It’s not a good time to drive to Bakersfield. The 5 freeway, pummeled by 90-mile per hour winds and driving snow, was closed yesterday at about noon when cars began sliding in lanes. A warming trend and the work of snow plows should have the roadways opened again tomorrow, but it’s unclear exactly what time. What can motorists in the area expect over the next 24-hours? And what, if any, options are there for people who need to get to the Central Valley?
Just before leaving office, Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced the sentence of a 22 year old man sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the stabbing death of Luis Dos Santos, a Mesa College student. Outgoing Governors often issue last minute pardons, but what makes this case complicated is that the young man is Esteban Nunez, son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. Although Nunez participated in the fight that killed Santos, he didn’t inflict the fatal wound, prompting Schwarzenegger to cut his sentence to 7 years. Fred Santos, the victim’s father, is outraged but what he says was a backroom deal by Schwarzenegger. How common are pardons of this nature? Was Schwarzenegger out of line in reducing this sentence? Did his relationship with Fabian Nunez play into this? Did the judge get carried away in his sentencing of a young man with no prior criminal record?
There has never been a society without inequality and yet it’s perennially controversial to reference iniquity between rich and poor nations. But in the contentious debate over extending the Bush era tax cuts, the vitriol was evident and words like socialist and income redistribution were used to denigrate proposals for a more progressive tax system. Yet when the top 1.75% of the world’s wage earners make more than the bottom 77%, income distribution is a serious issue. Why is wealth so unevenly distributed throughout the world and why does it matter?
The 112th Congress is set to take over on Wednesday and there are already plans to schedule a vote to repeal the health-care overhaul and hold hearings on Medicare fraud and waste – what else can we expect? Contention and a reading of the Constitution. Some of the issues in the cross hairs include new limits on greenhouse gas emissions and government spending. It has been 16 years since a Democratic President has faced a Republican controlled Congress – which resulted in the 1995 government shutdown. Will this be déjà vu all over again?
Perhaps one of your New Year's resolutions was to get into shape this year. Maybe you even bought a shake-weight and have been using it every day. Well, good luck turning your winter weight into a six-pack before summer. But if you really want to up your game, you may want to start exercising your brain. It isn't surprising that puzzles like Sudoku and KenKen can stimulate your mind but some neuroscientists believe that puzzles can actually improve specific brain functions, increase memory and retention, improve reasoning and three-dimensional visualization skills and even help stave off Alzheimer's. In his new book, The Playful Brain, neuroscientist Richard Sestak digs into the surprising science of how puzzles can keep our brains in tip-top shape. Ready for some mental calisthenics?