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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Statement: CALPIRG supports Gov. Newsom’s call for more comprehensive COVID-19 testing

California Gov. Gavin Newsom today laid out key steps necessary for our state to return to something similar to normal life in the future. Step one, he said, toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic is the “ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating and supporting those who are positive or exposed.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Consumer complaints of COVID-19 fraud surpass 15,000

Scammers and other bad actors are trying to take advantage of Americans’ heightened fears around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and fraud complaints are soaring. Consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the virus surpassed 15,000 Thursday.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

The worst possible option for paying your bills | Claudia Deeg

Living in California, I’m currently spending 56% of my income on rent. Most financial advisers say you shouldn’t spend more than 30%. Apparently this qualifies me as “severely cost-burdened,” according to the California Budget & Policy Center.

However, I’m extremely lucky that I’ve kept my job so far since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. When rent was due on April 1st, I could pay it. Sadly, many others couldn’t.

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

31 California legislators demand Amazon, other online marketplaces end coronavirus price gouging

31 California legislators, led by Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D-San Jose), are joining CALPIRG Education Fund in calling on the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Boeing Max planes have ‘optional’ safety mechanisms

Newly-revealed details by the New York Times about of the crash of two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes may stun even the most hardened observer. The planes lacked a safety feature that may have warned pilots about problems because it was not required and Boeing charged airlines extra to include it. Adam Garber, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog issued the following statement.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

California gets a C+ for efforts to address lead in school drinking water

Los Angeles – Reacting to pervasive lead contamination in schools’ drinking water, CALPIRG gave California a C+ grade today for addressing the problem, according to a new national report. In the second edition of CALPIRG Education Fund’s Get The Lead Out study, the state showed some progress since its F grade on a similar report card in 2017. The American Academy of Pediatrics, California State PTA, and Compton Unified School district all joined CALPIRG in calling for swift action to ensure lead-free water in California’s schools and daycares.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

CALPIRG Co-Sponsors Bill That Would Ban Many Dangerous Cosmetics

Landmark legislation introduced today would impose a statewide ban on cosmetics that include any of 20 highly toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm or hormone disruption. Assembly Bill 495, authored by Assembly members Al Muratsuchi (Torrance) and Buffy Wicks (Oakland), halts the sale of cosmetics products containing toxic chemicals like mercury, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, triclosan and the fluorinated compounds known as PFAS in California. The legislation is sponsored by CALPIRG and Environmental Working Group.

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Popular weed killer from Roundup found in top beer and wine brands

Many brands of beer and wine sold in the U.S. contain the weed killer glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, according to a new report by CALPIRG Education Fund. In Glyphosate Pesticide in Beer and Wine, CALPIRG tested 20 beers, wines and hard cider, including several organic brands, for glyphosate/Roundup and found that all but one contained the harmful chemical.

This revelation comes on the same day a San Francisco court begins hearing arguments in the first federal civil case over whether Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer causes cancer.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Transportation

Questionable lending drives Americans to record auto debt

The amount of money Americans owe on their cars is now at an all-time high -- up 75 percent since the end of 2009. Americans’ rising indebtedness for cars raises concerns about the financial future of millions of households as lenders extend credit to more and more Americans without the ability to repay, according to a new U.S. PIRG report.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

The Voting Intentions and Opinions of Students

This spring, CALPIRG’s New Voters’ Project conducted an informal survey of just over a thousand UC, CSU, and community college students, before the June primary. We asked students about their own voting history and intentions, what they thought motivates them and their peers to participate in elections, and what they thought colleges and universities could do to encourage student participation. The survey questions were written to inform our own outreach plans for our non-partisan civic engagement program.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles

Even though the Driving Boom is now over, state and federal governments continue to pour vast sums of money into the construction of new highways and expansion of old ones – at the expense of urgent needs such as road and bridge repairs, improvements in public transportation and other transportation priorities. Eleven proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $13 billion – exemplify the need for a fresh approach to transportation spending.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Weak Medicine

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people per year in the United States, causing more than 23,000 deaths. State governments, the FDA and other branches of the federal government should take steps to protect human health from the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can develop on factory farms.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2014

Many large U.S.-based multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity.  

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

The Unfriendly Skies

It seems as if every consumer has an airline problem story—how they were trapped on the tarmac, tricked by fees, missed their connection, or lost their bag. What many consumers don’t know is that they have a number of new rights as well as a right to complain, both to the airline and to the government. This report tracks five years of consumer complaints and highlights which airlines received the most complaints and what kinds of complaints were most common.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Coalition Letter to In-N-Out Burger regarding its Antibiotics Policy | Jason Pfeifle

We are heartened and encouraged by In-N-Out Burger's recent statement to the OC Register that the company is "committed to beef not raised with antibiotics important to human medicine," and has asked its suppliers to accelerate "progress toward establishing antibiotic alternatives."  

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

NYT Points Out Overdraft Fees Still A Problem | Ed Mierzwinski

A major article in today's New York Times, "Overdraft Practices Continue to Gut Bank Accounts and Haunt Customers," points out that while 2010 reforms put in place by the pre-CFPB regulators have helped, there's still work to be done to protect consumers from unfair overdraft practices. While years ago banks used "bounced check" fees to deter what was then seen as a negative behavior, more recently they have encouraged overdrafts by offering "standard overdraft protection" as if it is a feature, not a bug. They've made billions.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

A nationwide call: KFC, help save antibiotics! | Anya Vanecek

Over eighty organizations and hundreds of consumers launched a call for KFC to switch to selling chicken raised without routine antibiotics. 

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Blog Post | Public Health

Is your daily routine toxic? | Anna Low-Beer

Because of a lack of regulation, many cosmetics and personal care products contain potentially toxic ingredients, like formaldehyde and lead acetate. What toxic chemicals might you encounter as you go about your daily routine? 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

30 Years of "Trouble in Toyland," 30 Years of Safety Improvements | Anna Low-Beer

Every year, U.S. PIRG Education Fund releases Trouble in Toyland, a report on toy safety which examines toys bought at major national retailers, looking for safety hazards including toxic toys, choking hazards, labeling violations, powerful magnets, and excessibely loud toys. We continue to find these hazards on store shelves, which indicates the need for continued vigilance and adequate enforcement of safety regulations. But despite lingering dangers, in the last 30 years, we've come a long way in terms of both policy and compliance with standards.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

McDonald’s announced a commitment to eliminate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging used in its restaurants by 2025. PFAS are linked to kidney and liver problems, high cholesterol, reduced immune system function, and cancer.

Blog Post

With vaccines here, it may soon be time to reschedule vacations and other trips for later this year

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

U.S. PIRG Education Fund's third and most comprehensive report into pandemic price gouging on Amazon compares pre-pandemic prices to today's on 750 products, from 15 essential product categories.

News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund

At the start of 2020, toilet paper stockpiling and a run on hand sanitizer would have never crossed our minds. Unfortunately, we’ve lived in a different reality since then. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Californians have witnessed shortages of -- and price gouging on -- a range of household and medical products from disinfectant wipes to face masks. And a year later, even though most products are back in stock, CALPIRG Education Fund’s new report shows we’re still seeing significant price hikes on essentials on Amazon.

Blog Post

No, you don't have to pay a 'small processing fee' to claim your $600 payment

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