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Consumer Daily Reports


Trusted reliable news sources from around the web. We offer special news reports, topic news videos, and related content stories. Truly a birds eye view on news.

Consumer News: Toyota recalls 1.3 million vehicles with airbag inflator issue

PhotoToyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling nearly 1.3 million vehicles including:

Model year 2014-2016 Toyota 4Runners, model year 2014-2015 Scion xBs, Lexus IS350Cs, IS250Cs, model year 2014 Toyota Siennas, Lexus IS-Fs, and model year 2014-2017 Lexus GX460s sold, or ever 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."

Model year 2011-2013 Toyota Corollas, Corolla Matrixs, Lexus IS250s, IS350s, model year 2011-2016 4Runners, model year 2011-2015 Scion xBs, Lexus IS350Cs, IS250Cs, model year 2011-2014 Toyota Siennas, Lexus IS-Fs, model year 2011-2017 Lexus GX460s, and model year 2011-2012 Lexus ES350s ever 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."

Model year 2010-2013 Toyota Corollas, Corolla Matrixs, Lexus IS350s, model year 2010-2016 4Runners, model year 2010-2013 Lexus IS250s, model year 2010-2015 Scion xBs, Lexus IS350Cs, IS250Cs, model year 2010-2017 Lexus GX460s, model year 2010-2014 Lexus IS-Fs, and model year 2010-2012 Lexus ES350s ever 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 – or "Zone C."

The vehicles are equipped with airbag inflators assembled as part of the passenger front airbag modules, used as original equipment or replacement equipment (such as after a vehicle crash necessitating replacement of the original air bags), that may explode due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to high absolute humidity, temperature and temperature cycling.

An inflator explosion may result in sharp metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants resulting in serious injury or death.

What to do

Toyota will notify owners. Depending on the vehicle model, dealers will replace the front passenger airbag inflator, or replace the airbag assembly.

The recall was expected to begin February 11, 2019.

Owners may contact Toyota customer service at (800) 331-4331.

Toyota's codes for this recall are "Zone A" Toyota: G0P, Lexus: GLG; "Zone B" Toyota: G0R, Lexus GLH; "Zone C" Toyota: H0A, and Lexus: HLA.

Read more ...

Consumer News: FTC gets tough with Facebook over data privacy penalties

PhotoIt’s doubtful you’ll find Facebook clicking “Like” on any of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) posts anytime soon.

In a battle royale, the Washington Post reports that the FTC has got the social media giant in a headlock as the two grapple over how many billions Facebook will have to pay for its multitude of privacy lapses.

The FTC is no chump

The FTC tends not to go easy in situations like this. Back in 2012, Google had to pay a then-record $22.5 million penalty to settle charges brought by the FTC that Google “misrepresented to users of Apple Inc.’s Safari Internet browser that it would not place tracking ‘cookies’ or serve targeted ads to those users.”

In that case, Google only had itself to blame since it violated an earlier privacy settlement the company had agreed to with the FTC.

“Facebook faces a moment of reckoning and the only way it will come is through an FTC order with severe penalties and other sanctions that stop this kind of privacy misconduct going forward,” Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) commented to the Post.

The FTC’s consumer-first approach

In Facebook’s situation, the FTC came out of the gate swinging. “The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers,” wrote Tom Pahl, Acting Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, when the bureau initially addressed Facebook’s privacy debacle.

“Foremost among these tools is enforcement action against companies that fail to honor their privacy promises, including to comply with Privacy Shield, or that engage in unfair acts that cause substantial injury to consumers in violation of the FTC Act. Companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements.”

According to The Washington Post, Facebook’s options are few. The company could cop a deal with the FTC that includes paying a fine and rectifying its privacy protection methods. It’s similar to actions it took in an earlier conflict with the FTC, but it could also take its chances and fight the agency in court. Most would agree that the latter is probably not a good chess move given Facebook’s recent history.

“The bottom line here is that tech giants like Facebook and Google act as if they are immune to the rules” was the insider take given by Subscription Insider’s Dana E. Neuts.

