Patt Morrison for July 12, 2010

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Once upon a time, teaching was a reliable, steady career choice. In the past several years, however, teachers have been laid of across the county, and aggressively within LAUSD. Teach For America, the program that places high-achieving college graduates in temporary teaching positions within struggling school districts, this year received a record 46,359 applications for 4,500 teaching spots, begging the question, what’s a teaching hopeful to do? Will rough times change a generation’s perspective on the teaching profession? Where are current teachers finding jobs these days? TFA is known, and often criticized, for being more about résumé padding for overachieving ivy leaguers than a silver bullet for public schools, but could the current economic reality make a program like TFA irrelevant?
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Historically when employment picks up it has been small businesses that lead the way—before huge multinational corporations start hiring employees in the dozens or hundreds, it’s small businesses with payrolls of 20 people or less that make one or two key hires. The health of small businesses has always been the country’s canary in the economic coal mine, and in the case of the U.S. in 2010 the canary is very sick. The Intuit small business employment index found that in June small businesses had fewer new hires than any time since October. To understand the oversized importance of smaller businesses consider that these companies employee about one-sixth of the nation’s workers, but so far in 2010 have added one-third of all new private-sector jobs. Can small business be counted on to rescue the broader American economy?
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David Kilcullen's “Counterinsurgency”

Against a backdrop of two wars for which the American public has grown weary and increasingly hopeless, the U.S. military has generated some more petty, almost gossip-like media attention in the past several months, from lifting the veil on its internal ruminations on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to the embarrassing resignation of its top general in Afghanistan and a reshuffling of command. The media attention may have done more to steer attention away from the wars, but serious obstacles remain in both. Military strategist and advisor David Kilcullen joins Patt with a behind-the-scenes analysis of where to go next. A former adviser to General David Petraeus in Iraq and to General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan, Kilcullen’s knowledge of modern warfare influenced the 2007 surge in Iraq and many contemporary military leaders. In his new book Counterinsurgency, Kilcullen delves into the mind of a military strategist, defining both counterinsurgency and counterterrorism tactics and laying out his views on the current situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
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Alzheimer's disease, a complex degenerative brain disorder, is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050, and with an increasing aging population, is set to become one of the most costly diseases to the United States, currently estimated at about $100 billion a year. This week, the Alzheimer's Association convenes an International Conference (ICAD) to look at the latest research on diagnosing, treating and preventing the disease. While many sufferers of dementia are assumed to have developed Alzheimer’s, the disease can only be officially diagnosed in an autopsy. On this week’s agenda are developments that could become the first-ever test to diagnose living patients, as well as analyses of the cost of burden to a healthy society of caregivers who will increasingly be linked to Alzheimer’s sufferers.
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Cancer is a highly elusive disease. Your body doesn’t even recognize it as an invader… it’s your cells, gone crazy. Sure, we attack our own body with allergies, but why can’t we attack one of the most deadliest and unsympathetic of diseases? UCLA cancer researchers just might have the answer with their new gene therapy, which could turn your immune cells into all out mercenaries, finding and devouring cancer cells. While it will take longer in humans than in the mice they’re testing on, could this be the final curtain for cancer?
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"To Kill a Mockingbird" turns 50

Harper Lee’s classic about a courtroom drama in the segregated South turned fifty yesterday. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936. This gave the book an unprecedented real feel and hit very close to home for some, maybe too close. Few books have ever achieved the success of To Kill a Mockingbird and few have ever gained the same amount of controversy. The book's racial slurs, profanity, and frank discussion of rape have led people to challenge its appropriateness in libraries and classrooms, but is widely credited with being an American classic. Whether you hate it or love it, one thing is for sure, from Boo Radley to Atticus and Scout, Harper Lee’s characters and story have impacted generations.
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