AirTalk for February 15, 2011

Mercer 14947

Egypt’s domino effect in the region

Inspired by Tunisia’s overthrow of its longtime president and Egypt’s historic ouster of President Mubarak, a tide of revolt is now sweeping the Middle East. Pro-democracy protesters are rallying for reforms in Iran, Bahrain, Yemen and beyond. “The world is changing,” President Obama said this morning in a message directed at autocratic rulers across the region. On Monday, Bahraini youths held a “Day of Rage,” demanding the release of political prisoners and other reforms. In Iran, opposition protesters and security forces clashed, leaving one person dead and dozens injured. President Obama blasted Iranian authorities for shooting and beating protesters trying to express themselves peacefully and called on governments throughout the Middle East to avoid violent crackdowns. Is more peaceful change coming to the region? Or will authorities in conservative nations tighten their grip?
Mercer 14948

Obama defends his budget

House Republicans came out swinging over President Obama’s budget proposal criticizing him for neglecting to take more aggressive action to reduce the national debt and demanding more spending cuts. Obama defended his position and hurled a few stones of his own. He urged Republicans in the House to be patient and assured his critics that he plans to address the entitlement programs including Social Security and Medicare. Obama doesn’t view his budget proposal as the final word, but rather the beginning of what he hopes will be a bi-partisan effort to address the financial stability of the U.S. economy. Is cooperation possible or will this budget process end in a stale mate?
Mercer 14951

Debating Measure O - should LA tax oil?

There’s an estimated 27 million-plus barrels of oil extracted from Los Angeles County wells each year. Measure O, which will be on the March 8 ballot, would require oil producing businesses to be taxed $1.44 per barrel. Supporters of Measure O argue it could raise $4-million in badly-needed revenue for Los Angeles and that other Southern California cities like Beverly Hills, Inglewood and Long Beach have already successfully imposed such taxes. Critics counter it would raise taxes, increase gas prices and cost jobs. Is this the right way to raise new revenue for the city? Would passage result in higher prices at the pump? What are the possible effects on small businesses?
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Inland Empire implements E-Verify

A handful of conservative cities in the Inland Empire including Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee and Norco are requiring businesses to use the E-Verify system to check the immigration status of potential employees. The lingering unemployment rate has prompted city leaders to find ways to ensure that local businesses, big and small, are hiring only legal citizens. The city of Murrieta is facing a 14.2% unemployment rate and resentment over the hiring of undocumented workers who are in the country illegally is high. E-Verify is a national database employers can use free of charge to check the immigration status of new hires. But critics complain that the database isn’t reliable because it doesn’t catch falsified documents and sometimes mistakenly singles out legal workers. Others say it unfairly targets Latinos. Should more communities start using E-Verify to curb the hiring of undocumented immigrants flaws and all? Or should it be nixed until the system is improved?
Mercer 14949

Radio journalist gets happy in the Kingdom of Bhutan

When long-time radio journalist Lisa Napoli flew to the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan to volunteer at the country’s first youth radio station, she was leaving behind her job at Marketplace and her life in Los Angeles. But she was looking for a change. She immersed herself in Bhutan's rapidly changing culture and its commitment to “Gross National Happiness.” In the process, she discovered a renewed sense of purpose. She was there to help the Bhutanese, but the lessons learned along the way were life-changing, leading not only to a book but to a desire to reinvent herself in the second half of her life. Is Bhutan really the happiest place on earth? Are there lessons from Napoli’s journey for the rest of us?
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