Thursday, 22 June 2017

Special cells explain why cabbage and stress churn your guts

When a type of cell in the intestine detects dietary irritants and stress hormones, it sends distress signals to the brain, telling it to move things along

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Special cells explain why cabbage and stress churn your guts

When a type of cell in the intestine detects dietary irritants and stress hormones, it sends distress signals to the brain, telling it to move things along

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Burger King, Tim Hortons Vow To Cut Back On Antibiotics In Chicken

Amid growing concerns about the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals, Burger King has joined the list of fast food chains that will scale back on the use of drugs that are medically important to human beings.

For livestock farmers, these antibiotics can help produce chickens that yield more meat. Unfortunately, the continuous low-dose use of antibiotics also contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, rendering these very drugs less-effective (or useless) for treatment of actual disease.

In its latest sustainability report [PDF], Restaurant Brands International, parent company to both BK and Tim Hortons, vowed to cut the use of antibiotics in the chicken supply for both restaurant chains by the end of 2018.

The company, which purchased Popeyes earlier this year, said that it plans to roll out the new policy at all of its brands, but did not provide a timeframe for the change.

“We recognize that antibiotics play an important and delicate role in animal wellbeing and human health,” the company said, noting that it would work with its supply chain partners to support and implementing changes.

The company said that it began work toward eliminating the use of antibiotics by creating a partnership with the University of Guelph in 2012 to establish the Tim Hortons Sustainable Food Management fund.

In a recent report card on restaurants’ antibiotics policies, Burger King was one of 16 chains that scored a failing grade. Tim Hortons and Popeyes were not on the list.

Earlier this year, our colleagues at Consumers Union gathered more than 125,000 signatures on a petition calling on Burger King and others to finally adopt policies reducing their use of antibiotics. Today, CU is applauding KFC’s decision, calling it “chicken done right.”

A growing number of restaurants have realized that this risk is too big a price to pay for heavier chickens. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chick fil-A, KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut have all already made some commitment to sourcing chickens that are raised with fewer, or no, antibiotics.

In fact, the Natural Resources Defense Council said that with today’s announcement 11 of the top 15 chains in the U.S. have now committed to some level of responsible antibiotics use for their chicken supplies.

The NDRC applauded Restaurant Brand’s announcement.

“We have officially passed the tipping point on antibiotics use in chicken served by the U.S. fast food industry,” Lena Brook, Food Policy Advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “With this commitment, Burger King and Tim Hortons are helping to keep our lifesaving drugs working when sick people need them.”

The organization noted that the next target will be to curb antibiotics use in beef and pork.

Antibiotics used on farm animals account for the overwhelming majority of all antibiotics sold in the U.S., and sales have continued to increase even after drug companies volunteered to stop marketing these drugs for growth-promotion purposes.

Reducing antibiotic overuse in chickens is important, but only represents one facet of the issue. Fast food chains are already feeling the pressure to curb antibiotics in the beef and pork they buy, but that change — if it happens — will take more time. A chicken now reaches market weight in less than two months, while beef cattle may need up to two years.

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Report: Sears Closing 20 More Stores, Opening One

Sears Holdings Corporation, parent company of Sears and Kmart, has recently been on a store-closing spree, seeking to lower its expenses to escape a looming retail death spiral. Today, the company announced the opening of a new appliances and mattresses concept store, while also informing employees that the company plans to close another
20 Sears department stores.

Business Insider received the list from Sears insiders. The stores included are scattered across the country, but notably include three stores each in New York and Ohio.

So far this year, Sears Holdings has announced the closings of 150 stores announced in January, and 65 stores announced two weeks ago.

The store closings closings follow the layoffs of 130 corporate employees in February and 400 last week.

Address Town State
4575 La Jolla Village Drive San Diego CA
8201 S Tamiami Trail Sarasota FL
1601 N Harlem Ave Chicago IL
9701 Metcalf Ave Overland Park KS
5715 Johnston Street Lafayette LA
126 Shawan Road Cockeysville MD
17318 Valley Mall Road Hagerstown MD
32123 Gratiot Avenue Roseville MI
14250 Buck Hill Road Burnsville MN
1640 Route 22 Watchung NJ
1425 Central Avenue Albany NY
4000 Jericho Turnpike East Northport NY
601-635 Harry L. Drive Johnson City NY
7875 Johnnycake Ridge Road Mentor OH
6950 W 130th Street Middleburg Heights OH
3408 W Central Avenue Toledo OH
650 Bald Hill Road Warwick RI
300 Baybrook Mall Friendswood TX
9570 Southwest Freeway Houston TX
5200 South 76th Street Greendale WI

The retailer also is trying a new concept store. Similar to the appliances-only test store in Colorado, the Appliances & Mattresses store in Pharr, TX, is a 20,000 square foot showroom for those two product lines. The store will carry 10 brands of appliances, including the retailer’s own Kenmore brand, and major brands of mattresses with space to try them out.

The store will also serve as a pickup point for online purchases from Sears and from Kmart, perhaps looking ahead to a future when people want to test mattresses in person, but don’t need a full-line Sears store nearby.

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

From Damning To Noncommittal To All-In: The Rainbow Of Reactions To Senate Obamacare Repeal Plan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally pulled back the curtain on his much-awaited and mystery-shrouded plan to repeal and replace much of the Affordable Care Act, and now that people — including some who were supposedly involved in its crafting — are seeing the proposal, the bill is being met with a wide range of reactions and lots of questions about whether the GOP will have the votes to pass it.

Those Opposed

• Democratic Leadership
It’s not surprising that Democratic party leaders quickly came out against the awkwardly titled Better Care Reconciliation Act, as no Democrats (and many Republicans) were involved in the 13-member working group that put together the draft proposal.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said this morning that “This is a bill designed to strip away healthcare benefits from Americans who need it most in order to give a tax breaks to the folks who need it least.”

Schumer criticized the bill, which delays the end of Medicare expansion but would ultimately result in massive cuts to the program’s budget in the long-term.

“Medicaid is not just an insurance program for Americans struggling in poverty,” said the senator. “Medicaid is increasingly a middle-class program. Medicaid is how many Americans are able to access opioid abuse treatment. Medicaid foots the bill for two-thirds of all Americans living in nursing homes, and Medicaid provides the cushion — particularly in rural areas — so hospitals can survive and give top-notch healthcare to all of us.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the draft “just as heartless and cruel” as the version that barely passed through the her chamber earlier this spring.

