Writer: Christine Young

Consumer Protection

As Kids Keep Dying in Car Trunks, GM Fix is Elusive

Nearly 10 years after the federal government mandated interior trunk releases in new autos, older cars never equipped with the safety devices continue to kill children drawn by curiosity into a little-known hazard. This danger has called attention to the track record of GM, which has long boasted of its commitment to prevent trunk entrapment deaths, and won an award for developing an escape device to install in older cars. But FairWarning found that a gap has persisted for years between what GM says it is doing about the hazard, and what it actually does.

Warning Wire

Pediatricians Urge Limits to Junk Food Ads on TV

Commercials for fast food and junk food should be banned during children's TV programming because they are helping to make kids fat, says the leading pediatricians group. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement saying TV, cell phones and other media are partly to blame for [...]

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Study Finds Alarming Global Increase in Diabetes

Diabetes has become a worldwide epidemic over the last three decades, with the number of diabetics more than doubling to 347 million and threatening to inflate the costs of treatment in coming years. An international team of researchers working with the World Health Organization found that diabetes rates have either climbed or stayed the same [...]

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Researchers Decry ‘Predatory Marketing’ of Menthol Cigarettes

Critics of the tobacco industry long have accused cigarette makers of trying to hook black youths on smoking by marketing menthol brands intensively in African-American neighborhoods. And now a study led by Stanford University medical researchers backs up that contention. The researchers focused on how Newport cigarettes, the leading menthol [...]

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Supreme Court Provides Immediate Relief for Drug Firms

Pharmaceutical companies have been handed a double victory by the U.S. Supreme Court. In separate decisions, the high court shielded generic drug makers from most patient-injury lawsuits and also ruled that drug companies have a free speech right to buy private prescription records to help promote their products to doctors. As the Los Angeles Times reports, both [...]

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General Motors to Pay $2.8 Million for Mercury Cleanup

General Motors will pay a dozen states more than $2.8 million as part of a legal settlement intended to help keep mercury out of the nation's air and water. As the Chicago Tribune reports, the money will help pay for the removal of mercury-containing switches from older vehicles before they are scrapped. The toxic [...]

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25% of Drivers Killed in Crashes Test Positive for Drugs, Study Finds

It long has been known that drinking and driving don't mix. But new research shows that taking drugs before taking the wheel also often is deadly. As USA Today reports, researchers who analyzed government data on more than 44,000 drivers who died in single-vehicle crashes between 1999 and 2009 found that 24.9 [...]

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FDA Clears Continued Use of Breast Implants, Despite Complications

Silicone gel breast implants will remain on the market even though at least one in five patients require removal of the devices within 10 years and many develop complications, such as scarring or hardening of the breasts. As The Wall Street Journal reports, a new analysis by the Food and Drug Administration didn't reveal any unexpected [...]

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Cellphone, Laptop Distractions Blamed in Deadly Boat Crash

The boating crash near Philadelphia last year that killed two Hungarian tourists has been blamed mainly on a tugboat officer who wasn't paying attention to safety because he was distracted by his cellphone and laptop computer. The chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman, called the July, 2010, [...]

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Senators Probe Whether Medtronic Consultants Ignored Harmful Side Effects

The Senate Finance Committee is investigating whether spinal surgeons with financial ties to medical device maker Medtronic Inc. failed to disclose complications linked to one of the company's products even though they were aware of the problems. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the Senate probe apparently was triggered partly by an [...]

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Deaths of Two Boys Spark Renewed Call for GM Trunk Releases

Prompted by the deaths of two Indiana boys who were trapped in the hot trunk of a 2000 Chevy Malibu, an activist group is renewing its demand that General Motors recall its 2000 and 2001 models to install internal trunk releases. KidsAndCars.org says the June 17 deaths of Isaac Dunner, 2, and Dominick Wilk, 4, in New Carlisle, [...]

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Regulators Fail to Keep Tabs on Recalls of Imported Foods, Audit Finds

The people responsible for making sure that our food is safe have been sloppy about getting tainted imports out of supermarkets and restaurants, a government investigation has found. As The New York Times reports, a federal inspector general's audit of 17 recalls of imported foods revealed that the Food and Drug Administration often has [...]

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Review Finds Radioactive Leaks at Most U.S. Nuclear Power Plants

Radioactive tritium has leaked from 48 commercial nuclear power sites around the country, often seeping into groundwater from corroded pipes, and the problem is escalating, the Associated Press reports. The AP's finding -- based on Nuclear Regulatory Commission records and part of an investigation by the news agency into problems [...]