12/9/16

Former Pharma Execs Accused Of Boosting Fentanyl Sales By Bribing Doctors With Sham Speaking Engagements

We Have Sugar To Thank For The American Tobacco Industry

If you’ve ever tried to give up eating sugar, you know that the sweet stuff has a strong hold on our brains. What you may not realize, though, is that sugar’s addictive and delicious power also is part of another common addiction that we’ve perfected and exported: tobacco.

Bloomberg News shared this lost bit of history, which is recounted in a new book, The Case Against Sugar. Author Gary Taubes explains that sugar was used to make tobacco more addictive, but not in the way you might think.

Flue-curing (essentially smoking tobacco like a brisket) is a traditional way to cure tobacco that keeps the plant’s natural sugar but decreases nicotine content. At the beginning of the 20th century, someone devised a two-step process of air-curing leaves to keep the nicotine content high, then soaking them in sugar to get the sweet flavor back.

Camels were the first cigarettes to include the sugar-soaked tobacco in its blend, and other brands later began using it, too. This is a history that neither the tobacco industry nor the sugar industry want to talk about or even know a lot about now, but sixty years ago it was considered a good thing.

Taubes quotes a former U.S. Department of Agriculture official who had oversight of tobacco, who explained that “the American blended cigarette and with it the tobacco industry of the United States would not have achieved such tremendous development as it did in the first half of [the 20th] century.”

Studies do show, by the way, that adding sugar to tobacco doesn’t make the smoke more deadly, but does improve the flavor and make people want to smoke more.

Don’t Fall For The ‘Missed Delivery Notice’ Email Scam This Holiday Season

If you’re like everyone else you know, you’ve probably been doing — or plan to do — a bit of online holiday shopping this year. Missing a delivery could put a serious kink in your day, but don’t let that fear draw you into a scammer’s net.

The “missed delivery notice” or “delivery failure notification” scam is one that the Federal Trade Commission has had its eye on in recent years as online shopping has skyrocketed in popularity.

Here’s how it works: Scammers posing as the USPS, FedEx, UPS email their targets with a notice claiming that they’ve missed a delivery, and will need to enter certain personal details or payment information to get that package redelivered, or click a link to another site for more information.

Don’t do it.

“Here’s the truth: the email is bogus and there is no package,” the FTC says. “And if you download the attachment or click on a link, you’re likely to end up with a virus or malware on your device.”

RELATED: 4 Scams To Avoid During The Holidays

It’s a pretty widespread problem, especially this time of year. In the last month or so, local Better Business Bureaus and authorities around the country have been warning consumers of the scam, including Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, North Carolina, and Texas. Across the pond, the United Kingdom’s Parcel Delivery Service has alerted folks to a similar scheme.

In a related phishing trend, scammers pretend to be Amazon reaching out to customers saying that there’s been a problem processing their order, Pittsburgh’s KDKA reports.

Basically, if you’ve got an email address, you could be a target.

Here are a few suggestions from the FTC on how to spot these bogus emails:

• It tells you to click on a link or download an attachment
• It urges you to take immediate action
• It asks you to “re-confirm” personal or financial information
• If you hover over the link in the email, it won’t show the official website of the supposed sender, like the USPS website.

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‘Santa B’ Strikes Again: Layaway Angel Pays For $50K Worth Of Gifts At PA Walmart

It’s that time of year again, when we’re happy to hear about shoppers performing good deeds and random acts of kindness. Some of those warm-hearted folks we know better than others, including Pennsylvania’s “Santa B” layaway angel, who has now covered the cost of Walmart shoppers’ layaway items for the third year in a row.

A total of 194 shoppers had their layaway accounts paid off to the tune of $46,265.59, CNBC reports, after a woman walked into the store and handed over a check from “Santa B.” The story was originally reported by a Facebook page called the Bedford County Free Press.

Though this year a woman dropped off Santa B’s check and last year it was a man, a Walmart spokeswoman confirmed that the checks are always signed by a man. The donor’s identity is unknown, but his staff calls the chosen store a few days ahead of time. This is the largest amount a Walmart store has received so far this season, she added.

“When customers quietly pay off others’ layaway items, we’re reminded how good people can be,” Walmart said in a statement.

One of the shoppers who was a recipient of Santa B’s generosity told CNBC that she still owed $75 for an Xbox intended for her 6-year-old grandson before Santa B stepped in.

“I’m just so thankful that he’s going to get it this year,” she said. “Thank you so much to [the person who] paid it off for me.”