5.24.16:  Kicking the habit: Adult smoking rate in US is falling fast



NEW YORK (AP) — The nation seems to be kicking its smoking habit faster than ever before.

The rate of smoking among adults in the U.S. fell to 15 percent last year thanks to the biggest one-year decline in more than 20 years, according to a new government report.

The rate fell 2 percentage points from 2014, when about 17 percent of adults in a large national survey said they had recently smoked.


5.23.16:  Obama drops arms embargo on Vietnam



HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — President Barack Obama has removed a half-century old ban on selling arms to Vietnam.

Obama, who’s on a three-day visit to the country, says, “both sides have established a level of trust and cooperation, including between our militaries, that is reflective of common interests and mutual respect.”

Obama steered clear of harsh condemnation of what critics see as Vietnam’s abysmal treatment of dissidents.

Meanwhile, Boeing has announce it’s selling 100 aircraft worth about $11.3 billion at list prices to Vietnam’s VietJet as the airline seeks to expand its international and domestic flights.

It was the single largest airplane purchase by Vietnam, according to the Chicago company.

The deal was signed in Hanoi, Vietnam, and witnessed by President Barack Obama.

VietJet will also buy $3 billion worth of airplane engines from Pratt & Whitney, a manufacturer owned by United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, Connecticut.


5.20.16:  Bicyclists worldwide pedal in Ride of Silence for safety



WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J. (AP) — Bicyclists across the world have pedaled quietly in their annual ride to honor those injured or killed while cycling.

The Ride of Silence took place Wednesday in Williamstown, New Jersey, and more than 400 other locations to raise awareness that cyclists are sharing roadways with motorists.

The ride is part of a global movement involving thousands of cyclists who ride on the third Wednesday in May without saying a word.

Organizers say rides were held on every continent and in all 50 U.S. states. They say zero words were spoken.

Williamstown ride leader Debbie Kaighn says members of a local high school choir and their teacher provided music.

She says her Ride of Silence route was about 11 miles long and the pace was 10 mph. Helmets were mandatory.



Many in West Michigan also participated in local Ride of Silence events.

5.20.16:   Recall covers hundreds of items from many stores



DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A massive frozen foods recall involves millions of packages of fruits and vegetables that were shipped to all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico.

Authorities who want to stem the listeria-linked illnesses and deaths worry it’ll be difficult to get consumers to dig through their freezers and check for products they may have bought as far back as 2014 from places like Costco, Target, Trader Joe’s and Safeway.

The more than 400 products from CRF Frozen Foods in Pasco, Washington, could be contaminated with listeria. Products tied to the plant have caused eight listeria-linked illnesses, including two deaths.

The CRF plant closed two weeks ago and CRF spokesman Gene Grabowski said the company is still trying to pinpoint the source of the contamination.


5.19.16:  Chrysler recalls 500,000 Jeeps; air bags may not work



DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler is recalling about a half-million Jeep Wrangler SUVs worldwide because the driver’s air bag may not inflate in a crash.

The recall covers Wranglers from the 2007 through 2010 model years, including 392,000 in the U.S.

Another 7,400 2011-2016 Wranglers in the U.S. with right-hand-drive also are affected.

The company says excessive exposure to dust and dirt from off-road driving can cause electrical problems in the steering column air bag wiring. If that happens, a warning lamp will come on and owners should contact their dealer.

Fiat Chrysler says it’s not aware of any related injuries. The problem was discovered by a company investigation.

Dealers will install a new steering wheel back cover and steering column shroud. The company says it will notify customers when parts are available.


5.18.16:  Fiat Chrysler recalls van trailer light controls



DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 84,000 trailer light modules sold as accessories for commercial vans because the brake lights may not work.

The recall covers modules sold for the 2014 through 2016 Promaster and 2015 to 2016 Promaster City.

The company says some modules have a software error that can prevent trailer brake lights from illuminating when the driver steps on the pedal. A lack of brake lights can increase the risk of a crash.

Dealers will replace the modules at no cost to owners. Fiat Chrysler has not yet come up with a schedule for the repairs but says owners will be notified by mail.


5.18.16:   Gaining delegates



WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton is claiming victory in the Kentucky primary, even though actual numbers have her too close to call with rival Bernie Sanders. Sanders won the Oregon primary.

But overall, Clinton is just 92 delegates short of the number needed to clinch the nomination.

Donald Trump’s win in Tuesday’s Oregon primary puts him 77 delegates away from clinching the GOP nomination.


5.16.16:   Washington Monument closed again due to elevator problems



WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Monument is closed again because of elevator problems.

The monument was closed Sunday and the National Park Service announced on Twitter on Sunday night that the monument would remain closed Monday morning for repairs to its elevator power supply. The park service says the monument will reopen as soon as repairs are complete.

The monument has been closed several times in recent months because of elevator issues — most recently in early April, when the elevator broke down twice in one week. In those cases, people were visiting the monument at the time and had to walk down hundreds of stairs.


5.13.16:  US gives directive to schools on bathroom access



WASHINGTON (AP) –  Public schools must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, according to an Obama administration directive issued amid a court fight between the federal government and North Carolina.


Public schools are obligated to treat their transgender students in a way that matches their gender identity, even if their education records or identity documents indicate a different sex.


The directive is contained in formal guidance being sent to school districts Friday.   The letter warns that schools that do not abide may face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid.


The guidance comes days after the Justice Department sued North Carolina over a new state law that says transgender people must use public bathrooms, showers and changing rooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.  The administration has said the law violates the Civil Rights Act.




5.13.16:  Subaru tells some Legacy, Outback owners: Don’t drive them



DETROIT (AP) — Subaru is telling owners of some newer Legacy and Outback vehicles not to drive them because the steering can fail.

The company is recalling about 52,000 of the cars and SUVs from the 2016 and 2017 model years. It also has told dealers to stop selling them until they’re repaired.

Subaru says in government documents that steering columns may have been manufactured improperly by a parts supplier. The columns may not engage, meaning the steering wheel could rotate freely and the driver could lose control.

The problem was discovered May 3 when the owner of a 2016 Outback reported trouble. It was unclear if there have been any crashes or injuries.

Subaru says dealers will check the steering columns. If they weren’t built properly, they’ll be replaced. That starts in mid-May.