Kurt Niland

5296 posts

Kurt Niland has been a professional editor and writer for 15 years. He is the author of four books and a number of articles for trade journals, newspapers, magazines, and web blogs. He attended New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, and Auburn University Montgomery, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English. His lifelong interests in geography, anthropology, political science, literature, and religion fuel his writing and inspire him to travel at every opportunity. Originally from Connecticut, Kurt has resided in Montgomery, Alabama since 1991.

Auto roof crush improvements delayed yet again

In November, we reported that federal U.S. standards for vehicle roof safety were dangerously low, and that the decision to raise the standards, even just to a level still inferior to that of many foreign auto manufacturers, has been continually delayed. Then, just yesterday we speculated as to whether a bailout of the auto industry would mean better, safer American cars. Unfortunately, it looks as if the Department of Transportation is just as dysfunctional as the American auto industry in its ability to do the right thing … or anything at all. According to a report in the Detroit News, ... Read More

Ford among defendants in new Explorer rollover case

The safety problems that plagued the Ford Explorer and Bridgestone/Firestone tires earlier in the decade have resurfaced in court, according to the Southeast Texas Record. Relatives of a man killed in a Ford Explorer accident in November 2005 are suing both Ford Motor Company and Bridgestone/Firestone as well as the driver of the Explorer, Ana Herrera. Ricardo Garcia died of injuries he sustained when the 1998 Explorer he was a passenger in rolled over multiple times. The driver, Ana Herrera, lost control of the vehicle on an Arkansas road. Herrera’s Explorer rolled several times when she attempted to return the ... Read More

Will an auto bailout mean better, safer cars?

With the Big Three on such uncertain and unsteady ground, it’s anyone’s guess what the future of American auto manufacturing will look like a couple of years from now. Will our car companies still exist, and if so, what will they and the cars they manufacture look like? Will they be fuel efficient, cleaner, and any safer than they are now? Business blogger Charles H. Green summed up the problem with the old Detroit paradigm when he said “Toyota introduced the Prius in 1997. 11 thoughtful years later, GM brings us–the Hybrid Escalade.” Such a profound lack of vision in ... Read More

Vytorin illustrates the problems of direct-to-consumer advertising

Remember those Vytorin commercials with the split screen, comparing people to food? Aunt Barbara on the left and some tacos on the right? Mildly entertaining though they were, those ads underscore a big problem with the promotion of new pharmaceuticals. Evidence suggests that Vytorin’s manufacturers, Merck and Schering-Plough, promoted and sold the anti-cholesterol drug for nearly 2 years despite known clinical trial results that strongly suggested Vytorin to be no more effective than cheap, generic statin drugs. Now Congress is investigating the promotion of Vytorin as lawsuits against its makers pile up in state and federal courts. But Vytorin isn’t ... Read More

Will those long Chantix commercials disappear again?

In September, we learned that those long Chantix ads featuring the tortoise and the hare were reappearing on TV after Pfizer yanked them from the airwaves for several months. The drug maker pulled the ads when it became evident that a link existed between Chantix, depression, and suicide. Unfortunately, the new ads were even longer than the original by 30 seconds — for a total of 90 seconds — to accommodate all the new warnings. If Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Cal.) has his way, such ads will be a thing of the past, unless the advertised drug has proven to be ... Read More

FDA recalls melamine-tainted chocolate

Melamine, the nitrogen-rich substance that found its way into pet food and treats and, more recently, infant formula and other milk products in China, continues to make appearances in unexpected places. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a recall of teddy bears sold at Walgreens stores. The 9-inch high Christmas toy bears are sold as “Dressy Teddy Bears” and come with 4-ounce chocolate bars that are believed to contain melamine. Walgreens has instructed all of its stores to stop selling the teddy bears. Customers who have already purchased one of the bears, which have been sold in Walgreens since ... Read More

Escalators and Crocs: a dangerous pairing

On July 15, three-year-old Caprice Robinson and her mother, Diaarra Griffin, were making their daily hour-long commute in Atlanta. Caprice grabbed her mother’s hand and the two stepped onto the escalator at the Kensington MARTA station – just another small part of the daily routine they had done so many times before. This time, however, Caprice began to scream in pain within second of stepping onto the escalator. The shoe on her right foot, an imitation of the Crocs shoes so many children wear, had become caught between the moving stairs and the side of the escalator and it was ... Read More

Was the Black Friday Wal-Mart trampling anyone’s fault?

After the trampling of a 34-year-old Wal-Mart employee on Black Friday, there is bound to be a lot of finger pointing. Some people who were hurt in the incident blame not just Wal-Mart but the Nassau County Police Department as well. The police, the grocery worker’s union, and others blame Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart seems to be shrugging its shoulders as if to suggest it’s never before heard of mob mentality and crowd control. The truth is that Wal-Mart, like many other giant retailers throughout the country, knows about consumer behavior. Wal-Mart knows how to work a crowd. “The safety and ... Read More

Recalled insulin syringes may be mislabeled

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an alert for healthcare professionals and patients that a lot of ReliOn insulin syringes sold at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club’s may be dangerously mislabeled. The manufacturer of the syringes, Tyco Healthcare Group LP, has voluntarily recalled the needles. Diabetes patients who use the recalled syringes may inadvertently receive an overdose of up to 2.5 times the intended dose. Possible complications could include hypoglycemia and other serious side effects and death. The warning is especially urgent for parents or others caring for children with diabetes. The product consists of sterile, single-use, disposable, hypodermic ... Read More

Have Vytorin’s falling sales finally stabilized?

For a while it seemed as if sales of Merck’s blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Vytorin would plummet into oblivion. Unfavorable and botched ENHANCE trial results, harrowing SEAS trial results, lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals and government, congressional inquiries, and so on plagued Merck and co-creator Schering-Plough because it looked as if Vytorin was at best a dud and at worst a cancer-inducing danger. Not surprisingly, Merck and Schering-Plough have been taking hits quarter after quarter because of Vytorin’s disastrous performance in clinical trials. Nearly a year ago, Schering-Plough promised to provide regular reports on the performance of its anti-cholesterol market. ... Read More