Patt Morrison for November 12, 2010

Many in the fight against obesity point the finger of blame at the fast food industry. Here in Los Angeles, an effort is underway to limit the number of fast food restaurants that can open in minority communities, such as South Los Angeles. Those communities are on the front lines of the health crisis as the rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes are higher there than in other communities due, in part, to limited access to healthier food options. A measure that would limit the number of fast food establishments was passed by the Los Angeles Planning Commission last month and is expected to go before a Los Angeles City Council committee before the end of this month. But the California Restaurant Association says limiting the number of McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Taco Bells will have a negative impact, because the restaurants bring jobs, management training, and entrepreneurial opportunities to these communities. Are we solving one problem at the risk of creating another?
Mercer 12000

Thad Allen’s encore; continuing to contain Deepwater

In nearly four decades of service, retired Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen has led the kind of career usually reserved for Hollywood movie military men. As commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Allen oversaw east coast maritime security on 9/11. In 2005, he spearheaded the federal response to Katrina. His leadership earned wide praise, and the Coast Guard emerged from the disaster as the rare agency to garner some respect for their relief work. This spring, Allen served as National Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. And, like the action movie hero brought out of retirement, his expertise has outlived his military career. Now retired, Allen continues to serve, in a civilian capacity, as senior executive for the Homeland Security Secretary. It’s an uncanny repeat performance – same man, same Gulf, different disaster. The National Oil Spill Commission only presented its preliminary findings on Monday. With oil flow estimates underestimated and possibly suppressed, and with public outrage waning, where does Allen see his role in securing accountability from the offshore oil drilling industry and continuing to provide relief to a struggling Gulf coast?
Mercer 11999
The United States has been a powerhouse of international policy and innovation since first establishing itself as a free and independent nation. Our President is often referred to as the Leader of the Free World, and our nation is the richest in the world. Rarely outspent on anything, only three countries spend more money annually, per student than the United States. And yet, the United States is failing when it comes to education. New analysis finds the U.S. ranked 31st out of 56 countries in the percentage of students performing at a high level of accomplishment. Even when each state was studied as its own, solitary entity, comparing say Montana to Thailand and California to the Czech Republic the states – united or alone – can’t keep up. So why is the U.S. performing so poorly? One of the authors of the first-ever comprehensive study comparing U.S. students to students in 56 other countries counts a deep-seated incapacity to bring students up to the highest level of accomplishment in math.
Mercer 11997

Nora Ephron remembers nothing

She’s the writer behind When Harry Met Sally and Julie and Julia, but first she’s a woman. Writer/producer Nora Ephron follows up her last book I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman with I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections, which delves into the issues many women deal with – from daily duties and money to romance and divorce. Ms. Ephron gives readers a hilarious glimpse at her own upbringing, divorces, and life as a successful, yet normal, woman. Patt sits down with Nora Ephron to find out what she does remember…
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