Patt Morrison for February 26, 2010

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LAUSD’s Fremont High moves to restructure

The Board of Education voted Tuesday to keep a majority of thirty LAUSD schools in the hands of school teachers and administrators rather than hand control of those campuses over to Charters. That didn’t have any effect on Fremont High, however, the school superintendent Ramon Cortines singled out in December for restructuring—a decision predicated by the No Child Left Behind policy. Cortines fired all the teachers and staff at Fremont in December. They’re allowed to reapply for those jobs, but many don’t know what those jobs will look like in September and they held a press conference this morning to oppose the restructuring. Patt talks with parents, students, district officials and representatives of United Teachers Los Angeles about why they oppose or support the plans to restructure.
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Jared Diamond’s Natural Experiments of History

The case of Haiti and the Dominican Republic has long perplexed the world; the two countries share the island of Hispaniola, both are former colonies, and yet, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere while the D.R. is a wealthier developing nation with a growing economy. How does one determine why a nation has evolved into its present state? Why do two otherwise similar societies diverge radically or why do two very different societies evolve along similar lines? These social science questions can’t be answered by controlled lab experiments because lab experiments can’t accurately account for being colonized by the Spanish versus the French, or having a country’s land entirely deforested. That scientific shortcoming led Pulitzer-prize winning author of “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” Jared Diamond, in search of models complex enough to tackle these questions. He joins Patt to talk about those findings and his latest book, “Natural Experiments in History.”
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The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is a story about an elite bomb disarming team in Iraq. Their leader appears to have a death wish and his reckless behavior causes some turmoil for the team. It’s intense and gritty and is tied with Avatar for the most Oscar nominations (9), including Best Picture and Best Director. Mark Boal won the Writers Guild of America award for his screenplay. Boal is an investigative journalist who spent time following an Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit in Iraq in 2004. He tells Patt about his experience in Iraq and how it inspired him to write the screenplay for The Hurt Locker.
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While it is gaining in the ranks of notorious divorce cases in a city full of divorce horror stories, the break up of Frank and Jamie McCourt, owners of the L.A. Dodgers, has produced all kinds of interesting subplots. The latest comes from papers filed by Jamie McCourt’s attorneys in the couples divorce proceedings that show the McCourts made $108 million in income from 2004 – 2009, yet paid zero in federal and state income taxes during that period of time. How, might you ask, is that legally possible? A variety of perfectly legal, if morally questionable, tools can help multi-millionaires pay next to nothing in taxes, from claiming losses to “charitable” donations. How can the average tax-paying Joe get out of their taxes?
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