Patt Morrison for June 14, 2010

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After going up 2-1 in the NBA finals and playing with some serious confidence, the Lakers have lost two in a row to the Boston Celtics, making Game 6 in Los Angeles an elimination game. The Lakers hope to rebound and take the final two at home, a tall task, which has caused many analysts to deem the series over. But, as we all know, analyst’s opinions are as valid as a Clipper’s NBA Championship run, the real insight lies with the dedicated fans of the purple and gold. The same fans who have been quick to point the finger, from Pau Gasol’s ineptitude, to Ron Artest’s lack of defense, and don’t forget fan’s suspicions that Derek Fisher is old enough to cash Social Security checks. Fans have even turned on each other; the star-studded, yet sedated Staples Center fans have been the new target of attacks after Sunday’s loss. The only thing that is for sure in Lakers country right now, is panic.
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The Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review has blasted the internal investigations department of the LA County Probation Department for failing to adequately handle the cases of sworn officers who have committed misconduct. 31 officers will most likely go unpunished, according to the report, because investigators took too long to take action. 18 of the officers committed misconduct ranging from child cruelty, sex with a minor, and assault with a deadly weapon. Investigators have a year to investigate and/or act on their findings before the statute of limitations runs out. The lead attorney who conducted the three-month review found systemic problems mostly due to “bureaucratic inefficiencies, insufficient tracking and weak case management”. Patt spends some time getting to the bottom of this, but she promises it won’t take a year!
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Forget cell phones and full-body scanners at the airport, the sources of radiation Americans should be most worried about are the ones we volunteer for at the suggestion of the ones we trust most with our health: our doctors. A new AP report finds that Americans are exposed to the most medical radiation in the world, even more than people in other wealthy countries, because we get far too many imaging tests. They’re over prescribed due to a lack of communication between doctors, fear of malpractice, insurance requirements and ready availability. CT scans and X-rays have soared in use over the past decade, often replacing tests like ultrasounds and MRI’s, which don’t require radiation. No radiation standards currently exist, except for mammograms, although the FDA and a California senator are moving to set up those limits. In light of the nearly 300 patients at Cedars-Sinai last fall who were exposed to radiation doses 8 times higher than intended, how and when will those standards be determined? And how should patients and doctors weigh the risk of forgoing medical tests for fear of overexposure?
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When Raghuram G. Rajan warned a group of bankers in 2005 that the economy was headed for a steep and steady collapse, he was met with critical remarks and skepticism. Now, as the world tries to climb its way out of this deep hole of a recession, Rajan warns us again about another economic crisis: what brought the economy to a sudden halt in 2007 may actually threaten another downfall in the years to come. Rajan fears that the United States’ efforts to avoid economic downturn and the continuation of American over consumption could lead to another “financial earthquake.” What exactly should U.S. and world leaders be doing to avoid another recession or depression?
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City Controller aims audit at LADWP

It’s a case of political intrigue in the Los Angeles city government. The Department of Water & Power board meets tomorrow to discuss a proposed budget, following the controller’s audit released last Thursday that charged DWP executives with misleading the public when they refused to transfer $73.5 million to the city. City Controller Wendy Greuel, who led the investigation, stated in the audit that the DWP had more than enough funds to aid the city’s shaky budget. With a rate increase backed by Mayor Villaraigosa and the threat of shutting the city down for two days a week, how is it that the DWP’s $752 million available funds couldn’t help out the city? Why refuse to transfer $73.5 million but then hike up the rates?
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How would the state of California cut 46,000 prisoners from its incarcerated population? That tall order might soon be mandatory as the U.S. Supreme Court today decided to take up a long-standing fight over our state’s overcrowded and dysfunctional prison system. The Supreme Court will hear an appeal from Gov. Schwarzenegger against an order from federal judges that the state must somehow relieve the crowding in California prisons in order to provide adequate medical care. The panel of three federal judges found that overcrowding was the primary cause of prisoner mistreatment and ordered the release of 46,000 inmates over the next two years. Are there any clues on how the Supreme Court might rule, and what classification of prisoners might win their freedom a little earlier than expected?
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Shouting, chaos and confusion at the Fruitvale BART (Bay Area Rapid Transition) station in Oakland on New Years Day 2009 ended with Oscar Grant III, a young, African American man, shot in the back by twenty-eight-year-old, white BART police officer, Johannes Mehserle. The shooting, widely viewed on YouTube and local news outlets, ignited a massive public outcry. The murder trial of Mehserle, which began last week, has been moved to Los Angeles amid concerns of a tainted jury pool. The question comes down to whether Mehserle shot and killed Grant intentionally or if it was the result of a tragic accident. Mehserle’s defense attorney claims that the officer meant to grab his Taser, not his gun. Both the defense and the prosecution will rely heavily on video footage taken by bystanders at the station to help prove their case. A case that is full of racial undertones that highlight the tensions between police and minority groups everywhere, what will be the ultimate outcome from the tragic meeting of Grant & Mehserle?
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