looking for a solid return on their money. The company says its purpose is to make credit available and affordable for consumers, while helping investors earn more than a percent or two on their money deposited in banks.

A recent TransUnion analysis found that these types of alternative lenders are now lending more money than banks and credit unions are to prime and near-prime borrowers. In the first nine months of 2015, these FinTech companies originated loans totaling $10.14 billion to this classification of borrower, up an astounding 122% from the same period of 2014.

Last year more than half of all personal loans went to near-prime borrowers. While all types of credit institutions saw increases in business in this segment, the TransUnion analysis shows it was FinTech companies that benefited most.

Steve Chaouki, executive vice president and the head of TransUnion's financial services business unit, says FinTech lenders have emerged to serve this important consumer segment.

“While the near prime and prime segments have seen strong growth over the last few years, there is still opportunity for lenders to leverage new data and technology to expand the universe of eligible and interested personal loan borrowers,” he said.

FinTech companies have thrived in an environment where traditional banks have made credit less available. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, mortgage lenders significantly tightened underwriting rules, resulting in fewer potential home buyers who could qualify for a mortgage.

“Personal loans remain an attractive option for borrowers in all risk tiers, and FinTechs have seized an opportunity to develop a niche within the nearly 92 million consumers in the near prime and prime risk tiers,” said John Wirth, TransUnion’s vice president of consumer lending and FinTech.

With fewer hoops to jump through, Wirth says “well-funded and nimble” FinTech firms are increasingly attractive to consumers in these risk tiers.  

Punctuality is a virtue, at least Uber thinks so. Another way of putting it is “time is money.”Since the middle of last month, Uber has been trying out...

Since the middle of last month, Uber has been trying out a new policy in a handful of markets. If you summon an Uber ride and keep the driver waiting for longer than two minutes, there will be an extra charge on your bill.

“When a driver arrives promptly, we think it’s only fair that they’re compensated for their time,” Uber writes in the company blog. “So we’re testing something new: paying drivers for wait times that exceed two minutes.”

Uber says users should only request a ride when they are ready to go. While the company says it understands that last minute issues can slow someone down, it says it's only fair to compensate the driver when it happens.

“Whether it’s lost keys, a change of plans, or a driver further away than anticipated, we know there are times when you need to cancel a trip,” the company said. “But it can be a headache for drivers who are already on their way.”

So Uber is asking riders to cancel trips within two minutes after being matched with a driver. Cancelling after the grace period may incur a fee, the size of which will depend on the city. That replaces the previous five-minute cancellation policy.

The move comes as Uber has faced a bit of tension with some of its drivers. For example, Uber drivers in New York have formed an association to give them added leverage in dealing with the company.

Fortune reports that Uber's recent settlements with drivers in California and Massachusetts, squaring a squabble over expenses, allows those drivers to organize into associations that can present grievances to the company.

Uber drivers, after all, are independent contractors in business for themselves. One of them, Bob, of Parker, Colo., said he tried driving for Uber as an experiment, working a total of 70 hours over one month.

“I made $1,076.82 before taxes and my operating costs were $900, giving me a net total of $176.82 for 70 hours of work,” Bob wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post.

If Bob, and other Uber drivers like him, are feeling that kind of frustration, Uber may be looking for ways to make them happier.

For now, Uber it is experimenting with its pay-for-delay policy in four markets – Dallas, New Jersey, New York, and Phoenix. If it makes drivers happier, look for it to expand more broadly, the company says.

Foster Poultry Farms of Farmerville, La., is recalling approximately 220,450 pounds of fully cooked frozen chicken nuggets. The products may be con...

Foster Poultry Farms of Farmerville, La., is recalling approximately 220,450 pounds of fully cooked frozen chicken nuggets.

The recalled products bear establishment number “P-33901” inside the USDA mark of inspection, and were shipped to distributors in Alaska, Arizona, California, Utah and Washington state.

Customers who purchased these products should not consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

General Motors is recalling 4,789 model year 2016-2017 Chevrolet Silverados; 1500 and 2016 Cadillac Escalades, Cadillac Escalade ESVs, Chevrolet Suburbans,...

General Motors is recalling 4,789 model year 2016-2017 Chevrolet Silverados; 1500 and 2016 Cadillac Escalades, Cadillac Escalade ESVs, Chevrolet Suburbans, Chevrolet Tahoes, GMC Sierras, GMC Yukons and GMC Yukon XLs.