“They ignore laws and regulations that govern data privacy and the privacy of their users. Whether that is intentional or sloppy isn’t clear, but the fact that such instances repeat themselves is an indication that protecting user privacy is not a top priority for them.”

Is asking forgiveness easier than getting permission?

In Facebook’s case, the billions it has in the bank may take the sting out of any possible regulatory action. “Maybe to them, the reward of revenue for selling or providing access to data is worth the risk,” wrote Neuts.

“There has to be a tipping point though. Governments, including the United States, and consumers need to step up to hold these companies accountable.”

Read more ...

Consumer News: Southwest says mechanics union to blame for flight cancellations

PhotoOver the last week, Southwest Airlines has canceled over 600 flights and delayed over 1,000 others -- more than any other U.S. airline and double its own daily average, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.

The unusually high number of out-of-service aircrafts prompted the carrier to issue a ‘state of emergency” earlier this week. In an interview with CNBC, a spokesperson for Southwest acknowledged the “slight increase” in flight cancellations and attributed it up to an “uptick in maintenance items.”

Now, the carrier is pinning the blame on a mechanics union called the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA).

Problems with mechanics union employees

Southwest said the mechanics union it’s been negotiating with has a history of labor disruptions. The company said it’s investigating the "current disruption and exploring all possible remedies.''

"On Feb. 12, just days after our last negotiations session with AMFA, we experienced an unprecedented number of out-of-service aircraft in four specific maintenance locations despite no change in our maintenance programs, no changes in leadership, and no changes in our policies and procedures," Mike Van de Ven, Southwest's chief operating officer, said in a statement.

"We are committed to operating a safe fleet, and every report is investigated, which is why we issued a notice to require an 'all hands' response to get out-of-service aircraft back into the fleet serving our customers."

Southwest also noted that it has two pending lawsuits against the union.

Mechanics union responds

In response to the accusations, the mechanics union quickly countered by accusing Southwest of using it as a scapegoat for other issues.

"Southwest Airlines scapegoating of its expert aircraft maintenance technicians does not bode well for the airline’s safe operations,'' Bret Oestreich, national director of AMFA, said in a statement. "Safety is, and always will be, our number one priority.''

"For Southwest's leadership to connect the airline's self-declared 'operational emergency' to collective bargaining negotiations is simply an attempt to divert attention away from the airline's safety issues," the organization said in a statement.

Read more ...

Consumer News: Doctors overprescribed fentanyl as FDA looked the other way, study charges

PhotoDoctors in the United States have prescribed a deadly, powerful opioid to an “alarming” number of patients, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that experts estimate is 100 times more powerful than morphine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to a spike in opioid overdoses deaths last year.

But for a small subset of cancer patients, fentanyl also offers the potential to finally end inescapable pain, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In recent years, numerous pharmaceutical companies have marketed fentanyl for cancer patients who aren't getting relief from less potent opioids.

The pharmaceutical version of fentanyl is administered to cancer patients via medicated lollipops, lozenges, or nasal sprays. To ensure that the fentanyl for cancer patients isn’t being prescribed to the general public, the FDA launched a program several years ago to monitor fentanyl prescriptions. Under the FDA’s program, only cancer patients who had built a tolerance to other opioids could receive a prescription for the fentanyl suckers or sprays.

But that’s not how it played out. From 2013 to 2017, as many as 55 percent of patients who were prescribed fentanyl did not meet that strict criteria, the new study says.

“We found alarming use of these products in patients who never should have received them,” G. Caleb Alexander, a senior author of the study and director of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a statement to WREG. “The prescribing of this medicine was supposed to be closely monitored and contained but was not.”

FDA program falls short

Alexander and his co-authors made those findings based on nearly 5,000 pages of FDA documents. They obtained the documents by filing a Freedom of Information Act Request, a tactic typically used by journalists, not medical researchers.

As the researchers explained, they filed the public records request to see whether the FDA and drug companies had lived up to their own promise to carefully monitor who received the potent drugs.

The FDA in its own documents admits that its fentanyl-monitoring program was “not meeting its overall goal or most of the objectives,” according to the study.

The John Hopkins researchers were not able to track what happened to the individual patients who received unnecessary prescriptions to the fentanyl products, but they say the data overall indicates a threat to public health.

