CONSUMER RIGHTS / PRODUCT REPORTS

Feb 14 17:53

MS sued for charging for Vista-XP downgrade

Microsoft has been sued this week over claims that the necessity to pay for its Vista-to-XP downgrade program abuses the company's Windows monopoly. Filed in a Seattle federal district court, the lawsuit found by the Seattle Times accuses Microsoft of violating Washington state business and consumer protection laws by creating an unfair license that cost plaintiff Emma Alvarado $59.25 to revert from Windows Vista Business to XP Professional when she bought a Lenovo notebook in June 2008.

She believes Microsoft has knowingly exploited Vista's poor reputation and created a captive audience which has no choice but to pay a significant amount to use an operating system it believes is more compatible and reliable.

Feb 13 06:39

Shortage of Critical Commodities Seen Already

Maybe you thought that less trade with China would mean fewer choices of lawn gnomes at Walmart this summer. And since you've recently sworn off, who cares anyway. Turns out China is also a leading provider of the raw materials used to make critical pharmaceutical drugs. We'll have fewer of those too and, in some cases, none at all.

Feb 13 05:49

I.R.S. Study Tries to Assess if Hospitals Earn Non-Profit Tax Breaks

The New York Times | Stephanie Strom | Thu- Feb 12, 2009

Over the last several years, members of Congress have raised concerns over whether nonprofit hospitals provide enough free care and other community benefits to justify their tax exemptions.

The average compensation paid to the top executives of the hospitals responding to the I.R.S. survey was $490,000. But among a subset of 20 hospitals reporting higher levels of compensation for their top leaders, the average was $1.4 million.

Ms. Lerner said that the I.R.S. had identified at least one hospital among those 20 that it believed had paid its leader excessively.

Feb 12 04:34

Millions 'opt for DIY dentistry'

BBC News | Thu- Feb 12, 2009

Millions of people in England have resorted to DIY dentistry, a survey by consumer magazine Which? suggests.

The poll, of 2,631 adults, found 8% had tried to fix their own dental problems - and a similar number knew somebody who had tried.

Of those who admitted trying the DIY approach, one in four had tried to pull out a tooth using pliers.

Feb 11 10:46

India to launch cow urine as soft drink (no, we're not taking the p***)

Does your Pepsi lack pep? Is your Coke not the real thing? India's Hindu nationalist movement apparently has the answer: a new soft drink made from cow urine.

The bovine brew is in the final stages of development by the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India's biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist group, according to the man who makes it.

Om Prakash, the head of the department, said the drink – called "gau jal", or "cow water" – in Sanskrit was undergoing laboratory tests and would be launched "very soon, maybe by the end of this year".

Feb 11 09:37

9 Humiliating Ways Cell phones Injure People

Despite their usefulness, cellular phones get a lot of negative press. Excessive and improper cell phone use accounts for hundreds of thousands of injuries and deaths around the world every year. A recent study showed that a coordinated 20 year-old has the same reaction time as that of a 70 year old when talking on a cell phone. This waned concentration can lead to many dangerous situations. And while most of us have made it this far without the need of protective shoulder pads or helmets, the risk of cell phone injury still exists. The following is a list of cell phone injuries, ordered in their likeliness to occur, from most to least.

Feb 10 21:47

Is Stupidity Killing America’s Productivity?

When a society makes it a huge priority to protect people from their own stupidity, it will eventually grind to a slow, bureaucratic halt. I have to show my ID to buy Sudafed, spray paint or glue because someone has decided I might use these items to do something stupid. However, I can buy bullets without an ID. I was talking to a policeman the other day and discovered I could be thrown in jail for the amount of decongestant I had in my house. Seriously!

Feb 10 07:52

Desperately seeking $4 gasoline

The New York Times | Tue- Feb 10, 2009 | Stephen Labaton and Edmund Andrews

Geithner Set to Make Public Case for Bank Bailout Plan Google article title Citing ‘Lost Faith’ in Banks, Geithner to Push Bailout NY Times article title

Feb 09 10:57

VIDEO: Merck’s HPV Vaccine Ruins Girls Life

There have been numerous accounts of young girls becoming very ill and even a few who've died after receiving the HPV vaccine from Merck. This is one girls story.

