GOP Hits Michelle Obama's School Lunch Nagging; Dow Predicts Presidential Race

Sunday, 23 Sep 2012 03:00 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. GOP Bill Targets Michelle Obama's School Lunch Rules
2. Two-Month Dow Average Predicts Presidential Race
3. Remedial College Courses Get Failing Grade
4. New York Ranks as 'Dirtiest City' — Again
5. Newspaper Ad Revenues Plunge to '83 Level
6. We Heard: Richard Grenell, O.J. Simpson, Economic Freedom
 

1. GOP Bill Targets Michelle Obama's School Lunch Rules

Republican Rep. Steve King has introduced legislation to repeal new rules — promoted by first lady Michelle Obama — capping the number of calories in school lunches served to students.

"The misguided nanny state, as advanced by Michelle Obama's 'Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act,' was interpreted by [Agriculture Secretary Tom] Vilsack to be a directive that, because some kids are overweight, he would put every child on a diet," said the Iowa lawmaker.

"Parents know that their kids deserve all the healthy and nutritious food they want."

The bill was signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 and went into effect in July. It caps the number of lunch calories for students in kindergarten through fifth grade at 650, and at 700 calories for grades six through eight. High school lunches can contain no more than 850 calories.

The law calls for larger portions of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium, and the elimination of trans fat in lunches. Schools may serve only nonfat or low-fat milk.

To qualify as a subsidized, reimbursable meal, a lunch must have at least a half-cup of fruit or vegetables, the Arizona Republic reported, noting that schools in Phoenix are now offering steamed broccoli, purple grapes, turkey bacon, baked potatoes, and strawberry-kiwi slushies.

Rep. King and Republican co-sponsors of his bill aren't the only ones protesting the new rules. On Monday, 70 percent of the students at Mukwonago High School in Wisconsin who normally buy lunch boycotted the school's cafeteria to protest what they view as an unfair "one size fits all thing," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Middle school students in the district also boycotted their school lunches, and other schools across the country are reporting students who are unhappy with the new rules.

One of those Mukwonago students, Nick Blohm, is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound linebacker on the school football team. He lifts weights in the morning and practices football for three hours after school, burning up some 3,000 calories before he heads home for dinner.

His school lunches are now limited to 850 calories.

Last year, lunch favorites at the school included chicken nuggets and mini corn dogs. Now the super nacho plate offers just eight tortilla chips.

Forgoing school lunches, Blohm has been packing his own lunch from home, according to the Journal Sentinel. One day this week he had a bag of raw carrots, two ham sandwiches on wheat bread, two granola bars, an apple, and three applesauce cups. Estimated total: 1,347 calories.

"I've already told my mom we might be packing my lunch for the rest of the year," he said.

Pam Harris, the district food service supervisor and a registered dietitian, also isn't happy with the new guidelines.

"Limiting calories in school lunch is not going to help the overweight kid," she said. "What happens at home is a major piece of that puzzle."

Touting the new school lunch policy, Michelle Obama said in January: "When we send our kids to school, we expect that they won't be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we try to keep them from eating at home."

But another GOP sponsor of Rep. King's bill, Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, said the new guidelines are a "perfect example of what is wrong with government: misguided inputs, tremendous waste, and unaccomplished goals."

Editor's Note:



2. Two-Month Dow Average Predicts Presidential Race

The rise or fall of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the two months before a presidential election has been a remarkably accurate predictor of who will win in November.

In the elections since 1900, the Dow has predicted whether the incumbent party retains the White House with nearly 90 percent accuracy — 25 out of 28 times — according to James Stack, president of InvesTech Research.

If the Dow average goes up in the period from roughly Labor Day to Election Day, the incumbent president or party will likely retain the presidency.

For instance, in 1972 the Dow was up 2.3 percent in those two months, and Richard Nixon was re-elected.

Then in 1976, when the Dow was down 1.9 percent, the Republicans lost the White House and Jimmy Carter was elected.

