Patt Morrison for August 10, 2010

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A frustrating ten days into what is often the hottest month, many Angelenos find themselves grabbing a sweater – not a bottle of sunscreen, when leaving the house. It’s 75 and partly cloudy in Los Angeles… again. June gloom should have ended more than a month ago and yet Los Angeles is dog-tired of waiting for the dog days of summer. Should we blame it on the lunar calendar? Is there a heat wave in our future or should we go ahead and deflate the kiddie-pool till 2011? Is there a connection between our moderate temperatures, a prolonged heat wave on the East Coast, floods in Pakistan and drought in Russia? We explore the wacky world of weather in this global warming era.

Can the FCC save net neutrality?

The idea was simple in concept: ensure fair & equitable access to the internet for users (like you & me) and for smaller companies that want a piece of the bandwidth pie, alike. That’s the core principal of “net neutrality,” a plan put forward by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski that would require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all legal web traffic. Yesterday a deal was struck between two of those broadband players, broadband provider Verizon and content provider Google, that essentially kneecaps the idea of net neutrality. Google and Verizon agreed that access to larger chunks of pipeline space will come at a cost to Google, and eventually a cost to the end internet user. So now what will the FCC do to ensure that equal access to the world wide web? We talk to a FCC commissioner about the government’s next step in the war for the future of the internet.
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Is it time to say goodbye to affirmative action?

Affirmative action boasted equal opportunity for minorities when it was enacted in the 1960s. But times have changed, argues former Affirmative Action advocate and LA Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez. Since the United States' minority population has rapidly increased over the past 40 years and we've elected our first African-American president, Rodriguez suggests that affirmative action is beginning to hurt poor whites, WASPS and Asians in both the workplace and in college admissions. While immigration may be at the forefront of national race discussion, Rodriguez is predicting a future in which a backlash against affirmative action will eclipse immigration as the focal point of our country's racial tension. Could affirmative action become an even more racially-charged debate than immigration? Do you think affirmative action needs to go or are we far from the "post-racial America" touted along with the election of an African-American president?
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The “friendly” skies are a whole lot greener

When it comes to airline travel, it seems everything comes with a fee. Spirit Airlines is now charging for carry-on bags; free standby travel is quickly becoming a thing of the past (a “same-day confirmed” seat will now cost you $50.00 on some major carriers), and even the obligatory pillow and blanket come at a price. The airline industry made over $750 million dollars in just three months in baggage fees this year. They made over $550 million on reservation change fees. But don’t worry, if you are American Airlines customer you can opt for their “boarding and flexibility” plan. It enables you to pay a smaller fee now so you don’t have to pay a larger fee later. Are all these fees necessary to keep the airline industry in business in these tough economic times, or is this overkill? Should Congress or the Department of Transportation do more to regulate what the industry charges?
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A new spinal tap test—which one unaffiliated researcher has called a “bull’s-eye of perfect predictive accuracy”—can be 100 % accurate in identifying patients who are on their way to developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study published today in the “Archives of Neurology” journal. The study measured the Amyloid and Tau protein levels in patients’ spinal fluid and detected an abnormal pattern present in 90% of subjects who showed symptoms of the disease. 5.3 million people currently have Alzheimer’s and it’s the 7th leading cause of death, but its research field has remained stagnant for decades and researchers hope this latest finding, which supports the high accuracy of such tests, will reinvigorate the field. Identifying a predictive test is crucial for a disease that doctors now unanimously agree can begin decades before symptoms show, but should doctors offer commercially available spinal tap tests for a disease with no currently known treatment? Would you want to know? Madeleine Brand fills in for Patt and talks with the study’s lead investigator.
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"A Visit From the Goon Squad”

What would inspire a successful short story writer and novelist to write an entire chapter using power point? Perhaps the same thing that inspired her to write about terrorism, oral sex, celebrity journalism, teen and adult angst, the digital age, and use more than a dozen protagonists to weave together a story loosely focused on one not-so-talented bass-player. Madeleine Brand fills in for Patt and talks with Jennifer Egan about her musically obsessed, scattered, and lauded new book and about the venerated voices within it.
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