Patt Morrison for June 7, 2011

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Apple parts the, umm, clouds with iCloud

After a year of intense speculation, Steve Jobs has introduced Apple’s new online cloud storage service, iCloud. Challenging Google’s cloud-based offerings, which include Gmail, Calendar and Google Docs, iCloud promises to make it simple to share e-mail, photos, music and other data without the need to use your personal server. It sounds good, but there are some drawbacks, including some restrictions in what music can be transferred to Apple’s cloud. Are you ready for yet another digital service that may or may not live up to its hype?
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Let's face it, many American teens have had their first taste of alcohol long before they turn 21. Breaking into the parents liquor stash or getting an older friend or family member to buy booze is almost a right of passage. Now a few experts and 130 college chancellors are saying, let's stop pretending and lower the drinking age from 21 to 18. They claim that underage drinking forces kids to drink subversively and can mystify the behavior in a way that makes it more enticing to young adults. The result can be an over consumption of alcohol (a.k.a binge drinking) which can be extremely dangerous, if not fatal. One expert wants to institute a type of learner's permit for drinking. An underage person can have a few privileges, like drinking with the family, until they prove they are responsible enough to drink without supervision. But not everyone agrees. The number of 8th, 10th and 12th graders who have engaged in binge drinking has gone down since the drinking age was increased to 21 and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that keeping the drinking age at 21 saves about 800 each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Medical Association both agree that the drinking age should remain 21. What do you think? If you're old enough to vote and fight for your country, are you be old enough to drink a beer? But if we allow 18-year-olds to buy and drink alcohol legally, will there be more drunk drivers on the road and as a result more lives lost? Listen to Patt to weigh-in and we promise, she'll be sober.
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Everyone is going “green” these days, including Barbie. The iconic doll, made by Mattel, introduced a line of eco-friendly accessories for Barbie a few years back and just this year is running a design contest to build a greener Barbie house. Mattel would have you believe that Barbie is a true defender of the Earth, but the truth might be a little more complicated. According to testing done by Greenpeace, the packaging for Barbie is made up of 25 – 30% wood pulp that originated in the protected rainforests of Indonesia. Greenpeace stormed the Mattel headquarters in El Segundo this morning and promised a sustained campaign against Barbie, just as Mattel is picking up its own marketing efforts to sell the popular doll and her reunited boyfriend Ken. The real target for Greenpeace is the supplier of packaging to Mattel, a Chinese-based pulp and paper company that is responsible for leveling thousands of acres of rain forests over the last two decades. If consumers want to be more ecologically conscience when buying these products, where can they turn? And aside from an activist group like Greenpeace, who is monitoring what kind of protected resources go into our goods, from toys to furniture?
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The stats are sobering: only 52 percent of LAUSD students graduate in four years; Latinos make up 73 percent of LAUSD's student body but their graduation rate is about 40 percent; only a little more than 10 percent of LAUSD's 9th grade students are proficient in Algebra 1, a key indicator for success in high school. The targets for blame are always plentiful when looking at the failures of public education and one group that has received its fair share are teachers. A new report out by National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has released a comprehensive study entitled Teacher Quality Roadmap: Improving Policies and Practices in LAUSD wades into the debate of teacher performance, echoing calls for reforming the profession. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calls the report thorough and thoughtful and hopes to use the research to work with LAUSD to improve outcomes. The report calls for changes in teacher recruitment and screening and improvement in teacher evaluations and tenure. Is the reform easier said than done, or as simple as ABC?
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ROBOPOCALYPSE

Having trouble with your e-mail? T.V. not working how you remember it? Laptop being uncooperative? Then it’s already happening, the Robopocalypse. A new book by Daniel Wilson, Robopocalypse details the not so far-flung future of a world ending disaster, committed not by fire or ice, but by robot. Today we have Daniel on the show to, most importantly, quell our fears regarding the imminent threat of machines to our well-being. Afterwards we might then talk about his new book. What you could learn might (will) save your life. Tune in and make sure the Robopocalypse stays a work of fiction.
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