Patt Morrison for April 16, 2010

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Goldman Sachs gets sacked by an SEC fraud suit

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed charges today against financial giant Goldman Sachs claiming the firm defrauded investors by a selling them mortgage-backed securities (subprime mortgages) the firm suspected were likely to fail. Goldman, and select clients, then bet against those investments and profited when the housing bubble burst. Investors lost more than 1 billion. Goldman calls the allegations “unfounded in law and fact” and plans to vigorously defend itself against the suit. The company’s stock fell 16% today, the lowest the stock has sunk in over a year.
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From the streets of Ciudad Juarez to the poppy fields of Afghanistan, one of the biggest factors driving the foreign policy of the United States is illegal narcotics, from where it’s grown to how it’s transported and who is profiting from its eventual sale. In Afghanistan, 2009 was yet another record year in the production of poppies, which are turned into heroin and opium and help to fund the Taliban’s insurgency—there are rampant rumors of Afghan government officials who also profit off the heroin trade, while various interdiction efforts on the part of U.S. forces have failed to make a dent in the amount of poppies being grown. Closer to home, Mexico continues to battle aggressive drug cartels and in a perverse irony, both the Mexican government and the cartels themselves are deeply dependent on the United States; the former on U.S. law enforcement aid, the latter on American guns and drug users. How are drug wars fueling America’s foreign policy?
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The California State Assembly has apparently put their partisanship behind them to introduce a new package of reforms to help the Golden State move forward. The package includes measures that would amend the state constitution to call for a simple majority vote to pass a budget, among other provisions to stabilize state finances. There will also be reforms aimed at enhancing public oversight and reducing the number of bills introduced each year. The Assembly calls it bipartisan, but how cooperative will opposing party members be when the reforms actually take effect? Patt talks to assemblymen on opposite sides of the aisle about the new proposals and their outlook for success.
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Democratic Convention kicks off in LA this week

State Democrats kick off a three-day convention in downtown LA today. It won’t be so much of a party as some hard thinking by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Barbara Boxer and other democratic thought leaders in caucus and committee meetings about which statewide candidates to endorse in the June primary and what voting positions to take on the June ballot measures. By the end of the weekend, the party should emerge with a platform for the November elections and their best-laid plans to avoid getting pummeled by Republicans.
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It’s becoming a rare event anywhere in the United States, but in downtown Los Angeles it’s almost unheard of: neo-Nazis, the National Socialists Movement to be exact, are planning to rally on the steps of L.A.’s City Hall on Saturday afternoon. They have acquired a permit to march from the LAPD for 150 people, and they plan to “celebrate” the birthday of Adolf Hitler. Meanwhile a coalition of community groups, as diverse as the Jewish Labor Committee to the Southern California Immigration Coalition, has been lobbying the Mayor to revoke the permit and also plans to turn out several thousand counter-protesters to box in the Nazis. As distasteful as the Nazis’ views may be, do they still have an iron-clad First Amendment right to march through downtown Los Angeles?
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Another April means that baseball is back in Chavez Ravine and wherever there is baseball, there are tailgaters. Some consider this a benign tradition, a time where fans can get psyched up before the game. But there are those that treat tailgating like they are pledging for a fraternity that doesn’t care about your liver, a pre-game tradition as crucial to the game as the ceremonial first pitch. A view not shared by the other men in blue, the LAPD. At Tuesday’s opening game LAPD had more than 150 officers spread out around the stadium, arresting more than 130 people, mostly for public intoxication and unruly behavior. Some fans appreciate the support in making Dodger Stadium a more“family friendly” environment, while others think that LAPD should have much more pressing issues to deal with than making arrests in Dodger Town. Notorious tailgater Patt Morrison takes your calls.
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Former LAPD chief Daryl Gates passed away this morning of complications due to cancer. Gates served as chief from 1978 to 1992, when he resigned after harsh criticism for his handling of the Rodney King beating. He was also instrumental in creating the first SWAT team in the nation and was much loved within the department. So what will Gates' legacy be? His relationship with the public or the officers?
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