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Could Robots Replace Farmworkers In Valley Fields? Silicon Valley Hopes So

Let's face it farmers are usually slow to change their practices for a couple reasons. Change usually comes with a high price tag – a new tractor can cost a half million dollars. And farmers want to minimize risk by only investing in things that have been successfully tested and in the end don't reduce profits. But robots are slowly changing that perspective. "At the end of the day robots can go into really harsh environments where people really don't want to work and in turn it will create new jobs like the people that are maintaining the robots, the people that are actually programming the robots," says Jason Vazzano with Electric Motor Shop and Supply in Fresno. "It will bring a whole different facet of labor pool." He outfits basic robots with parts for farmers across the region. He's opening a little box at their downtown Fresno office and warehouse. Inside is a small plastic square sensor that can be attached to a machine or robot. The sensor detects if something is in front of

Could Robots Replace Farmworkers In Valley Fields? Silicon Valley Hopes So

Author Interview: Climate Change, Forest Mismanagement Fuel 'Megafire' Epidemic

Wildfires have always been a part of the Central California landscape. But in recent years blazes like the Detwiler Fire (2017) and the Erskine Fire (2016) have been different. In each case, veteran firefighters who have been on wildland blazes for decades say they saw the fires demonstrating "extreme" behavior like they haven't seen before. They burned hotter, faster, and didn't die down at night as fires typically do. As Michael Kodas describes in his new book "Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame" this disturbing trend is the result of warmer temperatures brought about by climate change, and forests that have suffered after years of fire suppression policies. Kodas is the Deputy Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He joined us to talk about his book and why "megafires" are here to stay.

Author Interview: Climate Change, Forest Mismanagement Fuel 'Megafire' Epidemic

Amid Homeless Concerns, Brandau Wants Fresno To Ban Camping

A Fresno City Councilmember has a new idea on dealing with the city's homeless population – a law that would ban camping in the city. Councilmember Steve Brandau is set to take the proposed ordinance before the city council next Thursday. If adopted, the law would ban camping on both public and private property in the city. Brandau says he's been getting complaints for months from constituents about people camping in the cooking, bathing and even defecating in public. "I really believe it goes across the city. When I talk with my colleagues they're getting the same type of phone calls I'm getting, complaints, and people in the community are getting very upset with what they perceiving happening in our community," says Brandau. Called the Unhealthy and Hazardous Camping Act 2017, Brandau's law would also make it illegal to store so-called "camping paraphernalia" on public or private property. Brandau says he sees the proposed law as a tool law enforcement can use, as the homeless

Is Algebra 2 Necessary? CSU Tweaks General Ed Math Requirements

For years, the California State University system has had a requirement that students be proficient in Algebra 2 as a pre-requisite for taking other general education math classes. That's pushed many students into so-called remedial math classes, but it's also led to criticism. Some say it's a civil rights issue that blocks minority students from fields of study where Algebra 2 simply isn't necessary. Others say it's an important part of higher education. Last week, the CSU Chancellor's office announced changes to the Algebra 2 rules, as well as the way the system will handle remedial education courses. To learn more, we spoke with reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn who has covered the story for Ed Source.

Interview: Questions Remain About Possible Groundwater Contamination From Oil Production

Oil companies in California produce more water than oil. In the San Joaquin Valley that also has created a problem: what to do with all of that unwanted water? In most cases that wastewater is injected back into the ground, deep below the aquifer. But in some cases, injections may have contaminated federally protected aquifers that could be clean enough for drinking water. The problem has been in the news for several years, but as KQED's Lauren Sommer reports, we still know surprisingly little about the scope of the problem. She joined us on Valley Edition to talk about her report and what it means for local residents, farmers and oil producers.

Interview: Questions Remain About Possible Groundwater Contamination From Oil Production

Electric Automaker Faraday Future Selects Hanford For Manufacturing Facility

Hanford's former Pirelli tire factory is mostly vacant today, but in a few years it could be producing some of the world's most advanced electric vehicles. That's the vision of automaker Faraday Future, which announced this past weekend that it has selected the Kings County facility as the site of its planned manufacturing plant. The company had hoped to build a $1 billion factory in the Nevada desert, but shelved those plans earlier this year amid financial problems. Reporter Sean O'Kane of The Verge joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the company, their products, and the challenges Faraday faces attempting to being their car to market.