"For those patients, there's an unacceptably high risk of fatal overdose," Alexander added.

The FDA responded with a statement to the Washington Post that it shares the researchers’ concerns about fentanyl prescriptions.

“These products are medically important for a small group of patients who are opioid-tolerant but also pose serious risks,” an agency spokesman said.

It’s not the first sign that the drug industry, doctors, and regulators may be following the same reckless pattern with fentanyl that they have with other opioids. A pending federal criminal case in Boston charges that Insys Therapeutics bribed doctors in the marketing of its fentanyl spray.

Read more ...

Consumer News: FDA advises consumers against seeking ‘young blood’ infusions

PhotoThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an official statement that “strongly” discourages consumers from spending money on young blood infusions in the hope of improving their health.

The agency said there’s no clinical evidence to suggest that the “treatment” -- which is often touted as a way to treat "normal aging and memory loss... dementia, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and post-traumatic stress disorder” -- is safe or effective.

“Simply put, we’re concerned that some patients are being preyed upon by unscrupulous actors touting treatments of plasma from young donors as cures and remedies,” the FDA said in its warning. “Such treatments have no proven clinical benefits for the uses for which these clinics are advertising them and are potentially harmful.”

Risks of young blood infusions

Some establishments, which call themselves “clinics,” offer young blood infusions for as much as $8,000 a liter. A report by The Verge cites a Monterey, California-based company called Ambrosia that takes “intravenous infusions of plasma from young donors, who are in the age range of 16 to 25.”

After the FDA put out its warning, Ambrosia updated its website to state that it has “ceased patient treatments.” In its guidance to consumers, the FDA stressed that there’s no evidence to suggest that young blood infusions can reverse aging or treat any serious illnesses.  

“Moreover, reports we’re seeing indicate that the dosing of these infusions can involve administration of large volumes of plasma that can be associated with significant risks including infectious, allergic, respiratory and cardiovascular risks, among others,” the agency said.

Consumers are asked to report any adverse effects related infusions of plasma from young donors to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.

"There is no proven clinical benefit of infusion of plasma from young donors to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent these conditions, and there are risks associated with the use of any plasma product,” the FDA said.

Read more ...

Consumer News: App developer roles expected to be the fastest-growing six-figure position

PhotoAs the number of computer and smartphone applications continues to grow, demand for app developers is expected to increase significantly over the next five to seven years, Money Magazine reports.

These professionals make a median salary of $101,790, and they are going to be more in demand than any other position offering the opportunity to pull in a six-figure salary in the U.S. By 2023, the number of app software developers is expected to reach almost 1.1 million, according to a recent study by CareerBuilder.

“The U.S. will be adding 255,140 app developers to the job market between 2016 and 2026,” Money Magazine reported, citing statistics from occupational projections website Projections Central. “That’s about 26,000 new openings for app developers every year, in addition to the estimated 60,170 positions opening up each year to replace current app developers.”

Other in-demand jobs

While app developers will be more in-demand than any other six-figure-salary job, others are hiring at a slower pace.

“The runner-up, General and Operations Managers, will have 41,000 fewer jobs added to the workforce than app developers between now and 2026,” Money Magazine noted.

The following jobs are expected to add 43,000 new positions annually; however they are less lucrative in terms of median annual salary.

  • Fast food workers. Median annual salary of below $25,000.

  • Aides for the elderly. Median annual salary of below $25,000.

  • Registered nurses Median annual salary of $70,000.

Required training for app developers

While many app developers have a degree in computer science, a computer degree isn’t required to be a candidate for the role. In fact, about 42 percent of developers were self-taught, according to a 2015 developer survey conducted by Stack Overflow.

Upon stepping into a role as an app developer, workers will need to keep learning in order to maintain their skill sets.

“App developers need to be well-versed on the latest coding languages to make sure they’re still a viable candidate for their current or prospective job. An app developer who stopped learning new languages in 2012, for example, wouldn’t know the ins and outs of HTML5 and would be underqualified for a job today, much less in 2026,” the publication noted.

Read more ...

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