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Tuesday, Sep 19th

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Pepsi to pull sugar-sweetened drinks from schools worldwide

Anti-obesity campaigns scored a direct hit today when PepsiCo said it would pull its sugary drinks from schools around the world. PepsiCo, No. 2 worldwide to the Coca-Cola Co., set a 2012 date for removal of all of its full-calorie, sweetened drinks from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012.

PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and others in the industry have already swapped lower-calorie options into schools to replace sugary drinks, under voluntary guidelines adopted in 2006. Sales of full-calorie soft drinks fell 95 percent in U.S. schools between fall 2004 and fall 2009, the American Beverage Association reported last week.

Coke this month said it no longer would sell its other sweetened drinks in grade schools unless parents or school officials asked it to. But Coke didn't extend that change to secondary schools, and today after the Pepsi move Coke said it thought school officials "should have the right to choose what is best for their schools."

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Vitamin D better than vaccines at preventing flu, report claims

Vitamin D was found to be even more effective when the comparison left out children who were already given extra vitamin D by their parents, outside the trial. Taking the sunshine vitamin was then shown to reduce the risk of flu to a third of what it would otherwise be.

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Excellus board voted itself a 37 percent pay raise

The raises for the 17 outside directors came at the same time the nonprofit insurer lost money on its operations and cut the pay of its top executives.

The same year, Excellus increased health insurance rates on average 8 percent. For 2010, the insurer raised its rates an average of 8.8 percent. Both years, some customers saw substantially higher rate increases.

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Ford Had 20 Acceleration Deaths as Regulators Cited Human Error

U.S. regulators have tracked more deaths in vehicles made by Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and other companies combined than by Toyota Motor Corp. during three decades of unintended acceleration reviews that often blamed human error.

Fifty-nine of 110 fatalities attributed to sudden acceleration in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records occurred in vehicles other than those sold by Toyota, whose recalls have drawn widespread attention to the issue, according to data compiled for Bloomberg News by the NHTSA.

The agency received 15,174 complaints involving unintended acceleration in the past decade and has run 141 investigations of the phenomenon since 1980, closing 112 of them without corrective action. NHTSA’s repeated conclusion that crashes occurred because drivers mistakenly stomped the accelerator became a policy position that caused investigators to take complaints of runaway vehicles less seriously than they should have, safety advocates say.

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German Priest Close to Pope Is Suspended in Abuse Case

The priest at the center of a German sex-abuse scandal that has embroiled Pope Benedict XVI was suspended Monday, more than 30 years after the church first heard allegations that he had molested children.

The priest, Peter Hullermann, was suspended after church officials acknowledged in a statement on Friday that he had continued working with children even after being forbidden in 2008. His supervisor, Prelate Josef Obermaier, resigned, according to the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

In 1980, Benedict, then archbishop there, approved Father Hullermann’s move to Munich after he was accused of sexually abusing boys in the Diocese of Essen, though on Friday a deputy took full responsibility for allowing the priest to return to full pastoral duties shortly thereafter. Father Hullermann was convicted of sexually abusing children in the Bavarian town of Grafing in June 1986 by a district court in nearby Ebersberg, church officials said Friday.

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The Peace Movement Versus the 9/11Truth Movement

There is a split, but it has not been initiated, nor is it maintained, by members of the 9/11Truth movement. Truthers stand just as proudly and tall in their opposition to war as anyone in the peace movement. Truthers also are just as fully dedicated to the goals of justice, equality and environmentalism as are anti-war activists.

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The Federal Reserve: The Greatest Scam in History

When the bill for the Federal Reserve was being considered, some brave politicians spoke out against its creation calling it “the strangest, most dangerous advantage ever placed in the hands of a special privilege class by any Government that ever existed” and Congressman Victor Murdock said, “I do not blind myself to the fact that this measure will not be effectual as a remedy for a great national evil – the concentrated control of credit.”

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Torture and the Imperial Presidency

In an ABC television interview on February 14, 2010, former Vice President Dick Cheney mounted a vigorous attack on the Obama administration's departure from its predecessor's embrace of torture as an instrument in the arsenal of the "war on terror."

Cheney's defense of the use of torture was articulated in terms of challenging the possible prosecution by the Obama administration of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives who had engaged in torture, and opposing any effort to disbar lawyers who had been asked by the Bush administration to provide legal justifications for the use of torture after the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington on 9/11. According to Cheney:

"I thought it was important for some senior person in the administration to stand up and defend those people who'd done what we asked them to do."

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Embryonic stem cell research stalled despite Obama's try at lifting restrictions

One year after President Obama announced he was lifting his predecessor's controversial restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, some scientists are complaining that so far the new policy is -- ironically -- more of a burden than a boon to their work.

"The situation at the moment is worse than it was under the Bush administration," said Charles Murry, a professor of pathology and bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Because of this, we are going to waste a lot of time." At issue is the fate of the 21 "lines of cells" that President George W. Bush said could receive federal funding.

Bush limited federal funding to the lines that were already in existence in 2001. He wanted to prevent taxpayer dollars from encouraging the destruction of more embryos to create more lines. Critics of the research praised Bush's move, arguing that destroying embryos to obtain the cell lines is immoral. But the restrictions were condemned by many scientists, who argued they were hindering research that could lead to cures for Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, paralysis and other ailments.

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