AirTalk for December 15, 2009

Mercer 6185

CT scan radiation may cause cancer

Will a CT scan save your life—or kill you? Researchers say that the level of radiation patients receive from the diagnostic test, sometimes 440 times that of a typical chest X-ray, could cause tens of thousands of cancer cases a year. To what end? There is no evidence that the scans prevent deaths. Should we abandon CT scans altogether? What is an acceptable level of risk?
Mercer 6184

Senate bill drops public option

The Democrats' health care bill loses its public option, and possibly Medicare expansion. Will a bill without these changes still be a win for the Obama administration? Did Sen. Joe Lieberman's threats to join a Republican filibuster change the details of the bill?
Mercer 6186

Christmas music in schools

In America, Christmas is as much a cultural event as a religious holiday. But what about in public schools? California students can sing "Jingle Bells" but the line is drawn at "Away in a Manger" because it's religious. Merry Susan Hyatt, a school teacher in Redding, wants to change that and allow all Christmas music in schools. Advocates who support the separation of Church and State are fighting her initiative. Where do you stand on the question of Christmas music in public schools?
Mercer 6187

U.S. policy toward Pakistan

President Obama's new plan for Afghanistan, which includes a surge of 30,000 more troops, has been the subject of much debate. But what about Pakistan? Many, including V.P. Joe Biden, say that country is more vital to America's long-term security interests in the region. Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal, is the home base of Al Qaeda, and has a fragile political system. What can the U.S. do in terms of direct policy initiatives there? Who has influence over the Pakistani military and government? The State Department? Congress? CIA? Who can exert pressure on militants? And what should be done to avoid making the situation worse?
Mercer 6183

Presents? Bah humbug!

‘Tis the season…to shop. If you need another excuse, many economists say it’s good, even necessary, for economic recovery. But economist Joel Waldfogel estimates that Americans drop close to $70 billion a year on Christmas presents that no one wants. Society, he adds, would be better off without this “orgy of wealth destruction.” Should we stop giving gifts all together? What about sentimental value?
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