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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Big 6:
JAMES GANDOLFINI: James Gandolfini, whose portrayal of a brutal, emotionally delicate mob boss in HBO's "The Sopranos" helped create one of TV's greatest drama series and turned the mobster stereotype on its head, died Wednesday in Italy. He was 51. in a statement, the cable channel, and Gandolfini's managers Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders, said he died Wednesday while on holiday in Rome. Read the full story here.
HOUSE FIRE DEATH: A young child dies in a house fire in Oildale. Reports started coming in around 6:20 p.m. Wednesday about a fire in the 300 block of Washington Avenue. Crews found heavy smoke and flames coming from two sides of the 1,800-square-foot house. Authorities say the 21-month-old child was found in a rear bedroom with fatal injuries during a sweep of the home. Three other children were rescued by neighbors and hospitalized. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Read the full story here.
METH ARRESTS: Kern County Sheriff's deputies make two drugs busts within four hours. Around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, deputies approached a Chevy Suburban in a parking lot near White Lane and Highway 99. They found 12 pounds of suspected methamphetamine in the back seat. The deputies arrested 35-year-old Jose Mendoza-Garcia of Gilroy and 44-year-old Luis Sarabia of Bakersfield on several charges. A Homeland Security Agent placed immigration holds on both men. At around 7 p.m. Tuesday, deputies went to a home in the 3500 block of Belle Terrace where they found about a half-pound of suspected meth along with a stolen gun and more than $6,000 in cash. A man identified as Jeffrey Stephens was arrested at the scene and booked into Kern County Jail. Read the full story here and here.
NEW CEO: There's a new leader at one of Bakersfield's hospitals. Doug Duffield has been appointed president and CEO of San Joaquin Community Hospital. Duffield comes to the hospital from Florida where for the past four years he served as president and CEO at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills in North Tampa. He will assume his new role July 15. Read the full story here.
BODY RECOVERED: The body of a missing Iraqi War vet is recovered from Isabella Lake, near the spot where he went missing. Michael May was reportedly kayaking Sunday when the boat flipped over, and since then, Kern County Search and Rescue crews were looking for him in Paradise Cove. They had already found his kayak. Around 12:45 p.m.Wednesday it was announced that a body was recovered. 23-ABC reports family members have identified the remains as those of May. He leaves a wife and two kids. Read the full story here.
ANIMAL CONTROL: Kern County Animal Control Director Jen Woodard laid out Tuesday how she hopes to tackle the county's overcrowded shelter and the more than 30,000 animals that pass through its doors annually. The Bakersfield Californian reports Woodard told the Board of Supervisors that the community, animal control and nonprofits have to work together to spay and neuter more companion animals to decrease the numbers flowing into the shelter and having to be euthanized. Want to get your dog or cat sterilized but can't afford it? Critters Without Litters is a local organization that's making an effort to keep the county's soaring euthanization rates from climbing even higher by providing low-cost spaying and neutering. 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
SOUTHWEST RESIDENTS SAY: TAKE DOWN THAT WALL: A walkway between the Amberton and Stockdale Estates neighborhoods used by a generation of children to walk to school has become the most hotly debated territory in southwest Bakersfield since a homeowner closed it June 14 with a cinder block wall. According to city officials, the move by homeowner Michael Hansen, who lives in the 7300 block of Calle Privada in Stockdale Estates, was entirely legal, because the half of the walkway that's in Stockdale Estates is on Hansen's private property. But residents of both housing developments are upset that they and their children now will be forced to use major highways like Ming Avenue and Ashe Road to visit the dog park, reach the Cal State Bakersfield bike path, and walk to Actis Junior High and Stockdale Elementary schools when classes resume. Read the full story here.
TODDLER KILLED IN OILDALE HOUSE FIRE: A 21-month-old child died Wednesday in an intense house fire in Oildale. The child was identified by the coroner as Aiden McDonald. Kern County Fire Department officials said several reports began coming in at 6:20 p.m. Units dispatched to the scene, in the 300 block of Washington Avenue, found heavy smoke and fire coming out of two sides of an 1,800-square-foot, two-story home, including flames coming from the front door. Read the full story here.
DIVERTED DO-GOODERS ROLL UP SLEEVES IN BAKERSFIELD: God and viral infections work in mysterious ways. Forty-seven high school kids from Messiah Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Neb., and their seven adult leaders flew out to California on Saturday to do a week of volunteer mission work at Gleanings for the Hungry, a nonprofit, church-affiliated farm near the Tulare County town of Dinuba. Just 23 hours before their flight was set to take off, one of the leaders got a phone call: Don't come because there's been an outbreak of a nasty intestinal flu. They came anyway because their tickets were non-refundable, and ended up helping Bakersfield with projects including work on the city's two soon-to-open community gardens, on Jonah Street near Pacheco Road, which is set to open with a ribbon cutting 10 a.m. July 6. Read the full story here.
