The Madeleine Brand Show for February 23, 2011

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Protesters in Libya have reportedly taken much of the Eastern part of the country and are closing in on the capital, Tripoli, in the West. Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's supporters have responded with heavy gunfire. But his support is cracking. Today, two army pilots let their airplane crash in the desert, parachuting to safety, rather than bomb Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, which is held by the protesters. Here now to talk about Gadhafi and how Libya got to this point is Elizabeth Dickinson, Editor of Foreign Policy Magazine. What might be next if he's forced from power?
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Across the country unions are facing public and budget scrutiny. In Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee, Republican lawmakers have threatened to strip public unions of collective bargaining and dues-collecting powers. And debate has been raging in California over high retiree benefits for public employees. Meanwhile, street protests supporting union workers continue in Madison and beyond. Is this the last gasp of union power? Or will collective bargaining return in better budget times? UC Berkeley's Harley Shaiken tells us this moment could quickly become a turning point in the history of organized labor.
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California voters passed Proposition 36 in 2000. The law diverts non violent first and second time drug offenders into treatment, rather than jail. A UCLA study conducted in 2008 found that the initiative has saved the state millions of dollars, but funding for the program is at risk because of the state's budget crisis. Santa Cruz County just announced they are phasing their program out. Could Los Angeles County be next?
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Sixty nine years ago this week, a war was waged over Los Angeles. In the early hour of February 25, 1942, air raid sirens went off all over L.A. and a blackout was ordered for the entire city, after officials thought they spotted an unidentified aircraft. The Army fired thousands of shells into the sky. Was it an attack, a UFO, or a weather balloon? Plus, a new version of the Spiderman musical is under way. And the mystery of Paris Hilton's disappearing birthday cake is solved!
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CalTech basketball wins a conference game

Though it has less than a thousand undergraduates, Pasadena's CalTech has won 31 Nobel prizes. And last night CalTech won something maybe even more important: a basketball game. Even if you know nothing about sports, you'd understand something special was happening. The CalTech Beavers eeked out a one point victory against Occidental College. It was their final game of the season, and the first time they'd won a conference game since 1985.
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Catalina is the most famous and most visited of the Channel Islands off the southern California coast. The others are barely visited and not well known, and yet they've been the scenes of human exploitation, greed, environmental degradation. Now environmental advocates want to return the islands to their natural state, but there have been unforeseen consequences to those good intentions. All that plays out in a new novel by T.C. Boyle called When the Killing's Done (Viking).
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