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Kern County District Attorney's Office

In the last 10 days, Bakersfield has been the site of two high-profile attacks: In one, a man and a woman were stabbed in a Starbucks; a few days later, another man gunned down his ex-wife and four other people in east Bakersfield before turning the gun on himself. On their face, these two crimes don’t have a lot in common; but at the root of both was domestic violence, which in 2017 was responsible for almost 7,000 calls for help in Kern County alone.

Martín Navarez

On Wednesday, the annual Reel pride Film Festival kicks off five days of films from around the world that explore LGBTQ people and issues. One of the films premiering in the festival is about a drag queen known in Fresno drag scene. She’ll share a part of herself not everyone sees on stage. Leilani Price will be featured in the documentary “The Life of Lei: The Man Behind the Makeup.” We spoke with the director, Matthew Broughton, and the queen herself, Leilani, about the film. 

For the record, Valley Public Radio is a community sponsor of the Reel Pride Film Festival. 

Allison Farrand/NBAE / Getty Images

Fans of the NPR Politics Podcast have a new appointment for must-hear radio. The same team of hosts behind the hit podcast - including the valley’s own Tamara Keith, Scott Detrow and Asma Khalid - are bringing their talents to the broadcast world with the new Politics Show from NPR. It’s your definitive guide to the 2018 midterms -- a one-hour roundtable discussion airing for nine weeks that presents a deep dive on the major races, themes, and issues defining these historic elections. The special series begins Saturday September 15th at 4:00 PM and runs through November 10th.

Kern County Sheriff's Office

More details have emerged in a Bakersfield shooting spree on Wednesday that left six people dead, including the alleged killer. 

The Kern County Sheriff’s office has released the names of the suspect and victims in Wednesday’s shooting. Sheriff Donny Youngblood says there’s reason to believe the suspect, 54-year-old Javier Casarez, had a connection to many, if not all of the victims.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Local hospitals in three San Joaquin Valley communities are making big plans for the future, including an expansion, a reopening, and a bankruptcy filing.

In Kern County, Adventist Health has announced plans to build a new hospital in Northwest Bakersfield. The facility will be built near the intersection of Coffee and Brimhall Road, adjacent to the development known as the Bakersfield Commons. It’s unknown when construction on the new facility might begin. Adventist Health currently operates a hospital in downtown Bakersfield on Chester Avenue.

Six people are dead, including the shooter, after a mass shooting in Bakersfield on Wednesday evening. The spree spanned five crime scenes in East Bakersfield.

According to the Kern County Sheriff’s office, the 35-minute ordeal began near a trucking business close to Highway 58 and State Route 184. There, the suspect allegedly shot and killed two people, including his wife, then pursued another person down the street and killed him near a neighboring sporting goods store.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at how those who work in health care are at increased risk of workplace violence. In the next installment of our series, Part of the Job, we see that although hospitals in the Valley have preventive measures in place, some are finding that it’s not until an incident happens that a facility knows what more to improve.  

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

It was only a few weeks ago that wildfires drove particle pollution to dangerously high levels in many parts of the San Joaquin Valley and mountain areas, and it could happen again before wildfire season is over. Particulate matter, also known as PM, is a major health risk: It’s known to cause asthma attacks and other respiratory flare-ups in the short term, and exposure over the long term has been associated with reduced immune function and cardiovascular problems.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

We’re less than two months away from this year’s midterm election, and Democrats are still  holding out for a blue wave across the country. Whether that will extend into conservative strongholds in the Central Valley is yet to be seen. But today in our studio, we’re talking to Andrew Janz, a Fresno County prosecutor and democrat running against incumbent republican congressman Devin Nunes. We discuss how Janz might balance environmental and economic priorities when it comes to water, and how California state laws are changing public safety.

Fresno State News

With claims of fake news and alternative facts dominating social media and news headlines, it’s probably no surprise that public trust in media has taken a big hit in recent years. A new effort at Fresno State hopes to help reverse that trend. The university’s new Institute for Media and Public Trust, led by former Fresno Bee editor Jim Boren aims to close the credibility gap between news producers and consumers, and address the issue of media literacy.

This week on Valley Edition, we have a conversation with congressional candidate and Fresno County prosecutor Andrew Janz. We also talk with a UC researcher about the growing body of research examining air pollution’s effects on the brain. Later, we'll learn about the obstacles facing survivors of violence who seek asylum in the U.S., and we continue our in-depth series on violence in the healthcare workforce. Plus, in honor of California Native American day, we learn about a basket-weaving celebration happening soon in Visalia.

This weekend, the Tulare County Museum in Visalia is hosting an event in collaboration with the California Indian Basketweavers’ Association, and in honor of California Native American Day. The event is called "Roots Run Deep" and will feature tribes native to Tulare County. To talk about what this means for Native American traditions local to the area, we’re speaking with Jennifer Malone from the California Indian Basketweavers’ Association.

Monica Velez

The soft chatter in the waiting room at the Yarra Law Group offices in Fresno are muffled by a Food Network show playing on TV. Receptionist tap their keyboards and answer phone calls. 

A 23-year-old woman from El Salvador, who we’ll call Ana, is among the dozen people in the room. A receptionist calls her name and she goes in to see her immigration attorney, Jeremy Clason. He’s preparing documents he’ll eventually file with the immigration court in San Francisco. She speaks to him softly as she begins to tell her story.

Community Water Center

California’s legislative session ended last week, and with it, the hopes for a statewide pool of money that would have supported drinking water projects.

It was called the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, and it would have been available for disadvantaged communities in need of water cleanup projects. The fund would have been sourced by fees on residential water bills and on some agricultural producers.

But the two bills that set the framework for the fund died in the state assembly last week as California’s legislative deadline passed by.

A much-anticipated plan to reduce particulate matter in the San Joaquin Valley is now up for public comment.

After years of revisions, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is seeking public comment on its latest plan to reduce PM2.5, a harmful pollutant that causes respiratory problems and is increasingly being linked to other serious health conditions.

For the fifth year in a row, Valley Public Radio has been ranked as a “four star” non-profit by the independent website Charity Navigator. According to the company's CEO Michael Thatcher, only 10 percent of non-profits nationwide have achieved this honor for five consecutive years. The four star ranking is the highest rating given out by the company, and is a measure of accountability, transparency and results in a nonprofit sector.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Recent arrests of undocumented immigrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials inside Central Valley courthouses from Fresno to Sacramento have sparked controversy. But as Valley Public Radio's Monica Velez reports, such arrests aren't new.

This week on Valley Edition, we talk with biographer Miriam Pawel, author of the new book, "The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Helped Shape a Nation." We also talk with poet Brian Turner, about his new music project from his band, the Interplanetary Acoustic Team. And we also learn about what recent ICE arrests at local courthouses mean for immigrants and the justice system with FM89's immigration reporter, Monica Velez. 

Miriam Pawel / Bloomsbury

Acclaimed biographer Miriam Pawel's newest work tells the story of the most influential family in California political history. In The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Helped Shape a Nation, she traces the rise of Governor Pat Brown and his son Governor Jerry Brown, and examines how they both shaped the state in their own unique and unconventional ways.

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