Electric Automaker Faraday Future Selects Hanford For Manufacturing Facility

The Old Fresno Water Tower At Risk Of Closing

On the first Thursday night of every month, the Old Fresno Water Tower is typically full of people checking out local art that lines the walls and shelves of the historic building. But while dozens of Art Hop patrons visit the gift shop, gallery and visitors center in one of Fresno's most recognizable buildings, the future of the downtown landmark is uncertain. The Fresno Arts Council, which runs the gallery space in the city-owned building, says it is short on cash, and may have to shut the space down within months. The possibility that tower could close doesn't sit well with a young girl named Sandra who visited the gallery and store during Art Hop with a sponsor from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. "I have never been in this building but I think it is pretty sad that a place like this would actually get closed because I think a ton of people from an early age should come in here and learn about their town and where they are from. It is their history of where they were," Sandra

Push To Regulate Next Generation Wireless Tech Hits Fresno, Sacramento

Most smartphone users are used to an immediate internet connection in their pocket, thanks to improved phones and carrier coverage. But increasing use of data and unlimited data plans mean wireless carriers are struggling to meet the demand for a faster, better connection. To address this issue, the next generation of wireless technology has state and local lawmakers at odds. Ask any millennial how much they use their phone and the answer is "constantly." Zac Jones, a 20 year old student and avid Red Sox fan, relies on the data in his phone to keep him connected. "I watch baseball games on my phone, I keep up with all my sports highlights," Jones says. "I don't use Wi-Fi at all. 24 hours a day, I'm always on data." Despite being constantly connected, Jones is still familiar with the patience required as videos and apps buffer because the connection is slow. "We are all in the age where you want things immediately," says Jones. "You just want something that's quicker and everyone wants

Push To Regulate Next Generation Wireless Tech Hits Fresno, Sacramento

In California, Quest For Clean Drinking Water Often Delayed By Paperwork

Drive through the pomegranate and pistachio orchards between highways 41 and 99 and you may stumble upon Valley Teen Ranch , a cluster of residential homes where juvenile offenders come to be rehabilitated. Today, a few men are in their living room playing a basketball video game and making small talk with Connie Clendenan, the ranch's CEO. "I'm for the Warriors, don't we have them?" asks Clendenan. "I'm from Oakland, so yeah," one of the men laughs. In an ideal world, Clendenan would spend most of her time working directly with the 30 or so men who live here. "They need a lot of kindness, patience, grace, and a healthy relationship," Clendenan says, "in order to be able to make some changes in their life." But instead, she spends a lot of time worrying about water. Since 2008, Valley Teen Ranch's water system has been out of compliance with state code because of arsenic contamination. She and a staff member show me 14 huge water bottles stacked up against the wall—the kind you place

In California, Quest For Clean Drinking Water Often Delayed By Paperwork

The New Frontier: Satellites Inform Fire Personnel About How Blazes Spread

While crews fought to keep the Detwiler Fire in California's Central Valley from reaching the historic gold rush town of Mariposa, a separate fire crew was watching the blaze from an entirely different angle - space. "We can see the darker reds here," says Kris Mattarochia says science and operations officer at the National Weather Service Hanford office. "This is the fire temperature hot spot. We can see pretty much this is the current location of the Detwiler Fire." During the Detweiler Fire, Mattarochia says his team was able to detect exactly how the fire was moving in almost real-time using images from a brand new satellite. There was a moment when one of his members saw a massive flare up of heat on the screens and contacted crews on the fire. "And he said hey, it looks it looks like this fire is getting hotter," Mattarochia says. "Do you see the same thing on the ground? Basically the meteorologist on the ground said the fire did jump the line briefly." This technology is called

The New Frontier: Satellites Inform Fire Personnel About How Blazes Spread

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