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Can California citizens trust the state agencies that regulate things like natural gas storage facilities (like the one behind the Porter Ranch leak)? We examine the state’s byzantine regulatory system. Then, gay black men are still more likely to contract HIV than any other demographic. Why, and what can be done? Next, in our Friday film segment, our critics look at the latest releases, including the thriller Midnight Special. And finally, three people in the film industry talk about how to solve Hollywood’s diversity problem.

Image: Equipment and machinery is seen on a ridge above a natural gas well in Southern  California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon facility.

Is California’s Infrastructure Safe? 11 MIN, 55 SEC

Two years ago, Southern California Gas asked state officials to approve a rate hike. The gas company said it needed to increase rates to conduct safety inspections of existing natural gas wells. Wells in four storage fields were deteriorating -- including its Aliso Canyon facility near Porter Ranch. Of course, we all know what happened there. A massive gas leak led to the evacuation of thousands of residents before it was finally capped last month. The wells weren’t fixed. The gas company is still waiting on that rate increase request. So who’s to blame -- the gas company or the regulators? And which regulators? There is a maze of agencies that oversees our infrastructure, which is deteriorating. Can the public trust that state agencies are doing what they need to to protect Californians?

Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times (@paigestjohn)
Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog (@consumerwd)

How to Fight HIV in the Black Community 11 MIN

For years, public health officials fought AIDS with information and education. It seemed like it was working, but not for everyone. In 2001, black gay men were still four times more likely to contract HIV than gay men overall. In recent years, things have gotten worse. The CDC says half of all gay or bisexual black men will get HIV in their lifetimes if things don’t change, compared to one in 11 gay white men. Why, and what can be done?

Tim Murphy, Reporter

Friday Film: SXSW and New Releases 13 MIN, 40 SEC

A lot of the film-world’s focus is in Austin right now. SXSW ends this weekend. But we also have a slate of films being released in theaters today including Midnight Special and the latest in the Divergent series, Allegiant.

Christy Lemire, What The Flick?! (@christylemire)
Grae Drake, Rotten Tomatoes (@graedrake)

Can Hollywood’s Diversity Problem Be Solved? 14 MIN, 2 SEC

This week the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences appointed three new governors: Reginald Hudlin, Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Gregory Nava. It was their first tangible action in reaction to the furor over the #oscarssowhite campaign. But anger over racism in Hollywood continues to flare up. Twenty-five Asian-American directors and actors sent a letter this week to the Academy, protesting Chris Rock’s Asian jokes at the Oscars last month.Of course, the problem of racism in Hollywood is much bigger than the Oscars. A USC study last month found, once again, that Asian, black, Latino, female and LGBT people are underrepresented in front and behind the camera in films and TV. So, with all this attention are things getting better? Will they get better?

Phil Chung, Writer and Playwright
Tracy Byrd, Casting Director (@Twinkie_Byrd)
John Ridley, Screenwriter, Director and Novelist; "Let It Fall"

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