A little-known bill making its way through Arizona's legislature would make it illegal for local governments to restrict the use of toy giveaways to promote fast-food, like McDonalds' Happy Meals. Fast-food companies are behind the measure, HB 2490, which was approved in Arizona's House Commerce Committee by a vote of 6-2. Now it is headed for a full vote in the House. The Arizona Restaurant Association, which lobbies for fast food interests, is backing the bill. San Francisco recently passed a measure restricing such toy giveaways, but the law doesn't ban "Happy Meals." Rather, it prevents restaurants from using toys to attract children to meals that have particularly low nutritional value and excessive amounts of fat or sugar. Arizona recently ranked among the top "10 States with the Deadliest Eating Habits", and the state has the second-fewest grocery stores per person, which results in more people buying fast food. As a result, Arizona ranks fourth in per capita expenditures on fast food. The effort by fast-food companies to pass the measure comes on the heels of studies that show fast food chains have been significantly [p://www.prwatch.org/node/9587 increasing] their marketing targeted at children in the last few years.
Scientists, politicians and Nobel laureates lauded billionaire David H. Koch at an event on March 4, 2011 for donating hundreds of millions of dollars to cancer research. Koch decided to put money towards cancer research after he contracted prostate cancer in 1992.
Connecticut residents who believe their state should be the first in the nation to set up a public health insurance option to compete with private insurers should brace themselves for what will be a beautifully packaged, seemingly well-researched study from the insurance industry to convince them otherwise.
America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a big Washington-based lobbying group, last week told Connecticut lawmakers (pdf) that -- surprise, surprise -- they would be making a very big mistake if they approved funding to get the public option, called SustiNet, up and running. AHIP said it had hired "a well-known consulting firm" to produce a study that would support the conclusions the industry had already reached about SustiNet. AHIP even had the audacity to claim that said study would be an "objective analysis."
As Congressional Republicans seek ways to starve the new health care reform law of necessary funding -- and Democrats try to keep that from happening -- it's easy to lose sight of the reasons why reform was pursued in the first place.
For a reminder, lawmakers might want to spend a few hours in Nashville this weekend. I'm betting they would behave differently when they got back to Washington on Monday.
If they arrived in Nashville by Friday afternoon, those legislators would see an ever-growing line of cars and trucks outside a locked gate at McGavock High School. At midnight, the gate will be opened, enabling the occupants of those cars and trucks to camp out in the parking lot for hours, maybe even days. Many of these folks will have driven hundreds of miles to receive care from doctors and nurses and other caregivers volunteering their time to treat as many people as possible before they all pack up and go home Sunday evening.
The NFL threatened Toyota to get the auto maker to modify a television commercial that highlighted the problem of the brain damage football players suffer from repeated concussions. In the original version of Toyota's ad which aired last November, a mother says she worries about her son playing football as viewers are shown two young players colliding head to head. The scene is enhanced with crashing sounds, as animated force lines ripple from the player's helmeted heads. The mother says Toyota's decision to share crash research with scientists who study football concussions makes her feel more comfortable about her son playing football. The ad bore no NFL trademarks or team names, but the NFL threatened to end the car maker's ability to advertise its products during games if it didn't modify the ad to downplay football as a cause of traumatic brain injury. Toyota capitulated, and in the new version of the ad, the helmet collision has been removed and the mother now worries about "my son playing sports," instead of "playing football."
By devoting just two minutes to health care reform in his State of the Union address -- and not mentioning it until half way through the remarks -- President Obama was signaling Americans that he believes the health reform debate is over, that Republicans would be wasting precious time by "refighting the battles of the last two years."
While noting that "anything can be improved" and that he would welcome ideas to improve the bill he signed into law last March, Obama offered only two subjects that might warrant renewed attention -- and one of those is sure to set off alarms among consumer advocates and trial lawyers, though changes seem unlikely.
Taco Bell is facing a class-action lawsuit that charges the fast food chain wrongly advertises that its products contain "beef." The suit claims Taco Bell uses too little beef and too many fillers, binders and extenders in the meat mixture they use in their tacos and burritos, and that the mixture fails to meet the requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be called "beef." Taco Bell denied the accusation and in response is running full-page print ads in big newspapers like USAToday, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and online in which the chain's president says "Plain ground beef tastes boring."
If you want to know how things really get done in Washington -- or don't get done, depending on the desires of America's corporate executives -- all you have to do is read a couple of paragraphs in a January 23 story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Reporter Joe DiStefano quotes a vice president at APCO Worldwide -- one of DC's most powerful and influential PR firms -- in response to questions about my book, Deadly Spin. Throughout the book, I disclose the previously secretive work APCO did for the health insurance industry to manipulate public opinion on health care reform, in part by trying to scare people away from a movie, Michael Moore's 2007 documentary "Sicko".
The surprising gem in the Inquirer piece was that APCO VP Bill Pierce essentially agreed with me. He acknowledged that interest-funded pressure groups "are all over the place" in Washington. "That's how everybody exists here," Pierce said.