Patt Morrison for November 17, 2010

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It was almost a year ago to the day that the Patt Morrison team was at UCLA for the 2009 Regents meeting, where Regents would eventually approve a massive 32% tuition hike to help cover dramatic funding shortfalls from the state. This year the Regents are meeting at UC San Francisco and yet another tuition hike is on their agenda—the UC president is recommending an 8% tuition increase and is also seeking to renegotiate retirement benefits for UC employees, which makes him an unpopular man on many UC campuses. There are other big issues looming over this Regents meeting, from the UC’s aggressive recruiting of out-of-state students (who pay full tuitions) to the California Supreme Court ruling this week that the UC should treat undocumented students as California residents, making them eligible for the same discounted tuition. This meeting also lays the groundwork for what is sure to be another fight next year with California facing budget deficits of at least $28 billion. Can UC students shoulder yet another fee increase?
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From tar-and-featherings and the stockades to websites like don’tdatehimgirl.com and Las Vegas newspapers, public shaming is nothing new, but now the city of Huntington Beach may be taking the humiliation to new social media extremes. A city council member has suggested posting the names of all drunk drivers on the city’s Facebook page as a way to ensure public shaming of violators. Those records are already public, but will Facebook prove to be the vehicle of change? It happened in New Jersey, where the township of Evesham posted the names and mugshots of drunk drivers to its Facebook page but had to take them down after four days due to the massive amounts of tagging and comments. Can Huntington Beach harness social media to keep its streets safer, or is this merely an ineffective age-old practice dressed up in new technology?
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What a Difference a Dog Makes

Your dog is your buddy. He loves to play, he’ll never judge you, and he’s your best friend. But could he also be your healer? Dale Jennings found this to be the case with his miniature poodle, Bijou, when he was fighting advanced prostate cancer. While Jennings fought prostate cancer, his son Owen was battling liver failure and also saw the healing powers in little Bijou’s loyal companionship. What a Difference a Dog Makes: Big Lessons on Life, Love, and Healing from a Small Pooch gives readers insights into the little things in life that can really make a difference, and all from the brilliant mind of “canine Zen master” Bijou.
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As if metal detectors, shoe removal, and random cavity searches weren't enough, the Transportation Security Administration has roughly doubled the number of controversial, full-body scanners present in 68 airports across the U.S. Labeled "digital strip searches" by opponents, the full-body scanners penetrate through clothing providing a detailed image of the passenger underneath. A growing number of passengers, labor unions, and advocacy groups say the TSA has gone too far by introducing these machines (not to mention their alternative, what TSA calls the "enhanced pat-down") without an adequate test period or legislative oversight. Opponents are obviously bothered by the intimate nature of images produced, but also want to know how those images are stored or not stored (will your body scan turn up on the web?), and are these X-rays a health danger? So, are you ready to bare all in the name of national security? What if that patriotism might also lead to health complications?
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It’s a rare feat in American politics to make proposals that are equally condemned by Republicans and Democrats, which is exactly what President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform managed to do last week with recommendations on reducing the nation’s multi-trillion-dollar debt. From drastic cuts in defense spending to tough reform of heritage entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, the president’s commission drew condemnations from conservatives and liberals alike, even as most people acknowledged that these were the kinds of tough choices the country will eventually be forced to make if we’re serious about closing the almost $14 trillion debt. Now another debt reduction task force, this one sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center, is about to release its ideas that aim to reduce and stabilize the debt at less than 60% of the economy—for good measure they also are tackling tax reform, healthcare costs and Social Security. Will the other debt commission’s recommendations be equally painful?
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