Patt Morrison for August 13, 2010

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Is Social Security secure?

When signing Social Security into law President Roosevelt said, “Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last. This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete. It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.” 75 years later young and old alike are questioning the current and future state of Social Security as it, for the first time in 17 years, is paying out more money than it is taking in from payroll taxes. Today as we celebrate the birthday of Social Security we take a look at where it stands and discuss the security of Social Security.
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There are plenty of background issues to what is shaping up to be an epic political battle for California’s Senate seat: immigration, abortion, gay marriage and the environment are just some of the complex concerns that the two candidates could address from now until November. But in the face of stubborn unemployment and economic stagnation, that have been acutely felt here in California, this election is due to come down one thing—the economy. Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina have decidedly different approaches to economic improvement: Boxer just helped to get a relief package for state public employees (teachers, firefighters, etc.) passed through Congress, while Fiorina labels that wasteful deficit spending. Fiorina wants to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts, touting their tremendous benefits for struggling small businesses, while Boxer calls that a payoff to the richest Americans. The clash of economic philosophies will shape the campaign between Boxer & Fiorina—we take our first look at how both candidates hope to improve your financial well-being.
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Anne Rice leaves the church

The author best known for her vampire novels made a splash last week when she announced via her Facebook page that she is apparently done with Christianity. The intriguing aspect, besides her medium of choice—is Jesus still her friend?—is that Ms. Rice still believes in God, she is just done with organized religion. Basing her decision on Christianity’s stances on gay marriage, woman’s rights, and what she describes as an “anti-science” and “anti-life” mentality. So after 12 years as a devout Catholic, Anne Rice has decided that she would rather be spiritual than religious and that she could have a closer relationship with God by herself.
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As you talk to your dog or cat about your day (admit it – all pet owners do it), do you ever wonder what your pets understand? How about when you point to them to sit down, why is it that they respond correctly? Are animals smarter than we actually think? In Time magazine’s recent cover story “Inside the Minds of Animals,” senior writer Jeffrey Kluger highlighted some revolutionary research that’s showing animals like great apes (bonobos, chimps and orangutans), dogs, and crows exhibit complex cognitive skills, skills that most humans thought were reserved to our own species. Bonobos at the Great Ape Trust are fluent in symbolic language and can formulate clear sentences and thoughts. But these new findings also expose the strained relationship between human and beast. If animals have thoughts, consciousness and process information, does this completely change how we treat them? And what do all these findings about animals mean about human evolution? Kluger and researchers talk with Patt to answer these questions and more.
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