The front upper control arms may have inadequate welds near the control arm bushing that may allow the control arm to separate from the bushing, compromising steering and increasing the risk of a crash.

GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the left and right front upper control arms and realign the vehicle, free of charge. Parts are not currently available. Owners will be mailed an interim notification in early May 2016 and will be mailed a second notice when remedy parts are available. Until the repairs have been made, owners are advised not to drive their vehicles.

Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020, Cadillac customer service at 1-800-458-8006, or GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782. GM's number for this recall is 42190.

The Republic of Tea is recalling Organic Turmeric Ginger Green Tea. The product may be contaminated with Salmonella. No illnesses have been...

Customers who purchased the recalled product may return it to The Republic of Tea for a replacement tea or for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-298-4832, Monday-Friday between 8:00am-5:00pm (CST) or by email at teasafety@republicoftea.com.

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 58,515 model year 2016 Avalons and Camrys manufactured November 30, 2015, to March 4, 2016. T...

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 58,515 model year 2016 Avalons and Camrys manufactured November 30, 2015, to March 4, 2016.

The occupant classification system (OCS) that activates or deactivates the front passenger seat air bag system may have been calibrated improperly. As a result, the front passenger air bag and knee air bag may not deploy as intended in certain crash scenarios. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, "Occupant Crash Protection."

Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will recalibrate the OCS, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin by May 31, 2016.

Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-888-270-9371. Toyota's number for this recall is G0J.

It seems that consumers who are trying to kick a smoking habit would do well to stop drinking while they’re at it. That’s one conclusion that an internatio...

It seems that consumers who are trying to kick a smoking habit would do well to stop drinking while they’re at it. That’s one conclusion that an international research team has come to after investigating the connection between the two vices.

The team, which was led by researchers from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, conducted a study which found that heavy alcohol consumption increases the rate of nicotine metabolism, which makes it much harder to quit. However, after smokers stopped drinking, their nicotine metabolism declined significantly.

These findings suggest that lowering nicotine metabolism could be integral towards helping smokers quit, and it may also explain why it has been so difficult for some people to quit in the past.

“It is an important finding since a faster rate of nicotine metabolism was previously found to be associated with smoking more cigarettes per day, greater nicotine withdrawal symptoms and decreased efficacy of nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation,” said Dr. Maciej Goniewicz, senior author of the study.

The researchers came to their conclusions after studying patients at an alcohol dependence program in Parzmiechy, Poland. Nicotine biomarkers were assessed for a random selection of 22 participants, after which each stopped drinking for a period of seven weeks.

The data showed that nicotine metabolism normalized in these patients by the fourth week of the trial period, meaning that their decreased odds of quitting had evened out by this time. According to the researchers, this finding could be essential towards developing future prevention strategies for smokers.

“Understanding changes in nicotine metabolism associated with chronic alcohol abuse and recovery during alcohol abstinence could have important implications for understanding smoking behavior and improving smoking cessation interventions for current and former heavy alcohol drinkers,” said co-author Neal Benowitz.

Thanks to rising oil prices and seasonal refinery slowdowns, the price of gasoline continues to steadily rise. It's now at a six month high, according to A...

Thanks to rising oil prices and seasonal refinery slowdowns, the price of gasoline continues to steadily rise. It's now at a six month high, according to AAA.

Today's national average of $2.22 a gallon might seem high, compared to last month when it was $2.05. But compared to a year ago, when the pump price averaged $2.60 a gallon, it's still a bargain.

AAA says there are ample gasoline stockpiles and, despite its recent rise, oil is still selling below $50 a barrel. So AAA does not foresee a dramatic gasoline price increase that would catch consumers off guard.

That said, the average price of self-serve regular has remained north of $2 a gallon for 40 straight days. Today's increase, though slight, caps an eight cent rise over the last seven days.

The oil price component of the recent rise in gas prices may have run its course, however. There are very few forecasts of oil advancing beyond the $50 a barrel mark anytime soon. In fact, some analysts have boldly predicted that oil prices will drop sharply again.

Part of the reason for that prediction emerged over the weekend, when it was revealed that OPEC producers are pumping more oil than ever, adding to the world supply. Russia has also increased its production.

That news comes on the heels of last week's report that U.S. oil stockpiles at Cushing, Okla., are also sharply higher.

If consumers continue to get hit with rising gasoline prices, oil prices should not be to blame. Even in the face of sharply rising demand, refineries should be able to get all the oil they need at relatively low prices.