Feb 09 10:45

Illinois River Closed Due to Caterpillar "Oil Sludge" Spill

The US Coast Guard is reporting that 6,000 gallons of “Oil Sludge” spilled into the Des Plaines River from a container at Caterpiller’s hydraulics plant in Illinois. It is estimated that the Caterpillar container spilled 65,000 gallons of the sludge while 6,000 made its way into the river.

Feb 06 13:58

Toys With Banned Toxin Must Go, Judge Decides

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on The New York Times | Thur- Feb 5, 2009

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission may not let toys containing toxic manufacturing chemicals remain on store shelves after a ban takes effect next week, a judge ruled Thursday.

Manufacturers have said they would have to take products worth hundreds of millions of dollars off store shelves to comply, but consumer advocates called the ruling a victory for children’s health.

[...] phthalates, chemicals used to soften plastics. They are commonly found in bath toys, books, teethers, bibs, dolls and plastic figures.

Phthalates can be absorbed through the mouth or skin, interfering with reproductive hormones.

Feb 05 19:47

Privacy international identifies major security flaw in Google’s global phone tracking system

One day after the global launch of Google’s “Latitude” phone tracking system, Privacy International has identified what appears to be a fundamental design problem that could substantially endanger user privacy.

After studying the system documentation, PI has determined that the Google system lacks adequate safeguards to protect users from covert opt-in to Latitude’s tracking technology. While it is clear that Google has made at least some effort to embed privacy protections, Latitude appears to present an immediate privacy threat.

Feb 03 17:31

Exploding cellphone kills Chinese man

Here's the thing about batteries: they store energy. Lots of it. Channeled correctly, that energy does really awesome things for us -- but channeled chaotically, and... well, you know where this is going, don't you? A man shopping in a Lenovo store in mainland China has been killed after the phone in his chest pocket exploded, severing arteries and leading to massive blood loss. The make and model of the phone and battery have yet to be identified, but seeing how this is the seventh high-profile case of an exploding phone in China in the last six years, it really gives you pause before installing that shady off-brand juice, doesn't it?

Jan 29 00:17

Anti-Terrorism Law used for Peanut salmonella records

Anti-Terrorism Law Used to Open Peanut Company's Records
Posted By: Cal Callaway
Posted By: Paul Crawley
Updated 1/28/2009 5:59:54 PM

ATLANTA --- Another bombshell was revealed Wednesday morning as Georgia lawmakers heard testimony regarding the ongoing peanut salmonella crisis.

State Agriculture Deputy Commissioner Oscar Garrison told members of the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee that the Food and Drug Administration had to force a South Georgia company to turn over its own inspection records using the Federal Anti-Terrorism law.

The F.D.A. announced Tuesday that the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Blakely, Georgia, had a history of problems it failed to correct.

Jan 26 09:13

Microsoft misses memo, launches DRM-laden mobile music store

Retailers from Amazon to Real have launched their own DRM-free MP3 music stores in recent years. Faced with the competition, Apple finally put the last nail in the coffin of á la carte music DRM earlier this month with the iTunes Store, but don't tell Microsoft. The world's largest software maker just launched a mobile phone-based music store in the UK that charges nearly twice the price for media while offering even fewer rights.

Jan 25 15:53

Zsa Zsa Gabor Victim of Bernard Madoff Scheme “Facing Financial Ruin”

Wed- Jan 21, 2009 | PopCrunch | Castina

“We’re mad as hell. We want our money back. We might be forced to sell our Bel Air home, cars, artwork and even our jewellery because of this sick man,” Zsa Zsa’s ninth husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, laments in Thursday’s edition of The National Enquirer.

“This scam artist should be dragged through the streets and flogged,” he adds.

Jan 18 17:18

As Salmonella Recall Expands, FDA Warns Consumers To "Postpone Eating" Many Peanut Butter Products

No, this doesn't mean the jar of Skippy on your shelf, but it does seem to cover cookies, cakes, and ice cream; pretty much any shrink-wrapped peanut butter snack.

Jan 17 18:24

Device helped ensure US Airways plane would float

Planes can float, but the US Airways Airbus A-320 that crashed into the Hudson River Thursday had a better chance than most.

Jan 13 11:06

No need for condoms – GE corn can do the job

India — New research from Austria shows that a commercial strain of Monsanto-made GE corn causes mice to have fewer and weaker babies. What is this doing to human fertility?