“The Senate draft proves Trumpcare fundamentally means higher health costs, tens of millions of hard-working Americans losing health coverage, gutting key protections, a crushing age tax, and stealing from Medicare,” says Pelosi. “In fact, Senate Republicans made the devastation to working families and seniors with long-term care needs on Medicaid even more severe – destroying jobs across America.”

• Hardline Conservatives
Even though Sen. Ted Cruz and other hardline conservatives were part of the small closed-door working group, they were not pleased with what McConnell released today.

“It does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs,” said Cruz, along with Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson, all of whom have said they are currently “not ready” to sign this bill as it doesn’t go far enough in repealing the changes put in place by the Affordable Care Act.

The GOP can only afford to have two members vote against the bill. However, any changes made to the proposal to please this group of four could cause moderate Republicans to go from being on the bubble to voting “no.” (More on them in a minute.)

• Consumer Advocates
Consumer advocacy groups are coming out in opposition to Senate bill, concerned that it will result in millions of additional Americans going without healthcare.

Betsy Imholz, Special Projects Director for our colleagues at Consumers Union, says this latest repeal legislation is “equally misguided and harsh as the House bill.”

“The consequences of the Senate’s legislation are just as dangerous,” explains Imholz, “Millions of Americans could lose coverage, consumers would likely pay more out-of-pocket for care and higher premiums for plans that cover less, and Medicaid would be cut off at the knees.”

McConnell has promised that this bill will prohibit insurers from denying coverage or raising premiums on people with preexisting conditions, but Imholz notes that it gives states the ability to waive Essential Health Benefits requirements, and “could leave all privately insured Americans at the mercy of annual and lifetime caps — putting meaningful coverage out of reach for many Americans, especially those with chronic and preexisting conditions.”


•Moderate Republicans

While the group of four hardline conservative senators have effectively said they won’t vote for this bill as it is, a number of more moderate GOP lawmakers are being cautious about what they say right now.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has previously taken issues with legislative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and block subsidies to insurers that cover abortion procedures — and who has been critical of McConnell’s secretive tactics in drafting the proposal — released a statement on Twitter explaining that now that the proposal is finally available to her she will do her “due diligence and thoroughly review it.”

I will be working closely with the state over the next several days to analyze the text and crunch the numbers,” wrote Murkowski without giving any indication of where she’s leaning.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has not issued a written statement of her own regarding the proposal but told reporters earlier today that she is “very concerned” about the effect of the proposed cuts to Medicaid and how they would ultimately affect rural Americans. Her office later released a statement on the senator’s behalf, saying that Collins is “particularly interested in examining the forthcoming CBO analysis on the impact on insurance coverage, the effect on insurance premiums, and the changes in the Medicaid program.”

In a statement released this afternoon, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said that while there “some promising changes to reduce premiums in the individual insurance market” in the Senate proposal, “I continue to have real concerns about the Medicaid policies in this bill, especially those that impact drug treatment at a time when Ohio is facing an opioid epidemic… If the final legislation is good for Ohio, I will support it. If not, I will oppose it.”

• President Trump
Even though many have dubbed the repeal-and-replace effort “TrumpCare,” the President is not showing the enthusiasm he previously demonstrated for the healthcare reform legislation.

That’s not to say that he’s said anything negative about it, but the message coming from the White House is far from fireworks and champagne.

“The president is pleased to see the process moving forward swiftly in Congress, and he looks forward to seeing a finalized bill on his desk,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders this afternoon. “I don’t think we’re as focused on the timeline as we are on the final product.”

“He wants to bring the stakeholders to the table, have those conversations and we’ll get back to you,” added Sanders.

Speaking for himself later in the day, the President would only that “Obamacare is dead, and we’re putting a plan out today that is going to be negotiated.”

Vice-President Mike Pence was slightly more upbeat about the Senate bill, saying this afternoon that “The President and I are determined before this summer is out to keep our promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare and give the American people the kind of world-class health care that they deserve.”

All In

• HHS Secretary Tom Price

While Price’s boss isn’t yet pulling out the t-shirt cannon to celebrate today’s proposal, Tom Price, Health and Human Services Secretary and the architect of previous efforts to repeal the ACA, was laudatory about the bill.

“The Senate’s proposal is built on patient-centered reforms that put the American people in charge of their healthcare decisions, not government, protecting patients, bringing down the cost of coverage, and expanding choices,” said Price in a statement. “The Trump Administration is committed to the health of all Americans.”

• Sen. Orrin Hatch
The Utah Republican and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who has been lambasted by critics for defending McConnell’s lack of transparency on this bill, appears to be happy with what the working group came up with.

“Today, after years of discussions and hearings, Senate Republicans are putting forth solutions to rescue the American people from this devastating law,” said Hatch in a statement released by the Finance Committee. “The discussion draft released today is an important step in our effort to replace Obamacare with patient-centered reforms that address costs, provide more choices, and ultimately put Americans – not Washington – back in charge of their health care.”

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Hatch acknowledged that many of his colleagues had concerns or questions about the bill but chalked most of them up to “misunderstandings.”

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Special cells explain why cabbage and stress churn your guts

When a type of cell in the intestine detects dietary irritants and stress hormones, it sends distress signals to the brain, telling it to move things along

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

How To Make Sure You Don’t Accidentally Buy United’s Crappy “Basic Economy” Tickets

When searching for the best fare on a flight, it’s not uncommon for customers to peruse a third-party travel site like Expedia or Priceline and jump at the lowest number they see associated with a flight. But some United Airlines passengers say this tried-and-true method has resulted in the unexpected purchase of a no-frills Basic Economy ticket.

For those unfamiliar, United’s Basic Economy fare is a no-frills flight experience, where customers don’t get to choose their seat in advance, are limited to one personal carry-on bag, can’t use the overhead bin space, and can’t make change their tickets.

Business Insider reports that while United has taken steps during the checkout process on its own website to warn customers of what they’re getting into with Basic Economy, other sites haven’t.

As a result, some customers tell Business Insider they’ve accidentally purchased Basic Economy tickets when they didn’t mean to.

What’s The Difference?

While a rep for United tells Business Insider that it works with third-party sites to ensure fare restrictions are clearly marked, searches for flights on United, Expedia, and Priceline show a few stark differences in the description of Basic Economy fares.

