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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

   WASHINGTON (AP) — Even the scoreboards in high school gyms eventually will have to promote good health.
   Moving beyond the lunch line, new rules that will be proposed Tuesday by the White House and the Agriculture Department would limit marketing of unhealthy foods in schools. They would phase out the advertising of sugary drinks and junk foods around campuses during the school day and ensure that other promotions in schools were in line with health standards that already apply to school foods.
   That means a scoreboard at a high school football or basketball game eventually wouldn't be allowed to advertise Coca-Cola, for example, but it could advertise Diet Coke or Dasani water, which is also owned by Coca-Cola Co. Same with the front of a vending machine. Cups, posters and menu boards advertise foods that don't meet the standards would also be phased out.
   Ninety percent of such marketing in schools is related to beverages, and many soda companies already have started to transition their sales and advertising in schools from sugary sodas and sports drinks to their own healthier products.
   The proposed rules are part of first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative to combat child obesity, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary this week. Mrs. Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the new rules at a White House event.
   "When parents are working hard at home, they need to rest assured that those efforts aren't being undone when kids are out of their control at school," Sam Kass, White House senior nutrition policy adviser, said ahead of the announcement.
   The rules also would allow more children access to free lunches and ensure that schools have wellness policies in place.
   The proposed rules come on the heels of USDA regulations that are now requiring foods in the school lunch line to be healthier.
   Rules set to go into effect next school year will make other foods around school healthier as well, including in vending machines and separate "a la carte" lines in the lunch room. Calorie, fat, sugar and sodium limits will have to be met on almost every food and beverage sold during the school day at 100,000 schools. Concessions sold at afterschool sports games would be exempt.
   The healthier food rules have come under fire from conservatives who think the government shouldn't dictate what kids eat — and from some students who don't like the healthier foods.
   Aware of the backlash, the USDA is allowing schools to make some of their own decisions on what constitutes marketing and asking for comments on some options. For example, the proposal asks for comments on initiatives like Pizza Hut's "Book It" program, which coordinates with schools to reward kids with pizza for reading.
   Rules for other school fundraisers, like bake sales and marketing for those events, would be left up to schools or states.
   Off-campus fundraisers, like an event at a local fast-food outlet that benefits a school, still would be permitted. But posters advertising the fast food may not be allowed in school hallways. An email to parents — with or without the advertising — would have to suffice. The idea is to market to the parents, not the kids.
   The rule also makes allowances for major infrastructure costs — that scoreboard advertising Coca-Cola, for example, wouldn't have to be immediately replaced. But the school would eventually have to get a new one with a healthier message.
   The beverage industry — led by companies Coca-Cola Co., Dr Pepper Snapple Group and PepsiCo — is on board with the move. American Beverage Association President and CEO Susan Neely said in a statement that aligning signage with the healthier drinks that will be offered in schools is the "logical next step."
   "Mrs. Obama's efforts to continue to strengthen school wellness make sense for the well-being of our schoolchildren," Neely said.
   Although Mrs. Obama lobbied Congress to pass the school nutrition bill in 2010, most of her efforts in recent years have been focused on the private sector, building partnerships with food companies and retailers to sell healthier foods.
   The child nutrition law also expanded feeding programs for hungry students. The rules being proposed Tuesday would increase that even further by allowing the highest-poverty schools to serve lunch and breakfast to all students for free. According to the USDA and the White House, that initiative would allow 9 million children in 22,000 schools to receive free lunches.
   The USDA has already tested the program, which is designed to increase participation for students and reduce paperwork and applications for schools, in 11 states.
   In addition, the Obama administration will announce new guidelines for school wellness policies. Schools have been required to have general wellness policies that set their own general standards for foods, physical activity and other wellness activities since 2004. But the new rules would require parents and others in the school community to be involved in those decisions.

Website of Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox offline

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:24 Published in National News
   TOKYO (AP) — The website of major Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox is offline amid reports it suffered a debilitating theft, a new setback for efforts to gain legitimacy for the virtual currency.
   The URL of the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox was returning a blank page. The disappearance of the site follows the resignation Sunday of Mt. Gox from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, a group seeking legitimacy for the currency.
   Separately, several Bitcoin exchanges released a joint statement saying that funds under their control are held securely.
   The Bitcoin operators said they are working to "re-establish the trust squandered" by the failings of Mt. Gox, which should not be considered a reflection of the value of Bitcoin or the digital currency industry.
   A "crisis strategy" report shared widely online that purports to be an internal Mt. Gox document says more than 740,000 Bitcoins are missing from the exchange, which froze withdrawals earlier this month.
   The cloud hanging over Mt. Gox is a possibly fatal blow to Bitcoin. Supporters of the virtual currency have said its cryptography makes it immune to theft or counterfeiting.
   On Bitcoin exchanges, the currency's value has fallen below $500 from about $550 in the past few hours,
   Bitcoin was started in 2009 as a currency free from government controls. It had been inching toward broader acceptance despite wild swings in value in the past year. For most of the currency's history, each digital coin had been worth less than $10.

Wacha workload not a concern for Cardinals

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 03:12 Published in Sports
   JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - The Cardinals are not putting a limit on the workload for young pitching star Michael Wacha.
   Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist says there's no reason to. Wacha pitched 170 innings last year and his coach says he could be a 200 inning guy this year.
   Wacha's readiness became more important this weekend after Jaime Garcia returned to St. Louis to have his surgically repaired shoulder examined.
   Last season, only Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn eclipsed the 200-inning mark for the Cardinals.
   Shelby Miller exceeded 170 innings as a rookie, but the team slowed him down.
 

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