USA Today: Auto sales are growing so fast that Detroit can barely keep up.
Three years after the U.S. auto industry nearly collapsed, sales of cars and trucks are surging. Sales could exceed 14 million this year, above last year’s 12.8 million.
The result: Carmakers are adding shifts and hiring thousands of workers around the country. Carmakers and parts companies added more than 38,000 jobs last year, reaching a total of 717,000. And automakers have announced plans to add another 13,000 this year, mostly on night shifts.
…. the surge in hiring bolsters the argument of those who supported the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler in 2008…..
AP: Encouraged by Michelle Obama’s campaign to reduce childhood obesity, the company that owns the Olive Garden, Red Lobster and four other popular restaurant chains is pledging to cut the calories and sodium in its meals and overhaul its kids’ fare. Darden Restaurants was unveiling the changes Thursday, with the first lady on hand to lend support.
The company will pledge to reduce the calories and sodium in all its meals by 10 percent over five years, and by 20 percent over 10 years… All kids’ meals will automatically come with a side of fruit or vegetables….
… Darden’s restaurants serve more than 400 million meals annually at more than 1,900 locations nationwide. Its four other restaurant chains are LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.
Darden’s promise is part of a trend by the restaurant industry to serve healthier food ….. White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said Darden’s announcement amounts to a “full-throated endorsement” of the types of changes Mrs. Obama has asked the nation’s restaurant owners and operators to make.
In a National Restaurant Association survey of chefs, two-thirds of those working in the kitchens of family dining, fine dining and fast-food restaurants said their customers were ordering healthier items and paying more attention to nutritional content than they did two years ago.
…. Mrs. Obama participation in Thursday’s announcement, scheduled for an Olive Garden restaurant in the Washington suburb of Hyattsville, Md., will be her latest appearance with retailers and others in support of her anti-obesity efforts.
Protesters stand outside Popovers on the Square as Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry campaigns inside August 18, 2011 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
ABC: …. What Perry may not have loved, however, is the treatment he received just 24-hours later at a meet-and-greet stop in this picturesque Seacoast town where he encountered about two-dozen protesters who shouted at him, held signs with slogans like “Another Texas idiot for sale,” and followed him into a cafe to yell some more.
The protesters, some of whom were senior citizens and members of the New Hampshire Alliance For Retired American gathered on a sidewalk more than an hour before Perry arrived at the event….
As the presidential candidate from Texas walked into a local restaurant, Popovers on the Square, he was forced to shake hands with voters amid shouts of “Hands off Social Security and Medicare!” and “You’re a threat to America” from the anti-Perry forces who gathered just a few feet away from him….
Inside the café, Gail Mitchell (a small-business owner from Barrington) and a companion grilled him: “You said Social Security was unconstitutional.”
“Social Security’s going to be there for those folks,” Perry answered his inquisitors, making reference to the elderly.
“But you said Social Security is unconstitutional,” Mitchell repeated.
“I don’t think I – I’m sorry, you must have,” Perry said before stopping himself.
Instead of elaborating, Perry stuffed a generous piece of popover in his mouth. (Perry called them “pop ups.”)
“I’ve got a big mouthful,” Perry said and then ordering a glass of water. He later tripped over one of the women standing at his side pressing him on Social Security.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” Perry said to her.
In an interview with Newsweek last year, Perry was asked about his opinion on the constitutionality of programs like Social Security and Medicare.
“I don’t think our founding fathers when they were putting the term ‘general welfare’ in there were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care,” Perry said in the interview. “What they clearly said was that those were issues that the states need to address. Not the federal government. I stand very clear on that. From my perspective, the states could substantially better operate those programs if that’s what those states decided to do.”
At a house party in New Hampshire last Saturday, Perry referred to Social Security as a Ponzi scheme.
Steve Benen: When a candidate would rather stuff food in his mouth than answer an important question, it’s safe to say he considers the issue politically problematic.
Later, Ray Sullivan a Perry campaign spokesperson, told reporters he’s “never heard” the governor question the constitutionality of Social Security.
Sullivan may be the only one.
As for Perry’s reluctance to stand by his own positions, what happened to the swagger, Rick? Folks want to know if you stand by what you said about Social Security. You’re not going to let polls and a bunch of aides tell you what to think, are you?