For instance, on United’s website, when passengers see the search results for a flight the first thing they see under the Basic Economy section is a notation that the fare is the “most restricted.”

When the customer selects Basic Economy they are greeted with a pop-up describing what is included (and what’s not) with the fare. To ensure customers are aware of the fare limitations, they must acknowledge the fare by checking the box “Basic Economy works for me” before proceeding.

After selecting and approving the Basic Economy flight choice, customers are greeted with yet another warning on restrictions at the “Review Trip Itinerary” page.

These warnings, however, are not the same on third-party sites. The same search completed on Expedia resulted in fewer descriptions of Basic Fare or warnings as to what is included with the ticket.

Search results for flights include a small notation that they are Basic Economy, and clicking on that notation results in a small box with the short description of the fare.

It’s not until a customer actually chooses the flight and is taken to the trip review site that Expedia fully explains what is included in the fare on the “Important Flight Information” side bar.

This same page offers customers the option to upgrade their flight to regular economy or another class. These options show what is included in the fare.

A rep for Expedia tells Business Insider that the company makes it clear what is included in a Basic Economy fare, and that customers can see more about the restrictions by clicking “Show More” under the search results.

Orbitz, which is owned by Expedia, follows a similar process, noting in the search results that customers are looking at a Basic Economy fare. When passengers click on the fare notation, they see a pop-up with a short list of restrictions.

Again, selecting the fare and proceeding to the review page results in longer list of restrictions.

The process is similar on Priceline, however, the first search page does not include any mention that a fare listed may be Basic Economy.

Once a traveler clicks on a fare, the site displays a pop-up of the flight details, with a small highlighted notation that the flight is, in fact, Basic Economy. Below this, on the same pop-up, Priceline provide a short detailed list of what is included in the Basic Economy fare.

Proceeding to the checkout process, there is not another mention of the fare restrictions.

Consumerist has reached out to Priceline for more information on how it chooses to mark and warn customers of basic fare restrictions.

A search on Kayak returns a list of available fares with a few discreet notices that the fare is Basic Economy, including a notation of the fare class and a photo of a crossed out piece of luggage. Clicking on the a flight results in a notice that “Carry-on baggage restricted in Basic Economy.”


However, the biggest difference between booking with Kayak and other third-party sites is that once a customer chooses a flight, they are taken to United’s website to complete the purchase. There they are greeted with the same disclaimer as mentioned in the United section.

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Special cells explain why cabbage and stress churn your guts

When a type of cell in the intestine detects dietary irritants and stress hormones, it sends distress signals to the brain, telling it to move things along

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Special cells explain why cabbage and stress churn your guts

When a type of cell in the intestine detects dietary irritants and stress hormones, it sends distress signals to the brain, telling it to move things along

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Special cells explain why cabbage and stress churn your guts

When a type of cell in the intestine detects dietary irritants and stress hormones, it sends distress signals to the brain, telling it to move things along

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

People Stealing Stuff From Stores Reaches All-Time High

Retailers are spending less on loss prevention, and maybe that’s not such a good idea. In 2016, the rate of “shrinkage,” or inventory that goes missing for any reason, increased to 1.44% of all sales, or a total of almost $48.9 billion.

Where did that stuff go? According to the annual National Retail Security Survey from trade group the National Retail Federation, the largest share of missing merch is taken by shoplifters, ranging from the most petty thieves to organized crime rings that steal in mass quantities and re-sell what they take. Almost 7% of shrinkage just gets a great big “shrug,” since loss prevention professionals don’t know where it goes.

Here’s the breakdown:

Shoplifting/external (includes organized crime) = 36.5%
Employee theft/internal = 30%
Administrative and paperwork error = 21.3%
Vendor fraud or error = 5.4%
Unknown loss = 6.8%

This year, the survey also asked about return fraud for the first time, and the loss prevention executives said that the average amount lost to it is $1,766.27. Incidentally, The Retail Equation, the company that keeps a database of shoppers who return purchases excessively by having stores scan customers’ driver’s licenses, sponsored this year’s survey.

The loss prevention executives’ conclusion, predictably, was that stores should spend more on loss prevention.

“Retail executives need to realize that money spent on preventing losses is money that improves the bottom line,” Bob Moraca, Vice President of Loss Prevention at the NRF, said in a statement.

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Robocall Scammer Faces $120M Fine For Impersonating TripAdvisor, Marriott, Expedia

A Florida man accused of blasting out 100 million illegal robocalls where he falsely claimed to represent companies like TripAdvisor, Marriott, Expedia, or Hilton may finally have to pay for annoying the ever-living heck out of people. The Federal Communications Commission has proposed slapping a $120 million penalty on this obnoxious operation.

According to the citation [PDF] released today by the FCC, Adrian Abramovich of Miami — through cleverly named companies like Marketing Strategy Leaders or Marketing Leaders (why do alleged scammers always have the dullest names for their associated businesses?) — violated federal law by not only repeatedly robocalling people without their consent, but also by falsely claiming affiliation with well-known travel and hospitality companies.

The FCC says that over a two year period, Abramovich made 96 million prerecorded, auto-dialed phone calls for the ostensible purpose of offering “exclusive” and “discounted” vacations and cruises from TripAdvisor or one of the other well-known companies mentioned above, even though he had no affiliation with any of those businesses.

Spoof, There It Is!

To make it more likely that people would pick up their phones, the FCC says Abramovich spoofed the outgoing numbers on these robocalls so that they would appear to be local to the recipient, as opposed to the unfamiliar — and sometimes international — numbers generally associated with scam calls.

As we’ve covered before, it’s not illegal to spoof or otherwise mask your outgoing phone number unless you’re doing so in furtherance of fraud. So you can disguise your outgoing number if you want to phone in an anonymous tip to the police, but you can’t, say, spoof your number to falsely look like you’re calling from the IRS in order to demand payment.

Back to the alleged scam at hand.

Don’t Mess With TripAdvisor

While a number of Americans were filing complaints with the FCC about these robocalls — some claiming to receive multiple calls a day — they were also griping to TripAdvisor about these calls falsely invoking the company’s brand.

