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June 14, 2013

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News Panel: State Budget Deal, SCOTUS on Gene Patenting, San Onofre Closure

Gov. Jerry Brown and top Democrats in the legislature reached a $96.4 billion budget deal this week, putting them on track to meet the June 15 deadline. The compromise plan embraces the governor's cautious revenue outlook, and gives more money to schools with higher numbers of low income students and English learners. It also includes some additional spending on mental health and dental services for the poor, with a commitment to increased funding in the future for social services.

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that companies cannot patent naturally-occurring human genes, sending ripples through the medical and biotechnology industries. With billions of dollars on the line, some companies might abandon work on genetic research if they are unable protect it through patents. But it could also encourage more research and competition, opening the door to new discoveries.

While California pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California is closing. Some environmentalists and policy makers who are concerned about global warming have come to embrace nuclear power, which, unlike natural gas or coal powered energy plants, does not emit carbon into the atmosphere. What will the end of nuclear power mean for growing energy demand and how will the state offset the increased pollution caused by fossil fuel generated power?

Guests:

  • Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee
  • Lauren Sommer, KQED Science
  • David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle
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Daniel Ellsberg on the NSA Leaks

Members of Congress, including California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, say Edward Snowden is a traitor who should be prosecuted for revealing classified information about the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance programs. Calling him a modern-day Daniel Ellsberg, supporters around the world are taking to the streets in defense of Snowden. Ellsberg himself, whose famous leak of the Pentagon Papers led to public outrage over the Vietnam War, says Snowden's disclosures are the most important in United States history. Daniel Ellsberg joins guest host Dana King in studio for a conversation about domestic surveillance and the debate over espionage vs. whistle-blowing.

 

Also on KQED.org this week ...

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