Patt Morrison for January 16, 2009

Surprise Verdict: Carona Acquitted

Former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona was acquitted by a jury today of four charges of conspiracy but convicted on one charge of witness tampering. The jury rejected the government's argument that Carona participated in a six-year scheme to use his position to enrich himself, his family and his friends. Outside the court a relieved Carona described his emotions: "If you don't believe in God, now you should." Carnoa added, "What you just witnessed is an absolute miracle. I'm a man who made mistakes along the way, like a number of people who have walked this earth. The good news is God forgives people and apparently I'm one of those people he forgave." * Laurie Levenson, Professor of Law, Loyola Law School * Gustavo Arellano, Staff Writer, OC Weekly * Frank Stoltze, Reporter, KPCC

On the Ground in D.C.

What's it like in D.C. as the inaugural weekend gets underway? Patt talks with Californians attending the festivities. * Robyn Roth, from Los Angeles. She is a Harvard Law School classmate of Michelle Obama's * Julie Lie, from Long Beach. She made the journey with her 3 kids (ages 14, 11, 9) who are home schooled. This is their civic/history lesson for the term.

What Happens if the Mexican Government Collapses?

Even with the repeated stories of increasing violence, the growing influence of the drug cartels and the rampant corruption and dysfunction of the state security forces, Mexico still seemed to be a relatively stable country. That perception might change somewhat now that Mexico was listed, along with Pakistan, in a U.S. Military Joint Forces Command report as the two leading candidates for "rapid and sudden collapse." The report says that Mexico's government and civil society are under sustained assault by criminals gangs and drug cartels. What kind of reverberations would we feel if Mexico became a failed state? * Rear Admiral John Richardson, director of strategy & policy for the U.S. Joint Forces Command * Jorge Castaneda, former Foreign Minister of Mexico from 2000 - 2003; professor of Latin American studies at New York University

Bush's Legacy - World View

9-11. Iraq. Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Katrina. Eight years ago, President Bush was sworn into office with a $237 billion budget surplus and relative economic prosperity. He now presides over a $438 billion deficit, two wars, and a severe economic downturn. According to a Pew survey released this month, only 11 percent of Americans rate Bush as an "above-average president," compared with 44% for Clinton. How did the Bush Administration get here and how will history remember them? Today we examine Bush's foreign policy legacy with one of the main architects of the President's aggressive approach. * John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

On the Ground in D.C. (Part 2)

What's it like in D.C. as the inaugural weekend gets underway? Patt talks with Californians (and some transplants) attending the festivities. * Kevin May, He lives in D.C.; he doesn't have tickets for the inauguration but is planning to be on the mall to watch the festivities * Elizabeth Schwegler, she lives in D.C., but recently moved from Long Beach. She also doesnt have tickets.

Sundance Begins!

Hollywood's snowbunnies are romping between screenings and parties in Park City, Utah, for the 25th Sundance Film Festival. Independent filmmakers are wishing for snow angels to buy up their flicks in this particularly harsh economic environment. With more than one hundred films on show, everyone is on the hunt for the next big thing. But a dismal year at the movies has toned down the parties, left distributors with little spare change, and driven some industry insiders to skip the festival altogether. Patt talks with LA Weekly's Scott Foundas about the reality facing independent films, the history of the festival, and this weekend's hot tickets. * Scott Foundas, Film Editor and Critic, LA Weekly
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