Instead, if consumers face rising, rather than falling, gasoline prices over the summer and into the fall, it will almost certainly be tied to refinery issues. Regional bottlenecks, due to accidents or breakdowns, could result in price spikes here and there.

California remains the most expensive place to fill-up this week. The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the statewide average is $2.80 a gallon, up another three cents in the last week. Hawaii, almost always the most expensive state for gasoline in the past, is seeing gas at the relative bargain price of $2.58 a gallon.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, is still enjoying a statewide average below the $2 a gallon mark – at $1.96. Three other states – Missouri, Texas and Kansas, are also below the $2 a gallon average.

Deciding you’re ready to purchase a new refrigerator is easy, but deciding which refrigerator to welcome into your kitchen can be slightly more daunting....

Deciding you’re ready to purchase a new refrigerator is easy, but deciding which refrigerator to welcome into your kitchen can be slightly more daunting.

Wandering through aisles of refrigerators can begin to feel overwhelming, and scouring the web often produces similar results. To give you an idea of what’s out there in your price range, we’ve tracked down three highly rated refrigerators representing three different price ranges.

These three sleek-looking refrigerators boast energy-saving lighting, food preserving features, and lots of space.

For more information and the latest reviews on the best refrigerators for 2016, check out ConsumerAffairs' guide here.

Falling down seems to be part of being a child. They take numerous tumbles as part of daily play, and often appear none the worse for it.Not so for old...

Falling down seems to be part of being a child. They take numerous tumbles as part of daily play, and often appear none the worse for it.

Not so for older adults. The American Trauma Society says falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for seniors. Bones are more brittle and balance can often be an issue.

Each year emergency rooms treat more than 2.5 million fall-related injuries, with 734,000 patients requiring a hospital stay and nearly 22,000 resulting in death.

Dr. James Vosswinkel, of Stony Brook University Hospital, says older adults who suffer a fall should always get treatment, even if they think they weren't injured.

“Older adults who suffer a serious fall have much better chances of survival and overall better health outcomes if they are treated at a trauma center where specialized surgeons are available,” he said in a statement.

While falls are a risk for the older population, Vosswinkel says they aren't inevitable. Here are some ways older adults can prevent them:

A proper diet may also help keep seniors on their feet. A 2010 study by Dutch researchers found older adults who had only slightly decreased levels of sodium in their blood - a condition known as hyponatremia – had higher rates of fractures and falls. The subjects in the study with hyponatremia had a 21% increased risk of death during the follow-up period.

An occasional glass of red wine or grape juice might also provide some benefit. A 2012 study found resveratrol, a substance found in the skin of grapes, was associated with fewer falls by older adults.

Home buyers face some pretty stiff headwinds this year. Yes, interest rates are low, but home prices have risen sharply since the housing crash. Tight inve...

Home buyers face some pretty stiff headwinds this year. Yes, interest rates are low, but home prices have risen sharply since the housing crash. Tight inventories mean there are fewer available homes to buy.

In its latest analysis, real estate marketplace realtor.com finds homes are selling 7% faster than last year and home prices are breaking records.

In April, homes for sale spent a median 68 days between listing and contract, five days fewer than April 2015. That's also six days faster than March.

The sales pace is increasing, despite the fact that sellers are asking more for their homes. The median listing price in April was $245,000 – up 9% from last April and 2% higher than March. Inventory has slightly increased but is still down from a year ago.

Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com, calls it a robust buying season that bodes well for sellers over the next few months.

“Pent-up demand, lower mortgage rates and strong employment continue to power the strongest and healthiest real estate market we have seen in a decade,” Smoke said in a statement emailed to ConsumerAffairs.

“Close to 550,000 new listings came onto the market in April, which helped total inventory grow 2% over March. However, we know that sales are picking up faster than inventory since the median age of inventory fell again by 6 days after falling a whopping 22 days in March.”

Smoke says that works out to 4% fewer homes available for sale compared to last year, helping to explain why they're selling at a faster clip.

Realtor.com says the hottest U.S. housing markets are getting two to three times the number of views on its site when compared to the national average. These markets are seeing homes sell 17 to 45 days faster than the rest of the country.

San Francisco, the nation's most expensive housing market, also remains the hottest, according to realtor.com's April ranking. The median home there spends only 25 days on the market before selling.

