Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Patt Morrison for Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

1-3 p.m.






1:06 – 1:39





1:41:30 – 1:58:30

“I now have to explain to my wife and daughter that we won’t be able to pay the bills”: is it right to deny pay to the California legislature?

Proposition 25 seemed to be pretty clear and direct in its message to California voters, who approved the initiative last fall:  the two-thirds requirement for passage of a budget is eliminated and if the legislature doesn’t pass a balanced budget on time, they lose their pay.  It was probably predictable that conflict over Prop 25 would develop rather quickly and sure enough this year’s budget cycle brought up an early test of whether legislators should be paid.  The Democratically controlled state senate and assembly passed a budget last week that, on the surface at least, was balanced in that it closed the roughly $10 billion deficit.  But Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed that budget, saying that it “will not stand the test of time,” opening up a complicated interpretation of Prop 25 that determines whether the legislature continues to get paid.  Left to State Controller John Chiang to issue a ruling, he did that yesterday and cut off paychecks to legislators. 


Democratic lawmakers, in particular, were not happy with the decision and the statements issued in response were very personal in nature.  Assemblymember Mike Gatto, in the Democratic leadership, criticized Chiang and the entire process, “It’s always been an easy move to bash the disliked—but the truth is that such demagoguery is rapidly becoming clich√©, and does nothing to move the state forward….I halted a fulfilling private sector career path to enter public service.  I now have to explain to my wife and daughter that we won’t be able to pay the bills because a politician chose to grandstand at our expense.”  Do you have sympathy for Assemblymember Gatto and his colleagues?  They did, after all, pass a “balanced” budget on time.  Or is this just deserts for a legislature that has repeatedly failed to make the necessary tough decisions to right California’s broken fiscal ship?



State Assemblymember Mike Gatto, (D – Burbank-Glendale); assistant Speaker Pro Tempore of the California State Assembly




John Chiang, California State Controller





2:06 – 2:30

How much do you want to know—and should you know—about your unborn baby?

Right now, many pregnant women opt to have a prenatal screen that gives them the statistical chance that their baby will have Down syndrome. Partially depending on whether the chance is, say, 1 in 35 or 1 in 2000, some women then go on to have an amniocentesis—a procedure that involves inserting a needle into the woman’s belly and extracting amniotic fluid to determine if the baby has Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities; 80 to 90% of the time that Down syndrome is detected, the woman chooses to abort. There will now be, within a year, a safer (both tests available now come with a small risk of miscarriage), cheaper, and earlier “fetal DNA test” for Down that gives definite results as to whether or not the baby has Down. It is a simple blood test of the mother, from which DNA is analyzed, and it can be done as early as seven weeks.


Because it is safe, cheap, and definitive, it is expected that many women will take the test. Because it is earlier, some women may believe the fetus is not a life yet and feel more comfortable aborting; also, it may be easier for a women to abort before she is showing and possibly before she has told many people, including the father. In addition, it is expected that this fetal DNA test will, within 3-5 years, be able to determine the broad spectrum of genetic traits, from sexual orientation, physical and personality characteristics, skill levels, and disease risk—for example, if your baby has the APOE Alzheimer’s gene or a 60% of getting cancer in her 40s. Currently, there are no state or federal restrictions on permissible reasons to abort. How do we decide as a society where to draw the line regarding what we value in a human being? Or should each individual couple decide for itself? Genetic testing—such as online companies offering a gender test—is already an industry that is largely unregulated by the FDA. Should the government regulate or stay out? Will this test mean that we’re seeing the last generation of individuals with Down?



David Magnus, Ph.D., director, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics; professor of pediatric medicine and biomedical ethics, Stanford Schools of Medicine



Brian Skotko, MD, clinical fellow in genetics, Children’s Hospital Boston




2:30 – 2:39





2:41:30 – 2:58:30

Previewing President Obama’s Afghanistan speech: what happens to the region once American troops are gone?

In a few hours, President Obama will announce how many troops he will withdraw from Afghanistan over the next 18 months. Reporting has been all over the map—CNN cites 30,000 “surge” troops home by the end of 2012; The Los Angeles Times is reporting a withdrawal of 10,000 troops by the end of this year; White House officials told Fox News that Obama has not made a final decision on a number. How will a troop withdrawal of any size change the mission in the country and is it a foregone conclusion that a long-term US troop presence, in the 15-25,000 range, will be necessary to train the Afghan National Army and continue special operations in the Pakistan border areas? Looking ahead in the region, how will the withdrawal affect reported peace negotiations between the U.S. and Taliban representatives; the tenuous balance of power in the region; and attempts to empower Afghanistan to realize its own economic potential?




Dr. Zahir Tanin, Afghanistan ambassador to the United Nations


Ekil Ahmad Hakimi, Afghanistan's ambassador to the U.S


Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations



Jonathan Serviss
Senior Producer, Patt Morrison
Southern California Public Radio
NPR Affiliate for Los Angeles
89.3 KPCC-FM | 89.1 KUOR-FM | 90.3 KPCV-FM
626.583.5171, office
415.497.2131, mobile
jserviss@kpcc.org / jserviss@scpr.org


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