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Stories by Hank Crook

These Days

City Hall Update: Budget Cuts, Trash Pickup, Business Taxes, Fire Pits

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It's been a busy week for city politics, and KPBS Metro Reporter Katie Orr is here to give us an update on the latest news coming out of City Hall. What are the details of the latest proposal to keep libraries and recreation centers open? Could a public-private partnership save the beach fire pits? And, why are the business fees in San Diego less than other California cities?

These Days

Stevie And The Hi-StaXX Perform Live

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Today, we bring you the soulful sounds of Stevie and The Hi-StaXX. We speak to vocalist Stevie Harris about what inspires his music, and about the experience he wants to create for the people who attend The Hi-StaXX live shows.

These Days

Local Reaction To Death Of Osama Bin Laden

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Learn how the local Muslim community and people who lost loved ones in 9/11 are reacting to the news that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has been killed. Plus, find out what the local military community thinks about the news. And, hear how bin Laden's death could impact terrorist networks around the world.

These Days

Humane Society President On Human Bond With Animals, Preventing Cruelty

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The President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, joins us today to talk about the biggest threats currently facing animals in the U.S. We also speak to Pacelle about his new book "The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them."

These Days

How Should Schools Teach Kids About Sustainable Living?

What's the best way to teach children about today's environmental challenges? What are some of the creative things schools are doing around the country to teach kids about sustainable living practices? We speak to the Creative Director for the Center for Ecoliteracy about some of the innovative programs they are working on with schools across the nation.

These Days

Proposal To Raise Payday Loan Cap Concerns Consumer Advocates

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What's the motivation behind a proposal to raise the $300 cap on payday loans? We speak to Investigative Reporter Amita Sharma about why Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) is pushing for the payday loan cap to be increased to $500, and what consumer advocates are saying about the idea.

These Days

Legal Update: Facebook Lawsuit, Employment Law, Trump University

In today's Legal Update, we'll give you a rundown of cases involving an ongoing dispute over who founded Facebook, whether an employee with bipolar disorder can be fired for making threats in the workplace, and a federal lawsuit against Trump University. Joining us to break down the cases is These Days Legal Analyst Dan Eaton.

These Days

Should Governments Make Happiness A Priority?

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One of the most famous lines from the United States Declaration of Independence states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Today we will focus on the "pursuit of Happiness" portion of the Declaration of Independence as we speak to the author of "The Politics of Happiness." Should governments focus as much on "gross national happiness" as they do on the gross domestic product? How can governments assess happiness? And, what can be gained from having a happier populace?

These Days

Will City, County End Water Supply Restrictions?

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The wet winter has created an abundant water supply in reservoirs throughout the state. Last month, Governor Jerry Brown declared the drought to be over, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California recently announced that it will end the water supply restrictions it implemented in 2009. What will this news mean for ratepayers in San Diego County? And, what will the County Water Authority and the city water department do to ensure we have a sustainable, consistent water supply in the future? We'll speak to representatives from the Metropolitan Water District, the San Diego County Water Authority and the city's Public Utilities Department.

These Days

State Collecting Less Gas Revenue Despite Price Increases

If gas prices are increasing, why is the state collecting less in gas-related taxes nowadays? We speak to Business Reporter Erik Anderson about what's driving up gas prices, and how a recent change to the gas tax structure is impacting state revenue.

These Days

Why Are Global Efforts To Prevent Climate Change Stalling?

Why has very little progress been made on the international level to reduce the effects of global climate change? We speak to UC San Diego Professor David Victor about his new book "Global Warming Gridlock," which explores why the international discussions about fighting global warming have yielded very little progress over the last 20 years. We also speak to Dr. Victor about what the United States can do on a federal level to reduce its carbon footprint.

These Days

Local Food Trucks Offer Eclectic Mix Of Dining Options

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What's fueling the growth of the local food truck scene? And, why are some large fast food chains now jumping into the mobile food service business? We'll discuss how the perception of food trucks is changing nationwide, and what makes the local scene unique.

