Patt Morrison for September 8, 2011

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Hailed as one of the finest examples of the green technology revolution, the Fremont-based solar company Solyndra had bright prospects when it began operations in 2005. Its innovative solar panel design and potential to create thousands of jobs enabled the company to score a handsome $535 million federal loan under President Obama’s green energy program, and it seemed that money would ensure the firm’s development for years to come. But last week, Solyndra suddenly fired 1,100 workers and declared bankruptcy, and this morning officials from the FBI and DOE raided the company’s buildings for undisclosed reasons. Though Solyndra’s spokesperson maintained that he wasn’t aware of the reason for the raid, details are emerging that suggest federal officials had been concerned about the risk of the loan for some time in light of the DOE’s recent restructuring of its deal with the company. More troubling questions are being raised over whether the political influence wielded by one of President Obama’s campaign “bundlers,” who owns a portion of Solyndra, may have contributed to the company’s selection as the administration’s first loan guarantee recipient. In contrast to the vigorous denials of unfair procedure by the DOE, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) articulated this growing sentiment when he asked "How did this company, without maybe the best economic plan, all of a sudden get to the head of the line?," and vowed to get to the bottom of the matter. What will be uncovered in the FBI’s raid? What does this mean for the credibility of Obama’s green energy program, and the “green revolution” in general?
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Nearly half of the working-age population was underinsured or uninsured in 2010, and rising health costs have almost eclipsed income gains made by the typical American family in the last decade, according to recent studies by the Commonwealth Fund and the RAND Corporation. The bleak findings revealed disturbing trends in the American health market: total spending on health insurance doubled between 1999 and 2009; families who have insurance are incurring unaffordable costs though the loopholes or limits in their plans; workers are losing coverage as they lose their jobs; and medical costs are eating up more and more of the average family’s income. As the economy veers toward another recession, health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are likely to increase, again, leaving many millions of Americans unable to pay for their medicines or emergency coverage. Where next will beleaguered citizens turn? Both the Commonwealth Fund and RAND suggest that President Obama’s healthcare law may provide some relief to those who qualify for subsidized insurance next year—reducing the current number of uninsured adults by as much as 70%. Will millions of people jump onto the “Obamacare” bandwagon in 2014? Or will other federal measures help families weather the next fiscal storm? And could the fear incurred by rising health care lend the President’s controversial package some credibility before the election?
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How did 9/11 forever change Americans’ language? Linguist Geoffry Nunberg argues not much. He’s been making a list of words since 2001 that were connected to 9/11 and its repercussions. “They're a jumble: axis of evil and "the army you have," cakewalk, coalition of the willing and "connect the dots," "dead or alive" and "don't touch my junk," evildoers and enhanced interrogation.” There was also that one phrase: “the terrorists win,” which was employed so often that it quickly became a parody of itself, appearing in a November 2001 New Yorker cartoon that showed a man in a bar saying, "I figure if I don't have that third martini, then the terrorists win." Most of those words and sayings have already disappeared, and other than “9/11” itself, few others will probably be around in another decade. Buzzwords come and go, but it's significant that 9/11 has left almost no traces on our everyday language. Nunberg believes the ephemeral nature of the words born out of 9/11 is a testament to the relatively narrow impact 9/11 had on Americans’ lives. As proof, he points to when the American Dialect Society voted on the word of the decade in 2010, and “9/11” came in third, behind “Google” and “blog,” showing perhaps that, over the last decade, the Internet has gotten a lot more of our attention than 9/11, and it has given us a lot more new words. According to Nunberg, “If there's any difference between the new normal and the old, you couldn't tell it from the way we talk.” Do you agree? Call Patt with the 9/11 words that you’ve noticed or use in everyday language.
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The changing face of the US military after 9/11

Changing attitudes about service, economic uncertainty and new approaches to recruitment have altered the image of the modern U.S. military. But ongoing wars and shifts in the military's demographics pose new and difficult challenges for servicemen and women. KPCC's Patt Morrison sat down with several recruiters and military families to discuss today's warriors.
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