By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Top Stories:
CHILD MOLESTATION CHARGES DISMISSED BECAUSE OF ALLEGED PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT: A transcript change in a Kern County child molestation case led the judge Thursday to dismiss charges against the defendant on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. Efrain Velasco-Palacios had been charged with five counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years. But Judge H.A. Staley dismissed all counts because of the actions of Deputy District Attorney Robert Murray, who placed a fabricated admission of guilt into an English translation of Velasco-Palacios' Spanish-language interrogation. Read the full story here.
BAKERSFIELD RETURNS TO FIRST STATE TITLE GAME IN 86 YEARS: It was two days after Christmas in 1927 when Kern County Union High School routed Fullerton 38-0 for its sixth state championship in eight years under coach Dwight "Goldie" Griffith. At 8 tonight at the StubHub Center in Carson, Bakersfield is finally back -- seven years after the CIF brought back a state playoff system, the Drillers have broken through; they'll play Loomis-Del Oro from the Sacramento area in the Division I state championship bowl game. Read the full story here.
PG&E PROPOSES $1.29 BILLION IN GAS PIPELINE WORK: Pacific Gas and Electric Co. asked for permission Thursday to raise natural gas rates by an average of $5.23 per month for residential customers to fund continued maintenance and modernization of its pipeline system. The San Francisco-based gas and electric utility's filing requests $1.29 billion in 2015, or 13 percent more than it expects to spend on such activities next year. It would cover things like replacing older pipelines in its 6,750-mile gas transmission system serving 4.4 million customers. It would also pay for testing and inspecting pipelines, strengthening levees, and installing additional automated and remotely operated safety valves. 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.
POWER OUTAGES IMPACTED 22,000 PG&E CUSTOMERS: An outage that affected about 22,000 PG&E customers in the Bakersfield area occurred late Thursday afternoon. PG&E spokeswoman Katie Allen said the 3:43 p.m. outage happened when a transmission line a contract crew was working on touched other power lines. No one was injured, power was restored to all customers shortly before 6 p.m. Read the full story here.
NEW AIRPORT BUS SERVICE ROLLS: Local businessman Phil Rudnick launched a new bus service Thursday between Bakersfield and Los Angeles International Airport. Rudnick's Airport Valet Express opened to single-digit passenger counts, and will use minivans until business warrants full-size chartered buses that are owned and operated by Visalia-based Classic Charter. One-way trips cost $49, while round trips cost $89. The Bakersfield office, which offers parking for a fee and accepts payments by cash and credit card, is located at 201 New Stine Road, Suite 120. Read the full story here.
GET BUS ANNOUNCES NO-CHARGE BUS SERVICE HOLIDAY SCHEDULE: By all means, bend that elbow on New Year's Eve -- but be sure to finish up by an hour before midnight to catch a free bus ride home. On Thursday, the Golden Empire Transit District announced no-charge bus service from 6 to 11 p.m. Dec. 31 as part of its holiday schedule. Unlike recent years, GET plans to provide service on most routes every day, including holidays such as Christmas Day and New Year's Day. It started 365-days-a-year service on Jan. 1. To check holiday operating hours, call 869-2438. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
REDDIT GIFTS: Of the 120,000 people participating in Reddit's Secret Santa gift exchange, a 24-year old named Rachel was shocked to discover that her covert gift-giver "Bill" was, in fact, Bill Gates. So what did the billionaire get for his Secret Santa? A stuffed cow to represent the real bovine he had donated in her name to Heifer International and a travel book called Journey of a Lifetime. The travel buff said in a Reddit post that the gifts were perfect and apologized for the iPad on her list, saying, "that was really awkward."
THE HEALTH REPORT
HIV: U.S. scientists have discovered the basic mechanisms that allow HIV to wipe out the body's immune system and cause AIDS, which could lead to new approaches to treatment and research for a cure for the disease that affects 35 million people around the world. Instead of actively killing immune system cells, much of the damage done by HIV occurs when the virus tries to invade these cells and fails, triggering an immune response that causes the cells to self-destruct in a fiery kind of cell suicide. The findings also suggest that an experimental anti-inflammatory drug owned by Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. could be repurposed as a possible new treatment for AIDS.
THE SPORTS REPORT
BONDED BY BAKERSFIELD: The paths of Derek Carr and Cody Kessler both started in Bakersfield in the early 1990s. They have converged and diverged many times since then, but for three hours on Saturday, they'll come back together as the nation watches. The Las Vegas Bowl kicks off at 12:30 p.m. on ABC, and it features USC and Fresno State. It also features two of Bakersfield's most famous football sons under center -- Carr for Fresno State and Kessler for USC. "You've got two top 25 programs playing in a bowl game, and both quarterbacks are from the same hometown, from Bakersfield," Carr said. "I'd be interested to know how many cities have that going on. I think it's great for our city, for the community of Bakersfield. I'm very excited it worked out the way it did." Read the full story here.
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