The Madeleine Brand Show for September 2, 2011

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Congress is back in session Tuesday, and the 12-member supercommittee tasked with cutting $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit will get down to business. If they fail to make those cuts by Thanksgiving, automatic cuts to defense and social services will go into effect. Los Angeles Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-37) was one of six Democrats appointed the to the committee.
No job gains or losses in August. It's a sign that can be seen as good news or bad news depending on your take on the economy. Here to help us makes sense of this news and to give some thought on what the government can do to help things along is Roben Farzad. He's a senior reporter with Bloomberg Businessweek.
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Shame on you! Your neighbors use way less energy than you

How much energy does your house consume? Customer of Pasadena Water and Power don't have to guess. The agency recently started sending out Home Energy Reports. The statements include standard information, including how many kilowatt hours you consume. The reports also rank customers against their neighbors on a scale from one to 100. A top ranking earns you two smiley faces, an average score gets you a single smiley face and a low score? Well, let's not go there. KPCC environmental reporter Molly Peterson explains why shame and competition just might convince residents to conserve energy.
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In a case of life imitating art - specifically the AMC show Breaking Bad - Cal State professor Steve Kinzey is wanted for allegedly dealing meth as the leader of the Devils Disciples Outlaw Motorcycle Gang in Riverside. KPCC's Inland Empire reporter Steven Cuevas joins Madeleine with the details.
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High gas prices and environmental concerns are driving many Californians to spend less time in their cars. That's easy in dense cities like L.A. or San Francisco, where you can walk or take public transportation. But in the sprawling communities of the central valley, options are more limited. So planners there are trying to encourage "smart growth" housing developments in rural areas. They're meant to mimic walkable urban centers so residents don't have to use their cars. But as The California Report's Sasha Kokha found out - the reality is less than ideal.
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What the ports tell us about the holiday shopping season

The holiday retail season is coming up. While it doesn’t feel much like Christmas yet, cargo ships loaded with future holiday gifts are already pulling into Southern California docks. How busy things get at the ports in the next few weeks will signal retailers' confidence in consumers' appetite to spend this December.
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Luke Burbank, host of the podcast Too Beautiful to Live, joins us for his weekly edition of Awesome/Not Awesome. This week he discusses a musical marriage made in ... bizarro world: Insane Clown Posse pairs up with Jack White to cover a little-known Mozart tune, roughly translated as Kiss My Butt. Plus, a weather reporter puts himself in harms way to cover Hurricane Irene. What exactly was that foul-tasting foam spraying in his face? Let's just say it was Not Awesome.
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