Patt Morrison for September 17, 2010

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The Wall St. Journal called it the “lost decade for family income”: from 2000 – 2009 the inflation-adjusted income of the median household, smack in the middle of the populace, fell almost 5%. Household incomes have fallen before, but what makes this trend different, and especially disheartening, is that the drop in incomes comes after years of stagnation. The decline this time comes after a long period in which incomes stagnated even through some goods years in the 2000’s, and of course incomes are now mired in a slumping economy with obscene unemployment rates. With the backdrop of unemployment figures in California—Los Angeles County’s unemployment now sits at 13%, which is actually a slight improvement—is the American Dream now dead for future generations?
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“The Closer”—L.A.’s crime stories on the small screen

What’s the secret behind the most successful series in the history of basic cable? Chocolate. Well, that and a meticulously researched plotline, consulted on by the likes of former Los Angeles County district attorney Gil Garcetti, and a powerhouse of a leading lady, Kyra Sedgwick. Sedgwick stars as Los Angeles Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, a beautiful lady who means business. Currently in its sixth season, The Closer is reportedly averaging 7.1 million viewers per week, making it one of the top rated programs in the history of basic cable. Better yet for local audiences, The Closer is based on L.A. crime stories, using the LAPD’s fictional “Major Crimes Unit” to portray the mix of law enforcement and L.A. culture. Finishing up its sixth season this week, with the seventh on the way in December, Patt takes her show to the set of The Closer to talk dramatized crime stories, and of course chocolate.
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This little piggy went to market….without antibiotics?

If you’d like a side of bacon minus the antibiotics, you may soon be in luck. The FDA is expected to announce new and stricter guidelines on the use of antibiotics on animals within the next few months. Scientists and health experts, including the American Medical Association and the Infectious Disease Society of America, are pressuring the agency to intervene on behalf of public health. They contend that the use of antibiotics in healthy animals is unnecessary and is contributing to an emergence of “antibiotic-resistant bacteria”. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a letter to Congress noting a definitive link between “antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans”. Factory farmers say they rely on the use of antibiotics as a preventative measure to ensure that their livestock stay healthy. Furthermore, they claim that limiting the use of grow inducing antibiotics could have an economic impact, because it would force farmers to pay more for feed. The European Union banned the use of antibiotics in healthy animals in 2006, and farmers adapted without taking much of a financial hit. Could the U.S. be next?
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Yesterday, Jon Stewart finally made his big announcement: he'll be holding a "Restoring Sanity" rally in Washington D.C. on October 30th. The rally, Stewart says is a "million moderate march" and a "clarion call for rationality" to counter the heated protests thrown by both the left and right over the last few years. As promised, Stephen Colbert announced he would be holding a "March to Keep Fear Alive" on the same date, in the same location as Stewart's "Restoring Sanity". The two play off of one another often, and are more or less presenting the rallies as a giant mockery of American political action, but could their "cynical chic" approach to politics actually garner support from the public, especially the youth? Is it really just fun and games, or could these rallies lead to a full-fledged movement?
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When Pablo Neruda accepted the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971, he was beloved by his Chilean countryman and respected worldwide for his elegant sonnets and often sensual poems, some addressed to tomatoes, to salt, to a pair of knitted socks. Chilean novelist Antonio Skarmeta in 1985 based his novella Il Postino on Neruda’s life story, and that story is the basis for a successful film of the same name. Now, in the year of the 200th anniversary of the independence of both Chile and Mexico, another interpretation has arrived with the premiere at LA Opera of composer Daniel Catan’s work, written for and starring Placido Domingo as Neruda. As the composer and music professor sits down with Patt, we hear about the inspiration and influences that spurred him to take on this complex and fascinating subject. *Il Postino premieres at LA Opera on Thursday, September 23rd, with performances through October 16th
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