A TripAdvisor investigation found that many of these calls linked back to Abramovich’s companies and their various websites set up as supposed travel-related businesses. Ultimately, TripAdvisor concluded that Abramovich was doing lead-generation for a Mexican resort chain. Anyone who fell for the automated part of his robocalls and pressed “1” for more information was apparently sent on to a telemarketer trying to unload timeshares and vacations for this chain.

“These robocall marketing scams were intrusive, annoying and – for some people – incessant,” explains TripAdvisor Senior VP Adam Medros in a statement. “Unfortunately, the scammers had been targeting the entire travel industry for quite some time. The list of brands impersonated by these fraudsters goes well beyond TripAdvisor and reads like a who’s who of well-known airlines, hoteliers and online travel agents.”

Interfering With Medical Help

Because it was apparently just dialing numbers in sequence with disregard for the recipient, the Abramovich robocall operation wasn’t just spraying out unwanted calls to your mobile phones and landlines. It was also allegedly spamming numbers used by vital medical emergency services.

A Virginia-based company called Spōk (now we’re getting too clever with the names) that offers emergency medical paging services to doctors and hospitals complained to the FCC that its network had gotten temporarily bogged down by what appeared to be robocalls being made to pager numbers. An FCC investigation ultimately traced the robocalls back to Abramovich.

The FCC points out that pager tech is not equipped to handle voice calls, so when a robocaller starts trying to call multiple numbers on that pager network at once it can disrupt or disable the service. When that service involves medical emergencies, well… that’s bad for everyone.


The citation accuses Abramovich of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits the making of pre-recorded phone calls to any emergency telephone line, which would include the Spōk pager system. The law also generally forbids all robocalls to cellphones unless it’s either an emergency or the recipient has given their prior consent to receiving robocalls from that specific caller. Prerecorded calls to residential landlines are also heavily restricted.

Just to make it clear: Cold-calling phone numbers for the purpose of selling timeshares for a Mexican hotel chain is not an emergency, nor does it fall under any of the allowable robocall exceptions in the TCPA.

Then there’s Ye Olde Federal Wire Fraud Statute, which prohibits the use wire or radio communications for the purpose of “obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises.”

The FCC argues that Abramovich “falsely represented that the called party was receiving an offer associated with a well-known, reputable travel or hospitality company.” And even though the callers who continued on with the calls were indeed able to purchase vacation packages, the FCC says that doesn’t change the fact that folks were lied to right from the beginning of the call.

“[C]onsumers were induced into thinking they had the opportunity to purchase a name-brand commodity at a discounted rate, and then were offered an unknown or significantly less valuable option instead,” writes the FCC.

Recipients of these calls weren’t the only victims of the alleged fraud, claims the Commission. TripAdvisor, Marriott and the others saw their reputations harmed as a result.

“Abramovich intended to defraud Marriott, TripAdvisor, and other companies of their goodwill,” explains the citation, noting that some recipients of these calls assumed that the popular brands were indeed connected with the robocalls and filed complaints and said they would no longer do business with these companies.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Italian Airport Makes Exception To Liquid Limits For Pesto Sauce

It may come as no surprise that deep in the heart of pasta country, officials at the airport in Genoa, Italy, are offering a special culinary dispensation to anyone traveling with the city’s famed pesto sauce.

Genoa’s Cristforo Colombo Airport has been waiving the 100-milliter limit on liquids as long as it’s Genovese pesto as part of the “Il pesto è buono” campaign, which launched June 1. Thus far, more than 500 jars of the stuff have gone through the airport.

In order to fly with pesto jars of up to 500g, travelers simply have to make a donation to a charity called Flying Angels, which helps cover the cost to fly ill children abroad to receive treatment. They’ll then receive a special sticker to stick on the jar. Once the pesto has been scanned by an X-ray machine, passengers can carry it on board.

Officials say the plan was inspired by mountains of confiscated sauce jars piling up at security checkpoints.

Of course, if you’re flying into another country other than Italy, you’ll have to check the local customs rules on what kinds of foods you can bring with you. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection rules, for example, canned goods like prepared sauces that don’t contain meat products are generally admissible. Pesto is made from basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and garlic, so it would likely pass muster.

[h/t BBC]

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Will Any Other Big Companies Make A Bid For Whole Foods?

Although Amazon announced last week that it would be buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, it’s far from a done deal. And in the time it takes to complete such a large merger, there could be a few other players who decide to belly up to the table and make a bid for the grocery chain.

JPMorgan analysts said in a note to clients today that Walmart could throw in an offer to rival Amazon, drawn by its affluent customers and strong brand identity, reports CNBC. That, and it would throw a serious wrench into Amazon’s plans, to Walmart’s certain delight.

“We do think there is a chance that Walmart makes a bid,” the report said. “WMT stands out as the only company in our coverage with the means and motive to counterbid, but the motive is ultimately more driven by a defensive strategy.”

However, even if Walmart does give it the ol’ college try, it’s not likely to be successful “given Amazon’s war chest of cash/stock and the value of the WFM platform to Amazon.”

Anyway, it’s not like Walmart needs Whole Foods as desperately as Amazon wants it, analysts noted, since it already has more than 20% of the grocery business in the U.S.

Despite the fact that analysts think Walmart has the best chance of going against Amazon in a bidding war, other grocers could step in: Since October of last year, rumors have been swirling that Kroger may be interested in hooking up with Whole Foods, buzz has picked up again on that theme in the days since Amazon’s announcement.

Industry experts said Kroger may still be interested, with a report from a Barclays analyst noting that she “would not be surprised” if Kroger, Walmart, or Target make offers as well, reports the Cincinnati Business Courier.

These retailers wouldn’t necessarily have to win the bididng war, but they could drive up the price Amazon ends up having to pay for Whole Foods when all is said and done.

JPMorgan analysts noted in their report however that what with Whole Foods’ unabashed exuberance over the idea of an Amazon wedding, “We do not think an alternative suitor would evoke the same reaction.”

Whole Foods told CNBC in a statement that it didn’t have anything to add to its story, while a Walmart spokesperson said the retailer wouldn’t speculate on rumors.

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Congratulations, Oregon: You Can Now Harvest Some Roadkill For Food

Get the shovel ready and the recipe cards out, Oregonians, because your state has just made it legal to for you to salvage roadkill and eat it.

Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill [PDF] into law last week that allows motorists who collide with deer or elk to harvest the meat. The measure flew through both the Senate and House with nary a “nay” vote.

