AirTalk for August 10, 2011

Mercer 20128

The London riots: What's it all about, Alfie?

The four-day riots in London have finally subsided, but the ire raised in those affected is still strong. Residential buildings and businesses both were vandalized, broken into, looted and set on fire. Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson was on vacation while parts of the city burned. The random nature of the crimes and the varying locations lead some Londoners to label the rioters as anarchists, bound to no social, geographical or political ideology, but simply bent on prolonging destruction. However, the rioters did use technology via social networking sites to target locations for looting. Some on the sidelines are citing austerity measures as the inciting incident for the outrage, as cuts have been made to education, communities and social assistance. These measures, when paired with London’s economic disparity of wealthy and low-income neighborhoods side by side, fed upon an already incendiary, rebellious mindset in London’s youth. Are these rioters just hooligans, with no political motive? Are they responding to governmental policy changes? What can be done now to clean up the city and prevent the riots from reemerging?
Mercer 20136

LA City Council approves stadium proposal

Yesterday, the city council unanimously approved a $1.5 billion deal to build an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles. Anschutz Entertainment Group, the development giant that gave us L.A. Live and the Staples Center, now has the go-ahead on its ambitious plan to revamp the L.A. Convention Center into a world-class event facility – and hopefully luring an NFL team to town with its new 72,000 seat stadium. L.A. hasn’t had an NFL team since the Raiders left in 1995, and AEG’s Tim Lieweke says the city’s decision “sends a very strong message to the NFL owners” that L.A. is serious about football. Under the agreement, the city will issue $275 million in bonds to jump-start the project, giving AEG the freedom to start wooing a team. Supporters of the project say it will provide 20,000 jobs, over 6000 of them permanent, and bring millions in tax revenues to the cash-strapped city. Meanwhile, developers of a competing stadium project in City of Industry aren’t throwing in the towel – they’re going ahead with their plan, which if approved, they believe, will best the downtown stadium in revenue. Does this deal mean greener pastures, or a white elephant? With a shiny, new sandbox to play in, will NFL owners take the bait? What’s your fantasy home team – the L.A. Giants? The L.A. Broncos? The L.A. Cowboys?
Mercer 20119
Next week, a California Senate committee will hold hearings on AB 889. The bill seeks to make sweeping changes to the domestic-worker industry -- in particular, caregivers for the elderly, housecleaners and nannies. The law would create standards for overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, and workers compensation. Last year, a similar bill passed in New York, which was seen as landmark legislation in the U.S. AB 889 has already passed the California Assembly, so it has a very real chance in the Senate. The voices of opposition are not just from employers. Some caregivers worry it will make their service unaffordable and force the elderly and children into care facilities. Supporters of the bill say domestic workers are isolated and vulnerable; therefore they need protection from mistreatment occurring behind closed doors. What exactly are the changes this bill is proposing? How would it be enforced? If you're a caregiver, what working conditions do you want regulated? If you employ a caregiver, what do you think about break times and overtime pay?
Mercer 20122

What you need to know about drugs and drug policy

No matter how many taboos, commandments, and laws surround the distribution and consumption of mind-altering substances, people are still taking drugs and law enforcement is still enforcing drug laws. In his new book “Drugs and Drug Policy” Mark A. R. Kleiman, Professor of Public at Policy at UCLA, covers a variety of topics including the legal, technical, and medical definitions of a drug, the actual effects of drugs in the brain, the mechanics of drug-related legislation and enforcement, and the relationship between drug laws and crime. Kleiman and the coauthors of the book argue that laws meant to curb drugs have proliferated but these laws are often shaped by myths, false assumptions, and unreasonable fear more often than by facts about drugs and their use. What, exactly, makes drug use a problem? How does the nature of addiction affect the way we think about the choices and responsibilities of drug users? How do we weigh the cost effectiveness drug laws and how can we ultimately tell which drug policies “work” and which don’t?
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