Patt Morrison for August 9, 2010

Mercer 9526
LA County District Attorney and California Attorney General Candidate Steve Cooley is alleged to have taken thousands of dollars in gifts from various people over the years. Known for his past record of fighting public corruption, Cooley received numerous gifts, including $1600 in Lakers tickets, pricey bottles of tequila and cologne, and expensive cigars from lawyers who later became judges. The report, published by the San Francisco Chronicle, comes as a blow to Cooley’s anti-corruption campaign for attorney general and his widely publicized investigations into campaign finance violations and Mayor Villaraigosa’s free tickets. Is this enough to kill his candidacy for attorney general?
Mercer 9527
It’s been a discernable trend over the past several years: young kids, especially girls, are showing signs of entering puberty at younger ages. A new study out today focusing girls, published in the journal Pediatrics, finds that by 8-year-old more than 1-in-10 girls have already begun developing breasts, which marks the technical start of puberty. The findings track a trend identified by a number of studies, including a Danish study published last fall that found the average age of breast development fell by about a year compared with girls born 15 years earlier. There are plenty of medical reasons why early puberty is troubling for girls, and plenty of theorized causes: the health complications include higher instances of breast cancer and the possible causes run the gambit from higher rates of obesity to hormones in plastics. There are sociological implications as well, as young girls are increasingly sexualized. Is there a way to reverse the trend of early puberty in girls?
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Tuesday, state officials will travel to Washington D.C. to make their case that California should be selected from 18 other finalists for its share of $4.35 billion in federal education funds. This marks the second round of competition for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s controversial plan known as Race to the Top, which offers states incentive to reform their public education systems for a chance to compete for federal money. Critics say Duncan’s agenda pushes untested methods, such as lifting a cap on charter schools and tying teacher evaluations to student performance, and does little to address long-standing inequities in public education. Education experts also point out there could be backlash from states that take significant political risks to reform, only to be eliminated in a final round. California wasn’t named as finalist in the first round of competition, which awarded grants only to Tennessee and Delaware. But this time around, California’s application effort was led by local superintendents, such as Los Angeles Unified School District’s Ramon Cortines and Long Beach Unified School District’s Christopher Steinhauser, who’ll both make their case in D.C. tomorrow. What’s different about California’s chances this time around? David looks at California’s chances and what stakeholders are saying on all sides of the debate.
Mercer 9512
The two companies are rumored to be in the midst of negotiating an agreement that could fundamentally change the landscape of the internet. If a deal is reached between the two media giants, it would allow content providers like YouTube (owned by Google) to get their content to users faster (courtesy of Verizon, one of the nation’s largest Internet service providers). Of course expediency comes at a price. YouTube would have to pay for the privilege, and then ultimately those costs would be passed on to consumers. If an agreement is reached, the Internet would become more of a tiered system (like cable television) where some users pay more for faster access to content. Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC, says “…any deal that doesn’t preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet for consumers and entrepreneurs will be unacceptable”. If this deal goes forward despite warnings from the FCC, will it mean the end of “net neutrality” or equal access to the internet? And is there anything wrong with some people paying more for preferred service?
Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd was encouraged to resign last week after it surfaced that he had tried to enter a relationship with an HP contractor and part-time actress, Jodie Fisher. HP says Hurd didn't violate their sexual harassment policy, and Fisher acknowledges they never entered into an affair or sexual relationship, but the scandal still shows how seriously sexual harassment can be dealt with. Even flirtation in the workplace can have drastic consequences in this day and age. So, why is the issue taken so seriously now and how can you protect yourself from that creeper in the bordering cubicle?
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