Patt Morrison for July 22, 2011

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Eyewitness account of terror in Oslo, Norway

Explosions set off by a suspected bomb at government buildings in downtown Oslo; a man dressed as a police office opening fire at a Labor Party summer youth camp; 7 confirmed dead and counting; the city on lockdown. It’s been an unusually chaotic day for the normally quiet and neutral home of the Nobel Peace prize. The terror group Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (Helpers of the Global Jihad) is claiming responsibility for the attacks, calling it a response to Norwegian forces’ presence in Afghanistan and general insults to the Prophet Muhammad. As a member of NATO, Norway maintains a small fighting contingent in Afghanistan and local newspapers in 2006 reprinted the infamous Danish cartoons that angered some Muslims by lampooning Muhammad. Still, local media is being cautious to point fingers. Frank gets the latest from an eyewitness to the attacks and tries to put the day’s events in some kind of global context.
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Now that the NFL lockout is over, with a new collective bargaining agreement in place and players ready to take the field for training camps almost immediately, all eyes in Los Angeles will turn toward … downtown.
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When your city launches an effort to implement a major and complicated policy change, it helps if your mayor is a billionaire. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been moving the Big Apple away from fossil fuel-generated energy and toward alternative energy sources, made a donation yesterday of $50 million to the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign. The goal is to shut down coal-fired power plants across the country and cut energy production from coal by 30% by 2020. Mayor Bloomberg’s donation of $50 million was called a “game changer” by the Sierra Club in the fight against coal. Right here in Los Angeles there is a long-range goal to end the city’s reliance on coal-fired power plants, also by 2020, but just like in the rest of the country it will be an uphill battle. Coal provides nearly half of the nation’s electricity and accounts for roughly a third of its output of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. At the same time electricity from alternative sources, from solar to wind to biofuels is soaring, providing almost 12% of the nation’s production, representing a big jump from just a few years ago. The coal industry calls the Beyond Coal campaign “beyond jobs” and says that warnings about the health risks of coal are overblown. Is there life beyond fossil fuels and can $50 million really change the game?
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With little more than a week left to raise the debt ceiling before the nation defaults on its obligations, President Obama is under more pressure than ever to craft a compromise that will satisfy both sides of the aisle. Some of that urgency is stemming from a new political rift over between Obama and other Democrats, who worry that the President is backing away from forcing Republicans to agree to revenue increases in talks about a potential deal. Democrats’ ire—described as a “volcanic reaction” by Sen. Barbara Mikulski—was evident after they were briefed on the details of an earlier plan that proposed large cuts in spending and social programs, but opted to defer the consideration of increasing revenues until 2012. Though the plan would require Congress to consider thorough tax reform next year, Democrats don’t think that’s a good enough guarantee of Republican cooperation; they want substantial measures to prevent Republicans from reneging on their agreement to consider revenue increases next year, after huge spending cuts have already been made. The party’s general frustration with Republican demands was also clear from its vote to kill the “Cut, Cap and Balance” proposal on Friday. Relations between the President and his party are calmer now, but the details of any new deal, and who will be left disappointed by it, remain unclear.
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Louie Sanchez, Marvin Norwood and Dorene Sanchez are the names of the three suspects arrested for the beating of Bryan Stow, a Giants fan who was attacked outside of Dodgers stadium back on March 31st. Earlier this week Stow suffered a seizure that required him to undergo emergency surgery, a setback in his already slow recovery from the savage beating that set off a chain of events involving the Dodgers, the LAPD and the entire city of Los Angeles. Unfortunately for Southern California nobody in the broader community comes off looking very good in the wake of the Stow beating. The LAPD is scrambling to manage public reaction to the new arrests after proclaiming, loudly and proudly, that their previous suspect Giovanni Ramirez “is, and was, and has been our primary suspect” as Chief Charlie Beck said back in May. There are even accusations of a flawed police lineup that helped to finger Ramirez as the perpetrator who beat Bryan Stow. Arguably the Stow case marked the beginning of the end for Frank McCourt’s ownership of the Dodgers, and he didn’t help his cause by downplaying security concerns at Dodgers stadium immediately after the attack. It’s also concerning that it took so many months to identity and arrest suspects who carried out their beating in public—did nobody in the community know enough to come forward and ID anyone who could’ve taken part in the attack? The LAPD has not commented on the arrests and there’s no information on what led detectives to the new trio of suspects or if any new evidence has been gathered. Chief Beck was scheduled to come on the program this afternoon but cancelled. As Bryan Stow continues to fight for his life what kind of lessons can the political leadership, the police department and the citizens of Los Angeles learn from such an ugly incident?
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