Monday, July 27, 2015

        Fiat Chrysler to pay record $105 million fine. In a brief story on the CBS Evening News (7/26, story 9, 0:20, Axelrod, 5.08M), David Axelrod reported that CBS News “confirmed a record fine against Fiat Chrysler,” under which the company “will pay $105 million for poor recall practices including misleading regulators.” David Kerley reported on ABC World News (7/26, story 5, 1:40, Llamas, 5.84M) that in “an exclusive interview,” Secretary Foxx said “he is slapping the biggest civil fine ever on a car maker: $70 million in cash. Twenty million dollars to fix the problems. And if Fiat Chrysler doesn’t perform, it could face another $15 million. Potentially, a $105 million fine.” Foxx: “Well, this is a good example of how not to do a recall.” 

Fiat Chrysler recalls 1.4 million vehicles due to cybersecurity risks.

On Friday, Fiat Chrysler announced the recall of over one million vehicles due to cybersecurity concerns, as certain Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler models with touch screens were discovered this week to be vulnerable to hackers, who can reportedly shut off the cars’ engines or disable other essential functions like the brakes.
        ABC World News (7/24, 6:46 p.m. EDT, 5.84M) broadcast that Fiat Chrysler is “recalling 1.4 million vehicles” and “offering a software security update.” Investigators are also “looking into whether other vehicles may be vulnerable, too.”
        NBC Nightly News (7/24, 6:46 p.m. EDT, 7.86M) broadcast that “hackers were able to take control of a Jeep over the Internet,” as seen in “that stunning video we showed you earlier this week.” NBC News (7/24, Eisenstein, 3.73M) also reported online.
        In continuing coverage of a story from earlier this week, the New York Times (7/25, Kessler, Subscription Publication, 12.12M) reports that NHTSA realized “they had a problem they had never faced but had long feared” when the car company first phoned them over a week ago “with news that two technology researchers had hacked wirelessly into a Jeep Cherokee, through its dashboard connectivity system.” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind praised the recall action as “the right step to protect Fiat Chrysler’s customers.”
        “The Switch” blog of the Washington Post (7/24, Peterson, 6.76M) reported that the researchers were able to connect to “a Jeep Cherokee’s brakes and steering — while the car was on the highway,” accessing “the car through Uconnect, the car’s information and entertainment dashboard.”

        The Wall Street Journal (7/25, Spector, Yadron, Subscription Publication, 6.06M) reports that Fiat Chrysler was aware of the potential for cars to be hacked through the onboard touchscreen system as early as January 2014. NHTSA will monitor the car company’s proposed solution to the problem, which does not require any action from the consumer, as it involves system-wide upgrades. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hackers could access brakes, critical vehicle components wirelessly.

The New York Times (7/24, Kessler, Subscription Publication, 12.12M) reports on the risk of hacking that comes with the use of connectivity from vehicles, such as a Jeep Cherokee which was hacked by two researchers who had access to “critical components like the engine, brakes and even steering under certain conditions.” The findings has automakers scrambling to reassure customers about safety, with Fiat Chrysler rushing to release a software patch that would allegedly prevent hackers from accessing their vehicles. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sanofi medical device.

The Wall Street Journal (7/10, Silverman, 5.68M) reports in “Pharmalot” that consumer advocacy group Public Citizen has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to revoke the approval of Sanofi’s Seprafilm and issue a recall. The group alleges that the device, used in pelvic and stomach surgeries, is unsafe and is connected to 21 deaths. 

Honda recalls more Takata air bags outside the US.

USA Today (7/9, 5.01M) reports that Honda is recalling an additional 4.5 million Takata air bags outside the US, including in Japan. The article notes that Honda is among 11 automakers that had to recall vehicles in the US after they used Takata air bags. Takata is recalling more than 33 million defective air inflators in the US after it reached a deal with the NHTSA.

        The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (7/9, Krisher, Kageyama, 985K) also covers the additional recall, adding that Takata, the auto industry and NHTSA “are all investigating to find out exactly what causes the problem.” 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

GM issues recalls for Hummers, Chevrolets.

The New York Times (7/9, Jensen, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) reports that General Motors issued a recall covering “about 196,000 Hummer sport utility vehicles” which can have “an electrical problem that resulted in at least two vehicles being destroyed in fires.” The problem is that “part of the heating and cooling system could overheat and cause a fire inside the dashboard.” There were 20 complaints filed with the NHTSA “about fires inside the dashboard.” GM says 42 fires were reported. The recall covers the Hummer H3 2006-10, and the H3T 2009-10.
        The Detroit News (7/8, Shepardson, 523K) reports that in addition to the Hummer recalls of the H3 and H3T, GM also announced a recall for “50,731 2014-15 Chevrolet Sparks and 2015 Chevrolet Sonics because of a radio glitch.” Software for the radio “may cause the radio to lock up in the OnStar turn-by-turn directions mode.” The result is that “all audio functions will cease, including vehicle chimes related to warnings for a key left in ignition and driver safety belt not in use” a violation of US safety standards.