These Days

How Will USD Basketball Program Be Affected By Sports Bribery Allegations?

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The University of San Diego basketball program is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons this week. Two former players and a former assistant coach have been indicted on charges that they accepted bribes to fix games in February, 2010. We speak to San Diego Union-Tribune Sports Reporter Mark Zeigler about the charges the former USD players and coach are facing, and how authorities investigated the alleged bribery scheme.

These Days

Mayor, City Council Set To Begin Budget Talks

What budget cuts are the mayor and city council considering for the new fiscal year? We speak to Katie Orr about the services that could be cut, and how the budget discussion will be different from past years.

These Days

Pension Reform Proposal Angers City Firefighters

Should city firefighters and lifeguards receive the same retirement benefits as police officers? That will be one of the major questions in the battle over pension reform in San Diego. We speak to the president of the firefighters union and Councilman Kevin Faulconer about a proposal to move all new city employees, except for police officers, to a 401 (k) retirement plan.

These Days

"8 Murders a Day" Documents Tragic Violence In Juarez, Mexico

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In 2010, there were 3,111 murders in the city of Juarez, Mexico. The city of 1.5 million has become one of the most violent cities in the world. We speak to filmmaker Charlie Minn about his documentary "8 Murders a Day," which chronicles the drug-related violence in Juarez.

These Days

Former President Of Mexico Discusses Ways To Stop Drug-Related Violence

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What can be done to end the drug-related violence in Mexico? We speak to former President of Mexico Vicente Fox about how the drug war has changed since he left office, and why he believes that legalizing drugs is the best way to reduce the violence that's plagued his country over the last decade. We'll also talk to Fox about illegal immigration, and trade between the U.S. and Mexico.

These Days

Mayor Sanders, Councilmembers Faulconer And DeMaio Agree To Pension Reform Proposal

The efforts to reform the City of San Diego's pension system moved another step forward this week when the mayor and two councilmembers agreed to a ballot measure proposing to move all new city workers, except for police officers, to a 401 (k) retirement plan. We talk to Metro Reporter Katie Orr about the details of the proposal, and how the compromise was reached.

These Days

Governor Working With Limited Options After Ending Budget Talks With GOP Lawmakers

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What budget options does Governor Jerry Brown have left now that he has walked away from negotiations with state Republicans? We speak to political consultant Leo McElroy about the latest news coming out of Sacramento, and discuss how teachers and other state workers will be impacted if the legislature passes an "all cuts" budget.

These Days

White House Update: Budget Talks, Unemployment, 2012 Election

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It could be a busy week in Washington, D.C. as lawmakers try to work out a spending plan to prevent a possible government shutdown. We speak to NPR White House Correspondent about the budget negotiations, the president's reelection announcement, and the nationwide unemployment rate.

These Days

Local Bug Population Will Grow As Temperatures Rise

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Could our wet winter lead to a big boom in the local insect population? We speak to San Diego County Entomologist David Kellum about how the winter rains and recent warm weather will affect the bug population. Plus, find out which insects you'll see flying around your porch light this spring and summer.

These Days

Impact Of Easter Quake Being Felt One Year Later

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How are residents in Mexicali and the Imperial County still being affected by the 7.2 magnitude Easter earthquake that struck one year ago? And, what are some of the unique things geologists have learned about the temblor over the last year? We'll look back on how the earthquake impacted our region, and discuss how the knowledge we've gained could influence theories about quake mechanics in the future.

Editors Roundtable

City Council Being Proactive In Budget Discussions

The San Diego City Council wants to have more of a say in next year's budget. Council President Tony Young is proposing budget cuts to the mayor. We discuss why the council is being more proactive in budget negotiations this year. And, we'll talk about the dueling pension reform measures that could appear on the ballot in 2012.

Editors Roundtable

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Regulations Anger Activists

The San Diego City Council adopted regulations this week aimed at limiting where and when local medical marijuana collectives can operate, and ensuring that the shops are operated legally. We discuss the approved regulations, and why some medical marijuana proponents were angered by them.

