Patt Morrison for January 8, 2010

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The bad news is that the seeming progress in employment that the country saw in November, when the American economy added jobs for the first time in two years, was squashed in December—85,000 non-farming jobs were lost last month, and overall the unemployment figure stayed at 10%. The really bad news is that it should be a lot worse than the numbers are showing: record numbers of prospective workers are dropping out of the labor force completely and unemployed people had been jobless for an average of 29 weeks in December, the longest duration since the government began tracking the data. When will people start to be hired again?
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When the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 last year it seemed to be a definitive ruling in the very contentious same-sex marriage fight: the voters of California, who supported the measure that would ban gay couples from marrying, were affirmed by the Court. But in reality the fight would always continue and on Monday the next chapter in the Prop. 8 battle begins: a federal trial that will rule on the constitutionality of outlawing gay marriage. What parts of the U.S. constitution either defend or deny marriage rights to a certain segment of the population?
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To PIN or to sign?

Few consumers know, or care, what the difference is between signing their name and using their PIN number when they make a purchase using their debit card. Ah, but merchants do. That simple choice you make can add up to hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in annual fees for merchants. If you sign (and 61% of us do), it can cost a merchant twice as much as using a PIN (which is less vulnerable to fraud). Costco won’t allow their customers to sign for transactions because of the higher fee. Visa and MasterCard dominate the market and they set the fees, which banks collect. Those fees (the ones mentioned above and others including something called an “interchange fee”) have some merchants outraged. So outraged that some have banned together to file the largest antitrust class-action lawsuit in US history.
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Most Californians knew this day was coming even as the Legislature and Governor were congratulating themselves on closing a $25 billion budget deficit last June—a new gap, by some estimates as big as $21 billion, will confront the state’s budget over the next six months. Gov. Schwarzenegger unveiled his budget plan today that promises to close the deficit without any tax increases but will impose pay cuts on state workers and cut the budgets of the state’s prisons and schools systems. Is there any way to break the consistent cycle of deficits?
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Give it up for your Los Angeles Bills!?

With the NFL playoffs gearing up this weekend, wouldn’t it be nice if it had a Los Angeles presence? It may be closer to a reality than you think. Majestic Realty has announced 7 teams that they will try to persuade to relocate to the City of Angels to play at their brand new stadium being built in the city of Industry. The obvious plus side would be getting the NFL back in L.A., but the downside would be coming at the expense of another city’s NFL franchise. We talk to Matt “Money” Smith on what this could mean for NFL fans in L.A., the NFL itself and which teams are the most realistic suitors.
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It’s the Tonight Show with Conan…..er….Jay Leno again!

It was hailed as a groundbreaking move last year when NBC decided that it would replace all of its 10pm weeknight programming—usually hour-long dramas that were expensive to produce—with Jay Leno’s talk show. Networks watched to see what kind of ratings Leno, and Conan O’Brien his replacement at 11:30, would receive and if this was the wave of the future for primetime TV. If the first five months of ratings are anything to go by a 10pm talk show format is NOT the wave of the future—Leno’s ratings are tanking, as are O’Brien’s, and NBC is considering a serious shakeup. What’s the future hold for Leno, O’Brien and the 10pm time slot?
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A Good Talk

For those of you debilitated by Twitter and Facebook, who can only let out a mere “Tweet” now in face-to-face conversations, Daniel Menaker is here to help. He even walks Patt through the art and science of conversation—from those awkward moments at strangers’ parties, in elevators and at bus stops—learn the secrets to a great conversation, anytime, anywhere and with anyone.
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