AirTalk for March 11, 2010

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In a tight economic climate, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is weighing steep budget cuts which could affect social services and public safety. Meanwhile, each supervisor can tap into a $3.4 million discretionary spending fund without additional voting or oversight. Disclosure records show that while some recent expenditures supported communities, others funded pet projects, covered travel expenses or seem to benefit only the supervisor himself. Should the County freeze discretionary accounts to help balance the budget? Or, does discretionary spending get direct assistance to communities in need?
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The idea is to combine the advantages of a private school with the access of a public school. Public money is channeled to special—and often specialized—schools that are freed from the normal restrictions of public school systems. There’s just one rule they have to follow: show results. But a new study from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA says there’s a problem: Charters schools have increased racial segregation.
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Google and China: something's gotta give

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has acknowledged that the company is in talks with China, and expects to reach an agreement about operating there soon. Relations between the search company and the Chinese government grew tense in January, when Google revealed that it was the target of cyber attacks originating from the country. In response, the company vowed to stop censoring the Chinese version of its website, but it seems unlikely that the government will agree. What's the future of Google in China?
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How did a single island, Hispaniola, produce nations as different as Haiti and the Dominican Republic? When scientists test theories, they do lab experiments. But what about situations where a quantifiable experiment is impossible? In Natural Experiments of History, Jared Diamond and his co-editor James A. Robinson look at different theories in the social sciences and discuss methodologies of analysis—all in hot pursuit of answers to basic questions: how and why do societies develop the way they do? And, how can experts draw on strengths of different disciplines to paint a complete picture?
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