Patt Morrison for May 19, 2010

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As the Regents of the University of California were voting to increase student tuitions by 32% last fall, students and faculty members outside of the meetings were protesting with one common message: cut the excess and fat from the UC budget before you raise student fees. Whether UC executives have directly answered the students’ pleas is debatable, but today the UC Board of Regents has decided to go forward with a plan to trim $500 million in administrative costs over the next five years and shift the savings to academics. There will be some layoffs and personnel cutbacks through attrition, and the 10 campuses in the UC system will consolidates services, from library administration to financial reports. A leaner and meaner UC system is welcome news in this era of depleted state budgets, and will certainly be applauded by students, faculty and administration, but will it ultimately translate into a better education for California’s vaunted public universities?
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Delta Divers – high-risk, high-pay in the Gulf

As the world watches the so-far unstoppable oil spill spreading through the deep-blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, we are probably not thinking of the successful daily workings of the more than 6,000 gas and oil platforms and 35,000 miles of pipelines that function in those waters. Delta Divers: Diver Down, a new documentary airing tonight on the National Geographic Channel, tells the story of the part-astronaut, part-roughneck deep-sea divers who do the welding, pouring concrete, rigging, and hydraulics in an environment so extreme it might as well be another planet. *Delta Divers: Diver Down is airing tonight at 9pm on the National Geographic Channel
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First Lady Michelle Obama won a major victory in her crusade against childhood obesity. She got some major players in the food and beverage business to agree to reduce the calories in their products, offer lower calorie options, and reduce the portion size of some of their products. Kellogg Co., General Mills Inc, Pepsi Co and others agreed to cut 1.5 trillion calories by the end of 2015. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has signed onto support an independent evaluation of how these companies are doing and whether their efforts have lead to any significant progress. Is your child ready for a little less coco in his Coco Puffs?
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Forget the allegedly minimal amounts of radiation you may be absorbing from those full-body airport scanners, we’ve got bigger fish to fry. Future pilots are likely to be less experienced, less ethical and in short supply, according to a panel of experts who testified in front of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) yesterday. Those long-term problems are thanks to the recession, fewer military pilots leaving for jobs with commercial airlines and an over-reliance on automated systems. The hearing continues today and tomorrow, in response to last year’s slew of high-profile aviation incidents, such as the crash of a regional airliner near Buffalo, N.Y. that killed 50 people, in which the conduct and judgment of pilots and controllers was called into question. The research since then has shown the major cause of most of those incidents was a general lack of professionalism in the industry. Experts from all areas of the field convene again today to figure out how to improve pilots’ code of conduct while flying on auto-pilot at 30,000 feet. In a somewhat out-of-character assessment, according the NTSB, it’s not all about more regulation. Patt checks in with some of the commissioners and their experts for a window into the future of flying.
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In a 2007 piece for the Washington Post Thomas Chatterton Williams wrote that, "... middle class blacks concerned with "keeping it real" are engaging in gratuitously self-destructive and violently masochistic behavior." Is hip-hop to blame or is it up to the parents? In his new book, "Losing My Cool" Williams discusses the detrimental aspects of hip-hop culture, the "cool pose” and the role his father played in getting him to lose his cool.
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