AirTalk for December 1, 2010

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A new study released today finds that parents who delay marriage and childrearing experience more stress as family, work and life obligations collide. Families have evolved dramatically since the 1950s “Leave it to Beaver” image. More mothers are working outside the home, leaving fathers largely responsible for picking up the slack. These changes have created a perfect storm of young children, aging parents and increased work and career responsibilities. The study, released today as part of Focus on Workplace Flexibility and co-sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Georgetown University Law Center, indicates that both mothers and fathers are reporting increased dissatisfaction as they experience the strain of having to be everywhere at once. Is the concept of having it all unrealistic? Should employers do more to give flexibility to workers? How do you balance the demands of the modern family?
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High speed rail - where is this train going?

In 2008, California voters authorized $10 billion worth of bonds to build the first leg of a $40 billion, 200 mph high-speed rail system to join the state’s largest cities. Originally, the plan was to start with two sections: one from Anaheim to Los Angeles and another from San Francisco to San Jose. These segments would be useful on their own and would eventually become part of the entire system. But now, due to strings attached to federal funds, it looks like the first leg of the project will consist of a 65-mile track from Madera to Corcoran. Critics fear the project will go bust, leaving the state with an expensive and all-but-useless track in the middle of the Central Valley. Supporters say they have to start someplace and this section makes the most sense from a financial and engineering standpoint. Either way, the California High Speed Rail Authority Board will vote on it tomorrow.
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Long awaited deficit report released

Over the next decade, the United States deficit is projected to rise to $8.3 trillion. As inconceivable as that figure might be, try coming up with solutions for reducing it. Options proposed by President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform include raising the Social Security retirement age, slashing spending, increasing the gasoline tax by 15 cents, or eliminating 200,000 federal workers. But these are all tough and unpopular choices. The plan, released today, has received critical support from the chairman and senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. But other members of the bipartisan commission voiced opposition and/or serious reservations, underscoring deep divisions on the issue. Given this, what hope do lawmakers have of implementing any of these sweeping changes? If swift action isn’t taken, will the U.S. careen off a fiscal cliff into never-ending debt?
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Salman Rushdie’s latest novel, Luka and the Fire of Life, was inspired in part by his 13-year old son Milan and the video games he plays. Drawing on the same family of characters featured in Haroun and the Sea of Stories, the award-winning author uses his signature style to push against the divide between adult and children’s literature. His characters struggle with some of life’s big questions, exploring the power of father-son relationships and the meaning of life and death within a world that feels at once fantastical and eerily real. Famous for books such as The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children, which address difficult aspects of Indian life, Luka’s quest promises to be much more than an adventure story. Will Luka bring back the fire and save his father’s life? What do Rushdie’s novels mean to you?
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