Focus

WILL - Focus - January 21, 2014

Study shows pension fix won’t restore fiscal health to Illinois

In December, lawmakers passed legislation to fix the state’s multi-billion dollar pension shortfall. According to the Institute for Government and Public Affairs, it helps restore the pension system but won’t fix the state’s overall budget deficit.

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(Duration: 51:54)

Tally of votes in the Illinois Senate Tuesday on the pension reform bill

In December, lawmakers passed legislation to fix the state’s multi-billion dollar pension shortfall. According to the Institute for Government and Public Affairs, it helps restore the pension system but won’t fix the state’s overall budget deficit.

Was it supposed to? This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Richard Dye, a Professor with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs about what the pension bill does and doesn’t do to help restore the state’s financial health.

Then, host Jim Meadows talks with Frank Shafroth, Director at the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University. Public pension problems in Illinois are a consequence of unmade payments, is that the case around the country where other public pension systems are also failing? We’ll find out and will hear what decision makers around the country are doing to triage public pension systems.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - January 20, 2014

State of the Reunion: Rewriting History

This hour on Focus, we'll hear a special from State of the Reunion.

During this special broadcast, the team at State of the Reunion tells stories on the flipside of mainstream narratives. We'll hear about a darker side of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and will learn more about an incident that Tulsa, Oklahoma’s African American community is still trying to understand.

We apologize that we are unable to provide a podcast of this broadcast. Find more State of the Reunion episodes on their website.

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WILL - Focus - January 17, 2014

Personal Finance: Money Mentors

How did you learn how to manage your money? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks personal finance with Kathy Sweedler and Kevin Waspi. We welcome your calls and questions!

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(Duration: 51:40)

a dollar with some cents

Who taught you how to balance your checkbook? Be responsible with your credit card?  The state of Illinois mandates that all students in public schools should be taught the basics of personal finance, but according to University of Illinois Extension Educator Kathy Sweedler, that doesn’t ensure  financially literacy. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Sweedler about a new program called Money Mentors that aims to help answer personal finance questions through peer counseling.

Chartered Financial Analyst Kevin Wapsi also joins us this hour on Focus. The stock market set several record highs in 2013, we’ll talk with him about what we might expect out of 2014 and what things you should be thinking about looking forward to this year’s tax season.  Or course, this hour on Focus, we also welcome your personal finance questions whether you’re looking at buying a car, sending a child to college or just starting out. 

Read more for this month's couch potato porfolio.

Categories: Personal Finance

WILL - Focus - January 16, 2014

Net Neutrality

Tuesday, a circuit court in Washington D.C. struck down rules ensuring net neutrality. This hour on Focus we’ll talk about what that means for the internet.

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(Duration: 51:33)

 A federal appeals court ruling struck down parts of the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet rules Tuesday, a move that has raised concerns about net neutrality. Big telecom companies including Verizon and Comcast say the ruling will allow them to expand their service to consumers, but not everyone agrees the ruling is a good thing.
 
To start this hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Milton Mueller, a professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, about what the ruling means for the future of the internet and about the importance of having an open internet. John Koontz of Champaign-based Wolfram Research, operator of the answer engine website Wolfram/Alpha, also joins us. He says the possibilities that the ruling creates for the future is worrisome for companies like his. Then, Meadows talks with former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth about the FCC's role in regulating internet service. 
 
Do you support net neutrality? Why? Post in the comments section below or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
 

Categories: Law, Technology

WILL - Focus - January 15, 2014

Sriracha, the Movie!

Have you tried Sriracha hot sauce?

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(Duration: 51:56)

The Sriracha production line at Huy Kong Foods in Irwin, California.

David Tran, the owner of Huy Fong Foods, started making his sriracha style hot sauce after his family immigrated to California from Thailand. Thirty years after he made the first batch, he’s nearly tripled the size of his operation and sold a reported 20 million bottles in 2012. Who is Tran, and where did the recipe for the wildly popular hot sauce come from?

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Griffin Hammond, a Bloomington based documentary maker, about his newest film “Sriracha.”  We’ll hear about the origins of the hot sauce and about the fact that even though there is no marketing team behind advertising the sauce, Sriracha has a large enough fan base to have inspired several cookbooks, tattoos of the rooster logo on the bottle, a Lay’s Potato Chip flavor and even themed air fresheners. Randy Clemens, author of “The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 Rooster Sauce Recipes” and “The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook,” also joins us.

