Family sues Amazon for $30m claiming hoverboard burned down their house

Family sues Amazon for $30m claiming hoverboard burned down their house

Family sues Amazon for $30m claiming hoverboard burned down their house

Tennessee family blames an exploding battery a common occurrence that has led to a mass recall for setting their million-dollar home on fire

It has been nearly a year since the self-balancing scooters known as hoverboards were setting sales charts on fire, but the resulting litigation (from the resulting real-world fires) is just getting started.

A family in Nashville, Tennessee, has filed a $30m lawsuit against Amazon, arguing that the online retailer should be held liable for the ill-fated Christmas present that burned their house down.

Megan Fox purchased what she thought was a FITBURO F1 with an original Samsung advanced battery from a company called W-Deals through Amazons website on 3 November 2015, according to the complaint.

The hoverboard remained in a closet until Christmas, when it was given to her 14-year-old son.

On 9 January 2016, the toys battery apparently exploded a common occurrence that led to the recall of more than 500,000 hoverboards by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in July.

Two of the familys children were at home at the time of the fire and had to escape by breaking windows and jumping from the second floor. The million-dollar house and most of the familys belongings went up in flames.

The offending hoverboard. Photograph: Nashville Fire Department

Amazon is not generally liable for the behavior of third-party merchants who use its platform to sell their products. But according to the lawsuit, W-Deals was a sham entity selling counterfeit products from China.

The Fox familys attorney told the Tennessean that they spent months trying to track down the actual manufacturer of the faulty hoverboard but came up empty. If no manufacturer can be found, Tennessee product liability law allows a plaintiff to go after the seller instead in this case, the $380bn online retail behemoth.

The suit also alleges that Amazon was negligent in failing to warn customers about safety problems with hoverboards, which it claims should have been known to the company prior to 9 January 2016.

Amazon began pulling some hoverboards from the site in mid-December 2015 over safety concerns.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Study offers potential breakthrough in care of children with autism

Study offers potential breakthrough in care of children with autism

Study offers potential breakthrough in care of children with autism

Symptoms improve after parents are trained to better understand and interact with preschool children, researchers say

A new form of therapy has for the first time been shown to improve the symptoms and behaviour of autistic children, offering a potential breakthrough in care for millions of families.

Six years after parents were trained to better understand and interact with their preschool children, researchers found that the therapy had moderated the behaviour of those who had been severely autistic, unresponsive or unable to speak.

A child who might have run around a supermarket squealing, heedless of their parent, putting objects in their mouth and pushing past shoppers to try to press the buttons at checkout, might instead wait in the queue and even help load the trolley, the research found.

The success of the preschool autism communication trial (Pact) has surprised even the researchers who designed it. There are no drugs to treat the condition, which typically sets in around the age of two, and many families have tried intensive training of their children by therapists, with mixed results. Pact instead trained the parents to help their children.

Prof Jonathan Green at the University of Manchester, who led the study published in the Lancet medical journal, said they had not found the cure for autism, but he and his team believed it had great potential and hoped it would be widely adopted.

The advantage of this approach over a direct therapist-child intervention is that it has potential to affect the everyday life of the child, he said. Our findings are encouraging, as they represent an improvement in the core symptoms of autism previously thought very resistant to change.

This is not a cure, in the sense that the children who demonstrated improvements will still show remaining symptoms to a variable extent, but it does suggest that working with parents to interact with their children in this way can lead to improvements in symptoms over the long term.

The trial involved 152 children aged two to four. The families visited a clinic twice a week for six months, where parents were videoed with their children and a box of toys. Autistic children might not interact with their parents at all, but when eventually a child did offer a toy or made a noise that could be interpreted as a request, the incident was rerun on video and the parent encouraged to respond. If the child offered a toy, the parent reciprocated. If the child said a word, the parent repeated it and added something. The practice was repeated at home every day.

The therapy continued with the parents for the next six months with less intensity. At the end of the first year, the researchers could see the children had improved, but the most dramatic development was seen at the follow-up six years later. At the start of the trial, 50% of those in the control group who did not get the therapy and 55% of those who did were assessed as severely autistic. The children in the intervention group, though, got better. The proportion assessed as severe in the control group was 63% by the end of six years, compared with 46% in the intervention group.

Uta Frith, emeritus professor of cognitive development at UCL, said called the study a remarkably positive story. Photograph: Antonio Zazueta Olmos/Antonio Olmos

Other experts applauded the work. I can see why these researchers are excited, said Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at the University of Oxford. These results at follow-up are pretty consistent in showing the benefit of this early intervention for autism across a range of measures. My impression is that this is an intervention that reduces the severity of autistic symptoms, rather than curing autism. Nevertheless, for parents of children with autism, even a modest reduction would be worthwhile.