Editors Roundtable

Can Governor Solve California's Budget Problems Without New Revenue?

Governor Jerry Brown's hopes for a special election are fading fast. State Republicans refuse to support Brown's proposal to put tax-extension measures before the voters in June. We discuss whether the tax measures can be placed on the ballot without GOP support. And, we'll talk about what the state budget could look like without additional revenue.

These Days

How Does San Diego's Health Compare To Other California Counties?

Where does San Diego rank among California's healthiest counties? KPBS Health Reporter Kenny Goldberg breaks down recent report analyzing the health of communities across the nation.

These Days

How Are U.S. Forces Preparing For Withdrawal From Iraq?

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Is the situation in Iraq becoming increasingly unstable as the time for American withdrawal approaches? And, what are U.S. officials doing to reach out to Iraqis here and abroad? We talk to representatives from the Department of State who are visiting San Diego, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, and to the Director of Strategic Effects for United States Forces in Iraq.

These Days

Can A Libertarian Be An Advocate For Social Justice?

The political landscape in America is very polarized nowadays. Many people identify themselves as "Conservative" or "Liberal," and are willing to defend their beliefs vigorously. The political debates tend to focus more on the areas of disagreement, rather than the issues people agree on. Now, a new blog has popped up that attempts to combine the political beliefs of Libertarians, who support free markets and property rights, with the ideals of "bleeding heart" Liberals. We speak to the creator of "Bleeding Heart Libertarians" about the motivation behind his blog, and what he hopes people will take away from it.

These Days

Council President Discusses Budget Cuts Menu, Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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San Diego City Council President Tony Young joins us to discuss the recently passed regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries, and to fill us in on the budget cuts the council is considering for next year. We'll also hear an update on the latest issues affecting Council District 4.

These Days

Local Marines Expect Counteroffensive In Helmand Province

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What are the biggest challenges facing local Marines currently stationed in Afghanistan? We speak to Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times about his recent trip to the Helmand Province, and discuss how things have progressed since his last visit to Afghanistan.

These Days

Mayor, Councilman Faulconer Propose Major Change To City's Pension System

Mayor Jerry Sanders and City Councilman Kevin Faulconer recently proposed a ballot measure to switch new non-public safety workers from a guaranteed pension plan to a 401(k) retirement account. Coucilman Faulconer and the president of AFSCME Local 127 talk about how the proposal could impact the city's budget deficit and workforce.

Editors Roundtable

How Has Health Care Reform Law Affected U.S.?

This week marks the one year anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as the health-care reform law. We'll discuss the impact the law has had over the last year, and talk about why it remains controversial.

Editors Roundtable

U.S.-led Airstrikes Continue In Libya

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi are continuing their assault against opposition groups, despite the increase in U.S. and allied airstrikes across the country. We discuss the U.S. strategy in Libya, and the costs associated with getting involved in another conflict in the Middle East.

Editors Roundtable

Mayor Proposes Major Changes To City Worker Pensions

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilmember Kevin Faulconer unveiled a proposed ballot measure this week that would make major changes to the city's pension system. We discuss key elements of the proposal, and discuss the impact it could have on city workers and the budget deficit.

These Days

New PBS Series Focuses On Our Energy History, Looks Ahead To Future

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How can we make a sustainable energy future if we don't know the history of our energy consumption? We speak to Glaciologist Dr. Richard Alley about the new PBS series "Earth-The Operators' Manual."

These Days

What Should Be Aztecs' Strategy Against UConn?

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What will it take for the Aztecs to defeat the UConn Huskies in tonight's Sweet 16 matchup? We talk to Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton about the biggest game in SDSU basketball history.

These Days

Debating Impact Of Health Care Reform Law

What effects has the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as the health care reform law, had since it was passed one year ago today? Why is there so much confusion about the law's impact? And, what provisions of the law will go into effect in the future? Local advocates for and against the law debate its impact.

These Days

What Are Longterm Goals Of U.S. Operation In Libya?

Why did the U.S. decide to get involved in the ongoing battle between Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and rebels aimed at overthrowing Gadhafi's government? We discuss the latest news coming out of Libya with KPBS Military Blogger Beth Ford Roth.