Categories: Food

WILL - Focus - January 14, 2014

Why haven’t there been more female governors?

Illinois is one of 24 US states that have not yet elected a female governor. Why not? 

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(Duration: 51:42)

Illinois Executive Mansion

There are women running for governor in 19 US states; Illinois isn’t one of them. Of the 19 states where women are competing in primary gubernatorial races this spring, there are only a handful who are expected to make it onto the ballot for the general election. Why does it matter?

According to Kelly Dittmar who researches gender balance in politics for the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University, the lack representation for women at the gubernatorial level is due to a number of factors, including the support political parties do and do not show for women and the complex relationship our culture has with women taking executive leadership roles. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what barriers still exist for women seeking gubernatorial office in Illinois and across the country. Dittmar, an Assistant Professor at the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University and Tom Kacich, who writes about politics for the News-Gazette, join host Jim Meadows.

Categories: Politics

WILL - Focus - January 13, 2014

The Answer to the Riddle is Me

Have you ever forgotten something? Can you imagine what it would be like to forget nearly every detail about your life? 

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(Duration: 51:25)

David Stuart MacLean

About a decade ago, David Stuart MacLean woke up on a train platform in India. He had no idea who or where he was and had no money and no passport. He came to believe he was a drug addict and spent two days in a psychiatric hospital in India chain smoking, writing poetry and hallucinating. 

When his parents showed up and told him about what he was actually doing in India, he was floored. It was after his parents took him back to his hometown in Ohio that he was told his memory loss was caused by a rare reaction to a preventative malaria medication he had been taking. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with MacLean about what it was like to rediscover who he was.

Have you ever suffered from amnesia or do you know someone who has? What was it like trying to remember things? Give us a call this hour on Focus!


WILL - Focus - January 10, 2014

Encore: Kim Stanley Robinson on science fiction

Are you a science fiction fan? Today on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation host Jim Meadows had with New York Times best-selling author Kim Stanley Robinson.

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(Duration: 51:32)

Robinson in August 2005, at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s interest in science fiction all in an orange grove. When he was young, he says he watched southern California suffer what he calls “future shock,” – a process by which the natural landscape was rapidly replaced with apartment buildings and roads. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Robinson about how that experience inspires his writing

Robinson also talks about his Mars Trilogy that depicts a society where people have colonized Mars to escape overpopulation and ecological disaster on Earth. We’ll hear how he imagined life on Mars and how he deals with questions of plausibility as he writes about future time.

Categories: Books and Reading

WILL - Focus - January 09, 2014

A drug to prevent HIV

There’s a pill that can protect against HIV infection. Why aren’t more people taking it?

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(Duration: 51:37)

For decades, the message has been that the only way to prevent HIV infection is to wear a condom every time you have sex. Jim Pickett, who heads prevention advocacy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, says that advice will never be effective enough to eradicate the disease.

Truvada, a drug made by Gilead, was approved more than a year ago by the FDA as another option to prevent the spread of the disease. In clinical trials, it has proven more effective in protecting HIV negative people from contracting the disease than condom use, but it’s been slow to catch on. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about Truvada, why the HIV community has been slow to embrace the drug and how new HIV prevention tools are changing the way we think about the disease. Jim Pickett of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Mike Benner, Executive Director of the Greater Community AID Foundation in Champaign join us.

Categories: Health

WILL - Focus - January 08, 2014

Raising the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25. Should it be higher?

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(Duration: 49:59)

Rachel Warren is 21 and says that she “makes it work” supporting herself by working two jobs for minimum wage, one in Champaign and one in Urbana. If she had to support someone else, however, she says that just wouldn’t be feasible. Gov. Pat Quinn has been pushing for an increase to Illinois minimum wage, which is already a dollar higher than the federal standard. If the state mandated a wage increase for people like Warren, she says even a dollar more an hour would make a substantial difference in her monthly budget.
 
This hour on focus, we’ll hear from Warren and will talk about the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage and the arguments for and against doing so. Bob Bruno, Professor of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Chicago and James Sherk, a Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics at the Heritage Foundation join us.
 
Do you or have you ever worked for minimum wage? Are you a small business owner who would be affected by a potential wage increase? Post in the comments section below!
 

Categories: Community, Economics, Politics

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