Government warns citizens, condemns new Arizona law

The Mexican government warned its citizens Tuesday to use extreme caution if visiting Arizona because of a tough new law that requires all immigrants and visitors to carry U.S.-issued documents or risk arrest.

And a government-affiliated agency that supports Mexicans living and working in the United States called for boycotts of Phoenix-based US Airways, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Phoenix Suns until those organizations rebuke the law.

“We are making a strong call to the Arizona government to retract this regressive and racist law that’s impacting not only residents of Arizona, but people in all 50 states and in Mexico as well,” said Raul Murillo, who works with the Institute for Mexicans Abroad, an autonomous agency of Mexico’s Foreign Ministry.

US Airways spokesman Jim Olson said that “we have had absolutely no customers who have canceled fights” as a result of the controversy. Calls to the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Phoenix Suns were not immediately returned.


Five-minute procedure cuts colon cancer deaths

A five-minute colon cancer test could reduce the number of deaths from the disease by about 40 percent, a new study says.

British researchers followed more than 170,000 people for about 11 years. Of those, more than 40,000 had a “flexi-scope” test, an exam that removes polyps, small growths that could become cancerous.

The test involves having a pen-sized tube inserted into the colon so doctors can identify and remove small polyps. Researchers used the test on people in their 50s. In the U.K., government-funded colon cancer screening doesn’t start until age 60.

Researchers compared those results to more than 113,000 people who were not screened. They found the flexi-scope test reduced peoples’ chances of getting colon cancer by one third. It also cut their chances of dying by 43 percent. Researchers said the test needed to be done just once in a person’s lifetime.

The results were published online Wednesday in the medical journal, Lancet.

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Ordinance would ban toys in high-calorie meals

County officials in Silicon Valley trying to curb childhood obesity voted Tuesday to ban restaurants from giving away toys and other freebies that often come with high-calorie meals aimed at kids.

The ordinance is largely symbolic as it would only cover unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County, meaning only about a dozen fast-food outlets and several other family-owned restaurants would be affected.

But its chief sponsor says it’s still important because it paves the way for other areas to act, may spur action by fast-food chains to offer healthier choices and can help parents by taking away a child’s incentive for wanting less healthy food.

The ban, which faces a final vote next month, would prohibit restaurants from giving away an incentive item, like a toy, with a meal that contains more than 485 calories, more than 600 milligrams of sodium and excessive amounts of fat and sugars.

Efforts to trim high calorie food from children’s plates have been made all over the nation, most recently in a campaign led by first lady Michelle Obama. One in three American children is overweight or obese.

The Federal Trade Commission estimated that about $360 million was spent in 2006 on toys that were included in kids’ meals.

A 2008 study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest showed that 10 out of 12 meals that came with toys exceeded the recommended caloric limits for children.


Technicality may delay coverage for young adults

President Obama is pushing to speed up insurance coverage for young adults in their twenties – a key early benefit of his prized health care overhaul – but the law’s fine print suggests some won’t be able to sign up until next year.

What seemed like a simple solution so middle-class parents don’t have to worry about keeping kids insured as they move from home or school to work has generated lots of questions.

The law says employers must start offering extended coverage as early as Sept. 23, but many families will likely have to wait until Jan. 1, 2011 as health care plans typically operate on the calendar year.

On Tuesday, the IRS issued a notice reassuring employers that neither they nor their workers would face negative tax repercussions from expanding coverage immediately. Some businesses weighing whether to act now had worried that traditional tax breaks for employer-sponsored health care might not apply.

The notice clarifies that under the new law, companies offering a cafeteria-style menu of benefits can expand coverage immediately.


House follows Senate lead on congressional pay raise

The House passed a bill Tuesday that would block lawmakers from getting their scheduled $1,600 raise for next year, a symbolic measure designed to show Congress understands the angst of voters suffering from the recession.

The measure, similar to one passed unanimously in the Senate last week, would keep members’ salaries at $174,000, rather than funding a raise that is based on a formula that reflects adjustments in salaries for workers outside of the government.

Under the pay system, congressional pay automatically increases each year unless the body votes to block an increase.

Lawmakers frequently back such pay freezes in election years, and they are generally even more eager to do so in the midst of a recession.


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