AirTalk for June 23, 2011

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President Obama calling home some troops

In a prime time speech last night, President Obama spoke to the nation about his plans to wind down the now 10-year war in Afghanistan. How many of the “surge” troops are coming home and when? What about the troops left behind? What impact will these withdrawals have on the ground in Afghanistan? Is the troop withdrawal significant enough to appease critics who want the U.S. military out of Afghanistan NOW? If we go, will there be trouble? Or if we stay, will it be doubled?
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A growing movement among undocumented college students that involves "coming out" with their immigration status has now inspired the same from a well-known journalist, Pulitzer-winner Jose Antonio Vargas. But how will it affect the debate raging in Washington?
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New bill would end federal pot prohibition

A federal bill to decriminalize the sale, use and cultivation of marijuana will be introduced today by Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat from Massachusetts and Congressman Ron Paul Republican from Texas, ending the federal government’s blanket prohibition of marijuana. This bill would allow the Feds to enforce cross-border or inter-state smuggling but would let states makes their own rules concerning the regulation of marijuana. It’s being introduced 40 years after the beginning of the “war of drugs” which some lawmakers and drug policy experts argue has been a staggering waste of money and resources. One co-sponsor Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Democrat from Oakland, decried the trillions of dollars spent to incarcerate millions of young people involved with drugs. She said Wednesday, “I co-sponsored this bipartisan legislation because I believe it is time to turn the page from this failed drug war.” So, is it? Do we need a new state-centered approach to drug policy? And if efforts to curb the use of illicit substances haven’t worked so far, what guarantee do we have that this approach will?
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Where's Whitey Bulger? We got him!

A man whose name stood on the FBI’s most wanted list next to Osama bin Laden for years was captured right here in the southland. Former Boston mob boss “Whitey” Bulger, 81, and his long-time girlfriend were picked up near their apartment in Santa Monica on Wednesday. Bulger had been on the run since 1995. He has been indicted in connection with 19 killings and was also wanted for extortion, racketeering and drug dealing. Bulger’s life is said to have been the inspiration for Martin Scorcese’s movie The Departed. The Bulger family saga is even more interesting because “Whitey’s” brother, William, was a state senator and a former president of the University of Massachusetts. William insisted he knew nothing about is brother’s whereabouts but had to resign from his position as university president in 2003 because of “Whitey’s” reputation. The arrest came just days after the FBI started running ads on day-time TV shows including Ellen and The View focusing on Bulger’s partner, a dental hygienist.
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Should older employees make room for younger workers?

Many baby boomers imagined they’d work for about 30 years then retire in their late 50s or early 60s with enough youth and cash to enjoy retirement. But in these tough economic times, it’s become increasingly difficult for older workers to quit their jobs when originally envisioned. As a result, they’re hanging on longer, often to the chagrin of employers and young workers alike. Now, many aspiring workers, whether they’re fresh out of college or just entering the work force, are struggling to find job openings. Some feel they’re getting a raw deal, when they see 65-year-olds who are still working, despite being eligible for Social Security and Medicare. Employers too can have reservations about some older workers, whose job performance might deteriorate with age. But it’s a delicate matter to broach for any boss. While companies might benefit from new blood, there’s no substitute for the wisdom that only comes from decades of experience, right? So what, if anything, can be done? Should older workers be pushed out simply to let younger ones in? Should younger workers demand a place at the table? Is there a rift forming between the generations over workplace opportunities as the old and the young vie for limited resources? Should there be mandatory retirement so by law we all know when to step aside?
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