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NY Times on a 43% drop in obesity levels in the youngest children:

Experts point to several possible explanations for the fall, but say a full understanding remains elusive. Children now consume fewer calories from sugary beverages than they did in 1999. More women are breast-feeding, which can lead to a healthier range of weight gain for young children. Federal researchers have also chronicled a drop in overall calories for children in the past decade, down by 7 percent for boys and 4 percent for girls, but health experts said those declines were too small to make much difference.

Another explanation is that some combination of state, local and federal policies aimed at reducing obesity is starting to have an effect. Michelle Obama has led a push to change young children’s eating and exercise habits and 10,000 child care centers across the country have signed on. Many scientists doubt that anti-obesity programs actually work, but proponents of the programs say a broad set of policies applied systematically over a period of time can affect behavior.

Slawomir Sierakowsky:
It is true that the foreign ministers of Germany and Poland worked hard to negotiate a truce between the opposition and Mr. Yanukovych. But their determination came not from the belief that a strong Europe stood behind them, but rather from the awareness that the West would not defend the opposition if it came under attack by Mr. Yanukovych’s armed forces or those of President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

The events of the last week have made it clear that the European Union is an attractive economic arrangement — but one that is devoid of opportunities for pursuing serious foreign or defense policies.

See also: Don't Count Out Tymoshenko in Ukraine from Bloomberg.

More politics and policy below the fold.

HUFFPOLLSTER: Arizona Republicans Back Veto Of SB1062
As Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer weighs whether to sign a bill that would allow businesses to deny services to gay customers, top national Republicans just want the issue to go away.

Proponents of the legislation – which Brewer has until Saturday to sign or veto and is reportedly leaning against – say the bill is designed to protect religious liberty. But many Washington Republicans see it as a political loser, giving the left another cudgel to attack conservatives as intolerant, while motivating liberals and younger voters ahead of the midterm elections. It also threatens to widen the chasm between social conservatives and GOP operatives, who have become increasingly public in their support for gay marriage.

Another Significant Milestone: Marketplace Enrollment Hits 4 Million
#ACASignups Drat. I was off by 0.9% this time: #Obamcare @LOLGOP @Eclectablog @DemFromCT @ThePlumLineGS @CitizenCohn
Greg Sargent:
The bigger story here is that, in order to sell these Obamacare “horror stories,” AFP needs to either shield the full stories from comprehensive scrutiny or actively mislead about them. AFP’s indictment of Obamacare now rests largely on cancelled plans and the subsequent unpredictability people are now enduring, both of which are being used to create the impression that untold numbers of people are getting shafted by the law. Given that Obama did falsely claim people could keep their plans, perhaps Dems are vulnerable to this attack.

But the plain fact remains that these Obamacare horror stories simply don’t reflect a full accounting of the overall impact the law is actually having on its alleged victims. And this is crucial to the broader Republican “Obamacare horror stories” strategy, too — it is a feature of the strategy, not a bug.

Jonathan Chait:
Is It Mean to Debunk Lies About Obamacare?

In response to Greg Sargent, who has written a series of posts debunking the claims made by putative Obamacare victims, York added a fourth argument – the woman has cancer:

AFP's media allies make it plain: If you fact check group's ads, you will be accused of attacking/silencing cancer victim.
@ThePlumLineGS Hit 'em harder! Don't let those cancer patients get away with it!
So the new rule in conservative media is that, if you have a terrible enough disease, your claims can be used in attack ads and any reporter who tries to verify them is insensitive to their illness. Too bad conservatives hadn't discovered this principle in 2012, because it would have been fun to watch them defending that ad featuring a man blaming Mitt Romney for his wife's death.
Talking Points Memo:
Oops: GOP Bill Would Strip 1 Million Workers Of Health Coverage

A Republican-led bill designed to "save American workers" would cause 1 million workers to lose their health care coverage and increase the deficit by $74 billion, according to Congress' official scorekeeper.

The legislation, offered by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN) and 208 co-sponsors as a tweak to Obamacare, would change the definition of a full-time work week under the health care law from 30 hours per week to 40 hours. The aim was to mitigate the effect of the law's employer mandate, which says businesses with 50 or more workers must offer insurance to full-time employees.

Jonathan Chait excoriates pediatricians (and has a point!):
Trust them – they’re doctors! Not small-business owners trying to exclude the competition with hand-waving claims about complexity.

It is surely true that some routine ear infections will turn out to be a “more serious, underlying condition,” and that, theoretically, a single doctor with a long-term relationship may have a slightly better chance of correctly diagnosing the condition. But accepting the higher cost and massive inconvenience of traditional office-based medical care in order to ward off that tiny and probably nonexistent risk is the sort of trade-off that incumbent interests are always defending, but which has made American medicine the worst deal in the advanced world.

I'm a pediatrician, but I can't find myself attacking urgent care clinics for filling a gap that needs filling (otoh if your pediatrician's office IS open, and many are open weekends and evenings, go there).


Conservative activists threatened revenge for Republican governors who boosted Obamacare. Now it looks like they were mostly blowing smoke.

Around the country, Republicans who defied the base and embraced Obamacare’s massive expansion of Medicaid are better positioned for reelection than those who did not. None has garnered a serious primary challenge so far, and even Democrats have struggled to field strong contenders to take them on.

Alex Roarty:
Under Attack From the Establishment, Tea-Party Candidacies Fizzling
Unvetted candidates are hurting the reputations of conservative outside groups.
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