The law instructs the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules for the issuance of wildlife salvage permits to anyone who wants to “recover, possess, use or transport, for the purpose of salvaging game meat for human consumption, deer or elk that have been accidentally killed as a result of a vehicle collision.”

RELATED: 5 Things We Learned About What It’s Like To Gather And Eat Roadkill

However anyone who salvages deer or elk they’ve killed will have to turn over the antlers to ODFW immediately. The first permits for wildlife salvage will be available no later than Jan. 1, 2019.

There are about 20 or so states that also allow residents to scoop up roadkill, notes the Associated Press, though each law varies on which kind of animals are acceptable for salvage under certain circumstances, and whether or not you need a permit to do so.

For example, as of last year, Oregon’s neighbors to the north in Washington can salvage deer or elk carcasses that have been hit by motorists.

In New Jersey, only road-killed deer may be picked up by drivers, who must first obtain a permit, and surrender any antlers from the animals, while Pennsylvanians are allowed to take deer or turkeys that are killed on the road as long as they report the incident to the state’s wildlife commission within 24 hours.

How you decide to prepare your roadkill harvest, well, that’s up to you.

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Special cells explain why cabbage and stress churn your guts

When a type of cell in the intestine detects dietary irritants and stress hormones, it sends distress signals to the brain, telling it to move things along

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Report: Charter Looking To Buy Cox Communications

While it was rumored that Charter said “no thank you” to Verizon’s estimated $100 billion merger offer earlier this year because it just wasn’t enough money, new reports suggest the rejection was actually because Charter wanted to go on its own shopping spree, snatching up Cox Communications. 

The New York Post, citing sources familiar with the matter, reports that Charter is considering a play to purchase Cox Communications.

Cox, which has about 21 million customers, provides service in 18 states scattered through the U.S., including Massachusetts, Florida, Virginia, California, and Arizona. Charter, on the other hand, offers service to 27 million people in 28 states, including California, Missouri, and Michigan.

The sources say that Charter CEO Tom Rutledge is very interested in the Atlanta-base cable company, but that no formal approach has been made yet.

Still, Charter’s desire to acquire Cox could be all talk, as Cox has brushed off many advances from the company in the past.

DSLreports suggests that Charter has approached Cox several times since 2013 and been rejected each time.

That’s likely to be the case this time around, as well.

“Cox has been very clear and consistent that we are not for sale and, in fact, we’re aggressively investing in our network, products and strategic partnerships and investments of our own,” a rep for the company tells the NY Post.

But with a change of leadership poised to take place next year, sources say that Charter is hoping that Cox will be singing a different tune when it comes to a marriage.

Charter, of course, is no stranger to mergers. The company spent about $55 billion on acquiring Time Warner Cable and another $10 billion on Bright House Networks. But just because the company has experience in mergers, doesn’t mean it’s a pro at actually brining the companies together.

In fact, the combination with Time Warner and Bright House Networks has been a lengthy, complicated, and sometimes messy process.

Speaking of Charter’s merger woes, the New York Department of Public Service announced it had reached a potential $13 million settlement [PDF] with the company for its failure to meet deadlines to expand its network, a condition of its acquisition with Time Warner Cable.

“The Commission conditioned its approval of the merger on Charter’s agreement to undertake several types of investments and other activities,” Department Interim CEO Gregg C. Sayre said in a statement. “While Charter is delivering on many of them, it failed to expand the reach of its network to un-served and under-served communities and commercial customers in the time allotted.”

The settlement, which must still be approved, would require Charter to pay $1 million in grants for equipment to provide computer and internet access to low-income users, and to set aside $12 million as a security to meet its network expansion commitment going forward.

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Home Depot, Menards Customers Cry False Advertising When They Learn “4x4s” Aren’t Actually 4×4

Talk to any contractor or carpenter — or most people who are reasonably familiar with home construction and repair — and they’ll tell you that a “4×4” piece of lumber is not actually four inches by four inches, and that it hasn’t been that way in any of our lifetimes. Yet some Home Depot and Menards customers are — literally — making a federal case out of this discrepancy, accusing the retailers of false advertising.

In two separate federal class-action lawsuits filed by the same attorney, shoppers accuse these two chains of selling “lumber products that were falsely advertised and labeled as having product dimensions that were not the actual dimensions of the products sold.”

The plaintiffs in the Menards complaint [PDF] are two customers who each purchased lumber at Menards stores in Illinois. One man purchased some “1×6” cedar planking and a piece of “4×4″ Douglas fir lumber, only to eventually find that these products’ real dimensions were .66″ x 5.25″ and 3.5″ x 3.5”, respectively. The second plaintiff claims to have been similarly “deceived and/or misled” about the true dimensions of a 4×4 post.

Those pesky 4x4s are also at the center of the Home Depot lawsuit [PDF], whose lead plaintiff says he relied on Home Depot’s advertising when purchasing this lumber.

While both lawsuits claim that the plaintiffs have been damaged by this alleged deception, neither complaint specifies what that damage may have been, other than getting slightly less wood than they expected. For instance, there is no mention of the plaintiffs being unable to finish a home renovation or of the purchased lumber being inadequate or of lower quality.

The lawsuits even acknowledge that lumber industry standards dictate that a nominal lumber dimensions are — and have been for nearly a century — slightly larger than the actual dimensions.

The plaintiffs do point out inconsistencies in the way the retailers advertise and market lumber. The Home Depot complaint notes that the retailer’s website includes actual, correct dimensions on some products, but not on others. Additionally, the lawsuits contend that retailers sell some “rough” cut wood products that are the full advertised dimensions.

In a memo in support of its motion to dismiss [PDF], the retailer argues that the plaintiffs “received exactly what they were supposed to receive – lumber that complies with applicable standards – and thus have not suffered an injury-in-fact.”

Interestingly, while Menards uses the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology minimum standards for dimensional lumber, going so far as to include the entire NIST 306-page handbook as an exhibit in the case, the retailer doesn’t mention where that NIST says it’s okay to just use nominal dimensions “if the… actual dimensions are prominently displayed to the customer, and the term ‘nominal’ or ‘nom’ is used in conjunction with any representation of nominal dimensions.”

At the same time, NIST’s Lumber Standard also states that “No inferences shall be drawn that the ‘nominal” sizes are dressed sizes.” So it’s not immediately clear if there is any legal obligation for hardware stores to communicate the actual size of lumber.

