Thursday, September 19

● 50 influential marijuana users

● Child hunger in America

● Health care disparities among the states

● Casting a wary eye on online schools

● Consumers confused by food expiration dates

● Unprotected children in car crashes

Top 50 influential marijuana users
The Marijuana Policy Project released its annual Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users list. Among top listees: President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, former President Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, television show hosts Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Child hunger in America
A report from the Food Research and Action Center estimates that nearly 25% of U.S. households with children cannot afford to provide food on a consistent basis. The report notes that economic recession has left large numbers of households struggling to purchase adequate food, but those with children suffered extraordinarily high rates.

Health care disparities among the states
A 50-state survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund reveals that access to affordable health care and the quality of care vary greatly for low-income people based on where they live. The survey compares the health care experiences of the 39% of Americans with incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty level.

Casting a wary eye on online schools
A survey conducted by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan think tank in New York City, casts doubt on the quality of online education. The survey found that 56% of employers prefer a job applicant with a traditional degree from an average school over an applicant with a degree from a top online university; and 61% of community college students say online classes require more discipline from students although 42% believe students learn less online.

Consumers confused by food expiration dates
A report from the Natural Resources Defense Council claims 90% of Americans may be prematurely tossing food into the garbage as a result of America’s dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices. The report, The Dating Game: How confusing food date labels lead to food waste in America, analyzes the tangle of loose federal and state laws relating to food date labels.

Unprotected children in car crashes
More than one-third of children under age 13 who died in car crashes in 2011 were not in car seats or wearing seat belts, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. Every day in 2011, two children under age 13 were killed and 338 were injured while riding in cars, NHTSA said.

Park Service keeps birthday tab a secret
A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility seeks documents related to the National Park Service’s plans for celebrating the agency’s 100th anniversary in 2016. The NPS response to PEER’s request failed to include information about a $30 million contract and the opening of a Centennial Office to coordinate activities.

Volunteer eldercare survey results
Nearly one-fourth of eldercare providers are not paid for their services, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported using data from the American Time Use Study. Caregivers counted in the study may be household members or persons living in retirement or assisted care facilities, and can involve a range of activities such as grooming, preparing meals, and providing transportation.

Consumers get advice to avoid Obamacare fraud
The Office of Inspector General posted a checklist of precautionary warnings to advise how to recognize and avoid being victimized by fraud in the Health Care Marketplace. At the top of the list: do not pay money to people who provide advice or enrollment assistance.

For Immediate Release is a daily compilation of press releases found on more than 1,000 websites that are maintained by the federal government and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.

Click for access to an archive of past For Immediate Release reports.

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LISTEN: The Weekend Ahead – December 20-22, 2014

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New E.U. sanctions against Crimea go into effect, Liberia holds elections and President Obama hits the Sunday morning talk show circuit.

LISTEN: The World in 2:00 – December 19, 2014

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President Obama disagrees with Sony’s decision to scrap release of “The Interview,” and Ban Ki-moon surveys Ebola-affected West Africa.

Obama: Benefits Of Keystone Would Be Minimal

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“There is very little impact, nominal impact, on U.S. gas prices, what the average American consumer cares about,” Obama said.

Pentagon: Hagel Briefed Friday On Army’s Report On Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

Bergdahl, who was held in Afghanistan for five years as prisoner of a pro-Taliban group, was released in a prisoner exchange with five Taliban commanders previously held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in May.

Obama: Sony ‘Made A Mistake’ In Pulling Controversial Film

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“We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can impose censorship here in the United States,” Obama said.

Interview: The Holiday Season And Donating To The Wounded Warrior Project

Wounded Warrior Project CEO Steve Nardizzi is interviewed by TRNS.