Patt Morrison for February 4, 2011

Mercer 14574
California State Senator Alex Padilla announced yesterday that he will be introducing a bill to criminalize the smuggling of cell phones into prison for use by the prisoners. Over 10,000 cell phones passed through the jailhouse bars in 2010, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Mass murderer Charles Manson got his hands on a cell phone in 2009 that was confiscated, but he managed to upgrade to a camera-phone last year. Padilla and other lawmakers suspect that prison guards act as the distributors of cell phones, and make plenty of money in the process. Each cell phone can fetch as much as $1,000, and one corrections officer made an extra $150,000 in a single year providing the contraband electronics, according to a recent state inspector's report as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The legislation would require searches for prison guards but the prison guard union is opposing the bill, saying that the extra search time will cost millions in overtime pay. Why is it so difficult to keep cell phones out of California’s prisons?
Mercer 14565

Are working mothers making their children chubbier?

A new study published today in the journal Child Development finds a correlation between children’s Body Mass Index—a key weight-to-height ratio used to measure obesity, and the amount of time their mothers spend working outside the home. The study looked at 900 children, grades 3, 5 and 6 in 10 U.S. cities and found a small but cumulative effect on children’s weight, resulting in an excess of about a pound by the third grade. Even factoring in physical activity, time spent watching television, maternal depression and accounting for variant economic status didn’t explain away the association. Could it be that working moms simply have less time to prepare food at home and we live in a country where the fastest, cheapest and most available food is rarely the healthiest? Researchers behind the study caution this is not an attack on working mothers, but rather a jumping off point to talk about family/time balance and food choices. And in light of the Obama Administration’s nutrition guidelines released earlier this week, how are Americans to follow suit?
Mercer 14564
Personal troubles for NFL players is nothing new—from shooting ones self in the leg with a concealed gun to drug charges and even murder charges, football players have been getting into trouble off the field for quite some time. But “Big” Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as winner of one Super Bowl championship and about to compete for another this Sunday, is supposed to be a different kind of football player. A young, championship-caliber quarterback, Roethlisberger is supposed to be one of the leaders of the NFL and is expected to carry himself like it, which is what his off-field indiscretions all the more embarrassing and disappointing. Accused of being the perpetrator in at least two sexual assault cases, Roethlisberger was never charged criminally but was suspended by the NFL at the beginning of this year. During his first Super Bowl week interview Big Ben, looking to turn the corner on his dark past, said, “I want to be a role model. I want people to look up to me.” Even with all of the wins and on-field accolades, do you want your kids looking up to Ben Roethlisberger?
Mercer 14567
Love him or hate him, Ronald Reagan is an American icon that even 22 years after he’s left the White House still dominates the country’s political landscape. His policies, domestic and foreign, are adhered to by both political parties: Bill Clinton, in a Reagan-esque declaration in 1996, said “The era of big government is over,” stealing a page right out of the Gipper’s playbook. Republicans swear by the Reagan tax-cutting doctrine and both parties are embracing the mantle of deficit-cutters, just like Reagan did in his 1981 inaugural address. Reagan’s military buildup of the 1980’s indirectly led to the first Gulf War and his foreign policy of "peace through strength" helped to guide George W. Bush after 9/11/01. But it’s Reagan’s style that has had the most significant lasting power; his sunny disposition and eternal optimism became a prerequisite to run for and be elected to office in this country. “Morning in America” is still the guiding philosophy for political candidates everywhere 30 years later. If he were alive Ronald Reagan would turn 100 on Sunday, and we use the opportunity of his centennial celebration to examine the man, the myth and the legend of America’s 40th, and arguably most influential, president.
Find an archived Episode: