Patt Morrison for November 15, 2010

Mercer 12037

Court upholds in-state tuition for undocumented students

In a unanimous decision this morning, the California Supreme Court ruled that illegal immigrants may remain eligible for in-state tuition rates at University of California colleges and universities, rather than have to pay the higher out of state rates. The decision overturns a lower court ruling, which found that California law violates a federal prohibition on giving educational benefits based on residency to illegal immigrants. About 25,000 illegal immigrants are estimated to receive in-state tuition rates in California, according to the Los Angeles Times, and undocumented students accounted for less than three-tenths of 1% of the UC student body in 2007-2008 (that’s roughly 660 students), according the UC system. Illegal immigrants remain barred from government financial-aid programs. Most legal scholars expect today’s ruling to be appealed, in which case it could go all the way to the Supreme Court. Regardless of how you might feel about the issue of illegal immigration, should students who have already gone through California’s school system have the same financial eligibility to attend California’s universities?
Mercer 12031
While campaign finance reform and tinkering with voting systems continues nation-wide, Los Angeles is taking its first small steps toward election reform with two measures that will soon change the way you vote. First off is a plan to institute a vote-by-mail system in the next available special election for a city council seat, a kind of test-run of the voting by mail which has been shows to dramatically increase voter participation in other cities and states where it’s used. Second is a measure going before voters in March of 2011 that will life the cap on the City’s Matching Fund account, injecting more public money into campaigns and ostensibly cutting back on the influence of special interests. Third, and the measure that could probably stir up the most controversy, is the idea of “ranked choice voting” that would enable L.A. voters to rank candidates on the ballot, a system that was just put into place in Oakland. Can the measures make elections in L.A. more fair and equitable or are you happy with the way you vote?
Mercer 12032
Even as rich countries struggle to overcome a global recession, there remains a huge gap between the wealth of economic giants like the United States, Germany, Japan and China and the most impoverished countries. There is a controversial proposal that’s been around for some time and received further consideration at last week’s G-20 meeting that aims to close that gap: the “Robin Hood” tax, a global financial transaction fee that could raise hundreds of billions of dollars to pay the cost of the global financial crisis and support developing nations. A coalition of 183 organizations from 42 countries issued a plea urging leaders at the G-20 summit in South Korea to adopt the measure, which in theory would impose a .5 or 1% fee on every stock transaction made. Predictably most multinational corporations vigorously oppose the idea, arguing that the unfettered conduct of their business (minus these kinds of fees) is what will ultimately work best to pull many poor countries out of poverty. Is it morally righteous, and economically sound, to a little from the rich to help feed the poor?
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Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

Humans are natural monogamists right? Not so fast! In their new book, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origin of Modern Sexuality, psychologist Christopher Ryan and psychiatrist Cacilda Jethá suggest that monogamy is actually the furthest thing from human sexual nature. Using evidence from anthropology, archaeology, primatology, anatomy and psychosexuality, as well as trends like less people getting married and steadily rising divorce rates, Ryan and Jethá explore the roots of human sexuality and offer explanations for infidelity, decreased passion with the growth of love, and homosexuality. So you’re too sexy for your shirt – how about monogamy?
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