business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Yesterday's FaceTime referenced the fact that a number of car manufacturers - BMW and Tesla among them - have decided to not offer AM radio in their electric vehicles, saying that it creates electromagnetic interference that huts their cars' performance.   At the same time, Ford is considering eliminating AM radio from all its cars, believing that AM radio is past its expiration date.

But, not so fast.

Axios reports this morning that "a bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to make it illegal for carmakers to eliminate AM radio from their cars, arguing public safety is at risk … The proposed legislation, to be introduced today by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and others, would require all new vehicles to include AM radio at no additional charge."

The story notes that "while AM might seem like a relic of the past, nearly 50 million people still listen to it, according to Nielsen figures provided by the National Association of Broadcasters."

"The importance of AM radio during large-scale emergencies cannot be underestimated, and it has, without a doubt and without interruption, saved lives and kept our communities informed," said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), the lead sponsor in the House.

Bipartisanship lives.

•  Last week we had a story about how former First Lady Michelle Obama is a co-founder and strategic partner for Plezi Nutrition, described as a food company designed to "create higher standards for how the U.S. makes and markets food and beverages for kids, leading with nutrition, taste, and truth."

PLEZi Nutrition's first product - a kids' drink called PLEZi - has 75% less sugar than average leading 100% fruit juices, no added sugar, plus fiber and nutrients, like potassium, magnesium, and zinc.

Just one problem:  Under the standards that Obama championed as First Lady, the drink would not qualify as healthy.

Bloomberg reports that it "interviewed 12 independent health professionals and organizations and spoke with Plezi Chairman  Sam Kass, as well as with members of the company’s advisory board. Nearly all of the experts conveyed their respect for Obama and her achievements in improving child nutrition.

"But most were critical of the new line of drinks … The experts largely agreed that the product is an improvement on soda, though a small one. At the heart of the matter is whether 'healthier than soda' is good enough for a product aimed at children as young as 6, especially one that comes with Obama’s endorsement.

"Under the Obama-era school-meal regulations currently under review, US elementary and middle schools may only serve water, milk, or 100% fruit or vegetable juice with no added sweeteners (the regulations do permit schools to dilute juices with water) — and none of Plezi’s four current flavors meet these criteria.

"Several of the health professionals characterized the Plezi drinks as an ultra-processed food, or one made largely from extracts of other foods or artificial additives. Numerous medical studies point to overconsumption of these kinds of foods as potential drivers of cardiovascular disease,  diabetes, even death."

Well, that's awkward.  Proponents of Plezi will argue that you can't allow perfection to be the enemy of the good, and Kass says that he understands "the perspective of academics who focus on what kids should be eating in an ideal world,” but such experts “hinder progress."  That's not an illegitimate position, but harder to make when in previous roles you've been arguing for an ideal world.