WASHINGTON: Fighting child food standards
The food and advertising industries have launched a multipronged campaign to squash government efforts to create voluntary nutritional guidelines for children. Calling themselves the Sensible Food Policy Coalition, foodmakers, fast-food chains and media companies, including Viacom and Time Warner, are trying to derail the proposed standards. The guidelines are designed to encourage foodmakers to reduce salt, added sugars and fats for children. Public-health experts say children are bombarded daily by television ads, Web sites, toy giveaways and cartoon characters promoting junk food. The industry portrays the guidelines as job-killing government overreach.
MINNESOTA: Surviving government shutdown
Kent Mechels spent the last three Christmases away from his family, plowing snow off Minnesota roads. It was a hardship he accepted as part of the job. But his latest sacrifice, getting laid off during a state government shutdown entering its second week, has him thinking about quitting. Said Mechels, a single father: "When the state government treats their employees like this, I don't need to be part of it." Many of the 22,000 public employees out of work say they will get through it by tapping into savings and making household spending cuts. But others are looking for new jobs, creating a potential brain drain.
MIDWEST: Flood insurance confusion
Insurance agents in states along the swollen Missouri River basin say Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are causing widespread confusion among property owners by pushing the sale of flood insurance policies that might not cover damage from the river flooding that began this month. The insurance companies say FEMA officials are still urging private agents to sell the insurance, though the policies contain deadlines that appear to exclude the Missouri River damage. The Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri are threatened by the flooding, expected to continue another two months.