Patt Morrison for July 23, 2010

Mercer 9052
Wal-Mart stores across the country are rolling out new traceable radio-frequency tags, or "smart labels," to keep tabs on merchandise. With just the wave of a scanner wand, store supervisors will be able to account for all the merchandise in a store, and will be able to track any item that's gone missing. Along with that upgraded RFID technology, however, retailers will also be able to track merchandise you've bought. Privacy advocates think this technology could lead to unscrupulous types driving by consumers' homes to scan garbage and discover what they've goods they've stashed inside. They also warn that new scanners would enable retailers to scan and track customers' ID cards. Similar technology has led to iPhones being rescued after burglary, so is this technology a necessary evil or a step towards Big Brother?
Mercer 9035
There has, arguably, been no other community in California (and the entire country) that has been so heavily victimized both by the war on drugs and the drugs themselves than African Americans. The rates of arrest, conviction and incarceration of blacks for drug crimes in California dwarf all other demographic groups; the rate of drug addiction in black neighborhoods is equally high. Along comes Prop. 19, which promises the legalization of marijuana, and the choices that black voters must make in November become stark: will making pot legal help to end the dramatic disparities in the prosecutions of drug cases against black defendants or will it unleash the full ravages of drug addiction on black communities? A recent Field Poll found that 40% of black voters backed Prop. 19 while 52% opposed it. What kind of impact would legalized marijuana use have on California’s African Americans?
Mercer 9045
Many see Arizona’s immigration law as a potential catalyst for more sweeping, federal immigration reform. Looking beyond the current divisiveness of SB1070, Univision political anchor and Mexican immigrant Jorge Ramos makes the case for a pragmatic and politically achievable solution to a currently “cruel and capricious system that doesn’t work, wastes billions of dollars, and which stands in direct opposition to our national principles.” Patt continues our immigration series leading up to the scheduled implementation of Arizona’s SB 1070 next Thursday, July 29th with a man Time magazine calls one of “the 25 most influential Hispanics in the United States.”
Mercer 9051

Between a rock and a hard place: California’s rock debate

If you tune into the news regularly, you might feel as if the world is encountering immense problems on a daily basis. People are living in a state of fear, thanks mostly to news stories involving the disaster in the gulf coast, never-ending wars overseas, the plummeting economy, California's state rock that could possibly give you cancer… Wait… we have a state rock!? Oh, we do and on top of that it could be the coolest of all state rocks. Thanks to an old American friend, asbestos. Turns out that serpentine, the Golden State’s rock, has asbestos in it, and yes the bad kind. So what do we do? Senator Gloria Romero has made a push to change the state’s rock to something that doesn’t give you cancer; someone isn’t worried about losing the all too important pro-asbestos rock vote. Many geologists think it’s senseless to change a rock that has so much history in California, sighting that this is a perfect example of politics affecting education in a negative way; no igneous rock left behind? So how do you feel about it? Should we divorce from our state rock or try to work things out with serpentine?
Mercer 9037
The once-dying, underground sport of roller derby seems to be making a comeback – over the past five years, a mere handful of leagues have grown to more than 400 leagues with over 17,000 skaters worldwide, and the sport got top billing in last year's film Whip It, starring Ellen Page. KPCC's own Alex Cohen, AKA "Axles of Evil," as she's known in the rink, is one of those skaters and she's written an insider's guide to derby, both a history and a how-to. You probably didn't know derby originated in the 1800's or that it evolved from an endurance competition to become what it is today--a knockdown, fast paced, and seemingly violent contact sport that some women simply can't get enough of. Alex and co-author Jennifer Barbee join Patt to discuss all things derby. *The authors will be reading from the book and signing copies at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Blvd, Los Angeles on Monday, July 26th at 7:30 PM
Find an archived Episode: