The Madeleine Brand Show for September 15, 2011

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Living in poverty: what can you really afford?

The number of people below the poverty line is at a 50-year high in America, according to new Census figures. The national rate rose to 15.1 percent in 2010. Yet the Census Bureau isn't the only organization with a new study out. The Heritage Foundation has issued its own report, which explores responses to some other Census questions, and finds that 42 percent of people living in poverty own a home. Half own a personal computer. And half of poor families with kids own an X-box or other gaming system. Only 4 percent said they had trouble feeding their children during the year. Yet, some economists say these aren't the barometers that show real quality of life. How extreme is poverty in America? We hear dueling perspectives from co-author of the Heritage report, Robert Rector and Shawn Fremstad at the Center for Economic Policy Research.
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Regular John Moe joins us to discuss the week's tech news. Today's topics: the Federal Communications Commission opens up to new possibilities with "Super-Wifi," Google purchases 1203 patents from IBM as it readies itself for a patent war, and one step closer to the Terminator with a robot triathlete.
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California to entice drivers to go green with a pay-per-mile system

A new pay-as-you-go insurance plan could get drivers to go green while saving money. Drivers would pay by the mile, allowing those that drive less to pay less. The idea is to help people save money and help the environment. The plan could also help alleviate gridlock on California's much traveled roads, by encouraging drivers to talk public transportation. Do these green incentives really work? George Howard, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame joins us.
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LAUSD to start classes earlier next year

The Los Angeles School Board recently announced that the school year will begin three weeks earlier, in mid-August. This modification to the schedule will take effect starting in 2012. LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said one of the main reasons for the switch is improving district-wide test scores.
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Randy and Jason Sklar are here with news from the world of sports. Former Dodger Manny Ramirez has been released on bail in Florida following domestic abuse charges. Meanwhile former Olympian gymnast Paul Hamm was also arrested for assault. Eight drinks deep, he's accused of attacking a taxi driver and refusing to pay a $23 fare. Later, the hat flap. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig didn't allow the Mets to wear commemorative 9/11 hats during gameplay. Now he's mad that the disagreement went public.
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