AP top news in Iowa at 3:58 p.m. CST

Iowa insurer pokes fun at federal website in adsDES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The television ads show a series of medical mishaps: a man kicking the wrong leg in a reflex check, a urine sample bottle that won’t open for a frustrated patient and a blood pressure cuff letting out a strange noise when the doctor presses the plastic bulb.

After each scene, a narrator says: “Things don’t always work like they’re supposed to. Good thing the government exchange website isn’t the only place to buy health insurance.”

A Midwestern company not participating in the federal health insurance marketplace next year launched the ads recently in Iowa and South Dakota. They poke fun at the technical problems that have plagued the federal government’s enrollment website.

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which has headquarters in Des Moines and Sioux Falls, S.D., is simply trying to make sure consumers know they can buy insurance directly from the company rather than go through the federal government, spokeswoman Traci McBee said.

“They’re designed to get attention through humor,” McBee said. “That way they can hear the message that there’s more than one place to shop.”

While many insurers are running television spots at the moment promoting their products and often directing buyers to their own websites, this exact kind of messaging has not been seen in other states.

Elizabeth Wilner, vice president of Kantar Media, which tracks advertising, said that in general, she has seen more aggressive ads coming from small insurance outfits seeking to pick up business, while many bigger insurance companies have been careful to avoid directly knocking the Affordable Care Act, perhaps opting for caution as they see how the law will unfold.


Snow falling across central Iowa makes roads slickDES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Snow is falling across central Iowa, and forecasters predict much of the state will be covered by 2-4 inches of snow by Sunday night.

The National Weather Service says this is the first widespread snow storm of the winter for the state.

A section of Interstate 80 in Des Moines was closed for more than an hour Sunday morning because of a 20-car pileup. But officials were about to reopen the highway shortly before noon. No serious injuries were reported.

Southbound Interstate 29 was closed in Sioux City around midday Sunday because an accident was blocking the lanes.

The Weather Service says wind is expected to cause additional travel problems later Sunday by blowing the snow around.


Snow creates slick road conditions in NebraskaOMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Several inches of snow has fallen across most of eastern Nebraska, creating slick driving conditions.

The state Department of Roads was urging drivers to use extreme caution Sunday all across the eastern third of Nebraska because of slippery roads.

The snow began falling in Nebraska on Saturday and light snow continued to fall in some places Sunday as the storm moved east. Most areas will receive 2 to 4 inches of snow.

Near northwest Lincoln, officials had to close a three-mile section of Interstate 80 Sunday morning because of multiple accidents, including two semitrailer trucks that leaked fuel. No serious injuries were reported.

The interstate reopened shortly before 1 p.m.

Nearly 6 inches of snow fell in the Lincoln area.


Survivors recall Japanese attack on Pearl HarborPEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — For the first time since the war, Alvis Taylor returned to Pearl Harbor and recalled the surprise Japanese air attack that plunged America into World War II.

He was serving as an Army medic when the Dec. 7, 1941 attack began. His superiors, who were doctors, rushed to hospitals to care for the wounded. He went to Pearl Harbor, about 18 miles south of his Army post at Schofield Barracks, with dozens of ambulances.

“I remember everything that happened that day,” the 90-year-old Davenport, Iowa, resident said.

Taylor decided to return to Pearl Harbor for the first time since the war because the local chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America paid for him and his wife to make the trip.

He was among about 50 survivors of the attack and some 2,500 others who gathered Saturday on the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese air raid.

They honored those who were killed, those who fired back, those who rescued the burned, and those who went on to serve during the war. Roughly 2,400 sailors, Marines and soldiers were killed at Pearl Harbor and other military installations on the island of Oahu in the attack.

Of the tens of thousands of servicemen who survived, about 2,000 to 2,500 are still living.


Group celebrates, preserves Iowa Blue chickensIOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Like John Wayne, Eskimo Pie and the Gallup poll, Iowans are proud of Iowa-born.

We build museums and host festivals to celebrate minor references in Star Trek. We relish wearing our Hawkeye gear outside of the stadium, and we are quick to correct those who think we only grow corn.

But why don’t we celebrate the Iowa Blue chicken, the only breed of chicken developed in the state? The Iowa Blue Chicken Club hopes to change your mind, one chick at a time.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports (http://icp-c.com/187Cxlnhttp://icp-c.com/187Cxln ) Curt Burroughs, a Palo-based breeder and club historian, purchased his first Iowa Blues a decade ago when the breed was on the verge of extinction.

Only two of six chicks survived the shipment, a male and female, which grew to a flock of 20. Burroughs said he sold the flock when he briefly moved to Virginia. He came back to the breed when he saw the newly formed Iowa Blue Chicken Club was attempting to standardize a Texas-crossbreed, turned black from breeding outside the genetic line.

“I knew right away it was not an Iowa Blue,” Burroughs said. “I told them, ‘You give me two weeks to find evidence the bird should be blue-gray at a distance, not black.'”

Burroughs returned with a lengthy historical treatise, beginning the standardization of Iowa’s chicken.

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