Again in 1980 the Dow was down, and Carter was ousted by Ronald Reagan. Then in 1984, when the Dow was up, Reagan was re-elected.

Republicans held on to the White House in 1988, with the Dow up, and George H.W. Bush was elected. But four years later, when the Dow was down, he was beaten by Bill Clinton.

In 1996, the Dow was up by a large margin, 8.5 percent, and Clinton was re-elected. But in 2000, it was down and Democrats lost the presidency to George W. Bush.

The only exception to the rule in recent decades came in 2004, when the Dow was down 2.5 percent but Bush was re-elected.

Most recently, the Dow was down a whopping 14 percent in 2008, and Barack Obama bested the Republican candidate to win the election.

A rising stock market usually reflects investors' belief that the economic outlook is brightening, and that boosts the odds of the incumbent candidate or party winning, USA Today observes.

Right now the Dow favors President Obama — it's up about 4 percent since Sept. 4. But there are still important economic data to be released before the election, including two jobs reports, and that could boost the odds for Mitt Romney.

Editor's Note:



3. Remedial College Courses Get Failing Grade

About one-fifth of all U.S. students attending a four-year college take at least one remedial course — and 65 percent of them fail to earn a degree within six years.

The situation at community colleges is even worse — most students are in at least one remedial course, and fewer than 10 percent of them will graduate within three years.

This year more than 2 million college students will spend some of their time reviewing what they were supposed to learn before leaving high school, according to Richard Vedder, who directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and teaches economics at Ohio University.

The failure of high schools to properly prepare students for college is partly to blame. A recent study disclosed that less than one-third of graduating high school seniors met benchmark standards for science, and most failed to meet them for math. Large numbers also are lacking in English and reading.

To deal with this problem, colleges offer remedial courses, but "the problem is that these courses do a bad job of correcting these deficiencies," says Vedder.

Colleges are also to blame for admitting students who are not prepared for college work. These students are unlikely to succeed despite the remedial courses, and affect deserving students because professors will simply "dumb down" the curriculum for the benefit of the poorly prepared students.

"U.S. colleges should not take hundreds of thousands of ill-prepared students and put them through ineffective remedial-education programs only to see them fail to graduate while running up significant college loan debt," writes Vedder, whose article appeared on Bloomberg.com.

"Many of these academically marginal students might excel in non-college vocational programs that teach skills in relatively high-demand jobs, which pay reasonably well.

"In today's economy, why is a bachelor's degree in marketing more valuable than training in high-tech manufacturing?"

College administrators, he adds, "should be ashamed of their role in protecting these failed programs for decades."

Editor's Note:



4. New York Ranked as 'Dirtiest City' — Again

After dropping to No. 5 last year from the previous year's top spot, New York City has once again been named the "Dirtiest City" in America.

Travel + Leisure magazine conducted an online poll of 50,000 people to determine which large American city is the worst for grit and grime, based on such factors as litter and air pollution and even the taste of the local tap water.

The cities ranking near the top of the list as the dirtiest are "big, and most have a bustling nightlife," the magazine observes. "Partiers tend to be on the younger side — and that may add to the disarray."

New York was also chosen as the loudest city and the rudest city, and the worst for affordability, although it ranked first for its theater, stylish locals, diversity, and luxury stores.

New Orleans is No. 2 on the Dirtiest list, after topping the list last year. But it's No. 1 for wild weekends, bars, and friendly locals.

Baltimore has "risen" from No. 6 last year to third on this year's list. It's followed by Los Angeles, thanks to its reputation for smog, and Atlanta, which rose from last year's No. 9 and is ranked next-to-last for "feeling safe." But readers lauded its genteel shopping and barbecue.

