Modest weight loss can have lasting health benefits
A modest weight loss of 20 pounds can help overweight and obese people achieve a decade’s worth of important health benefits, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention. A national study of 3,000 overweight people showed, for example, that a modest loss of 14 pounds reduced the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58%.
State fairgoers warned to stay away from pigs
The Centers for Disease Control reported 12 new cases of humans infected with influenza A (H3N2) in three states: Hawaii (1 case), Ohio (10 cases) and Indiana (1 case). All 10 of the Ohio cases involved people who came into contact with pigs while attending the Ohio State Fair.
July job report
Employment rose by 163,000 jobs in July, but the nation’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.3%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a report that is a key measure of the nation’s economic health. BLS said 12.8 million people are not working. Joblessness is especially acute among teenagers (23.8%) and blacks (14.1%).
Road money goes to states and cities
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $363 million in roadbuilding grants to the 50 states. The money will be used by states, cities and local communities to repair and reconstruct roads and bridges. A list of grants is here.
Tobacco companies manipulate products to avoid taxes
A report from the Centers for Disease Control shows that tobacco companies are manipulating their products to avoid taxes and regulations that are meant to reduce smoking, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said. Among other things, tobacco companies have mislabeled roll-your-own tobacco as “pipe tobacco” and they have increased the weight of cigars to escape higher taxes imposed by a 2009 law.
Help for homeowners
Housing & Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller appear in a public service announcement that informs homeowners facing foreclosure about resources available to them through the $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement fund. The money comes from the nation’s five largest mortgage settlers—Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo—to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses.
Bad beef recall
Kenosha Beef International is recalling 37,600 pounds of frozen bacon cheeseburger patties because they might contain pieces of material from a broken gasket, the Food Safety & Inspection Service said. The product was distributed under the “Sam’s Choice” label in Indiana, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
Mayo Clinic settles false claims allegations
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and three of its entities agreed to pay $1.26 million to settle charges that false claims were submitted to the Medicare and Medicaid programs for surgical pathology services that were not actually performed, the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota said. The suit was instigated by a whistleblower who will receive a share of the settlement.
Mexican state governor took narcomoney
Mario Villanueva Madrid, the former governor of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to launder millions of dollars in narcotic bribe payments from the Juarez Cartel—one of Mexico’s most notorious and violent cocaine cartels. Upon taking office, Madrid began taking bribes to allow tons of cocaine to move through his state on their way to the U.S., the Manhattan U.S. Attorney said.
State-funded R&D projects
The National Science Foundation said in a report that states spent $1.2 billion for research and development projects during fiscal 2009, a 7% increase over the fiscal 2007 total of $1.1 billion. The report, which contains state-by-state statistics and project descriptions, was compiled by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.
Health care jobs for veterans
Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $2.3 million in grants to train veterans to become primary care physician assistants. “If you can save a life on the battlefield, you can save a life at home,” Sebelius said. The grants are going to 12 schools in 10 states.
Dust: A different kind of foreign invasion
With a 3-D view of the atmosphere now possible from satellites, NASA and university scientists have made the first estimate of the amount and composition of tiny airborne particles that arrive in the air over North America each year. The scientists determined that dust—not pollution—is the main ingredient and estimated that 64 million tons of dust, pollution and other particles that have potential climate and human health effects survive a trans-ocean journey to arrive in North America each year.
Medicaid providers are tax scofflaws
About 7,000 Medicaid providers in Florida, New York and Texas collected approximately $6.6 billion in federal reimbursements in 2009, but they also failed to pay an estimated $791 million in federal taxes, the Government Accountability Office said in testimony to Congress. The GAO’s findings drew criticism from Citizens Against Government Waste whose president, Tom Schatz, said “much of the missing money could have been collected if the federal government had applied a continuous levy on the reimbursements being paid to known tax cheats.”
Mixing religion and politics
“Religious liberty is at the heart of what it means to be an American, but it is also at the center of some of our fiercest debates,” says People for the American Way senior fellow Peter Montgomery in a report entitled 12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics. The report confronts key religion-based issues such as health insurance coverage for contraception, marriage equality, and the role of religion in the 2012 presidential campaign.
Congress lags behind public on marriage equality
The Human Rights Campaign released the first-ever survey of the marriage equality positions of members of Congress. The survey found 36 senators and 145 representatives support marriage equality while 52 senators and 182 representatives are opposed.