Watch Out for Holiday Scams

November 26, 2013

Picture courtesy itbusinessedge.com

The holidays are here and that means lots of food, fun, good cheer and— SCAMS! Consumer groups are warning you to be on the look-out for some popular new ways crooks are ripping people off.  NBC News Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen talks about three new scams being  ramped up for the holiday shopping season.  Click here to watch.

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Longer Lives Come with a Price – Often Poor Health

November 20, 2013

We are living longer, but spending more of those extra years with chronic disease and disabilities.  Is the trade off worth it?  It’s an interesting question as CNN’S Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports in the story above.

For most of human history, old people were rare.  A lucky few might make it to 60 or 70, but most people died before their hair turned white and their faces sagged. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the average lifespan reached 50.  A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examines the cost of living longer.

The JAMA study found life expectancy in the United States for both sexes combined increased from 75.2 years in 1990 to 78.2 years in 2010.  It also found improvements in population health in the U.S. have not kept pace with advances in population health in other wealthy nations.  Click here to read more.

Suggestive ‘Selfies’ Nabbed & Posted on Porn Sites

November 20, 2013

Teens who’ve taken nude or semi-nude “selfies” and posted them or sent them to a friend are finding those pictures can come back to haunt them.  An investigation by the CBS station in Orlando has learned teenage girls are discovering long-forgotten, revealing pictures of themselves on porn sites.

WKMG Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld tells this tale of caution for all parents and teens. Click here to watch the report.

 

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New Study Shows Many Herbal Supplements Fake

November 6, 2013

Popular herbal supplements like echinacea, Ginko biloba, St. John’s Wart, and black cohosh are among dozens being called into question, in a new study that used DNA testing.  The study found many of these supplements don’t actually contain the herbs, at all.  Instead, they are little more than powdered rice and weeds.

Canadian researchers tested 44 bottles of popular herbal supplements sold by 12 companies.  A third of the pills actually contained none of the purported herb and 60-percent were diluted.

The New York Times reports on the controversy:

 Americans spend an estimated $5 billion a year on unproven herbal supplements that promise everything from fighting off colds to curbing hot flashes and boosting memory. But now there is a new reason for supplement buyers to beware: DNA tests show that many pills labeled as healing herbs are little more than powdered rice and weeds.

 

Using a test called DNA barcoding, a kind of genetic fingerprinting that has also been used to help uncover labeling fraud in the commercial seafood industry, Canadian researchers tested 44 bottles of popular supplements sold by 12 companies. They found that many were not what they claimed to be, and that pills labeled as popular herbs were often diluted — or replaced entirely — by cheap fillers like soybean, wheat and rice.

Click here to read more from the New York Times.

 

Drug Company Whistleblower Exposes Serious Problems at Plant that Makes Generics

November 6, 2013

A drug company whistleblower who exposed serious problems at the company that makes popular drugs used in the United States is telling his story to CBS News.  Kinesh Thakur worked for major, drug manufacturer Ranbaxy which made generic versions of drugs like Lipitor and antibiotics at plants in India.  He revealed disturbing problems with data the company was required to provide to the FDA to show the effectiveness of the drugs it produced.  It’s a cautionary tale for all Americans, particularly when you consider that 80-percent of all drugs prescribed in the U.S. are generics.  Click here to watch this report by CBS News Correspondent John Miller.

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Taxpayers are Paying for For-Profit Colleges

September 20, 2013

If there’s one thing all taxpayers want it’s value for their money, but there’s a big question about whether we’re actually getting it with for-profit colleges.

Many have been accused of predatory recruiting practices, providing substandard education and even falsifying job placement data.

But still, the U.S. government provides a whopping $30 billion a year in federal financial aid dollars to these schools.  It makes up nearly 90-percent of their total revenue. So why are we paying for it?

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Ways to be More Productive

September 20, 2013

Eating more super foods and looking at pictures of kittens top the list of ways to become more productive, according to a British study.  No seriously, I have to admit I felt more alert after looking at this cute little fur ball!  Research has shown looking at cute images does indeed stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain.

Okay, so after you look at cute baby animals, here are a few more ways to make your day more productive.  Health Care Communications reports:

1. Eat more super foods:  Ditch the left-over lasagna and eat more like a bird!  Fish, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, avocados, raw carrots and blueberries all make the list of super foods.

2. Look at pictures of kittens:  Okay, we already established this.

3.  Take a break:  Regulars breaks dramatically improve productivity, especially if you work at a computer.

4. Focus on one activity:  Is it really a surprise that multi-tasking cuts DOWN on productivity? Oh, excuse me. I just got a text.

5.  Don’t force yourself to be a morning person:  Coffee can help, of course, but your “peak time” might just be late afternoon or even late at night.

Click here to read more in depth information about these tips on Ragan’s Health Care Communications News.

 

 

Why Can’t Small Businesses Get Loans?

September 18, 2013

Why is it that Sears, the once iconic retailer now on life-support, can get a $1 billion loan, but small businesses trying to get started or expand can’t get bupkis?  Al Lewis, one of our favorite business writers, took a crack at that question examining that dichotomy in his MarketWatch column.  Al writes:

I got a tweet this week from a guy who sells “Made In the U.S.A.” neckties in Belleville, N.J. “What financial institution would lend Sears $1B?” he asked. “They are a dying whale. But still small biz can’t borrow a dime!”

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the Federal Reserve’s accommodative policies have led to one big corporate refinancing after the next. Companies borrow billions for stock repurchases, dividend increases, refinancings and buyouts.

Al goes on to explain that Sears just wants to borrow more money to roll over debt it already has on the books. That’s a sure way to create more jobs, now isn’t it.  Click here to read more of Al’s column, “How come Sears can get a loan but you can’t?

Who Buys Generic and Why

June 25, 2013

When you look at a generic product on the shelf, is there a little voice in the back of your head that says, ‘It must be a little bit inferior to the name brand‘?  That’s certainly what the name brands would like you to think, since they spend tons of money to get you to pick their product, but generally research shows most generics are almost identical to many name brands. And, of course, they cost a lot less.

So, who among us is smart enough to realize that and resist the urge to go for the well-advertised product, instead reaching for that blandly packaged generic?  According to a new study of shopping data by Nielson Co. people who work as nurses and chefs are among those who most often save the bucks and chose the generic.

Education appears to be a factor in choosing generics.  People who’ve gone to college are more likely to pick generic headache remedies than those who don’t.  The Wall Street Journal took an intriguing look at the new research.  You can read more here.

 

 

Career Colleges Under Investigation

June 11, 2013

For-profit colleges say they offer working adults and other non-traditional students access to a college degree and career, but the promise doesn’t always work out so great for students or taxpayers.  Schools like ITT Tech, University of Phoenix, The Art Institutes and Kaplan are among those  that advertise they give you the skills to get a job.  Click here to watch this report on “For-Profit Colleges” by Dan Rather Reports.

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