IT'S UDALEKU YEAR, TIME FOR BASQUE CAMP IN BAKERSFIELD: Every once in a while the Basque community in town becomes more visible. In addition to the well-known Basque restaurants and the annual Besta in May, these descendants of shepherds celebrate Udaleku, Basque summer camps for youngsters ages 10 to 15. And this year is Udaleku-year in Bakersfield. The 12-day program, which started Sunday and will last until June 28, is full of cultural activities and is held at the Kern County Basque Club, 2301 S. Union Ave. The teens participating in this event are members of North American Basque Organizations. Louis Iturriria is the president of the Basque Club. To him, Udaleku represents "pride in our culture." Born and raised in Bakersfield, Iturriria's roots are in Baztan, the core of the Basque Country, and he, along with the other 800 or so members of the club, are committed to keeping their culture alive. Read the full story here.
12 POUNDS OF METH SEIZED FROM VEHICLE: Deputies concluded a drug investigation at a parking lot near White Lane and Highway 99 and made two arrests Tuesday afternoon. Deputies contacted two men sitting in a Chevrolet Suburban and seized 12 pounds of methamphetamine from a box on the back seat. The occupants, 35-year-old Jose Mendoza-Garcia of Gilroy, and 44-year-old Luis Sarabia-Murin of Bakersfield, were both arrested on suspicion of meth for sales and conspiracy. Read the full story here.
THE ENERGY REPORT
BERNANKE'S COMMENTS RATTLE MARKETS: Comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke helped send prices for oil futures higher on Wednesday. CNBC reported Bernanke told reporters the Fed could reduce the rate of stimulus this year if the economy of the world's largest oil consumer continues to improve. Read the full story here.
US OIL EXPORTS TO RISE TO HIGHEST LEVELS SINCE 70s?: Analysts told Bloomberg News that advances such as hydraulic fracturing are leading to record production that may outstrip refinery capacity within 18 months to three years. Bloomberg reported that an increase in domestic production last year by a record 766,000 barrels a day is challenging a notion that Americans need foreign oil, while setting up a debate policy makers may be reluctant to begin. After the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, Congress limited US domestic exports, but producers are now looking to reverse those limits. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
CABLE: Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, DirecTV and Verizon subscribers shouldn't be forced to pay extra to watch Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers games. That's what customers of the pay T-V providers say in a class-action suit filed Tuesday. The complaint follows an $8 billion rights deal that Time Warner Cable stuck with the Dodgers in January and a $3 billion rights agreement it reached with the Lakers in 2011. Time Warner Cable plans to launch a new SportsNet LA channel with the Dodgers early next year. The plaintiffs are demanding that they be allowed to opt out of paying to watch Dodgers and Lakers games if they aren't sports fans. They also asked the court for restitution.
MOBILE APP PURCHASES: Mobile payments now account for more than 10 percent of all transactions across Starbucks stores nationwide. The Starbucks Card Mobile App connects iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices to prepaid Starbucks Card accounts to enable barcode-based checkouts. Total Starbucks Card transactions, including both physical card and mobile app purchases, constitute almost one-third of the company's U.S. payments.
THE HEALTH REPORT
HPV: Vaccination against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus is proving highly effective in reducing the spread of the sexually transmitted virus among young women. New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the rate of new infections have dropped by 56 percent since the first vaccine was approved in 2006. HPV infection is known to be the major cause of cervical cancer and is highly infectious. It's estimated that about 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV.
AIR POLLUTION AND AUTISM: Pregnant women exposed to high levels of air pollution while pregnant are twice as likely to have a child with autism when compared to women in areas with low pollution, so says a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. Researchers looked at associations between autism and levels of pollutants at the time and place of birth using air pollution data from the Environmental Protection Agency to estimate the mothers' level of exposure at the time of pregnancy. The results showed that women who lived in locations with the highest levels of diesel particulates or mercury in the air were twice as likely to have a child with autism than those who lived in areas with the lowest levels of pollution. The results are not altogether surprising as exposure to these pollutants are known to affect brain function and developing babies.
THE SPORTS REPORT
CONDORS RELEASE SCHEDULE, MAKE A GUARANTEE: Who will be the next coach remains a mystery, but who, when and where the Condors are playing during the upcoming season has been revealed. The Condors on Wednesday released their 2013-14 season schedule, which starts with an opening-night home game against the Colorado Eagles on Oct. 18. And, as a little added spice, Riley is guaranteeing the Condors, who have not reached the playoffs the past two seasons, will do so this season, or tickets are free. If the Condors do not make the Kelly Cup playoffs this season, anyone purchasing, or having already purchased, a season ticket plan, Pick-6 or larger, will receive six free tickets for the 2014-2015 season. Read the full story here.
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