Even if the plaintiffs are able to argue that this information should have been more explicitly spelled out at the stores, they may have trouble making the case that they, or anyone else, suffered any real damage as a result.

The stores take issue with the claims of any real damage done by the use of the nominal measurements. As mentioned above, neither complaint alleges that the plaintiffs were unable to use the lumber they purchased.

“Plaintiffs’ claims are based entirely on the thickness and width of the product,” notes the Menards memorandum. “[R]egardless of what the shelf tags and product labels purportedly said or did not say, the undeniable fact remains that Plaintiffs received exactly what they were supposed to receive.”

In its memorandum supporting the motion to dismiss [PDF], Home Depot mocks the plaintiff’s notion that he would have paid less if he knew he wasn’t getting a true 4″ x 4″ piece of lumber.

“Plaintiff has not plead that retailers sell dimensional lumber measuring exactly 4 inches by 4 inches or what such product would cost,” notes Home Depot. The company admits that yes, you can buy a true 4″ x 4″ piece of wood from the same brand as the one mentioned in the lawsuit, but it’s rough sawn, and not intended to be used in the same way that a dressed piece of lumber is utilized.

Home Depot argues that if you want a dressed piece of lumber that is actually 4″ x 4″, that lumber’s nominal dimension would actually be 4.5″ x 4.5″ but “No such size or product exists.”

“Because Plaintiff could not have purchased the hypothetical product he seeks, much less at a lower price, he has no actionable injury,” argues Home Depot.

In fact, that rough-sawn post that measures a true 4″ x 4″ costs about $35 more than the “4×4” piece of wood he picked up at Home Depot.

One architect we spoke to about this case admitted that a number of homeowners or first-time DIYers are not actually familiar with the actual dimensions of lumber, but ultimately that shouldn’t matter in most cases.

“Say you’re putting in a new door or window in your house. Unless your house is really old or was built by someone using non-standard materials, the ‘2×4’ you buy at Home Depot should match what’s already in your walls,” explains the architect. “Same if you’re building a deck or some other project from a set of proper plans. Those drawings are done with the expectation that you’ll use standard-size lumber, regardless of whether you know a ‘2×4’ is actually 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches.”

[h/t to JSonline]

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Hummus, Trail Mixes Recalled For Potential Listeria Contamination

What do granola, protein bars, hummus, and trail mix have in common? Other than being healthy and delicious snacks, they’re also items that have been recalled due to a massive recall of dried fruits and nuts that are potentially linked to the same processing plant.

We’ve already shared the recall information for grainless granola from Wildway and Trader Joe’s, as well as BulletProof 360 and GoMacro snack/protein bars. Now other recalls have been announced that may be from the same potentially contaminated facility.

There have been no confirmed illnesses from foods that are part of any of these recalls.

The following trail mixes from United Natural Trading have been recalled because they contain dates that may be contaminated.  

Description Lot Best By Date UPC#
Nature’s Promise Organic Campfire Trail Mix 12oz. 17100 11/23/2017 688267066092
Nature’s Promise Organic Campfire Trail Mix 12oz. 17115 12/23/2017 688267066092
Nature’s Promise Cranberry Trail Mix 12oz. 17138 11/18/2017 688267066122
Nature’s Promise Cascade Trail Mix 12oz. 17158 12/30/2017 688267066160
Woodstock Organic Kumbaya Mix 10oz. 17096 11/23/2017 42563009366
Woodstock Organic Kumbaya Mix 10oz. 17124 11/23/2017 42563009366
Woodstock Organic Kumbaya Mix 10oz. 17100 11/23/2017 42563009366
Market Basket Cape Cod Cranberry Mix 10oz. 17132 12/30/2017 49705408322
Market Basket Cascade Trail Mix 11oz. 17156 12/30/2017 49705408377
Market Basket Fiber Frenzy 10oz. 17150 12/30/2017 49705409107
Wholesome Pantry Cape Cod Cranberry Mix 8oz. 17142 12/30/2017 41190054855
Wholesome Pantry Organic Trail Mix 8oz. 17142 12/14/2017 41190054992
Wholesome Pantry Organic Trail Mix 8oz. 17160 12/15/2017 41190054992

If you have any of these products, discard them or return them to the retailer where you purchased them for a refund. If you have any questions, contact the manufacturer at 732-650-9905. 

Hummus products that are part of the recall include products sold under the Fresh Foods Market brand (Harris Teeter), Lantana Foods, and Marketside (Walmart). Check the Food and Drug Administration’s recall announcement for the very long list of possible “best before” dates that may have the affected pine nuts, but they’re broadly between June 19 and Aug. 17, 2017. The products were sold between April 18 and June 13, 2017.

The specific products included are:

Fresh Foods Market: Artisan Hummus with Pine Nuts

Lantana Foods: White Bean Hummus with Pine Nut & Herb Topping

Marketside: Classic Hummus with Pine Nuts

All recalled items were the 10-ounce size, sold in clear round plastic containers. The common link that may have carried the Listeria are the pine nut toppings.

If you have the products, don’t eat them: Contact the manufacturer, House of Thaler, at 855-215-5142. 

The production facility linked to these recalls, Hudson Valley Farms outside of Poughkeepsie, NY, has temporarily been shut down following the potential Listeria contamination.

Listeria is a potentially deadly pathogen, posing a particular danger to pregnant women and their fetuses, children, people with compromised immune systems, and elderly people. Symptoms of infection include a high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.


by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

San Francisco Could Be First City To Ban Sale Of Flavored Liquid Nicotine

Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for a ban on flavored tobacco products. Now, one city is poised to do just that: San Francisco took steps this week to become the first city to approve a sales ban on flavored vaping liquids in a bid to prevent young adults from becoming addicted to the products.  

The Associated Press reports that San Francisco city supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a measure to ban the sale of flavored nicotine used in electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco products.

While the measure requires a second vote by the board next week, the AP reports it is expected to pass.

The ordinance, which would take effect in April 2018 if passed, aims to reduce the number of children who become addicted to nicotine after being lured to the products via flavors such as strawberry, cotton-candy, and others. The legislation does not prevent the sale of tobacco-flavored liquid nicotine.

If a business is found to be in violation of the law, they could have their city tobacco sales permit suspended.

“We’re focusing on flavored products because they are widely considered to be a starter product for future smokers,” Supervisor Malia Cohen, who sponsored the bill, tells the AP.

