GM Rebuts Claim That 303 People Died in Recalled Cars

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Morning Money Memo:

An auto-safety group says a review of federal government crash data shows 303 people died after airbags failed to deploy in two of the General Motors car brands that were recalled last month.

The complaint from the Center for Auto Safety comes as members of Congress and federal regulators are raising questions about the delayed recall of 1.6 million compact cars.

The first reports of problems with ignition switches were made as early as 2001, but the GM recall only came last month. The separate analysis of airbag failures covered the years 2003 to 2012, The New York Times reported.

GM called the results of the review "pure speculation," pointing out that the group's claims were based on raw data without full analysis. NHTSA regulators said that there was still not enough evidence to require a formal investigation into airbag defects.

The huge data breach in November and December that affected tens of millions of Target customers could have been prevented, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Target said its security team received an alert about a small amount of hacking but "the team determined it did not warrant immediate follow-up." Bloomberg said Target had set up a system to identify cyberattacks before they did real damage.

The warning may have been one of hundreds Target received that day but it's now investigating whether, with the benefit of hindsight, different judgments would have meant a different outcome.

McDonald's workers in three states filed lawsuits against the company this week, alleging it engages in a variety of practices to avoid paying them what they're owed.

The suits in California, Michigan and New York come amid growing attention on low wages and overtime-pay practices. While the labor violations outlined in the suit aren't specific to McDonald's, lawyers said they targeted the company because it's an industry leader.

The legal action could affect roughly 30,000 workers, lawyers said in a conference call arranged by organizers of the recent fast-food protests. The suits seek back pay and other damages.

The suits were announced as President Obama was called for stricter rules on overtime pay. McDonald's said in a statement that it is investigating the allegations and will take any necessary actions.

"McDonald's and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald's restaurants," the company said.

The U.S. and other global stock markets fell sharply Thursday and this morning. The drop comes as concerns mount over tensions with Russia on Ukraine and signs of slower growth in China.

The Nikkei index in Tokyo ended the week down about 6 percent. European stocks are lower. The Dow Jones index yesterday suffered its worst day in six weeks - sliding 231 points.

The Obama administration is proposing new rules designed to protect students at for-profit colleges from piling up huge debt they can't pay off. Previous rules had been thrown out by a federal judge.

The latest version would penalize programs that produce graduates without the training needed to find a job with a salary that will allow them to pay off their debt. All schools, for-profit or not, that don't comply would lose access to the federal student-aid programs.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow