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WASHINGTON (AP) — The government shutdown may have affected October's jobs numbers. But not how you think.

In the height of irony, the 16 days of federal worker furloughs and government disruptions may have helped, not hurt, the improved jobs picture.

Because of the shutdown, the Bureau of Labor Statistics delayed the release of the jobs numbers by one week to allow more time to collect payroll and household data. That extra time resulted in an above average response rate for payroll data.

A stronger participation rate can skew the hiring numbers up. As a result, to some economists, Friday's robust jobs number is looking slightly inflated.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — They are among our most personal daily decisions: what to eat or drink. Maybe what to inhale.

Now that the government's banning trans fat, does that mean it's revving up to take away our choice to consume all sorts of other unhealthy stuff?

Salt? Soda? Cigarettes?

Nah.

In the tug-of-war between public health and personal freedom, the Food and Drug Administration's decision to ban trans fats barely rates a ripple.

Hardly anyone defends the icky-sounding artificial ingredient anymore. It was too decades when health activists began warning Americans that it was clogging their arteries and causing heart attacks.

Mostly, Americans' palates have moved on, and so have their arguments over what's sensible health policy and what amounts to a "nanny state" run amok.

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ESCALON, Calif. (AP) - Authorities in California are trying to crack the case of a nut thief who made off with 140,000 pounds of walnuts.

 

   The theft, estimated at nearly $400,000, occurred Sunday in the small Central Valley town of Escalon. Investigators say it was one of the biggest to hit the booming industry. Last month, about 12,000 pounds of walnuts worth $50,000 were stolen from a trailer parked on Highway 99 north of Sacramento.

 

   This time several truckloads of walnuts were taken from the facility. Authorities say rising prices - about $2 per pound - is what appears to be driving the recent walnut thefts.

   No arrests have yet been made.

 

   Walnuts are California's fourth-leading agricultural export. China remains the world's leading producer of walnuts.

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