Regulators around the world said Monsanto’s GE corn was as safe as non-GE strains.

It has been approved in many countries and regions including the US, the EU, Argentina, Japan, Philippines and South Africa.

China approved the GE corn for animal feed back in 2005.

Until this research, under the Austrian Ministries for Agriculture and Health, none of the regulators had seriously questioned the safety of Monsanto's GE corn.

The biotech industry is playing a game of genetic roulette with our food and with our health.

Jan 13 10:37

Using mouthwash could increase risk of cancer by nine times, claim scientists

MOUTHWASHES containing alcohol can cause oral cancer and should be removed from supermarket shelves, a dental health study claims.

Scientists say there is now "sufficient evidence" that such mouthwashes contribute to an increased risk of the disease.

The ethanol in mouthwash is thought to allow cancer-causing substances to permeate the lining of the mouth.

Jan 11 11:41

Toyota announces expanded hybrid offerings

Toyota plans to launch as many as 10 new hybrid petrol-electric models within the next four years as it seeks to build on the popularity of its Prius hatchback.

Jan 05 09:40

Orange drinks with 300 times more pesticide than tap water

Fizzy drinks sold by Coca-Cola in Britain have been found to contain pesticides at up to 300 times the level allowed in tap or bottled water.

A worldwide study found pesticide levels in orange and lemon drinks sold under the Fanta brand, which is popular with children, were at their highest in the UK.

Dec 27 20:12

Holiday season reminder: Buy cheap HDMI cables

In the bustle of holiday shopping, it's easy to be persuaded by the salesperson at your local retailer that you need to buy a $50 HDMI cable to make your new gear work. They might say the expensive cable "supports faster speeds," "has better video quality," or that "cheap cables don't support 1080p"--pretty much anything to get you to throw that high-margin HDMI cable in your shopping cart. But the truth is that expensive HDMI cables aren't worth it and the cheap cables available online are just as good.

Dec 25 04:18

Paypal Ruins Christmas for eBay Customers

This could happen to you. I recently read a very sad story posted on eBay's (EBAY) Paypal discussion board. It's about a fantastic mom (eBay id: seasonalstuff) who sold holiday decorations to earn Xmas money for her family. Unfortunately all her hard work was for nothing because the Paypal Grinch froze her account two weeks before Santa's arrival.

Dec 21 01:11

EPA veils hazardous substances

Chemical Fallout | Watchdog Report
EPA veils hazardous substances
By Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Dec. 20, 2008 10:53 p.m.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency routinely allows companies to keep new information about their chemicals secret, including compounds that have been shown to cause cancer and respiratory problems, the Journal Sentinel has found.

Dec 07 01:00

Sorry, Foundmoney is for-profit search results

My apology for not checking out this business website well enough.

Founder of Found Money, Edward Palonek and Santa Claus Find People that Have Unclaimed Money Belonging to Them Before Christmas
Fri Dec 5, 2:21 pm ET

I used another search website a few years ago, not this one, and it was not a pay-to-get info one. The best route to go is by the specific
State Controller's UNCLAIMED PROPERTY SEARCH such as this:

California State Controller's Office
UNCLAIMED PROPERTY SEARCH
http://scoweb.sco.ca.gov/UCP/

Dec 01 12:19

You are what you eat

Alzheimers nation...no wonder we have such a short term memory and keep falling for political scams..

LONDON: Mice fed junk food for nine months showed signs of developing the abnormal brain tangles strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease Swedish researcher said on Friday.

Nov 30 18:24

PepsiCo Pursues Ancient Leaf - Artificial sweetener - Stevia

Matthew Craze and Duane D. Stanford - Bloomberg
The agency [FDA] now allows less-refined stevia sweeteners only as dietary supplements in the U.S. because it lacks evidence to declare it would be safe as a food ingredient.
-------
WIKIPEDIA on Stevia, politics and the FDA.

Nov 26 06:12

FDA Finds Traces Of Melamine In US Infant Formula

Traces of the industrial chemical melamine have been detected in samples of top-selling U.S. infant formula, but federal regulators insist the products are safe. The Food and Drug Administration said last month it was unable to identify any melamine exposure level as safe for infants, but a top official said it would be a "dangerous overreaction" for parents to stop feeding infant formula to babies who depend on it.