        Reuters (7/8) also covers the announced recalls for the Hummer and Chevrolet vehicles. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Joy of Running and Racing

Jaime Jackson
July 7, 2015
I really can think of no other event where it truly does not matter if you come in first place, 100th place or last place. The true joy and exhilaration of the running race is having the courage to get to the starting line and competing within yourself, whether it be against the clock, or just getting to that magnificent looking finish banner.
I have always enjoyed running races. Although I rarely come home, if ever, with a medal or some sort of award, (only in the sparsely attend events, lol) that has really never mattered. For those who ever participated in a running event, you know what I mean.
I met my wife at a running race. I met the best friends in my life at running race events. I have met total strangers who lend a helping hand to anyone in need. Strange how we can’t translate these feeling and pure joy into our everyday lives, or can we? 
There is the thrill and drudgery of training. The exhilaration and angst of anticipation; the night before meal and planning; the morning of jitters and bathroom visits; standing at the starting line with friends and total strangers wondering “what the hell am I doing here?” And yes, the indescribably joyous feeling of finishing no matter what the clock says.
For almost two years now I have found myself unable to run very much and not being able to participate in any running races because of an ongoing nagging Achilles injury that is slowly resolving. However, I was recently reminded of the pure joy of running in road races recently this Spring by having the good fortune of watching and participating in two recent events.
The Girls on the Run 5K
Picture 1200 smiling, screaming, jumping for joy girls along with their running buddies and then turn up the volume. What else could bring such joy other than the belief in yourself, setting a lofty goal that pushes you outside of your comfort zone, sticking with that goal day in, day out, training with friends, making new friends, connecting with old friends and just putting one foot in front of the other and having the courage to start until you complete the journey.
The smiles on those little girls faces at the finish line was priceless and I don’t know of many other things in our lives that could bring such joy and smiles to people’s faces, bringing people from all different walks of lives and our community to work together to accomplish a common goal that is not met until everyone crosses that finish line, which they did, with no louder cheers then for the finishing group that crossed. We could all learn a lot from those Girls on the Run!
The EmPower 5K
This is the race that I was able to return to and run with my wife and daughter. While our daughter finished far ahead of us, I was able to cross the finish line with my wife. Amazing how these same feelings of anticipation, dread and exhilaration the night before the race, the morning of the race, during and after the race are always there and they will always be for anyone who has the courage to start and get to that starting line, wondering “what am I doing here?” Then when you cross that finish line you will know.

Smart car dashboards raise safety issues.

Reuters (7/7, McBride, Lienert) reports on new car dashboard screens that emulate smart phones, allowing access to social media in some instances and the appeal they have for drivers and automakers. “I think they (the screens) raise serious public safety questions,” said former California lawmaker Joe Simitian, adding, “From a legislative standpoint, this is going to be something legislators struggle with for years to come.” David Strayer, a professor of cognition and neural science at the University of Utah, said, “You can’t be looking at a screen and be looking at the road at the same time.” The NHTSA’s guidelines against driver-distraction by dashboard displays in moving cars warn against ones that display photographs or moving images, but the recommendations are voluntary. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Nursing home chain sued by Pennsylvania AG.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (7/2, McCoy, 617K) reports “the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office Wednesday filed a sweeping lawsuit against” the Golden Living nursing home chain, “accusing it of understaffing that has left residents ‘thirsty, hungry, dirty and unkempt.’” The suit alleges “that Golden Living was guilty of deceptive advertising in Pennsylvania in that it promised decent care but didn’t deliver it.” Rather, “residents found ‘no one was available to meet their most basic needs, like escorting them to the toilet or refilling a water glass.’” The action taken by the attorney general’s office “is the first to stem from the office’s controversial practice of hiring an outside law firm to dig into the quality of care at nursing homes.”
        The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (7/2, Ove, 621K) reports “the suit names 14 centers, four of which are in Western Pennsylvania in Mount Lebanon, Monroeville, Altoona and Clarion,” and says “Golden Living violated the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law by deceiving consumers in its marketing.”
        The Lancaster (PA) New Era (7/2, Stauffer, 206K) reports Attorney General Kathleen Kane issued a statement saying, “As we allege, these companies profited at the expense of our most vulnerable residents. These facilities promised to provide the care needed by residents and then failed to meet residents’ most basic human needs. That is simply unacceptable.”

        The Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News (7/2, Robinson, 359K), the Pittsburgh Business Times (7/2, Mamula, 25K), and the Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times Leader (7/2, Mocarsky, 115K) also cover the story.