Patt Morrison for February 1, 2011

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It was probably inevitable that some anger in the protests in Egypt would eventually be aimed at the United States. After all, the U.S. was Hosni Mubarak’s biggest benefactor for 30 years, and has also habitually supported strongman dictators across the Middle East since the end of World War II. So as the world watches to see what happens in Egypt and whether a truly democratic government can take hold in an Arab-Islamic country, officials, analysts and politicians in the United States are wondering what’s next in their dealings with Egyptians and the entire region. There have been calls for President Obama to give up on Mubarak and ally himself strongly with Egypt’s protesters, even it means that a slightly less friendly government might take hold; but if he were to do that, what kind of message would the president be sending to other American allies in the region that are ruled by autocrats, from Jordan to Yemen and Saudi Arabia? Is the upheaval in Egypt a golden opportunity to revamp the entire American approach to the Middle East?
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Over 7,000 people die in America every day, and when a death happens suddenly or under suspicious circumstances, the local county coroner is called in to investigate. We assume the investigation will be done thoroughly using sophisticated science, just like we see in television’s CSI, but the reality is very different. In a joint reporting effort, ProPublica, PBS FRONTLINE and NPR spent a year looking at the nation’s 2,300 coroner and medical examiner offices and found a deeply dysfunctional system that quite literally buries its mistakes. In 1,300 of those counties coroners are elected, many with no scientific or medical background. And the rate of autopsies across the nation has plummeted because of budget cuts to local governments. As a result, investigations are incomplete or botched, criminals go free and innocent people are incarcerated. We take a look inside the nation’s morgues with ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson and a private medical examiner who was an indirect victim of budget cuts in L.A. County.
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Childfree – and green?

"I'm childfree and proud,” says Lisa Hymas, the high-energy senior editor at Grist.org, where she writes about environmental news and green life choices. One of those choices is not having children, which she believes is a sound option for environmentally conscious people. She says, "Making the green choice too often feels like a sacrifice or a hassle or an expense, but for people who don't want to have kids, there are a lot of perks to childfree living, not to mention a lot of green good that comes from bringing fewer beings onto a polluted and crowded planet." Are you a GINK? That’s her word for “green inclinations, no kids,” and even though many raise disapproving eyebrows at the childfree choice, it just might be the making of a new cultural revolution.
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Farmers Insurance and AEG, the owner of Staples Center and L.A. Live, announced a $700 million naming-rights deal for a new professional football stadium, which would be aptly named “Farmers Field.” If all goes according to plan, this field of dreams for many football-starved fans in Los Angeles will be ready for the 2015 NFL season, and may be the host stadium for Super Bowl L, or Super Bowl Los Angeles, in 2016– 50 years after the City of Angels hosted the first Super Bowl in 1967. There is no question that if they build it the people will come. It is now up to city and state officials to help pave the way with new parking structures and transportation channels in and out of downtown, as well as help fund the construction of the stadium with city-backed bonds totaling $350 million, by AEG’s estimates. The proposed 64,000-seat sports arena with retractable roof will accommodate various sporting and entertainment events, and will buttress the existing Convention Center. Renovation plans would allow access between the two structures. The Los Angeles Times reported that the sponsor-deal with Farmers would guarantee 50 events per year with at least 40,000 people per event, which could make downtown Los Angeles a convention mecca and provide a year-round bonanza for the city coffers.
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Roger Ebert’s back with a new voice

Film critic Roger Ebert, who lost his ability to speak due to damage done during treatment and surgery for cancer of the thyroid and jaw, says he absolutely won’t go through another attempt to rebuild his jaw. His voice, however, is being digitally reconstructed by a Scottish company called CereProc, using recordings from his past TV shows. With a new prosthesis, and soon with a new voice, Ebert is launching his latest TV program, Ebert Presents at the Movies. Director Werner Herzog and newsman Bill Kurtis do voice-overs of his reviews and co-host Cindy Lemire of The Associated Press adds to the mix. To find out how the customized electronic voice will work we talk with the man creating it, and to Ms. Lemire on this new experiment in programming.
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