Nov 24 11:45

GM crops 'to be grown in secret'

Trials could also be conducted away from the public in the Government's Porton Down military research site in Salisbury, Wiltshire, it is claimed.

There are currently no GM food trials underway in the country and the more than 50 that have been conducted since 2000 have been affected by vandalism.

Nov 18 01:23

The flying car

To Timbuktu by flying car: it sounds the most unlikely journey on earth; a sci-fi voyage from the pages of Jules Verne. But this is no fantasy. The car really flies. And the journey will become reality early in the new year when two explorers set off from London in a propeller-powered dune buggy heading for the Sahara.

Nov 15 21:40

HDMI Cable Con

In the past when interconnects for audio and visual equipment were analogue the quality of the cable would make a real difference to image and sound quality. However, the same cannot be said of digital interconnects such as HDMI cables. These either work or they don’t work; and there is no difference between a cheap £10 and a £40 cable. The retailers make a small fortune out of these expensive cables as the mark-up can be as high as 80%. In fact, many retailers rely heavily on this as a major source of income due to the high margins and the fact the margins are low on the main products.

Nov 15 21:40

HDMI Cable Con

In the past when interconnects for audio and visual equipment were analogue the quality of the cable would make a real difference to image and sound quality. However, the same cannot be said of digital interconnects such as HDMI cables. These either work or they don’t work; and there is no difference between a cheap £10 and a £40 cable. The retailers make a small fortune out of these expensive cables as the mark-up can be as high as 80%. In fact, many retailers rely heavily on this as a major source of income due to the high margins and the fact the margins are low on the main products.

Nov 13 09:41

LG, Sharp plead guilty to LCD price-fixing, take $585m fine

Allegations of LCD price-fixing have been swirling around for years now, and it looks like at least some of the companies involved have dirt on their hands -- LG, Sharp and Chunghwa Picture Tubes have all just pled guilty to price-fixing in a case filed by the US Department of Justice and will pay a combined $585m fine. LG's taking the biggest hit at $400m for conspiring to fix prices from September 2001 to June 2006, while Sharp's on the hook for $120m for jacking prices on panels sold to Dell, Motorola and Apple during the same time frame. Naughty, naughty.

Nov 12 07:49

Senate Finance Chief Calls for Making Health Coverage Mandatory

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Senator Max Baucus, presenting the first Democratic health plan since President-elect Barack Obama's victory, said all Americans should be required to have insurance once coverage is made affordable.

Required? Required to have health insurance? This is what the Obamians voted for?

Nov 10 20:48

Statin Drugs Don’t Save Lives and May Increase Your Risk for Diabetes

Americans are being bombarded today by news reports of a breakthrough in the prevention of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure). The hype is undeserved, the data less than compelling, and when it came to whether the statin drug used in the study (Crestor) actually saved lives, the headlines should have said the drug trial failed and that it raised the risk for diabetes.

Here is how the news media and health authorities portrayed the study (New England Journal of Medicine, Nov. 9, 2008):

Nov 01 22:32

100,000 Sony batteries recalled

About 100,000 Sony Lithium-Ion batteries used in Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and Dell notebooks have been recalled. 35,000 batteries of these batteries were sold in the US.

Some details about these batteries:

They were sold at the same time as the batteries involved in the widescale 2006 Sony battery recall.

These batteries can “overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers.”

The damage so far: “There have been 19 reports of the batteries overheating, including 17 reports of flames/fire (10 resulting in minor property damage). Two consumers experienced minor burns.”

Oct 30 20:03

Mobile phone use 'raises children's risk of brain cancer fivefold'

Alarming new research from Sweden on the effects of radiation raises fears that today's youngsters face an epidemic of the disease in later life.

Children and teenagers are five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use mobile phones, startling new research indicates.

The study, experts say, raises fears that today's young people may suffer an "epidemic" of the disease in later life. At least nine out of 10 British 16-year-olds have their own handset, as do more than 40 per cent of primary schoolchildren.

Oct 30 18:25

Another Blu-Ray Strike

So let's fast forward to Blu-Ray, the rat that won the rat fight. Companies that give you lots of information on the website are fun, so here's a good page from PacificDisc.