California markets share the top 10 hot markets list with Denver at number three, Dallas-Fort Worth at number six, Ann Arbor, Mich., at number nine, and Columbus, Ohio at 10. Nineteen days separate number one and number 10 in terms of days on the market.

Moving into realtor.com's top 20 hot housing markets are two Indiana housing markets – Lafayette-West Lafayette and Fort Wayne. They're joined by metro Sioux City, S.D.

If you pay for cable TV, and have been for a long time, you no doubt have seen your bill climb, even though you haven't added any services. Last September,...

If you pay for cable TV, and have been for a long time, you no doubt have seen your bill climb, even though you haven't added any services. Last September, the average cable TV bill hit $99 a month.

It's led some consumers to “cut the cord,” dropping cable in favor of watching streaming video over the internet. While that will definitely save money, there may be some things you can do to lower costs, short of “cord-cutting.”

First, analyze how you and members of your household use TV. For example, if there are sports fans in the house, it might be hard to do without ESPN.

Fortunately, ESPN, along with TBS and TNT – which both carry sports from time to time – are usually on cable TV's basic tier. These live sports events are also available on some game streaming services, and are likely to be more widely available online in the future.

If you can live without all the news and home shopping channels, maybe you can get by with basic cable; it always includes the local TV stations in your market, so shop around for the best price.

If you are a long-time cable customer, it's probably a safe bet that your provider has slowly raised your rate. Competing services are always running introductory offers to lure you away, so maybe you should check them out.

Time Warner cable – This cable provider offers a 20 channel service for $20 a month, but it includes no sports channels. To get ESPN you would need the 70+ package, for $40 a month.

With a basic cable package, your needs may be covered. For additional content, you can add Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime for $10 or less per month.

With some of the money you are saving on your current monthly pay TV bills, consider purchasing a smart TV that connects directly to the internet for easy streaming options.

The first step in paying less for TV, however, will probably be dropping your current provider and switching to another service. When considering a switch, carefully weigh any costs that might not be readily apparent, such as equipment charges or hook-up fees, which can quickly erode your savings.

In February the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed rule changes that could save pay TV subscribers even more. It voted to look at ways to open set top boxes to competition so that consumers would not be forced to rent them from their providers.

Crestor has for years been a huge moneymaker for its manufacturer, AstraZeneca, and a big drain on the wallets of consumers and insurers. Both those condit...

Crestor has for years been a huge moneymaker for its manufacturer, AstraZeneca, and a big drain on the wallets of consumers and insurers. Both those conditions should change now that the FDA has approved a generic version of Crestor, one of the most popular statin drugs, taken to lower cholesterol readings.

With annual global sales of more than $6 billion, Crestor has consistently ranked among the top ten drugs worldwide by dollar volume. Ninety pills of 10 mg Crestor have sold for roughly $630 at U.S. pharmacies. While pricing of the generic has not yet been announced, it is expected to be significantly lower.

“The FDA is working hard to get first-time generic drugs approved as quickly as possible so patients can have increased access to needed treatments,” said Kathleen Uhl, M.D., director of the Office of Generic Drugs in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA requires that generic drugs meet rigorous scientific and quality standards.”

Generic drugs approved by the FDA have the same quality and strength as brand-name drugs. Generic drug manufacturing and packaging sites must pass the same quality standards as those of brand-name drugs.

Crestor and other statins are taken to reduce triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) choldesterol, the so-called "bad cholesterol" that is a known risk for heart attack, strokes, and heart disease.

Dole Food Co. is facing a criminal investigation into a listeria outbreak involving packaged salad that is blamed for four deaths and many illnesses in the...

Dole Food Co. is facing a criminal investigation into a listeria outbreak involving packaged salad that is blamed for four deaths and many illnesses in the U.S. and Canada.

"Dole has recently been contacted by the Department of Justice," the company said, and pledged to "answer questions and address any concerns."

Dole also insisted that the conditions at its Springfield, Ohio, plant that were blamed for the outbreak have been corrected.

"We have been working in collaboration with the FDA and other authorities to implement ongoing improved testing, sanitation and procedure enhancements, which have resulted in the recent reopening of our Springfield salad plant," Dole said. 

Dole stopped production at the Ohio plant in January and recalled the salad packages from stores in 23 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. It recently restarted production at the plant and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the listeria outbreak had ended in March. 

