Reporting teenage pregnancy; moving companies; stopping e-mail spammers; millionaires; SUV safety ratings
Physicians who provide prenatal or abortion services to unmarried girls under 16 may be obligated to report those pregnancies to authorities as cases of suspected sexual abuse, says Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline. That opinion contradicts a ruling by former state Attorney General Bob Stephan, who had concluded that pregnancy is not necessarily evidence of injury and, therefore, reporting it isn't required without further evidence of abuse. Kline argues, however, that the state "has long provided for the protection of unmarried underage girls" by requiring certain professionals to report "any reasonable suspicion that a child has been injured as a result of sexual abuse." For the purposes of Kansas law, Kline says, that includes any time a child younger than 16 becomes pregnant.
Interstate moving companies will soon have to give written estimates and deliver household goods on time under proposed changes in federal rules. The rules will prohibit movers from charging more than the estimated bill and protect consumers from unscrupulous movers who hold their furniture hostage for trumped-up charges.
New rules proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ( www.fmcsa.dot.gov ) also would require movers to publish truthful ads and to assign an inventory number to each item to help track household goods. The rules would take effect on March 1, 2004. The agency runs a 24-hour toll-free hotline for consumer complaints about movers at 888-368-7238.
You could stop online marketers from sending you unwanted messages under a bill approved by the Senate commerce committee, now awaiting action in the House and Senate. Unsolicited e-mail messages would require a valid return address and a clearly marked way for consumers to remove their names from the mailing list. The bill, Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, or CAN-SPAM, would prohibit the use of false or misleading information in commercial e-mail messages, and give the FTC power to enforce the measure.
The number of millionaires in North America dropped by 2 percent last year, and their total wealth also dipped by 2 percent, says a survey conducted by Merrill Lynch and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. While investors with at least $1 million in assets, excluding home real estate, did lose money, they fared better than the S&P 500, which declined by 22 percent in 2002. Wealthy investors increased their holdings in fixed income and cash, avoided putting new money into the stock market, and diverted funds to real estate and other investments.
On a global level, millionaires in Asia fared the best. The number of millionaires in Asia jumped nearly 5 percent, and their total assets grew by 11 percent.
*Financial assets of at least $1 million, excluding home real estate.
Source: Merrill Lynch and Cap Ernst & Young, 2003 World Wealth Report
Two small SUVs, both with side air bags in the front, got top ratings in a new side-impact crash test for 2003 models, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Subaru Forester and Ford Escape were the only two models, of 12 tested, to earn the top rating of "good" in the test, which was used for the first time. Another Ford Escape model without side air bags received the lowest rating of "poor." The Hyundai Santa Fe, which also has standard side air bags in the front, earned an "acceptable" rating. The side impact test recreates what happens when a passenger vehicle is struck in the side by a pickup truck or SUV at about 30 mph.
Yvonne Wollenberg. Online UPDATES.
Aug. 8, 2003;80.