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GM excluded crash deaths from ignition inquiry PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer   
Thursday, 13 March 2014 06:34

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors excluded the Saturn Ion from a Feb. 13 recall for faulty ignition switches after engineers inexplicably failed to look at fatal crashes involving the compact car.

The cars were recalled two weeks later, after another inquiry found four crashes involving 2004 Ions that killed four people, according to a GM chronology of the recall posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website Wednesday night.

According to the chronology, GM employees were told about most of the Ion crash deaths within two weeks of when they occurred. So GM knew about the deaths but still failed to consider them until this year.

The exclusion of the crash deaths will likely be scrutinized by two congressional committees and the Justice Department, all of which are investigating why it took so long for GM to recall the cars. The company has acknowledged knowing about deadly ignition switches at least a decade ago, yet it failed to recall 1.6 million compact cars until last month. In addition, NHTSA is investigating whether GM withheld information from the safety agency or didn't disclose it as quickly as required by law.

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50 cents, $1 or $2? Starbucks adding digital tips PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CANDICE CHOI, AP Food Industry Writer   
Thursday, 13 March 2014 06:27

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks will soon let customers leave tips with its mobile payment app, which raises the question — how often do people tip their baristas?

The coffee chain says the mobile tipping option, which it announced more than a year ago, will be available on its updated app for iPhones starting March 19. The rollout comes as the company's app has surged in popularity, with roughly one out of every 10 purchases now made with a mobile device.

After paying with the app, Starbucks says customers will be able to leave a tip of 50 cents, $1 or $2 anytime within two hours of the transaction. The tipping option will only be available at the 7,000 of the roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. that are owned by the company.

The move puts a spotlight on what can be a sensitive topic for customers, workers and even Starbucks, which has faced lawsuits over how it divvies up the contents of tip jars among workers. Some customers are happy to tip for friendly service, knowing that baristas don't earn that much. Others say that they already fork over enough money and shouldn't be made to feel like they should throw money into a tip jar as well.

Zee Lemke, who has worked as a Starbucks barista in Wisconsin for more than three years, said most customers nevertheless leave a tip of some sort. She said tips generally add between $1.50 and $2 to her hourly pay of $9.05. But she noted that there's no rule on how much baristas can expect to earn from tips.

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Herbalife facing FTC inquiry; shares plunge PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by SARAH SKIDMORE SELL, AP Business Writer   
Thursday, 13 March 2014 06:28

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Herbalife Ltd. says that it is facing an inquiry from the Federal Trade Commission.

The nutrition and supplement company's shares initially plunged more than 12 percent following a brief halt in trading pending the announcement.

Herbalife said that it received the civil investigative demand from the FTC on Wednesday. The FTC's website says that these are used to investigate possible "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." A representative from the FTC was not immediately available to elaborate.

The company, which has faced accusations of operating a pyramid scheme, said that it welcomes the inquiry given "tremendous amount of misinformation in the marketplace" about its business.

Herbalife says it believes it is in compliance with all laws and regulations and plans to cooperate fully.

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Phyllis Schlafly family in beer trademark dispute PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by ALAN SCHER ZAGIER, Associated Press   
Thursday, 13 March 2014 06:20

ST. LOUIS (AP) — To many older Americans, the Schlafly name is most closely associated with Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative commentator known for her campaign to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.

A younger generation knows Schlafly as the brand of an up-and-coming St. Louis brewery co-founded by Schlafly's nephew.

Now the federal agency that oversees trademarks is being asked to wade into a dispute within the prominent family and decide whether Schlafly is primarily a last name or a commercial brand that deserves legal protection.

With a growing national profile and new owners who might want to expand, the brewery started by Tom Schlafly more than two decades ago is seeking a trademark that would give it the exclusive right to use the Schlafly name to sell craft beer. But Phyllis Schlafly has asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny the request, lest any implied association with beer sully her 60-year political career.

"There are tens of millions of Americans who oppose alcohol," said Andrew Schlafly, a New Jersey lawyer who represents his mother in the matter. "Certainly alcohol has a connotation that is the opposite of conservative values."

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