These Days

IRS And FTB Representatives Share Tax Tips

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What should you know before filing your 2010 tax return? What new tax credits are available for individuals and businesses? Representatives from the IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board discuss the changes that went into effect this year, and answer your tax-related questions.

Editors Roundtable

San Diego Unified Sends Out Layoff Notices

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Earlier this week, the San Diego Unified School District sent out 1,300 layoff notices to teachers and other district staff. We discuss how the district's budget could be affected by the yet-to-be-approved June special election, and the governor's proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies. Plus, what can the district do to prevent future layoffs and budget deficits?

Editors Roundtable

When Will State Budget Be Approved?

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California lawmakers agreed to cut $7.4 billion from the state budget this week, in an effort to eliminate a $26.6 deficit. What other areas of the budget could be cut? And, when is the deadline for the legislature to approve the governor's proposed special election?

Editors Roundtable

Is San Diego Prepared For Nuclear Crisis?

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As the world watches the nuclear crisis unfolding in Japan, many people are asking if San Diego is prepared if the same situation happened here. What safety procedures are in place if the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station experienced a meltdown? And, should the U.S. reexamine its nuclear energy policies in light of what's happening in Japan?

These Days

Local Experts Discuss Latest News On Nuclear Crisis In Japan

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As workers try to cool the radioactive materials at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, we discuss the long- and short-term risks this crisis could pose to the Japanese people. Plus, we discuss the lessons being learned from the still unfolding nuclear crisis. We speak to experts from SDSU and UC San Diego about the latest details coming out of Japan.

These Days

How Would Large Earthquake Affect San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station?

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As fears grow over the possibility of a catastrophic meltdown at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan many are now wondering what would happen to our nuclear power plant if a large earthquake struck near San Diego. We speak to Environment Reporter Ed Joyce about the safety of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

These Days

Local Connections To Earthquake & Tsunami In Japan

What can San Diegans do to help the victims of the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan? And, what challenges has the local Japanese community faced as it tries to contact family and friends back home? We speak to the president of UC San Diego's Japanese Student Association, the director of disaster services for the local Red Cross, and KPBS Science and Technology Reporter Peggy Pico.

These Days

What Will Be Aztecs Biggest Challenge In NCAA Tournament?

Could this be the year SDSU wins its first NCAA Tournament game? And, what are the chances this year's Aztecs could make it deep into the tournament? We speak to sports reporter Mark Zeigler about the Aztecs first round matchup against Northern Colorado, and the big challenges SDSU will face in the West Region.

These Days

When Will State Legislature Vote On Budget/Special Election Package?

Why did Governor Jerry Brown ask the state legislature to postpone its vote on his spending plan, and his proposal for a June special election? And, what are the main areas of disagreement between the governor and Republicans in the state senate? We get the latest details on the budget talks from John Myers with "The California Report."

These Days

When Will Local Real Estate Market Rebound?

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What are the latest trends in the local commercial and residential real estate markets? Why are some areas of the market improving, while others are still struggling? Local real estate experts discuss what changes we've seen in 2011, and offer their predictions for what could happen in the spring and summer months.

These Days

San Diego Unified School District Considering 900 Layoffs To Balance Budget

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The San Diego Unified School District is facing an estimated $114 million budget deficit for next academic year. The deficit could be cut in half if voters approve tax extensions in a statewide special election the governor has proposed for June. We talk to the school board president Richard Barrera and the president of the teachers union, Bill Freeman, about the possibility that more than 700 teachers could be laid off. Plus, we talk about what actions the district should take to prevent future budget deficits.

These Days

Filmmaker Abigail Disney Discusses Role Of Women In International Conflicts

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Women are often the ones who suffer the most during conflicts, while men are the ones who are celebrated for their accomplishments during times of war. A new series produced exclusively for the PBS audience is hoping to shine a light on the contribution women are making in conflicts happening around the world. We speak to filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail Disney about the new series Women, War & Peace.