- Associated Press - Monday, May 26, 2014
Sweets makers work to keep names off e-cigarettes

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Owners of brands geared toward children of all ages are battling to keep notable names like Thin Mint, Tootsie Roll and Cinnamon Toast Crunch off the flavored nicotine used in electronic cigarettes.

General Mills Inc., the Girl Scouts of the USA and Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. are among several companies that have sent cease-and-desist letters to makers of the liquid nicotine demanding they stop using the brands and may take further legal action if necessary. They want to make sure their brands aren’t being used to sell an addictive drug or make it appealing to to children.

The actions highlight the debate about the array of flavors available for the battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that users inhale. The Food and Drug Administration last month proposed regulating electronic cigarettes but didn’t immediately ban on fruit or candy flavors, which are barred for use in regular cigarettes because of the worry that the flavors are used to appeal to children.

It’s growing pains for the industry that reached nearly $2 billion in sales last year in the face of looming regulation. E-cigarette users say the devices address both the addictive and behavioral aspects of smoking without the thousands of chemicals found in regular cigarettes.

There are about 1,500 e-liquid makers in the U.S. and countless others abroad selling vials of nicotine from traditional tobacco to cherry cola on the Internet and in retail stores, often featuring photos of the popular treats. Using the brand name like Thin Mint or Fireball conjures up a very specific flavor in buyers’ minds, in a way that just “mint chocolate” or “cinnamon” doesn’t.

“Using the Thin Mint name - which is synonymous with Girl Scouts and everything we do to enrich the lives of girls - to market e-cigarettes to youth is deceitful and shameless,” Girl Scouts spokeswoman Kelly Parisi said in a statement.


Health law: Embrace, avoid or in between for Dems

ATLANTA (AP) - Democratic candidates are trying to figure out whether to embrace or avoid President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul - or land somewhere in between.

The president says his party shouldn’t apologize or go on the defensive about the Affordable Care Act.

Candidates aren’t so sure.

Two top recruits for Senate races - Michelle Nunn in Georgia and Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky - won’t say how they would have voted when the Senate passed the bill in 2010. Their refusals are overshadowing their endorsements of individual parts of the law that are more popular than the law itself.

In Montana, Sen. John Walsh, appointed to office in February and now running for a full term, reminds voters that he was nowhere near Congress in 2010.

In Alaska, an advertisement by an outside group defends part of the law without mentioning it by name. Also, several incumbents who voted for the overhaul four years ago highlight some of its benefits and promise to tweak other parts.


Can US eliminate invasive species by eating them?

HOUSTON (AP) - It seems like a simple proposition: American lakes, rivers and offshore waters are filling up with destructive fish and crustaceans originally from other parts of the world, many of them potential sources of food.

So why not control these invasive populations by getting people to eat them?

The idea has gained momentum recently from the lionfish, which invaded the Gulf of Mexico but was successfully marketed to restaurants and today appears to be in decline.

But businesses and scientists have struggled to repeat this apparent triumph with other species. Some, such as Asian carp, are not appetizing to Americans. Others, like feral hogs, reproduce too quickly to make a dent. And then there’s the question of whether turning them into sought-after cuisine undermines the larger goal of eliminating them.

“Eating invasive species is not a silver bullet,” said Laura Huffman, the Nature Conservancy’s director in Texas. But it can still be “a way to get people engaged in the topic and in the solution.”

The lionfish, a striped saltwater species with a flowing mane of venomous spines, is native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean and was first spotted in parts of the Gulf and off the East Coast a little more than 10 years ago. The skilled predators damage reefs and devour native fish, and they are eaten only by sharks - or larger lionfish.


Condemned inmate claims mental disability

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s longest-serving death row inmate is claiming he has a mental disability and should be exempt from facing execution.

Attorneys for 55-year-old Karu Gene White said in a filing on May 19 that he had an abusive upbringing and delayed development has a child resulted. The attorneys say those were among the factors that have resulted in White having a low IQ and being ineligible to face execution.

Attorneys Kevin McNally and Margaret O’Donnell also cited White’s lack of education - he dropped out of school in the ninth grade - repeated drug use and inability to write a coherent letter home from prison as signs of an intellectual disability.

White killed 75-year-old Charles Gross, his wife, 74-year-old Lula Gross, and 79-year-old Sam Chaney during a February 1979 store robbery in Haddix, an Appalachian mountain community of about 2,270 people in Breathitt County.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that people with mental disabilities were ineligible for execution. Generally, that is considered to be anyone with an IQ of 70 or lower. White cited the decision shortly after the high court rendered it, prompting numerous delays in the appeals of his case.

McNally and O’Donnell have sought to have White examined by a private doctor, while prosecutors pushed for an examination at a state facility.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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