Cohen notes that the ordinance also aims to counter tobacco companies’ advertisements that, she believes, unfairly target fruit-flavored products to young people, the LGBTQ community, and other minorities.

“For too many years, the tobacco industry has selectively targeted our young adults with products that are deceptively associated with fruits and mint and candy,” she said. “Menthol cools the throat so you don’t feel the smoke and the irritants and it masks the flavors. This legislation is about saying enough is enough.”

While the supervisors are expected to pass the ordinance next week, many small businesses and vaping industry groups are pushing back, the AP reports.

Some business owners say that if the ban goes into effect, they could lose customers who may just go online or to other cities to buy the flavored products.

The American Vaping Association tell the AP that the ordinance is “complete nonsense” and doesn’t take into account recent stats that suggest flavored tobacco helps people quit smoking.

Specifically, president Gregory Conley pointed to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that found the number of high school students using e-cigarettes fell from 3 million to 2.2 million from 2015 to 2016.

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Qatar Airways Wants To Buy 10% Stake In American Airlines

While it may be flattering to receive an unexpected romantic overture, such moves are not always greeted with excitement. That could be the case for American Airlines, which revealed that it has received an “unsolicited notice” from Qatar Airways indicating the carrier’s interest in buying a large slice of American. Considering American’s past criticisms of the Gulf airline’s rapid growth, this attention may not be welcome.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [PDF], American said Qatar Airway’s notice says it’s intending to make a “significant investment” in the airline.

“The notice advised that Qatar Airways intends to purchase at least $808 million [in common stock] and, in a conversation between the CEOs of the two companies initiated by the Qatar Airways CEO, Qatar Airways indicated that it has an interest in acquiring approximately a 10% stake,” American says in the filing.

American says that Qatar Airways also submitted a filing required under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, which is necessary for any acquisition of more than $81 million in common stock.

The airline says it will respond “in due course with the appropriate filings required under the HSR Act.”

Though American doesn’t come right out and say it’s against any such acquisition by Qatar Airways, it reiterates again that the proposed investment was not not solicited by the company, “and would in no way change the Company’s Board composition, governance, management or strategic direction.”

Any party that wants to acquire at least 4.75% of American’s stock would have to receive approval from the airline’s board, the carrier said, but it hans’t received any such notice to that effect.

American also says it believes the current administration will “stand up to foreign governments to end massive carrier subsidies that threaten the U.S. aviation industry and that threaten American jobs.”

In the past, executives at American have expressed concern over Qatar Airways’ power in the airline industry, notes Bloomberg, after it used its geographical position on the Persian Gulf to build a transfer hub for rich long-haul passengers traveling the world.

“What’s really concerning is the fact they’ve begun flying to places outside the Gulf to the United States,” Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said in an interview June 16. “They are growing with wide-body aircraft at a rate no one has seen before and not just today because they have more airplanes coming. It’s a serious concern to us. One, we don’t think its fair and two, it’s a huge risk to U.S. commercial aviation.”

American declined to comment beyond the filing. Consumerist has reached out to Qatar Airways for further comment and will update this post if we hear back.

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Retail Apocalypse Spreads North: Sears Canada Files For Bankruptcy

The same factors hurting department stores and Sears stores in particular are affecting retailers north of the Canadian border as well: Today Sears Canada announced that it’s applied for creditors protection, the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and plans to reorganize and shed some of its current stores.

Unlike its American counterpart and other department store chains, things have been looking up at Sears Canada. Sort of. It improved its same-store sales over the last two quarters, but its overall sales, including online sales, are down.

The chain is in the middle of a campaign to modernize and renovate stores and remake its image, which includes a marketing campaign based around the phrase “What the Sears?”

Before the company’s official announcement this morning, there was speculation that the chain was planning to simply liquidate and close its 200 stores.

The question is whether a slight improvement in sales and a reorganization of its business will be enough. One former leader of the company doesn’t think so.

“Unless the company can find a new source of liquidity, sell off a substantial number of additional stores, come up somehow with a boatload of cash and find a way to improve their running performance, the company really does not have a future,” Mark Cohen, the former CEO of Sears Canada who is now a business professor at Columbia University, told Canadian business news channel BNN.

Sears Canada is officially a separate company from Sears Holdings, but the American Sears once owned 95% of its stock. Now Sears Holdings owns only around 12%, while ESL Investments, the hedge fund of Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert, owns 45% of Sears Canada stock.

Like its American cousin and other department stores on both sides of the border, Sears Canada has been struggling as shoppers’ tastes shift away from department store offerings. The company is short more than $300 million CAD on its obligations to retirees.

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Report: Mylan Offered Discounts To States If They Made It Harder For Patients To Get Alternatives

Controversial pharma company Mylan offered several states participating in Medicaid purchasing pools discounts on the EpiPen if they could ensure competitors’ products weren’t readily available to patients, according to a new report that raises additional concerns that the drugmaker engaged in anti-competitive practices as it raised the price of the life-saving drug nearly 400% in just 10 years. 

StatNews reports that emails between state health departments and a company that helps states negotiate drug prices for Medicaid patients revealed the drugmaker offered exclusive rebate offers on the price of the EpiPen if they made it harder for customers to access competing products.

It should be noted that such deals aren’t illegal, and are often used in the pharmaceutical industry.

Many drugmakers will offer discounts to states who place their products on State Medicaid program “preferred drug lists” to encourage doctors to prescribe some medications over others.

Being on the preferred list makes it easier for doctors to prescribe certain drugs; that’s because if a drug is not on the lists, doctors would have to receive prior approval from the Medicaid program in order for the drug to be covered.

Again, while this isn’t an uncommon practice, lawyers tell StatNews that such “exclusive dealings,” especially when they include a company with a large market share, could leave companies open to antitrust litigation.

This could be the case for Mylan, which is already facing an anti-trust lawsuit from drugmaker Sanofi, which accused the company of signing exclusive contracts to maintain a dominant place in the market.

The emails obtained by StatNews could give credence to these allegations.

An Oct. 2015 email between Magellan Health, the company facilitating deals between states and drugmakers, and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services sheds light on Mylan’s discounts.

For instance, the company was offering a rebate to states participating in two Medicaid purchasing pools that are administered by Magellan. That offer, the emails show, provided “enhanced savings for making EpiPen the exclusive epinephrine delivery systems [sic] on the [preferred drug list].”