Rounding out the worst 15 are Philadelphia at No. 6, followed by Dallas/Ft. Worth, Miami, Memphis, Houston, San Francisco, Washington, Las Vegas, Boston, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Many of the "dirty" cities are working hard to improve, however, the magazine notes. In July, Atlanta became the latest city to ban smoking in public parks, with fines up to $1,000 for offenders, in hopes of keeping butts off green spaces. Boston recently installed 400 solar-powered trash compactors on city sidewalks to keep cans from overflowing, and in Las Vegas, people handing out adult "advertisements" on the Strip now have to pick up dropped fliers every 15 minutes.

Editor's Note:



5. Newspaper Ad Revenues Plunge to '83 Level

The ad revenue collected by U.S. newspapers has dropped sharply ever since online news sites began rising to prominence, reaching the same level in real dollars that it had way back in 1983.

Total revenue for print newspapers stood at $20.6 billion in 2011, according to the Newspaper Association of America. Revenue stood at $2 billion in 1950 and rose steadily through the years, reaching $20.5 billion in 1983 and topping out at $48.6 billion in 2000.

But it has been on the decline since that time, when some papers began to offer online versions and web-only news sites gained in popularity.

The sharpest drops came in 2009 (down 28.6 percent) and 2008 (17.7 percent).

Classified advertising revenue in particular has taken a huge beating in recent years, dropping from $19.6 billion in 2000 to just $5 billion last year.

The situation is even worse for print newspapers when inflation is taken into account. The $2 billion in revenue earned in 1950 is equal to about $20 billion today, so revenue in inflation-adjusted dollars has now fallen back to 1950 levels.

Online revenue for newspapers, meanwhile, has risen from $1.2 billion in 2003, the first time figures were reported by the Association, to $3.2 billion in 2011.

Newspapers haven't been able to compensate for the drop in total ad revenue by increasing revenue from circulation. That revenue stood at $9.98 billion last year, compared to $9.96 billion in 1996 and $10.2 billion in 2007.

Editor's Note:



6. We Heard...

THAT former Mitt Romney spokesman Richard Grenell has been named by Klout as one of the top five Republican political strategists in social media.

San Francisco-based Klout measures a person's overall online influence by analyzing multiple social networks, including Twitter and Facebook.

Grenell, who served as director of communications for the U.S. mission to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, was named as the third most influential strategist in social media.

During an appearance by Grenell on CNN, host Michelle Jaconi told Grenell he placed so high on the list "because so many people start dialogues with you. And that's really the trick."

Karl Rove topped the list, followed by political strategist Patrick Ruffini, Grenell, Romney press secretary Andrea Saul, and political consultant Mike Murphy.

Grenell is also on the Advisory Board of Newsmax Media and LIGNET, Newsmax's global intelligence and forecasting service.

THAT nearly 20 years after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of killing his ex-wife Nicole and Ronald Goldman, trial witness Kato Kaelin has finally spoken out about Simpson's guilt or innocence.

He told New York Post columnist Cindy Adams: "The statute of limitations has now passed . . . so I can now say . . . yes, he did it."

He provided no details.

As for why he didn't come forward sooner, he said: "I was too scared. I was terrified."

Kaelin was staying at a guest house on the Simpson property and was present on the night of the 1994 murders. He testified at Simpson's criminal trial but was labeled by the prosecution as a hostile witness.

Simpson was acquitted of the murders in 1995, but later found liable for the deaths in a civil suit filed by the victims' families. The former football hero is currently locked up in a Nevada prison for armed robbery and other crimes.

THAT a new ranking of economic freedom in nations around the world has been released, and the United States is not even in the top 15.

The Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World 2012 index measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries support economic freedom, taking into account such factors as regulation, property rights, and size of government.

Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom this year, followed in order by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Australia.

The United States placed only 18th, but ahead of Japan (20th), Germany (31st), Russia (95th), China (107th), and India (111th).

At the bottom: Venezuela, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe.

 

Note: Newsmax magazine is now available on the iPad. Find us in the App Store.

Editor's Note:



Editor's Notes:

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