AirTalk for January 7, 2010

Mercer 6358

EPA proposes new, stricter smog limits

The EPA is proposing stricter health standards for smog, which will put Los Angeles and many other parts of the country in violation of federal air standards. It may cost tens of billions of dollars to reduce pollution to meet the new limits, but the EPA says the move will ultimately save billions in avoided health care costs. These new limits match what scientists and environmentalists had recommended, but were denied, under President George W. Bush in 2008. The EPA says they’re following the science, but are the health benefits worth the economic cost? Is long-term benefit to the air we breathe worth it? Or is this simply a repudiation of Bush-era politics?
Mercer 6361

Airline security up in the air

The White House is prepared to release a report today detailing the security lapses surrounding the attempted airline attack on Christmas Day, as well as outline the measures being taken to increase airline security. It was revealed yesterday that U.S. border officials learned of the extremist ties of suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab while he was in flight, and had planned to question him upon landing. What kept intelligence officials from connecting the dots sooner, and what changes are needed to improve intelligence gathering and security screening?
Mercer 6359

Texas vs. Alabama: Bowl Championship Series title game

Tonight at the Rose Bowl, the Texas Longhorns and the Alabama Crimson Tide will compete in college football’s BCS National Championship. Both teams are undefeated, but Alabama is BCS-ranked No. 1 and boasts a Heisman trophy winner in running back Mark Ingram. Who will take away the national title? Larry previews the match up.
Mercer 6362

Efficacy of depression drugs questioned

In the United States, roughly 11 percent of women and 5 percent of men take some form of anti-depressant medication. But a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that, except in cases of severe depression, drugs are no more helpful than talk therapy or placebos. Are we overmedicating for depression? If so, what are the alternatives?
Mercer 6363

Iron River by T. Jefferson Parker

Forget the NAFTA-friendly flow of tomatoes and televisions, the U.S.-Mexico border's most lucrative trade is the black market for drugs, cash, and guns. T. Jefferson's Parker's newest Charlie Hood novel is a work of fiction, but the gun-smuggling route he traces, known as the Iron River, is anything but. Larry talks with the crime writer about the boundary between fiction and journalism in "Iron River."
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