Patt Morrison for February 2, 2010

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Job creation is destined to become one of the policy buzz words of 2010: everyone badly wants to turn around a seemingly desperate unemployment situation, from the President to the legions of unemployed workers sitting on the sidelines. Mayor Villaraigosa is jumping into the fray with his own program, beginning with the appointment of a jobs czar who has been given the assignment of making Los Angeles a more hospitable place to open and run a business. But with an unclear mandate and a budget deficit surpassing $200 million, how much can a jobs czar really do? What can the Mayor and city government do to create new jobs?
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It’s been a complaint about Proposition 83, both of sex offenders and the law enforcement personnel tasked with tracking them, since the initiative that curtails the rights of sexual crime parolees was passed in 2006. The restrictions on sex offenders are so onerous that it essentially leaves them with no place to go—they can’t live near schools or parks and must stay constantly registered with the state. A group of four parolees sued the state, arguing that Prop. 83 was unconstitutional, and yesterday the California Supreme Court ruled that it was indeed constitutional to so severely limit the rights of sex offenders. Where can sex offenders go and can police agencies accurately keep track of them?
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Dear John: about those climate change commitments…..

Yesterday marked the deadline for nations to send their commitment letters to the U.N. and reaffirm the promises made at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Perhaps surprisingly most of the nations turned their homework in on time. The letters outline various voluntary plans and pledges to cut carbon emissions but will these promises be enough to prevent the temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius? Patt talks with the U.N.’s top climate adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Janos Pasztor about who is keeping good on their promises and if those promises are good enough.
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Can the NFL use your brain when you’re done with it?

For the longest time, the NFL had an interesting stance on head injuries: football head injuries and brain disorders had no link whatsoever. That was their story, and they stuck to it—even in front of Congress—but now the NFL is finding they could have a serious headache on their hands. Recently they’ve supported the work of independent researchers who are testing former NFL players’ brains to see just how traumatic football is, and to better define the links between concussions and dementia, depression and irrational emotional behavior. Critics are skeptical, the NFL says they’re committed to making the game safer, but is America’s game just too violent?
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How big of a problem is the national deficit?

Perhaps in a foreshadowing of his $3.8 trillion budget proposal coming down the pike, President Obama last week proposed—and the Congress rejected—a bill to create a special commission to address the federal deficit. Yesterday (Monday), he effectively increased that deficit to $1.6 trillion for this fiscal year, leaving our national debt hovering somewhere around $13 trillion. And yet, Democrats generally seem too afraid to talk about cutting Social Security and the deficit remains one of Republicans’ favorite rhetorical weapons against the president; neither party really seems to want to talk about fixing it. President Obama said he’ll push through the commission by executive order, but last week’s antics still have many scratching their heads. Economist Dean Baker joins Patt with an alternative view on the debt.
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