Another email was more blunt, noting that the rebate required EpiPen to be the only preferred product, specifying that neither epinephrine generic nor Auvi-Q can be preferred.

It’s unclear from the emails how much states stood to save if they took Mylan up on its offer or which states participated in the discount.

However, StatNews reports that data obtained from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reveals EpiPen and EpiPen Jr comprised 99.7% of the prescriptions for epinephrine auto-injectors Nebraska’s Medicaid program between May 2015, and July 2015.

Despite this, antitrust experts tell StatNews that because other pharmaceutical companies also offer such deals, a case against Mylan could be difficult to pursue.

This isn’t the first time Mylan has come under scrutiny for its Medicaid practices. Back in May, the Department of Health and Human Services indicated that taxpayers may have overpaid $1.27 billion for EpiPens over 10 years.

Before that, in Oct. 2016, Mylan agreed to pay $465 million to close the book on a federal investigation into its Medicaid pricing — all without admitting any liability. That deal was quickly met with criticism from lawmakers who were pushing for a proper Department of Justice investigation.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) sent a letter [PDF] to then U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, calling the settlement “shamefully weak.” She noted that without criminal penalties and no deterrent value, the deal did nothing to “prevent drug companies from engaging in abusive schemes to defraud Medicaid and rip off taxpayers.”

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Senate Finally Releases Its First Go At Obamacare Repeal, Replacement Bill

After weeks of secrecy, Senate Republican leaders have finally released a draft version of the budget resolution they intend to use to repeal and replace much of the Affordable Care Act.

The 142-page bill [PDF], now dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act, will likely undergo additional changes in the coming days, as GOP leadership attempts to move forward with a vote before the early July recess.

Like the House version, it seeks to end the mandates that most individuals have health insurance and that most larger employers provide insurance. It does not currently include a provision from the House bill which tried to prevent people from dropping their insurance by dangling the threat of a 30% premium surcharge for people who had let their coverage lapse.

While the House GOP has been suing the government to stop federal ACA subsidies to private insurance companies, the Senate bill would effectively allow these payments to continue through 2021. In fact, these payments, intended to help insurers keep premiums affordable, will be larger in the coming years. The Senate proposal would pay out $15 billion annually in 2018 and 2019 through this “Short-Term Stabilization Fund,” with that dropping to $10 billion for 2020 and 2021.

The bill also provides for a “Long-Term State Innovation Fund” of $62 billion spread out over 8 years, intended to help states provide coverage for residents in either high-risk or low-income categories.

Just like the House bill, the Senate will provide tax credits to help people purchase their own coverage. Unlike the house bill, which used age as the primary determining factor for the size of the credit, the Senate bill would include considerations for income.

The Senate is also leaning heavily on expanded use of Health Savings Accounts as a way for Americans to pay for their coverage. However, critics of this plan have argued that HSAs only benefit those who can afford to save significant portions of their income. Lower-income Americans or people with significant expenses who aren’t able to contribute to an HSA would have difficulty taking advantage of this change to the law.

In terms of the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits — those insurance benefits that insurers must provide under current law — the Senate appears to be following the House lead by allowing states the opportunity to determine what is considered “essential” for coverage in that state.

We’re still sorting through this bill and will continue to update as more details become clear…

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

How to extinguish the inflammation epidemic

Stress, obesity and poor diet trigger persistent inflammation, which can lead to heart disease and depression. We’re finally working out how to fight it

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Dunkin’ Donuts Says Fast Food Rivals Are Hurting Afternoon Sales

Sure, Dunkin’ Donuts was “obviously” paying attention to McDonald’s all-day breakfast roll out, but it’s not the morning meal that’s causing trouble for the coffee chain: Dunkin’ says it’s losing customers to McDonald’s, Burger King, and other fast food rivals when it comes to customers’ afternoon caffeine fix. 

CNBC reports that McDonald’s McCafe promotions and a plethora of other options from fast food restaurants has made it difficult for Dunkin’ to bring in customers in the middle of the day.

It was an issue CEO Nigel Travis addressed Wednesday during the Jefferies Consumer Conference, noting that the chain’s afternoon sales have slipped recently.

“It’s becoming a little bit more crowded, a bit more aggressive, but I think that’s what Dunkin’ enjoys,” Travis said, as reported by CNBC. “We enjoy fighting hard around the country.”

One thing the company is fighting back with comes in the form of specialty drinks and cold brew coffee, something not readily available at fast food competitors.

Additionally, the company plans to continue offering special promotions, such as its $1.999 Frozen Coffee deal, throughout the year.

Despite the troubles, CNBC reports that Dunkin’ isn’t exactly struggling financially, as the company’s sales have been propped up by increased franchise fees and royalty income.

by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Armed Robber Forces Family To Take Him Shopping At Target

A North Carolina family went on a very scary shopping trip on Tuesday, after Durham police say a man knocked on their door to ask for money, and then forced them at gunpoint to take him shopping at Target.

ABC-11 reports that the suspect knocked on the door of a house around 7 a.m. and asked for money. One of the residents gave him some, but then the man allegedly showed a gun and ordered the parents and their two kids into their car.

He’s accused of forcing the man to go to an ATM and take out money, then to a convenience store, before directing him to drive to Target. Once there, he allegedly made the victims enter the store with him, and had them buy a bunch of clothing and gift cards.

One of the victims was able to alert a worker in the store who called 9-1-1.

Police officers happened to be in the store’s parking lot when the call came through, and arrested the suspect without incident.

He’s been charged with several counts of second-degree kidnapping and robbery with a dangerous weapon in this incident, and has also been charged with committing a string of other armed robberies and kidnapping in the past few days. In one of those incidents, he also allegedly forced victims to withdraw money and drive him to a convenience store.

by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Radio powered by your own sweat hints at future of wearables 

A small skin patch harnesses enough power from sweat to run a radio for 48 hours. The same technology could be used to power health sensors of the future

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Radio powered by your own sweat hints at future of wearables 

A small skin patch harnesses enough power from sweat to run a radio for 48 hours. The same technology could be used to power health sensors of the future

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..

Radio powered by your own sweat hints at future of wearables 

A small skin patch harnesses enough power from sweat to run a radio for 48 hours. The same technology could be used to power health sensors of the future

via New Scientist - Health Read More Here..