After decades of rising childhood obesity rates, several American cities are reporting their first declines.
The trend has emerged in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska, and Kearney, Neb. The state of Mississippi has also registered a drop, but only among white students. ...
The drops are small, just 5 percent here in Philadelphia and 3 percent in Los Angeles. But experts say they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation’s most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course.
Before you start printing up flyers crediting your co-op and/or chicken coop, know this: It's not entirely clear why the drop is happening.
People steeped in Washington, D.C., culture like to think that what happens in D.C. is as complex as it is important. That everyone on the Hill and the lobbyists on K Street and the various NGOs scattered around downtown are engaged in tremendously wily, hyper-intelligent combat. Gentlemanly combat, mind you -- cocktail-sipping James-Bond-with-a-cocked-eyebrow scheming -- but combat nonetheless. This is because people like to feel exceptional and smart and important, yourself and myself included.
Happily, D.C. also has a news outlet that is eager to play the game, to lift up the city's generals and parse their feints and strikes. That news outlet is called "Politico," and it is the city's chronicler and enabler. Politico says D.C.'s obsessions are important and the city's obsessives think Politico is the paper of record. It's an elegant cycle.
This morning, Politico ran an article, written by Mike Allen and site co-founder Jim VandeHei, which offered us humble D.C. outsiders a look at what Savvy Washington Generals Say Will Get The Economy Going. "Most politicians in the most powerful positions in Washington agree in private that there are a half-dozen or so big things they could and should do that could put a rocket booster on the U.S. economy," the article began, then warning, "but they are too timid to say it in public."
Whiny kids and Republicans have a lot in common. For example, they both complained enough to weaken still relatively new USDA rules requiring school lunches to be more healthy. Some kids said they were still hungry after eating the new lunches, and Republican legislators (who often act like they’re cranky due to low blood sugar) said the government was meddling too much in local affairs, so now the USDA is lifting the cap on the amount of meats and grains permitted in school meals.
In a letter to Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) [PDF], USDA head Tom Vilsack said the meat and grain limits had been "the top operational challenge" for states and schools in implementing the new standards, in part because they had a hard time locating the "right-sized" meats, and apparently cutting the meats into the right sizes is just too much work.
Guys, thanks to fracking, we have so much natural gas. So much. Like, if you filled up party balloons with the natural gas America produces in a year, you'd have enough to fill your whole house, I assume.* Also: Do not smoke near that.
The study reaffirms that allowing exports would be good for U.S. economic growth. No matter how NERA sets up its model -- different assumptions about U.S. gas resources, domestic demand, or international markets -- the U.S. economy as a whole benefits from allowing exports. This shouldn't be a surprise: the fact that economies gain from allowing trade is pretty robust.
Stop appealing to climate-change deniers with science and moral arguments, folks -- it ain't gonna work. Just get them worrying about their own health and the "purity" of their local environment. At least that's how I'm reading this new study from UC Berkeley published today in the journal Psychological Science.
A UC Berkeley study has found that while people who identified themselves as conservatives tend to be less concerned about the environment than their liberal counterparts, their motivation increased significantly when they read articles that stressed the need to “protect the purity of the environment” and were shown such repellant images as a person drinking dirty water, a forest filled with garbage, and a city under a cloud of smog ...
“These findings offer the prospect of pro-environmental persuasion across party lines,” said Robb Willer, a UC Berkeley social psychologist and coauthor of the study. “Reaching out to conservatives in a respectful and persuasive way is critical, because large numbers of Americans will need to support significant environment reforms if we are going to deal effectively with climate change, in particular.”
Chevron has a lot of money. Which is a good thing, because lawyers are expensive, and Chevron has developed quite an affinity for lawyers. And if you're a Chevron shareholder who dares speak out, expect to hear from them.
The fossil fuel giant faces an $18 billion fine levied by a court in Ecuador stemming from massive pollution in the Amazon rainforest throughout the 1970s and '80s. Chevron is understandably loathe to write a check for that amount, given that it constitutes almost nine months' worth of 2011 profits (or, if you prefer, 25 days worth of revenue). Instead, it would rather unleash an army of esquires who are already on retainer.
The nation's oil and gas boom is driving up income so fast in a few hundred small towns and rural areas that it's shifting prosperity to the nation's heartland, a USA TODAY analysis of government data shows. ...
Inflation-adjusted income is up 3.8% per person since 2007 for the 51 million in small cities, towns and rural areas.
The energy boom and strong farm prices have reversed, at least temporarily, a long-term trend of money flowing to cities. Last year, small places saw a 3% growth in income per person vs. 1.8% in urban areas.
Small-town prosperity is most noticeable in North Dakota, now the nation's No. 2 oil-producing state. Six of the top 10 counties are above the state's Bakken oil field.
"Give us a little shale, and we'll show some pretty good income growth, too," says Bill Connors, president of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce in Idaho.
Connors' comment leads us to the other hand: Rural areas without energy reserves are suffering. Across the country, poverty rates are higher in rural areas than in urban areas, according to the USDA. About half of rural counties have lost population over the last four years, and that's led to a loss of political clout as well. According to the Associated Press and TV news exit polls, rural voters accounted for only 14 percent of the Nov. 6 electorate (and more than 60 percent of them went for Mitt Romney).
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, formerly the Democratic governor of Iowa, told a Farm Journal forum last week that rural America is "becoming less and less relevant." From the Associated Press:
The U.S. Energy Information Agency has a graph showing how its projections for U.S. carbon dioxide output keep being revised downward. In case you didn't get the point, it has a big blue arrow pointing down. They probably had a few meetings to discuss whether the arrow was big enough.
Year after year, the EIA has revised its projections. Its 2013 calculations suggest that 2040 emissions will still be 5 percent lower than what the U.S. produced in 2005. Which is good news!
But it is also higher than what we're emitting today. Every projection from the agency shows an increase in emissions over 2010 levels by 2040. So the celebratory down arrow is maybe a bit much.
Last Friday, the government released its first assessment of the nation's employment since Hurricane Sandy. Surprisingly, the data suggested that the storm hadn't had much impact on unemployment figures, a point called out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. "[O]ur survey response rates in the affected states were within normal ranges," the agency wrote. "Our analysis suggests that Hurricane Sandy did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November."