The Dole statement took note of "recent news reports [that] may raise questions among our consumers and customers," an apparent reference to a Wall Street Journal report that said government inspectors found that Dole had evidence of dangerous bacteria in the Ohio plant for more than a year before it withdrew the salads.

As early as July 2014, samples from the warehouse tested position for bacteria, according to an inspection report by the FDA, the Journal said, adding that the FDA had confirmed the information quoted in its story.

"Finger foods" aren't just the hors d'oeuvres served at cocktail parties, they're also the first foods that infants eat by themselves, and pediatricians sa...

"Finger foods" aren't just the hors d'oeuvres served at cocktail parties, they're also the first foods that infants eat by themselves, and pediatricians say they're supposed to be soft, easy to swallow, and cut up into small pieces.

But researchers say not all products meet that description. In an abstract being presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 meeting, the scientists reported testing nine products marketed as first finger foods for babies to see if they met the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The verdict was mixed. "Products marketed as first finger foods vary across texture, ease of swallowing and size," said Dr. Nicol Awadalla of the Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York. Only two products tested met all AAP criteria, she said, and choking hazard concerns were raised about four of the nine products. 

There was considerable variability in product size, shape, and consistency, even though they were categorized for children in the same life stage. Several products needed to be broken into smaller pieces in order to be "infant bite-sized," she said.

The study, "Chew on This: Not All Products Labeled First Finger Foods Are Created Equal," 11 blinded researchers were given each food at random and asked to dissolve it in their mouth without the use of teeth.

They sampled each product four times -- twice when it was fresh and two more times after it had been left out for at least an hour. They then recorded how long it took to for the food to dissolve completely or become small enough that swallowing was unavoidable.

Two of the products took much longer to dissolve after they had been out of the package for awhile. Names of the products were not immediately released, but the researchers said the manufacturers had been notified of their findings. 

"Not all products marketed for children have been tested in real-life situations," said senior investigator Ruth Milanaik, DO, director of the Neonatal Neurodevelopmental Follow Up program at Cohen. "Parents need to be aware that changes in consistency can occur in food products that are left out of the packaging for extended periods of time, resulting in a possible choking hazard."

Cat ownership is a journey marked by mystery. It can be nearly impossible to tell what’s on the mind of that small, furry creature slinking through your ho...

Cat ownership is a journey marked by mystery. It can be nearly impossible to tell what’s on the mind of that small, furry creature slinking through your home.

Clearly, our opposable thumbs rank high on the list of things cats love -- but how are they feeling when we’re not cracking open a can of cat food? What’s with that strange little chortle, or that trill you’re greeted by when you enter a room?

Temptations Cat Treats wanted to find out. In an effort to create a product that could help cat owners figure out what their cat is saying, the Temptations Lab and London ad agency adam&eveDDB created the Catterbox.

The Catterbox collar contains a microphone, speaker, Bluetooth technology, and Wi-Fi. These four components enable the Catterbox to capture a feline’s meows and translate them into human speech. Cat owners can choose their cat's voice using the Catterbox app. 

"Through research, we learned that an adult cat's meow is their way to communicate with humans and, by investing in this prototype device, we can start to improve understanding between them both -- giving cats a voice for the very first time,” Temptations global brand director Pete Simmons told AdWeek.

While it seems unlikely that the collar can translate, with 100% accuracy, what a cat is trying to communicate, Temptations says the primary goal of the Catterbox is to inject more fun into a cat and owner’s relationship.

Whether you're enjoying playtime or cuddle time with your cat, the Catterbox can give a human voice to the feeling a cat might be experiencing.

The manufacturing sector of the economy expanded in April for a second straight month -- but just barely. According to the Institute for Supply Manageme...

The manufacturing sector of the economy expanded in April for a second straight month -- but just barely.

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 50.8%, down 1.0% from March. A reading above 50% indicates the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% suggests contraction.

A closer look at the PMI shows the New Orders Index was down 2.5%, the Production Index dipped 1.1%, and inventories of raw materials were off 1.5%. The Employment Index, meanwhile, was up 1.1%, and the Prices Index surged 7.5%.

Consumers enjoyed a nice bump in personal income in March and managed to tuck most of it away.The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports incomes rose $57....

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports incomes rose $57.4 billion, or 0.4%, with disposable personal income (DPI) -- what's left after taxes -- up $50.4 billion, or 0.4%.

Wages and salaries shot up $29.2 billion in March, after a rise of just $4.6 billion in February. Of that, private wages and salaries increased by $26.3 billion, while government wages and salaries rose $2.8 billion.

