In brief | Nation & World, 06-17-14


General Motors recalls 3.4M more cars in North America due to switch problems

DETROIT — General Motors is recalling another 3 million cars because of a defect that causes a similar problem to one that led to an earlier massive recall of small cars, and is linked to 13 deaths.

The ignition switches in Chevrolet Impalas, Cadillac Devilles and five other models can slip out of the “run” position if the keychain has too much weight on it and the car is jarred, for example, by hitting a pothole. To fix the problem, GM will revise or replace the key.

Similar to the 2.6 million small cars GM began recalling in February, drivers of the newly recalled models could experience an engine stall, loss of power-assisted steering and brakes, and the air bags may not inflate in a crash. GM says the latest recall involves six injuries and no deaths, and is related to the design of the key. A mechanical defect in the switch is at the heart of the other recall.

Mississippi sues world’s largest credit-reporting firm, amid other investigations

WASHINGTON — Mississippi has sued Experian, the world’s largest firm that collects detailed information about consumers to evaluate their financial trustworthiness. The lawsuit — and a separate investigation of the industry by 32 other states led by Ohio — represent a significant new legal challenge to the industry over allegations of paperwork errors and violations of consumer protection laws.

Errors can jeopardize people’s ability to get loans and pass job-related background checks. Experian has even wrongly reported that consumers are on a federal terrorism watch list, the lawsuit alleges.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s complaint accuses Experian Information Solutions of knowingly including error-riddled data in the credit files of millions of Americans, jeopardizing their ability to obtain loans, employment-related background checks and sensitive government security clearances.

The lawsuit against Experian was filed without fanfare last month in a Biloxi state courthouse and transferred to Mississippi federal court late last week.

Judge lifts federal oversight of Chicago hiring, says city is ending illegal patronage

CHICAGO — Who you know may not be enough to land a job at Chicago’s City Hall anymore.

A federal judge on Monday ended nine years of federal oversight of Chicago municipal hiring, agreeing the nation’s third-largest city has put effective mechanisms in place to curb illegal patronage, or the hiring of people based on their political or personal connections.

Landing a job with the help of friends in high places was long part of the way things worked in The City That Works, and it helped Mayor Richard J. Daley, the legendary iron-fisted boss of Chicago from the 1950s until the mid-’70s, assemble his ruthlessly efficient Democratic machine.

It was often said, only half-jokingly, that Chicago officials’ attitude about job-seekers was: “We don’t want nobody that nobody sent.”

But this week, nearly a half-century after a lawyer by the name of Michael Shakman first sued over the use of “clout,” as they call it in Chicago, U.S. District Judge Sidney Schenkier decided that the city has begun to change its ways and has earned the right to police itself.

Medical speed-dating: Novel study will match lung cancer drugs to gene profiles

A bold new way to test cancer drugs started Monday in hundreds of hospitals around the U.S. In a medical version of speed dating, doctors will sort through multiple experimental drugs and match patients to the one most likely to succeed based on each person’s unique tumor gene profile.

It’s a first-of-a-kind experiment that brings together five drug companies, the government, private foundations and advocacy groups. The idea came from the federal Food and Drug Administration, which has agreed to consider approving new medicines based on results from the study.

Its goal is to speed new treatments to market and give seriously ill patients more chances to find something that will help. Instead of being tested for individual genes and trying to qualify for separate clinical trials testing single drugs, patients can enroll in this umbrella study, get full gene testing and have access to many options at once.

The study, called Lung-MAP, is for advanced cases of a common, hard-to-treat form of lung cancer — squamous cell. Plans for similar studies for breast and colon cancer are in the works.

“For patients, it gives them their best chance for treatment of a deadly disease,” because everyone gets some type of therapy, said Ellen Sigal, chairwoman and founder of Friends of Cancer Research, a Washington-based research and advocacy group that helped plan and launch the study. “There’s something for everyone, and we’ll get answers faster” on whether experimental drugs work, she said.

By wire sources