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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced a settlement agreement with Mercedes Benz USA worth $20 million over how the company has handled vehicle recalls.

Regulators charge the company of not complying with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act by not notifying consumers or reporting vehicle safety defects in a timely fashion. The company is also accused of not maintaining a functioning vehicle information number (VIN) recall lookup system, which consumers often use to see if there are any recalls associated with their vehicle.

“Safety is NHTSA’s top priority, and the agency’s reporting requirements help ensure that consumers are protected and given important information about how to get recalls repaired,” said James Owens, NHTSA’s acting administrator. “These laws are critical to ensure NHTSA’s ability to provide oversight, and we expect manufacturers to follow their legal obligations to the agency and to consumers in carrying out safety recalls.

General Motors Co said on Thursday it is issuing recalls for more than 900,000 vehicles worldwide in two separate campaigns to address brake software issues and fire risks.

The largest U.S. automaker is recalling more than 550,000 2019 light-duty Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Cadillac CT6 and GMC Sierra 1500 vehicles due to a potential software glitch that could disable vehicle brake systems and notifications.

The error, which GM said was rare, may result in the vehicle’s electronic stability control or anti-lock brake system becoming disabled. GM said the vehicle’s diagnostic system will not illuminate the instrument cluster alert. Dealers will reflash the software to address the issue.

The proposed global legal settlement has gotten preliminary approval from all the major parties involved, according to several of the lawyers. More than 30 actresses and former Weinstein employees, who in lawsuits have accused Weinstein of offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape, would share in the payout — along with potential claimants who could join in coming months. The deal would bring to an end nearly every such lawsuit against him and his former company.

The deal would end a two year old case and would probably require permission from the court to settle the claims on behalf of all defendants.

Weinstein would still have to go to court for the criminal allegations against him in the State of New York. There are also other individual women not part of this group who have not agreed to this global settlement agreement.

Former Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant did not have to testify live at the three Roundup cancer trials that have taken place so far because they were all held in California. But because CEO Grant resides in St. Louis County, plaintiffs’ attorneys saw an opportunity to get him on the stand in person.

Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company’s Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.

Bayer, most known for it’s aspirin product, bought Monsanto in 2018, and is currently facing tens of thousands of Roundup lawsuits nationwide all involving the herbicides cancer-causing risks.

U of Phoenix agrees to cancel $141 million in student loan debt

The deal, announced Tuesday, settles a dispute over an ad campaign the for-profit college unrolled in 2012.The University of Phoenix and its parent company have agreed to pay $50 million in cash and cancel $141 million in student debt to settle allegations of deceptive advertisement brought by the Federal Trade Commission.

The deal, announced Tuesday, settles a dispute over an ad campaign the for-profit college unrolled in 2012 touting partnerships with companies including Microsoft, Twitter and Adobe. It suggested the school worked with those companies to create job opportunities for students, even though there was no such agreement, investigators found.

In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.  Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.

A lawsuit was filed by the State of Oklahoma for what became “the opioid crisis” plaguing the nation. Several other states and municipalities have followed suit.

Following a seven-week trial this summer, Judge Thad Balkman ruled Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the opioid crisis with an aggressive and misleading marketing campaign that overstated how effective the drugs were for treating chronic pain and understated the risk of addiction. Oklahoma Attorney General prosecuted the lawsuit arguing that opioid overdoses killed 4,653 people in Oklahoma from 2007 to 2017.  The trial led to the judge ordering consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million to help address the state’s opioid crisis. The judge then reduced the amount to $465 million.

Reuters  reports that Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky “declined to appear at a U.S. congressional hearing set for Tuesday on the safety of the company’s Baby Powder and other talc-based cosmetics.” However, J&J spokesman Ernie Knewitz said that the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy rejected J&J’s offers to send a talc testing expert or a consumer products executive. Members of the House are disappointed in Gorsky’s lack of cooperation with regards to the products believed to contain asbestos.

“Gorsky has played a lead role in J&J’s efforts to reassure consumers and investors that its talc powders are safe and asbestos free. Last year, he issued a statement vouching for the safety of the products after a jury issued a $4.69 billion verdict in favor of 22 women who sued over allegations their ovarian cancers were caused by J&J powders.”

CNN  reported in continuing coverage that new research from NIH indicates that “permanent hair dye and chemical hair straightener use was linked to a higher risk of breast cancer” and that “the risk is more than six times higher for black women.” The study “followed 46,709 women, all part of the Sister Study, a National Institute of Environmental Health cohort of women whose sisters had been diagnosed with breast cancer.” and “found that, overall, women who said they used permanent hair dye in the year before enrolling in the study were 9% more likely to develop breast cancer when compared with women who did not.” The findings were published last Wednesday in the International Journal of Cancer.

“The study doesn’t pinpoint which of the chemicals caused the damage, but makes some suggestions: Some aromatic amines, chemicals also found in tobacco smoke and industrial byproducts, disrupt the endocrine system, and some dyes have been found to induce tumors in rats’ mammary glands.” The results were higher in Black Women percentage wise than White Women.

Ford “is recalling nearly 262,000 heavy-duty pickup trucks in the U.S. and Canada because the tailgates can open unexpectedly.” The recall affects certain F-250, F-350, and F-450 pickups from the 2017-2019 model years, all of which “have electric tailgate latch release switches in the tailgate handle” that Ford says can let in water, which can then short the electrical wiring, releasing the latch. These are trucks with manual latches not mechanical latches.

Dealers will fix the tailgate frame wiring harnesses for consumers and install a new tailgate handle release switch. Owners will be notified by mail during the middle of January to take their vehicles in.

The company says it has no reports of truck crashes or injuries… yet.

Last week, the FDA finally released updated guidelines for consumer CBD use after months of deliberation, in which it warned against products with hemp-derived cannabidiol.

The FDA’s release singled out 15 companies for illegally selling CBD items, further contributing to fear of an eventual all-out ban. Still, the decision is diluted given that both the World Health Organization and the National Institute on Drug Abuse don’t appear to be worried about any health risks of CBD use among consumers.

Almost three quarters of American consumers presume CBD sales are being moderated by the government according to Forbes. As Forbes first reported, a new survey conducted in October by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) found that 76% of adults assume cannabidiol (CBD) has the government’s stamp of approval. Furthermore, of the 2,056 subjects surveyed, 53% believed that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates CBD.

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