Dr Max Davie, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said it offered a hugely cheering message for families, while Uta Frith, emeritus professor of cognitive development at University College London, called it a remarkably positive story, because the intervention itself was neither intensive nor invasive.

The absence of any hope, as well as the very sudden regression in childrens behaviour, led many parents to believe in the discredited theory of Andrew Wakefield that the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine was the cause of autism.

Parents commonly tell us that they fight for a diagnosis but, when they finally get itthe cupboard is bare, with little information or tailored support available to them, said Dr James Cusack, director of science at the charity Autistica.Too often, parents fall victim to the false claims of charlatans who prey on desperate families. These results look promising for the many thousands of parents who want to find early interventions for their children based on solid science.

The researchers said childrens communication with their parents was improved at the end of the six years. The parents said there were also improvements in relations with other children, in social communication and in repetitive behaviours. But there was no change in child anxiety, challenging behaviours or depression in the autistic children and they would still need a lot of support while growing up.

About 1% of children and young people are affected by autistic spectrum disorder, which ranges from mild to severe. The lifetime costs to the UK, which include health, social care and education costs as well as productivity losses, are estimated at 1m to 1.5m per child and between $1.4m and $2.4m in the United States.

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How this Muppet is changing lives in war-torn Afghanistan

How this Muppet is changing lives in war-torn Afghanistan

How this Muppet is changing lives in war-torn Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN)When the Afghan Muppet named Zari makes an appearance at an orphanage on the outskirts of Kabul, the faces of the children light up in wonder.

Three-year-old Tahira Sreen keeps interrupting the Muppet, getting up and kissing its fuzzy purple cheeks.
Meanwhile, a five-year-old Sadaf says she wants to let Zari play with her dolls.
“We will also make food for Zari,” Tahira chimes in.
The two young women who take turns bringing Zari to life say these children’s reaction is not unusual.
“When they see Zari they are looking so happy,” says 18-year-old Sima Sultani, the puppeteer who voices the character in the Pashto language, Dari.
“Most of the children they want to hug, they want to touch, mostly they want to kiss Zari,” adds 23-year-old Mansoora Shirzad.

Afghanistan’s first muppet


 After a US-led bombing campaign helped oust the Taliban in 2001, Western-backed governments took steps to improve women’s rights.
Despite some gains, according to the United Nations Development Program, only 12% of Afghan women can read and write. Meanwhile, the UN reports nearly 90% of women have suffered physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage.
“In Afghanistan, girls suffer the most,” explains Massood Sanjer, director general of entertainment at Moby G roup, the parent company of the two privately-owned Afghan TV channels that broadcast “Bahgch-e-Simsim.”
“Creating a girl character to be a hero can get the parents to think that girls and boys can be equal, and that actually girls could be better sometimes in terms of their talents.”

Education through TV

On “Bahgch-e-Simsim,” Zari teaches numbers and letters from the alphabet. She also sings songs and introduces subjects such as art and cooking.
Her segments air alongside appearances by other internationally recognized “Sesame Street” characters.
For the past five years, 26-year old Zubair Ahmad Kakarr has provided the Afghan voices for many of these Muppets, including Cookie Monster, Grover and Bert [of the apartment-sharing duo Bert and Ernie].
In a darkened sound studio, Kakarr growls and yelps in Dari along with a televised recording of Grover, who is on screen introducing viewers to a globe of the world.
As Kakarr puts it, “Bahgch-e-Simsim” has two main goals: education and fun.
Education is important in a country like Afghanistan, which has among the world’s lowest rates of literacy.

Safe haven

One subject the program does not address is the war.
Producers say they are trying to provide a safe haven from the conflict that continues to tear Afghanistan apart.
“We want to give this idea for the children that it’s not just about war in our country,” explains Shirzad. “We want to make them happy and make them laugh.”
But the entire production team struggles with the difficult balance between creating the Sesame Garden fantasy in the television studio, and facing the reality of the dangerous world outside.
Those threats became all too real last January when a Taliban suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying employees home from work at the TV station.
At least seven broadcasters and journalists were killed, including 31-year old program editor Sayed Jawad Hussaini.
“It was like losing a family member,” says Jawed Taiman, executive producer of the program.
“It’s not easy to forget everything… your problems, your country’s problems,” explains Shirzad.
“You just have to focus on Zari, on laughing… on making her alive,” she says.

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