AirTalk for August 17, 2011

Mercer 20317

Mayor Villaraigosa puts Proposition 13 on the table

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa embraced the third rail issue of Proposition 13. Prop. 13 was introduced in 1978, with the original intention to serve as tax protection for homeowners. However, due to loopholes and exceptions, commercial property owners ended up benefitting most from the legislation. Villaraigosa said, “Prop. 13 was never intended to be a corporate tax give-away, but that is what it has become.” The Mayor states that increasing taxes on commercial properties could bring in up to $8 billion, and that such capital should be split evenly to fund public schools and decrease property taxes for homeowners. He also floated the ideas of decreasing or doing away with some business taxes to combat the anticipated backlash from anti-tax groups and business owners, as well as introducing a service tax to level the playing field for all businesses. But is this sound and fury signifying nothing? Is this simply a political stunt from an unpopular mayor? Will Governor Jerry Brown in Sacramento rally behind the issue, or hope it fades away?
Mercer 20303

Bill would allow cops to search cell phones

As technology continues to play a larger role in making our daily lives easier, so too can it be used against us. Recently, the California Supreme Court ruled it legal for police to search someone’s phone upon arrest, including texts and e-mails, without a warrant. Up until this decision, warrantless searches only applied to clothing and miscellaneous items such as cigarette packs, as both are routinely used to hide drugs. Law enforcement cite the need to gather evidence as a reason for the searches; in the case that led to the Supreme Court decision, an arrestee pleaded guilty after police showed him an incriminating text on his own phone. Sen. Mark Leno, an opponent of this practice, has introduced SB 914 which would require a warrant before cell phones could be searched. The bill has passed the Senate and is now being finalized by committee before facing a vote in the Assembly. Could obtaining a warrant negatively affect law enforcement’s handling of a crime? Is perusing a person’s cell phone an invasion of privacy? If the bill passes, is Governor Jerry Brown likely to sign it into law?
Mercer 20318

LAPD eyes data-driven ‘predictive’ policing strategy

Santa Cruz police spend an average of 40 minutes of every hour on emergency calls, leaving them with 20 minutes to patrol the streets. For the past few weeks, some have been using computer mapping systems to help them determine where to best spend the little time they have left. The program’s success has drawn notice from the LAPD, whose officers hope the technology will save time and money in scheduling patrols and preventing crime.
Mercer 20321

Calif. prison officials let reporters tour Pelican Bay supermax prison

On Wednesday KPCC’s Julie Small goes on an unprecedented media tour of Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border. The SuperMax prison holds the “worst of the worst” of California’s inmates. Last month, some of those prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest conditions in isolation units.
Mercer 20305

Could you have a missing twin...or be someone else's?

Stories of babies being switched at birth are typically confined to tabloids or fairy tales, but it is very real for identical twins Anna and Bella, who were separated after being born. In Dr. Nancy L. Segal’s book Someone Else’s Twin: The True Story of Babies Switched at Birth, she explores the accounts of Anna and Bella, who were reunited after twenty eight years apart. Segal, a twin herself and an expert in twin psychology, brings her own personal and scientific knowledge to Anna and Bella’s experience, as well as several other cases of twins and non-twins switched at birth. How does a twin’s presence or absence affect the other? Can a biological mother tell if a child is really her own? What are the legal ramifications of babies being switched in the hospital ward?
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