Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Top Stories:
HIGH-PROFILE GOP FIRM LOSES LEGAL RIGHT TO OPERATE: Kern County's premier Republican political consulting firm, run by Mark Abernathy, has been operating on a suspended state registration after, according to officials, failing to pay taxes, according to Californian reporter James Burger. The state Franchise Tax Board suspended Western Pacific Research's corporation status Feb. 3. The company owed the tax board $7,066.18 as of Tuesday and is no longer a legal corporation in the state. The corporation is still operational, signing new clients and getting paid by a number of its big name candidates, including 32nd Assembly District hopeful Pedro Rios and Assessor-Recorder candidate Jon Lifquist. The company's clients also include Assemblywoman Shannon Grove and state Sen. Jean Fuller, both Bakersfield Republicans. Read the full story here.
Highway 99 landscaping will get more concrete but retain many existing plantings in long-range plans to beautify the freeway, a Caltrans official told Keep Bakersfield Beautiful members Tuesday. The request is to have a one-foot-wide plain, white concrete border in the triangular areas between highways and on-or-off-ramps. Most of Fresno is done that way. Caltrans wants to move into a more sustainable landscape, a little more closer to the Arizona landscape, more rocks and borders. Areas of Highway 178 at Fairfax Avenue and the new California Avenue on-ramp to southbound Highway 99 already feature some of these treatments. .
ATTORNEYS PRESENT CLOSING ARGUMENTS IN TEXTING TRIAL: Twenty-year-old Charla Wilkins died as a result of Anna Marie Reynosa's failure to drive in a responsible manner even after racking up three speeding tickets in the months prior to crashing her pickup into the back of Wilkins' motorcycle, prosecutor Esther Schlaerth said during closing arguments in Reynosa's trial Tuesday. Not only did Reynosa run a stop sign, Schlaerth said, but she was traveling far over the posted speed limit and texting on her cellphone at the time of the April 14, 2012 crash. Schlaerth's closing remarks lasted about 90 minutes. Deputy Public Defender Ernest Hinman spoke for two hours before court adjourned. He will resume his closing arguments 9:15 a.m. today. Read the full story here.
WHAT'S TRENDING ON BAKERSFIELD.COM
In case you missed it, here are the stories that are trending across bakersfield.com.
DOG CHASED AWAY BY HERO CAT TARA IS EUTHANIZED: The dog that bit 4-year-old southwest Bakersfield resident Jeremy Triantafilo and dragged him down his driveway May 13 -- only to be chased off by the family's cat, Tara, to worldwide media acclaim -- has been euthanized. Its owners surrendered the approximately 8-month-old Labrador-Chow mix to the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center later on May 13, when it began a mandatory 10-day quarantine period to determine whether the animal had rabies. At the end of that period, the dog "was humanely euthanized over the weekend," according to Animal Care Center Director Julie Johnson -- who noted the incident has ended far from quietly. Read the full story here.
NO CHARGES AGAINST HOMEOWNER IN SHOOTING: No charges will be filed against a northeast Bakersfield homeowner who shot and killed a 35-year-old man in March after he broke in and threatened a guest. Shawn Christian Ibarra was shot just before 5 a.m. on March 24 in the 4100 block of Christmas Tree Lane. According to the Kern County District Attorney's Office, charges weren't warranted because the homeowner was in "defense of habitation against an intruder intending to commit an act of violence." Police said Ibarra had armed himself with a breaker bar -- a long metal bar used to loosen tight fasteners -- and forced his way inside the house. Ibarra tried to break down the door and the homeowner fired one shot from a 12-gauge shotgun, killing him. Read the full story here.
DUI CHECKPOINT NETS SEVEN ARRESTS: A DUI checkpoint Saturday night on eastbound White Lane resulted in seven arrests for driving under the influence and 16 people cited for driving with suspended licenses. Additionally, of the 1,388 vehicles passing through the Bakersfield police checkpoint from 7 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday in the 5400 block of White Lane, 21 drivers did not have a valid driver's license and 28 vehicles were impounded. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
GOOGLE'S SELF-DRIVING CAR: Google has built a self-driving car from scratch -- a vehicle that has no steering wheel or accelerator or brake pedals. A two-seater prototype of the vehicle was unveiled Tuesday. Instead of the car controls indispensable to today's drivers, Google's prototype relies on built-in sensors and a software system to safely manoeuvre the vehicle. The goal of the project is for self-driving cars to be "significantly" safer than human-driven cars in a few years. The project has experienced no crashes during testing, but the cars only operate at speeds of around 25 miles per hour, which gives them more time to react to obstacles.
THE HEALTH REPORT
WHAT'S YOUR PAIN?: There's a new, central location where people can look at the latest research on pain, regardless of what's causing it. Six federal agencies have jointly formed the Interagency Pain Research Portfolio, a database that provides information about pain research and training activities supported by the federal government. Users of the database can search for individual research projects or sets of projects grouped by themes uniquely relevant to pain. The database contains more than 1,200 research projects. To access it, visit: http://paindatabase.nih.gov. Read the full story here.
THE SPORTS REPORT
CONDORS' SEASON ENDS: ANCHORAGE, Alaska --The best season in Condors history ended on Tuesday night as the Alaska Aces advanced to the Kelly Cup Finals with a 4-1 win in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. The Aces, who were playing in their seventh Western Conference Finals, will face Cincinnati in the finals with Game 1 on Friday night in Anchorage. Cincinnati beat Greenville 3-2 on Tuesday night -- the game winner was a short-hander -- to win that series in six games. The Condors, who missed the playoffs the past two seasons, were playing in their first Western Conference Finals. Read the full story here.
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