Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
There was more positive news on the economic front this week, inspired by the America's work ethic and spending habits.
*The Labor Department says the productivity of American workers in the third quarter increased to the fastest pace in two years. *Orders to U.S. factories posted a solid gain in October. *And, consumer borrowing in October plunged by a record amount in dollar terms, reflecting a big drop in the demand for car loans.
The cynical might suggest Americans are borrowing less because they need to save money for heating bills. Spot oil and natural gas prices spiked this week as frigid weather swept across the U.S.
On a slightly more "animated" front, a new study released this week admonished some of America's favorite cartoon characters to be better health and nutrition role models for kids.
SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon character: "This the best cup of French toast I ever had."
Cartoon characters like SpongeBob SquarePants, Tony the Tiger and Shrek should promote only healthy food says a report released this week by the Institute of Medicine.
While no study has been done on whether TV advertising leads to obesity in children, the report said there is evidence compelling enough to call for a concerted effort to change the nature of foods being marketed to children.
The panel of experts recommended that Congress give the food industry two years to voluntarily move its advertising toward more nutritious foods. If there is no change, the panel says Congress should force companies to change.
Alarmed by the high rate of obesity among Hispanics, the USDA now has released its first Spanish translation of its food pyramid.
Among all children ages 6 through 19, obesity rates have tripled over the past 40 years. Lack of physical activity is also a major problem. Some in the industry have taken steps.
For example, the Nickelodeon cable network announced a campaign to persuade kids to get off the couch and move, and to eat healthy foods. The campaign features former President Clinton and SpongeBob.
SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon: Mr. Krab character: "But I sleep well at night knowing I'm providing them with something I need -- a nutritious meal."