Washington Post: Newly-minted presidential candidate Rick Perry got a taste Thursday of the rough-and-tumble nature of presidential politics, with protesters dogging him on the campaign trail, demanding to know whether he thinks Social Security is unconstitutional and begging him to follow through on threats of Texas seceding.
Nearly two dozen hecklers greeted the Texas governor with signs saying, “Ricky Go Home” and “Seniors Say NO to Ricky.” As Perry prepared for a meet-and-greet at a cafe downtown, they began chanting, “Hands off Social Security and Medicare.”
“He’s appealing to the tea party,” said Larry Drake, a retired federal worker and Democrat who said he came Thursday to show his opposition to the Republican governor. “It’s like George W. Bush on steroids.”
…A man shouted, “Please secede,” referring to comments Perry has made about Texas leaving the United States because of what he considered encroachment by the federal government. Perry ignored them with a tight smile.
Politicususa: On Fox and Friends, guest Laura Ingraham kicked off FNC’s Easter attack on Barack and Michelle Obama by suggesting that Obama is full of ego for handing out autographed commemorative Easter eggs as part of the White House Easter Egg Roll. Ingraham claimed that Laura Bush never did this….Only the Obamas would be so arrogant as to give away autographed Easter Eggs to the kids:
In fact, the tradition of handing out autographed Easter Eggs at the White House event began with…….Ronald Reagan (“Autographed eggs were hidden in the Egg hunt for kids to find during President Ronald Reagan’s reign. By affixing signatures to the commemorative egg, President George W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush became the first to do so”):
Corbis Images: Children play on the lawn of the White House during an Easter Egg Rolling Contest being sponsored by President Ronald Reagan. (April 4, 1983)
Desperate wingnuts sure love embarrassing themselves, eh? 😆
Fred reminded me of similar previous outrages:
‘Obama has no class – he puts his feet on the Oval Office desk! Can you EVER remember a Republican President doing that?!’
‘Obama has no class – he throws a ball around the Oval Office! Can you EVER remember a Republican President doing that?!’
‘Obama has no class – sometimes he doesn’t wear a jacket in the Oval Office! Can you EVER remember a Republican President doing that?!’
‘Obama has no class – he wore flip-flops in Hawaii! Next thing he’ll be wearing Crocs in the White House!”
‘You know, Obama is so classless it wouldn’t surprise me if he eats his meals off the sacred Oval desk!”
First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at the Walmart announcement initiative to make food healthier and more affordable in Washington, January 20
The Guardian: Michelle Obama is to back plans by the world’s biggest retailer, Walmart, to provide its customers healthier and more affordable food options as part of a drive to cut US obesity levels. The first lady has made promoting healthy eating her key initiative in the White House. She will join Walmart representatives at a press conference to launch the initiative later today.
Walmart is planning to cut prices on thousands of its packaged foods, reduce fat and salt content, and cut the prices of fresh fruit and vegetables. The retailer is also expected to address the problem of “food deserts” – poor urban areas that do not have supermarkets. By 2015, the company hopes to have lowered sodium content by 25% and sugar by 10% in its processed goods, and to have phased out any remaining trans-fats.
AP: More children will eat lunches and dinners at school under legislation passed Thursday by the House and sent to the president, part of first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood hunger and fight childhood obesity.
The $4.5 billion bill approved by the House 264-157 would also try to cut down on greasy foods and extra calories by giving the government power to decide what kinds of foods may be sold in vending machines and lunch lines….
The first lady said in a statement after the vote that she was “thrilled” about House passage. She called the bill “a groundbreaking piece of bipartisan legislation that will significantly improve the quality of meals that children receive at school.”
The Senate passed the legislation in August. Republicans attempted to send the bill back to the Senate on Wednesday — instead of straight to President Barack Obama — by using a procedural maneuver to try and amend it with language that would require background checks for child care workers.
Democrats said the amendment was an attempt to kill the bill in the last few weeks of the congressional session because there would be no time for the Senate to pass it again and send it back to the House. They avoided the Senate detour and gave members of their party political cover by passing the background checks in a separate bill Thursday.
First Lady Michelle Obama at Riverside Elementary School in Miami, Florida, November 22. The First Lady was helping launch a new initiative to make fresh salads and salad bars available during lunch break to schools around the country