Now, I don't expect you to browse this thing closely, so let's go right to the boner:

Oct 21 11:13

Mutant Seeds for Mesopotamia

Programmed famine anyone?

Oct 11 22:19

RIAA v. The People: Five Years Later

On September 8, 2003, the recording industry sued 261 American music fans for sharing songs on peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks, kicking off an unprecedented legal campaign against the people that should be the recording industry’s best customers: music fans.1 Five years later, the recording industry has filed, settled, or threatened legal actions against at least 30,000 individuals.2 These individuals have included children, grandparents, unemployed single mothers, college professors—a random selection from the millions of Americans who have used P2P networks.

Oct 10 21:37

Wal-Mart changes its mind, leaves existing DRM servers up

In what can only be described as another "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario, faced with the option of thousands of disgruntled customers, Wal-Mart is informing them it's decided to leave its online DRM servers running.

Oct 10 06:34

Ultraviolet radiation warning on unshaded eco lightbulbs

Health officials issued a warning over energy-saving lightbulbs yesterday after research showed that some types could potentially harm the skin and even raise the risk of cancer.

A study by the Health Protection Agency found that some unencapsulated fluorescent lightbulbs, which have a coil that is visible, emitted ultraviolet (UV) radiation above the recognised safety limits.

Oct 09 18:42

Kids need to agree to 120+ pages of EULAs in order to watch BluRay Sleeping Beauty

Over on Boing Boing Gadgets, our John notes that watching Sleeping Beauty on Blu-Ray requires that you accede to over 120 pages of legal garbage in various EULAs before you can start the movie.

Oct 08 06:02

EU battery rule may zap iPhone, blow away MacBook Air

The EU is readying a new set of directives that could spell trouble for Apple's iPhone and any other gadget that lacks an easily removable power pack.

A new, draft batteries directive mandates that power cells inside electronic devices must be "readily removable" for replacement and safe disposal. This isn't the case with the iPhone, which does not have a user-replaceable battery.

Neither do Apple's numerous iPods, or a growing number of handheld devices from other manufacturers.

Oct 05 07:25

Hollywood Illegally Demands Money From Kindergartens

A company collecting royalties on behalf of Hollywood studios has illegally demanded payments from kindergartens in Ireland. The MPLC requested 10 Euros ($14.00) per child per annum, so that they can watch DVDs legally. However, by doing so they breached the 2000 Copyright Act since MPLC failed to register with the Patent Office.

Oct 02 15:26

What Coca-Cola Does to Your Stomach

There has been a lot of speculation about the effect of Coca Cola on the human stomach. There were those that said that the popular beverage could literally cause our intestines to melt if we drink to much of the stuff. Coca Cola always denied the rumors and said that their product is no worse than other soft drinks on the market and there was no official proof of the “dissolving effect“.

Sep 18 09:37

Motorists fume at 'profiteers' as price of petrol goes UP despite huge falls in oil price

Petrol prices are increasing despite huge falls in the cost of oil in recent months.

In the past few days prices at some petrol stations have increased by 2p a litre - or nearly 10p a gallon - adding £1 to the average fill-up.

It comes at a time when wholesale oil prices have dropped by nearly 40 per cent since July and the wholesale cost of the petrol and diesel is down 30 per cent.

Motoring groups accused the oil giants of profiteering at drivers' expense.

The AA called the price rises 'unbelievable, unjustifiable and totally outrageous'.

Sep 16 09:08

Study: Some Water Bottles Linked to Diabetes

An ubiquitous ingredient in plastics has been linked to diabetes and heart disease in adults, according to a study being released today, heightening concerns about the widespread use of the chemical BPA.

Otherwise known as Bisphenol-A, BPA is the chemical once studied as a synthetic form of estrogen, but more recently known to leach out of some plastic water bottles and baby bottles, and that is found in all kinds of plastic products.

Sep 15 15:57

AT & T buries customer rights in 2,500-page 'guidebook'

AT&T has sent customers an 8,000-word service agreement that, among other things, says people will be given 30-day notice of price increases only when "commercially reasonable" and that you can't sue the company.

Oh, and if you don't like AT&T's terms -- providing you can make your way through the company's 2,500-page "guidebook" -- your only recourse is to cancel service.

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