Personal outlays, which consist of PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments, rose $11.2 billion in March.

Personal saving -- DPI less personal outlays -- was $735.5 billion in March, versus $696.4 billion in February. The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 5.4%, compared with 5.1% the month before.

"Despite a welcome rise in income, consumer spending remains tepid, boosting savings rather than topline activity with the weakest first-quarter growth rate in two years," said Stifel Fixed Income Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza.

She notes that faster wage growth has been the missing component for consumers who continue to restrict purchases, adding, "even the most recent boost to wages appears to be too little, too late after years of stagnant income growth as consumers now look at the latest bounce with skepticism."

Jaguar Land Rover North America is recalling five model year 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015 XF vehicles manufactured February 6, 2008 to October 20, 2014....

Jaguar Land Rover North America is recalling five model year 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015 XF vehicles manufactured February 6, 2008 to October 20, 2014.

The driver front air bags may be missing a chemical enhancer required for the second stage deployment, resulting in the second stage deploying improperly in certain crashes increasing the risk of injury.

Jaguar will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver frontal air bag module, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin on June 6, 2016.

Owners may contact Jaguar customer service at 1-800-452-4827. Jaguar's number for this recall is J065.

Greencore USA of North Kingstown, R.I., is recalling approximately 1,341 pounds of meat and poultry products. The products did not undergo federal ...

Greencore USA of North Kingstown, R.I., is recalling approximately 1,341 pounds of meat and poultry products.

The recalled products bear establishment number “P-45540” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were shipped to distributors for retail sale in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

Customers who purchased the recalled products should not to consume them, but throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

Consumers with questions may contact Greencore USA’s food recall coordinator at (978) 716 -2530 ext. 2543.

Cub Cadet is recalling about 1,300 Challenger off-road utility vehicles. The parking brake cable can fail, posing a crash hazard. The firm ...

The firm has received 22 reports of incidents of the brake cable failing. There have been no reports of injuries or property damage.

This recall involves model year 2015 Cub Cadet Challenger CX500 and Challenger CX700 four-wheel drive off-road utility vehicles. The recalled vehicles have two bucket seats, roll bars, a canopy, a two-piece windshield, a 35.5-inch by 44-inch cargo bed and a winch.

The vehicles were sold in camouflage and yellow. Vehicles with the following model numbers are being recalled:

The vehicles were sold at Cub Cadet dealers nationwide from April 2015, through October 2015, for between $8,500 and $9,500.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact a Cub Cadet dealer to schedule an appointment for a free repair. Cub Cadet is contacting owners of the recalled utility vehicles directly.

Consumers may contact Cub Cadet toll-free at 888-848-6038 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.cubcadet.com and click on Product Recalls for more information.  

Nissan North America is recalling 3,177,645 model year 2016-2017 Nissan Maximas; 2013-2016 Nissan Altimas, NV200s, LEAFs and Sentras; 2013-2017 Nissan Path...

Nissan North America is recalling 3,177,645 model year 2016-2017 Nissan Maximas; 2013-2016 Nissan Altimas, NV200s, LEAFs and Sentras; 2013-2017 Nissan Pathfinders, 2014-2016 Nissan NV200 Taxis, Infiniti QX60s and Q50s; 2014-2017 Nissan Rogues; 2015-2016 Nissan Muranos; Chevrolet City Express and 2013 Infiniti JX35 vehicles.

The front seat passenger Occupant Classification System (OCS) may incorrectly classify an adult passenger as a child or classify the seat as empty despite it being occupied. As a result, the passenger front air bag may be turned off and not deploy in the event of a crash.

If the passenger front air bag does not deploy as intended in the event of a crash, the passenger is at an increased risk of injury.

Nissan will notify their owners. Chevrolet City Express owners will be notified by General Motors. Dealers will reprogram the Air Bag Control Unit (ACU) and OCS Electronic Control Unit (ECU) in Altima, Maxima, Murano, Rogue, and Sentra vehicles, and replace the OCS ECU in LEAF, NV200, NV200 Taxi, Pathfinder, Infiniti Q50, JX35, and QX60 and Chevrolet City Express vehicles, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule.

Owners may contact Nissan customer service at 1-800-867-7669, Infiniti customer service at 1-888-833-3216 or Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020

If you are seeking a travel destination that combines something unique and special, there are many celebrations occurring this year in the United States an...

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