Patt Morrison for April 7, 2010

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What started with a political turf battle between the Department of Water & Power, Mayor Villaraigosa and the L.A. City Council over a proposed carbon surcharge has now escalated into a possible paralysis of city services and a full-blown budget crisis. It’s difficult to trace the steps between the City Council’s refusal to implement higher rates on DWP electrical bills and the Mayor’s call to shut down city offices for two days a week. The Mayor called for non-essential services, such as libraries, parks and seniors centers, to be closed twice a week, arguing that the DWP’s denial of a $73.5 million injection into the city’s general fund has forced his hand. The City Council and city unions are calling the Mayor’s threat a bluff, questioning how the DWP controversy is connected with this sudden budget crisis. Who will blink first in L.A.’s high-stakes game of brinkmanship?
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The Obama administration launched a new program Monday, aimed at easing borrowers out of homes if they owe more than the home is worth. The program pays $3,000 in moving expenses to homeowners and $1,500 to lenders, if both parties agree to what’s known as a short sale. The process is designed for homeowners who are in financial trouble but don’t qualify for the administration’s $75 billion mortgage modification program. Homeowners still lose their homes, but they walk away from their debt, and a short sale doesn’t hurt a borrower’s credit score as permanently as foreclosure does. Lenders, on the other hand, fetch more money in a short sale than a foreclosure. It’s theoretically cheaper and faster than a foreclosure, but what’s the hold up? Short sales so far have dragged out—some for years—because lenders are suspicious of lowball offers. But does this program offer enough incentive to get the market moving? And should the government really need to offer banks incentives to do what they’re already supposed to be doing?
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Tuesday kicked off a week of nuclear policy shifts that the Obama Administration hopes will mark a dramatic change in how the United States and the rest of the world manages, and eventually disposes of its nuclear weapons stockpiles. First in line was the Nuclear Posture Review, which sets American military policy in regards to the potential use of its nuclear weapons, and called for sweeping new constraints in when those weapons could be used. Next up is Thursday when President Obama meets his Russian counterpart in Prague to sign the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that will eliminate thousands of nuclear bombs from the combined armories of Russia and the U.S. But there are bigger goals in mind, including airy talk of eventually ridding the world of nukes. Is such a vision possible?
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KFC’s Double Down puts your heart “All In”

Have you ever thought to yourself, “This sandwich would be a whole lot better if the bread were replaced with chicken?” Well KFC has heard your heart's desire, and starting tomorrow will be facilitating quite possibly the food equivalent to a WMD. Having trouble conceptualizing? Picture two boneless chicken fillets as the bun — then squeeze two pieces of bacon, two slices of cheese and some sauce in between; all for just $5.00… miracles do happen. Only this miracle is about 1,380 milligrams of salt (about 60% of what the federal government recommends for an entire day's consumption) and 10 grams of saturated fat (about 50% of a day's supply) and it is a limited time offer that will be available for only six weeks. But how much damage can the Double Down do to you for six weeks?
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Sapphire on “Push” and “Precious”

The film “Precious,” nominated for six Oscars and winner of “Best Adapted Screenplay” and “Best Supporting Actress,” shocked audiences with its gritty dose of realism that deals head-on with the uncomfortable subjects of incest, abuse and poverty, but the novel “Push,” upon which the film was based, is even more intense. Patt talks with the novelist Sapphire about the origins of the book she began in 1993 as she was about to leave her job as a remedial reading teach in Harlem, and about criticism that turning the work into a high profile film served largely to reinforce negative stereotypes about the black community.
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