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The LA School Board defied organized labor last night by opening up 250 schools to outside operators. We hear from the head of the Teachers' Union and the Board member who sponsored the new policy. Also, a budget crisis for LA's most successful anti-gang program, and we talk with an expert who says today's big fire should just be allowed to burn.  On our rebroadcast of today's To the Point, there were massive truck bombs in Baghdad last week, even as Prime Minister al-Maliki claimed to have security well in hand. Will political instability lead to civil war? Will Iran extend its influence in Iraqi affairs? Should the US continue its troop withdrawal?

Banner image:Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa talks with students near a school mural depicting the city of Los Angeles during a tour of New West Charter Middle School. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Main Topic Iraq's Future: The Battle Continues 28 MIN, 25 SEC

hakim.jpgThere's more political uncertainty in Iraq today with the death of Abdul Aziz Hakim, a powerful political figure who succumbed to cancer.  In the aftermath of the US invasion, Hakim gained enough power to be a visitor at the Bush White House, but he also had close ties with Iran.

Rod Nordland, New York Times (@rodnordland)
David Ignatius, Washington Post / Harvard's Kennedy School of Government (@IgnatiusPost)
Juan Cole, University of Michigan (@jricole)
Peter Galbraith, gubernatorial candidate and former diplomat (@GalbraithforVT)

Making News Fire Season Opens with Plume of Smoke over Downtown 7 MIN, 5 SEC

The National Weather Service says high temperatures, low humidity and bone-dry vegetation have created conditions for “explosive fire growth.” Sure enough, a 750-acre blaze in the mountains above Azusa is creating unhealthy air quality in much of LA County. Firefighters and water-dropping helicopters are on the scene, but fire ecologist Richard Minnich of UC Riverside says, instead of fighting it, they should be watching it burn.

Richard Minnich, UC Riverside (@UCRiverside)

Main Topic LAUSD Votes to Hand Over Schools to Charter Groups 11 MIN, 40 SEC

The chief of the California Charter Schools Association calls it a “once in a generation opportunity.” The teacher's union calls it illegal. Last night, the Los Angeles Unified School Board agreed to open up 250 schools to outside operators, 50 new ones and 200 that are “failing” under No Child Left Behind.

Yolie Flores Aguilar, Communities for Teaching Excellence (@itsyolie)
A.J. Duffy, Apple Academy Charter Public Schools

Reporter's Notebook Homeboy Industries Out of Cash 6 MIN, 30 SEC

virtual_car_wash.jpgHomeboy Industries has won international acclaim as by offering jobs, counseling and schooling to rehabilitate gang members for the past 21 years. Roman Catholic Father Greg Boyle has faced gunfire to stop gun violence and get sworn enemies to work together. But now he says he's been losing sleep for another reason -- money.

Greg Boyle, Executive Director, Homeboy Industries

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