Patt Morrison for July 20, 2010

The U.S. Senate today voted to restore unemployment benefits to millions of American who have been out of work for more than six months, breaking a threatened Republican filibuster as opponents of unemployment insurance have become increasingly defiant. It’s a delicate political dance: there is an undeniably difficult job market that has had a stranglehold on American workers for the better part of three years and the unemployed are dependent on these benefits just to stay afloat; meanwhile there is a multi-trillion dollar deficit that balloons a little every time Congress passes an extension of benefits. Republicans have been very careful to criticize unemployment benefits, saying that they’re needed but they must be paid for, although that didn’t stop them for almost uniformly voting against the extension today. How can we balance the need for a safety net with very real budget concerns?
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Female soldiers on the front line

Since the cap keeping the percentage of women serving in the military at 2% was lifted in the 1970s the female soldiers serving in the U.S. armed services have slowly been allowed to work in almost every area of the military - most recently being allowed, pending congressional approval of course, to serve on nuclear submarines. Women now make up 14% of the military and there are 29,000 currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. So what is the brass ceiling for women in the military? Direct combat. Female soldiers outside of the defined combat zones are currently being killed by the same ambush attacks and I.E.D.s as the male troops they live and serve with – so, how does the official policy preventing women from joining ground units apply in a war that many have said has no traditional front line?
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The new plan to fight HIV/AIDS

The XVIII International AIDS Conference kicked of this last weekend in Vienna, Austria and over the next few days the more than 20,000 participants will be hearing from leading scientists, people living with AIDS, as well as such international heavy hitters as President Bill Clinton and South African Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi. Since the first cases of HIV were recognized 30 years ago more than 25 million people have died from AIDS. Here in the US 56,000 people are newly infected each year. This administration has pledged funding to implement a new strategy to refocus existing efforts but how do you fight an unwavering epidemic? As the world gathers to discuss how to battle this virus we look at the new plan on both the national and local level.
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As the July 29th enactment of Arizona’s SB 1070 nears, numerous states are making headway on their own immigration laws, even with the impending legal battle between the federal government and the Grand Canyon state. While Arizona’s law is in the hot seat, infamous Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio aims to house all arrested illegal immigrants in “Tent Cities,” which were set up in the desert to hold over 1,000 prisoners. Arpaio’s controversial tactics, which include parading prisoners in pink underwear, may permeate over into the county’s handling of illegal immigrants, as the sheriff vows to continue following state immigration laws. He has already launched the county’s 16th crime and immigration sweep, targeting drug and immigrant smugglers. But what does this mean for the bigger task of national immigration reform, the federal lawsuit against Arizona and how other states are taking after Arpaio and his state’s actions? We continue the conversation on immigration, as Sheriff Arpaio talks with Patt and takes your questions or comments.
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The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is stocking LAX with 24 new, full-body imaging scanners. The airport currently has four. The scanners use low level X-rays to detect metallic and nonmetallic components under clothes. But if you are a little shy about exposing your body parts via the scanner (private parts are visible on the monitor), you can opt for a good old fashion pat down. City leaders say the scanners give the airport an added level of security, but if the scanners are voluntary does it defeat the purpose? And do the low level X-rays reveal a little too much skin? Patt takes a close look.
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Is it illegal to film the police?

High-profile cases of late, most notably Johannes Mehserle’s trial, have relied in part on video footage from cell phones taken by bystanders. In addition to a proliferation of this type of evidence, has come an increase in arrests of civilians using portable video cameras and cell-phones to document police conduct. But is this an arrestable offense? Police and government agencies record civilian conduct from police car dashboards and on security cameras, so should civilians also be allowed to record police in public places? Patt reads between the lines of the law and consults from civil liberties experts.
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