U.S. Justice Dept. Indicts Takata Corp. Exec for Price-Fixing Seat Belts Jan24

U.S. Justice Dept. Indicts Takata Corp. Exec for Price-Fixing Seat Belts...

The Takata Corporation’s airbag recall was just one of many recall fiascoes in the auto industry during 2014, but it appears that Takata’s drama is far from over: in a Justice Department announcement on January 22, it appears that the U.S. government recently filed an indictment against a Takata Corp. executive for attempting to fix seat belt prices. The executive in question, Hiromu Usuda, was a high-ranking executive in Takata’s Customer Relations Division from January 2005 to February 2011. According to the Detroit News, Usuda is one of 50 individuals whom the U.S. Justice Department is investigating for “price-fixing and bid-rigging in the auto parts industry.” The government has estimated that this particular price-fixing conspiracy affected more than 30 car parts in over 25 million vehicles sold to American consumers. Takata Corp. has already plead guilty for price-fixing conspiracies, back in December 2013, and was required to pay $71.3 million in fines. Since then, four Takata executives have plead guilty for their personal involvement in the scheme and have been given U.S. prison sentences and mandatory fines. The U.S. government, Automotive News notes, is one of several countries which have opened investigations regarding price-fixing in the auto industry — and it appears that each government is ready to prosecute individuals and companies to the fullest extent. The auto parts which were affected in the conspiracy reportedly range from air conditioning systems to seat belts. While a broken air conditioner may not present much of a safety threat, the quality of a seat belt could mean the difference between life and death. Studies show that the majority (about 53%) of fatal injuries resulting from car crashes involve front seat passengers that failed to wear a seat belt, while a significantly smaller percentage of fatalities were found with passengers who were wearing seat belts....

UK Woman Puts Her Inheritance Where Her Mouth Is — Literally Jan14

UK Woman Puts Her Inheritance Where Her Mouth Is — Literally...

Upon learning of her father’s passing away, one UK woman decided to put her inheritance toward something a little unique — an entirely new smile. According to the Mirror, Kirsty Roberts-Millman of Coventry said she had been dissatisfied with the appearance of her teeth for as long as she could remember, even describing them as “horrendous and crooked.” These days, Roberts-Millman, a 27-year-old accountant, is the face — and smile — of the Invisalign orthodontic procedure she underwent, with her pearly whites even on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London. The inheritance her father left behind helped her pay for 15 months of dental work and Invisalign treatments, which typically cost patients thousands of pounds. The dental work didn’t come without a price, however. The Mirror reports that Roberts-Millman hadn’t seen her father since she was six years old, and learned of his death in a car crash in 2009 when police showed up at her door. “Besides fixing your smile for your own self esteem issues, improving a smile can reduce or prevent periodontitis and gum disease. By eliminating overcrowding, it will be easier to floss and brush those hard to reach areas,” said Tracy Reed, professional relations director at Dr. Tom Popp, an orthodontics office located in Chattanooga, TN. According to the Mirror, Roberts-Millman said her tooth troubles began as soon as her baby teeth fell out. She suffered from an overbite, and her bottom jaw became overcrowded while the teeth on her upper jaw grew in crooked. After wearing her Invisalign braces for about 22 hours each day over that 15-month period, Roberts-Millman was able to correct these issues; upon learning about her story, Invisalign judges selected her to be the face of the procedure, even flying her out...

Apple and Google Encrypt Products to the Ire From FBI, New York District Attorney...

The FBI and New York District Attorney are none too pleased with Apple and Google’s latest privacy policies. The giant tech companies announced last September that they would introduce new privacy features on their products, specifically their smartphones and tablet devices. Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android now include new encryption programs that will automatically scramble data such as photos, web searches, and contacts, and will require a digital key in order to unlock it. Apple and Google are under no legal obligation to provide decryption information, making law enforcement access to these devices considerably more difficult than in the past. Law enforcement officials immediately expressed concern about this policy move, claiming that their policies will make law enforcement’s job considerably more difficult and will cause unintended public safety issues. One of the first critics of Apple and Google’s new policy was FBI Director James Comey. According to the Huffington Post, Comey expressed concern in September that their policy will undermine proper law enforcement. “I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the content of anyone’s closet or their smart phone,” Comey said. “The notion that someone would market a closet that could never be opened — even if it involves a case involving a child kidnapper and a court order — to me does not make any sense.” Comey is referring to the inevitable problems with Apple and Google’s encryption codes. Apple and Google claim they do not store the passcodes necessary to access data such as photos and contacts. They also claim that they will never allow the government access to their encryption code information or their servers. According to Apple’s website, Apple “cannot bypass your passcode and...

Nike Teases the Release of Self-Lacing Shoes Later This Year Jan09

Nike Teases the Release of Self-Lacing Shoes Later This Year...

The classic 1980s movie Back to the Future Part II, which takes its hero to 2015, got a few things wrong with the here-and-now, but it got a few things right. Though we don’t have flying cars, don’t wear two ties simultaneously, and haven’t had a female president yet, we do have wireless video games, wall-mounted TVs, and handheld tablet computers. However, it seems the movie might get one more thing right. Nike is working on Marty McFly’s powerlace shoes, which could automatic lace themselves, and might possibly release a version of them later this year. According to shoe blog Nice Kicks, Nike designer Tinker Hatfield confirmed that the popular brand was working on the shoes at a conference in Long Beach, California on January 5. To many in attendance, the announcement came with little surprise, as the designer has been promising that the shoes would be released to the general public since about this time last year. Despite his assurances, though, it seems that Nike may not release the sneakers for several months, as Hatfield was sure to remind the conference audience that there’s “11 and two-thirds months left in 2015.” Of course, the promised sneakers will not be the first reproductions — official or unofficial — to debut in the 24 years since the film was first released, but what will hopefully separate these latest shoes from their predecessors is the powerlaces. As to whether or not the shoes will actually be able to fasten themselves, is not necessarily certain, but Nike at least hopes they will. The problem with powerlace technology, it seems, is the power. A battery with enough juice to make a pair of sneakers lace themselves would likely be both cost-ineffective, and unaesthetic. However, if Nike can pull...

San Diego Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Against Communications Company in Sailboat Mishap Jan05

San Diego Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Against Communications Company in Sailboat Mishap...

The lawsuit resulting from one sailing trip that had gone very, very wrong has recently been dismissed by San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes, according to U-T San Diego.com, and the couple who filed the lawsuit are not too happy about it. Back in April, Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, both residents of San Diego, were reportedly two weeks into a sailing trip that was intended to be “a [sailing] trip around the world” with their two daughters, ages one and three, when their youngest daughter fell ill. The couple attempted to contact the U.S. Coast Guard for medical advice, but when their sailboat ran into bad weather, it became clear that their satellite phone on board the boat had been damaged and was unable to make or receive any calls. The Kaufmans ultimately decided to call off the trip, due to not being able to receive any medical advice, and they activated an emergency alarm on the boat while they were stranded a few hundreds of miles off the coast of Mexico. The alarm reached the California Air National Guard, who parachuted down to the boat and waited for a Navy ship to rescue the family. While the Kaufmans were picked up and safely delivered back to land, their sailboat was left and sea and has since sunk underwater. In July, the couple decided to file a lawsuit against the company in charge of the boat’s satellite phone service; if the phone had not been so badly damaged, the Kaufmans argued, they wouldn’t have had to abandon their trip and their sailboat. The phone company, ironically called Whenever Communications, stated that they had been in the process of switching SIM card providers and that it was some other company that was responsible for...