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The Takeaway: Obama's Jobs Plan; Weed for Weight Loss?

Stimulus Plan Redux: So did you hear Barack Obama gave a speech about The Economy last night? [ I kid, I kid-it's been kind of hard to escape the pre- and post-Obama speech coverage this week.] The President spokes before a joint session of Congress, asking them to pretty pretty please pass a stimulus package that makes the 2009 stimulus look like kid's stuff.  Obama's new plan-called the American Jobs Act-includes $447 billion in tax cuts and government spending that the President says is needed to boost our lagging economy (and keep us from spiraling into another recession). This includes extending the payroll tax cuts put in place last year and extending unemployment insurance benefits for the jobless, along with increased spending on roads, schools, infrastructure, and aid to states to prevent the layoff of more teachers, police officers and firefighters.

There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation," he told lawmakers. "Everything in here is the kind of proposal that's been supported by both Democrats and Republicans - including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything."

Munchies Be Darned: I apologize in advance for the generational stereotyping here, but here's some news Boomers should enjoy-smoking marijuana is linked to lower body weight. A new study published in the  American Journal of Epidemiology  found obesity rates are about a third lower among people who smoke pot at least three times a week, compared with non-smokers. Researchers point out that smoking pot doesn't necessarily cause weight loss-in fact, multiple studies (and college students everywhere) have shown smoking pot to increase appetite. They're rather unsure, actually, what's at work here:

One factor may be tolerance: many of marijuana's effects are reduced in frequent users, as the body adjusts to it. Another may be substitution - the smokers could be seeking comfort by smoking more marijuana, rather than eating more. Or, perhaps other ingredients in cannabis like cannabidiol (CBD) could reduce the appetite-increasing effects of THC in the same way that they reduce its paranoia-inducing properties."

While we're on the subject of illicit substances:  The results of the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health are in, and nearly one in 10 Americans reports using some sort of recreational drug, with marijuana the most common. About 7 percent of those surveyed report smoking pot, up from 5.8 percent in 2007-an increase which officials attribute to the rise in medical marijuana use.

It's certainly a topsy turvy week in the world of vice and virtue: Earlier this week, researchers announced further evidence that light drinking is good for women's health. Don't take it too far, though,  the Harvard Health folks warn. Benefits quickly vanish with heavier drinking, and in their place comes increased risk of serious liver disease (cancer and cirrhosis), high blood pressure, certain cancers and traffic accidents.

Friday Quick Hits: Nearly half of working-age Americans are either uninsured or underinsured, according to a new report from the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund (older adults and children are more likely to have adequate coverage, thanks to Medicare and Medicaid) ... Maine's 'Flag Ladies' have been waving the red, white and blue on the same street corner every Tuesday since 9/11 ... Texas Gov. (and would-be president) Rick Perry calls Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme' and a 'monstrous lie' ... Taking time out to exercise during the workday  can boost overall daily productivity ... And dozens of widely used prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause weight gain-check out our interview with Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine director George Blackburn to see if your meds are putting you at risk.

See  "In the News"  for more on current events, entertainment and how it all relates to you.

(Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)


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