Patt Morrison for September 14, 2010

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Everyone on both sides of the political aisle more-or-less agrees that tax cuts for the middle class, enacted by President Bush back in 2001, should be made permanent. The disagreement, and one of the major backdrops for the looming Congressional midterm elections in November, is over the fate of tax cuts for the richest Americans. Republicans argue for making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, including those for the richest 2 -3%, saying that any kind of tax increase in a middle of a recession is madness; Democrats counter that with the budget deficits spinning out of control the country cannot afford the estimated $700 billion over 10 years that high-end tax breaks would cost. The larger question is how much of an impact tax cuts will have on overall economic growth, which is another point of dispute between Democrats and Republicans. As politics clashes with public policy, both parties have tough questions to answer: what’s the best tax cut move politically and what ultimately gets the economy turned around?
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To vaccinate or not… a parent’s dilemma

After years of media hype, some concerned parents have decided not to have their children vaccinated amidst fears the vaccines somehow trigger autism. Scientists have stated time and time again that this isn’t true, and public health officials have discouraged skipping the shots, yet last year a record was set for kindergartners entering schools sans vaccinations. Why are parents so worried? Science has spoken, so what evidence does a mom or dad need to listen?
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Kids and a quiet dinner out… impossible combination?

Picture this… you and a friend have just sat down in a favorite restaurant, ordered a glass of wine, and started to catch up on the latest… when across the room a two year old’s angry scream shatters the mood. You try to ignore the noise, but it continues… and you can’t help wishing the disruptive diners would be asked to leave. Well now, one restaurant owner has taken the situation in hand; the owner of Olde Salty in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, posted a sign saying “Screaming children will not be tolerated,” and she says it’s working by attracting more customers than are turned away. How much disruption can you take in a public place, or how much should you take?
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When LAPD officers arrived on the scene in Westlake last week they were confronted by a loud, aggressive, seemingly crazy man with a knife, and reports of that man threatening other people in the vicinity. The situation ended very badly for that man, Guatemalan day laborer Manuel Jamines, who was shot dead by the officers after they feared for their own safety and the safety of people in the area. There has been a lot of second guessing in the aftermath of that shooting, about how the police officers perceived a drunk man with a knife in a wide open space as a threat, and why the officers couldn’t use less-than-lethal force to deal with Mr. Jamines. At the very least if the officers were determined to use their weapons, asked critics of the LAPD, why couldn’t they just shoot Mr. Jamines in the legs? What are the options for law enforcement who are dealing with intoxicated or mentally unstable suspects in potentially dangerous scenarios—can cops be trained to shoot for the legs?
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