Patt Morrison for April 28, 2011

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In 2005 the California Supreme Court ruled on a class action lawsuit against AT&T brought by a couple from San Diego who wanted to recoup the $30 they were charged when they thought they were signing up for a free cell phone. The couple, Vincent & Liza Concepcion, tried to join a class-action suit against AT&T but were blocked by the company, saying that the cell service contract called for arbitration and forbid lawsuits over small amounts of money. The California Supreme Court ruled that companies should not be allowed to “deliberately cheat large numbers of consumers out of small amounts of money” by shielding themselves from being sued. Late on Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that ruling, siding with AT&T and other large corporations that use arbitration as a way to settle these types of claims. The ramifications could be huge, taking away class action suits as a tool for consumers to fight corporations on questionable practices, like collected $30 in fees for an allegedly free cell phone. Does this mean the end of class action lawsuits?
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Pick your metaphor: if it’s good for the goose it’s good for the gander; have a taste of your own medicine; time to put your money where your mouth is. These are all the equivalents of what California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said to a Bay Area newspaper editorial board earlier this week when he suggested that if Republicans in the legislature continued to block the placement of tax extensions on the ballot, perhaps spending cuts should start in their home districts. Lockyer said it comes down to “basic fairness. You don’t want to pay for government, well then, you get less of it,” he said.
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We’ve all done it—a quick glance down at your Blackberry or iPhone while you’re stopped at a red light or crawling along in traffic, a text comes in from a friend that only needs a fast reply. You give a quick glance around to see if there are any cops in sight, and as you move forward on the road you type out a text message. Sure, you just broke the law, but if no one catches you and you managed to not smash into the car in front of you, no harm, no foul…right? Texting while driving has been illegal for three years but surveys and anecdotal evidence seem to indicate that drivers are still texting away as if it were perfectly legal. The fines for getting caught the first time used to be just $20, but on Monday the State Senate voted to jack up the price significantly in the hopes of creating a stronger deterrent. If you’re caught, the costs to you could be going up to more than $300 for your first offense. We’ve all been guilty of it at least once, but if you were facing much stiffer fines, would you think twice before texting in the drivers seat?
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Sugar. Maybe it isn’t so sweet

Sugar is omnipresent in our culture. You can’t walk down an isle in any grocery store in America without finding its presence in almost every product on the shelf. We are indoctrinated to its pleasures from the start--blowing out the candles on our birthday cake, drinking it in our “juice” or plopping it in our bags after shouting “trick or treat!” Sugar is as American as apple pie. But what if sugar were like a toxic drug to the body? What if it had addictive qualities that could lead to serious health conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and even cancer? One very prominent researcher believes sugar is a “toxin” and a “poison." Patt talks to him about why he calls sugar “evil” and high-fructose corn syrup “the most demonized additive known to man.”
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Dodgers – who’s running the show?

Home town team owner Frank McCourt came out swinging in a news conference on the East Coast yesterday, declaring “Nobody handed the Dodgers to me… Nobody is going to take them away.” But baseball commissioner Bud Selig has another idea. Ever since he announced that Major League Baseball was taking over the operations of the team, he has moved forward by appointing former ambassador Tom Schieffer as trustee, some would say “Boss,” to oversee the business operations and finances of the team. What will Frank do? He says he’ll protect his rights, but does he really have any rights left?
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Known as Lady Magic for her skills on the court, Nancy Lieberman’s achievements are legendary in the world of basketball: at 18 years old she was the youngest player in Olympic history (male or female) and earned a silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal; she is the only woman to play in an all-male professional league; and in November of 2010 she became the first female head coach to lead an NBA or NBA Development League team. How did she manage to cross over the gender divide in this almost all-male world of NBA basketball, and is her success a sign of things to come?
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