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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: Barnum’s Animals crackers drops cartoon cages on packaging after PETA complains

PhotoThe 116-year-old company behind animal crackers is ditching cages. Mondelez International, the company that now owns Nabisco and the Barnum’s Animals cracker brand, recently unveiled new packaging that shows wild animals roaming in grassland, marking the first major change to the packaging since Barnum’s Animals first came on store shelves in 1902.

The original vintage cartoon design, showing wild animals locked in cages as they head to the circus, was ingrained in many consumers’ heads as the official image of animal crackers.

But in 2016, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said that it was time to let the cartoons roam free.

In a letter to Nabisco, PETA argued that depicting animals heading to the circus reflected a pastime that was cruel and no longer popular with American consumers.

At that time, PETA had already successfully lobbied the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey to stop using live elephants in its shows. The following year, low ticket sales forced the circus company to stop putting on shows altogether.

Numerous cities in the United States subsequently banned the use of live animals in circuses.

As far as circuses of the animal cracker variety are concerned, Nabisco was sold on PETA’s pitch to shut operations down. But what the new  food packaging design would look like remained a mystery until now.

The new package uses the same logo as the original but now features a giraffe, gorilla, zebra, lion, and an elephant standing together in the wild.

‘‘When PETA reached out about Barnum’s, we saw this as another great opportunity to continue to keep this brand modern and contemporary,’’ said Jason Levine, a marketing officer with Mondelez International, told the Associated Press.

PETA told the publication that they were pleased because ‘‘the new box for Barnum’s Animals crackers perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates the caging and chaining of wild animals for circus shows.”

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Consumer News: Netflix announces new changes to its platform

PhotoOver the last few days, Netflix announced two new changes that will alter users’ experience moving forward.

For starters, the platform stated months ago that it would be doing away with user reviews, and that time has finally come. Additionally, though just in the testing phases as of right now, the company has started showing short promo videos of Netflix shows in between episodes of other Netflix shows.

Consumers have been exceptionally vocal -- particularly regarding the second issue -- as the updates have the potential to change the familiar Netflix experience.

User reviews

Netflix announced in early July that it would doing away with user reviews on its website come the end of the month.

In an email to users that had recently left reviews, the company said that the feature was being eliminated due to lack of use in recent months. Many speculated that Netflix didn’t want to give subscribers the power to publicly disparage shows or movies. The company has also reported issues with users who bombard the comments sections because they disagree with the content of certain movies or shows.

Earlier this year, Netflix removed it’s five-star rating system and changed it to a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, and this option remains available to users.

Backlash over ads

There have been rumors flying around online that Netflix was going to start showing commercials in the middle of shows.

The company began showing commercials between shows and movies -- strictly as a test -- and users were able to skip them with a quick click. The ads were only during shows Netflix produced -- not during shows produced by outside production companies. Users were less than pleased with this test, but Netflix was quick to dispel the rumors and provide insight.

“We are testing whether surfacing recommendations between episodes helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster,” a Netflix spokesperson said. “It is important to note that a member is able to skip a video preview at anytime if they are not interested.”

Reddit quickly became a popular forum for users to share their frustrations.

“If I get ads shoved in my face on Netflix then I fully expect the service to be free without paying anything for it,” one user wrote. “Plenty other sites that deliver quality content without pushing ads in the customers face.”

This same discussion saw many users touting Hulu for their transparency in offering customers both ad-free and ad-supported options.

Netflix attempts to quash concerns

Some users took to Twitter to express their concerns, with some users who weren’t affected by the testing threatening to leave the streaming service.

“I’ll be one of the millions to say it,” one user tweeted. “If you introduce any ads to your service that we pay for, I am cancelling my subscription that I had for years and move on somewhere else.”

Netflix did rebut, though. On top of informing users that this feature is strictly in the testing phases and does not affect all users, the company also released an official statement. “A couple of years ago, we introduced video previews to the TV experience, because we saw that it significantly cut the time members spend browsing and helping them find something they would enjoy watching even faster,” the company said.

To opt out of future Netflix testing, users can go to at any time and provide information to avoid promotional materials.

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Consumer News: Twenty-two states ask appeals court to reinstate net neutrality rules

PhotoLate last night, 22 state attorneys general filed a brief asking the appeals court to reinstate the net neutrality rules that were founded under the Obama administration. President Trump’s administration has effectively worked to overturn those regulations, and the group is trying to prevent individual states from creating their own regulations.

The attorneys general argued that the decision made in January by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was not well thought out and will eventually “cause [inevitable harms] to consumers, public safety, and existing regulatory schemes.” The senders also assert that the commission “entirely ignored many of these issues” when the decision was made.

The group is primarily concerned about consumers’ public safety, as it is one of the agency’s main tenets.

Additionally, the attorneys general wrote that the FCC deliberately disregarded clear evidence that proved internet providers aren’t as honest as they claim to be when consumers are concerned. Despite “substantial record evidence showing that [broadband] providers have abused...and will abuse their gatekeeper roles in ways that harm consumers and threaten public safety,” the FCC accepted industry promises.

Abdicating responsibility to consumers

The brief was led by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who was joined by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The regulators’ arguments supplement an ongoing lawsuit against the FCC, and they are joined by several other groups including: Mozilla, Vimeo, Etsy, Free Press, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition, among others. These groups filed a separate brief last night, in which they called the FCC’s actions “a wholesale abdication of its statutory responsibilities.”

With the lawsuit, the states are hoping to overturn the 2017 decision by ruling it “arbitrary and capricious.” Doing so would indicate that the FCC didn’t consider the full extent of consequences this decision would have. Federal agencies are given clearance to make decisions -- so long as they are within legal authority -- but the agencies must be able to justify all such decisions. With regards to net neutrality, the FCC must prove the decision to eliminate the regulations was done properly.

Push to reinstate net neutrality

The main goal of the lawsuit is to reinstate net neutrality. However, should the courts not grant that request, the states are looking to instate their own net neutrality regulations and have the court do away with part of the FCC’s order that bans states from having their own rules.

Despite members of Congress, state officials, tech companies, and advocacy groups fighting to keep net neutrality, it was officially overturned in June. Though the Senate voted in May to keep net neutrality, the vote was mostly symbolic and the final decision had to be voted through the Republican majority House of Representatives.

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Consumer News: United Airlines to start charging for seats near the front of its planes

PhotoFollowing the lead of American and Delta, United Airlines is placing a premium price on select reserve seats near the front of its airplanes.

However, unlike its competitors, passengers won’t get anything special like roomier legroom that comes with United’s "Economy Plus" option -- they’re just seats near the front that give fliers the advantage of not having to walk so far to their seat and departing sooner when the flight lands.

On a typical flight on one of United’s 737 planes, those seats would start behind the eight rows of Economy Plus seats. According to reports, elite-level frequent fliers and some of United’s corporate clients can reserve these seats for free as part of a new corporate perks program that the company announced last week.

Do I have a choice?

On its face, the move simply looks like another way for United to beef up its bottom line.

In its second-quarter 2018 financial results, United reported that its consolidated total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) increased 2.8 percent year-over-year. In the dog-eat-dog airline business, every positive percentage point can go a long way, especially when you consider that the profit margin for the major carriers is only around 9 percent.

Paying for seats is always the customer’s choice. For example, Delta’s reservation FAQs state that "You will get a seat assignment for free after you check in for a flight via, a Delta airport kiosk or with a Gate Agent within 24 hours of departure."

Of course, certain seats are made available to travelers who require extra room, a child traveling alone, or a flier who has a disability.

"We're happy to assist our customers with disabilities in securing a comfortable seat that best fits their needs in the same class of service. We highly encourage customers to submit their request more than 24 hours in advance of the scheduled flight," United said.

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Consumer News: Walmart removing some paint remover products from store shelves

PhotoWalmart says it is phasing out paint removal products long criticized by environmentalists as being toxic to humans.

Even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies the products as legal, Walmart says it will stop selling paint-stripping products with the chemicals methylene chloride and N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) at U.S. stores, as well as stores in Canada, Mexico, and Central America.

Walmart joins Lowe's, Home Depot, and Sherwin-Williams in taking that step. Walmart says all such products will be removed by February 2019.

The retailer said it is reacting to customers' expectations and notes the company has worked with suppliers and industry groups in other areas of sustainability. Nearly a decade ago it stopped selling plastic children's products containing Bisphenol A (BPA).

Zach Freeze, senior director of strategic initiatives for sustainability at Walmart, says the company has consistently gone "above and beyond" what's legal when it comes to sustainability, a practice that gained the notice of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Environmental groups praise

“Walmart’s action to save lives by no longer selling dangerous paint strippers is a significant step forward in protecting public health," said Sujatha Bergen, Policy Specialist with NRDC. "We now live in a nation where retailers like Walmart are acting more quickly to protect public health from these toxics than the EPA."

Walmart's move also won praise from the Environmental Defense Fund, which cited the retailer for being a leader in promoting sustainability in chemical products.

"We applaud this recent step to expand that area of focus and to remove paint strippers with methylene chloride and NMP from store shelves," said Boma Brown-West, senior manager of consumer health at EDF.

Methylene chloride is clear and colorless liquid that emits highly toxic fumes of phosgene when heated to decomposition, according to the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It's assessment of the chemical is that it's a "possible mutagen and is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."

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Consumer News: Disposable contact lenses contribute to growing ocean pollution, researchers say

PhotoConsumers who dispose of their old contact lenses by throwing them down the drain could be contributing to the problem of microplastic pollution, scientists say.

Looking at the U.S market, a team of researchers found that roughly one in five users disposes of their old plastic contact lenses by throwing them into the bathroom sink or flushing them down the toilet.

"This is a pretty large number, considering roughly 45 million people in the U.S. alone wear contact lenses,” said study co-author Charlie Rolsky.

The researchers estimate that the tendency of U.S. consumers to dispose of contact lenses by putting them down the drain adds six to 10 metric tons of plastic to our wastewater each year.

Sink to the bottom

Contacts don’t biodegrade after being flushed down the drain; they sink, due to the fact that they’re denser than water.

"We have created an almost immortal material. It does not go away. It does not biodegrade," lead author Rolf Halden told CNN.

Halden says contacts that sink could pose a threat to aquatic life, especially bottom-feeding fish that might mistake microplastics for food and eat the indigestible material. Because these animals are part of a long food chain, some of these contact particles could eventually "find their way to the human food supply," the researchers said.

The team hopes this first-of-its-kind research will cause contact lens makers to “take note and at minimum, provide a label on the packaging describing how to properly dispose of contact lenses, which is by placing them with other solid waste."

Throw them in the trash or recycle them

The optimal way to get rid of disposable plastic contact lenses is to recycle them, as well as their cases, boxes, and solution, according to the American Optometric Association.

"The regular garbage is the second option. Down the sink drain or toilet is never recommended and is discouraged due to the impact on our environment," the organization told CBS News.

Holden and his colleagues presented the results of their study at the annual meeting of the American Chemistry Society, which was held on Sunday.

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