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A troubling trend is happening in California: low income Californians get expensive traffic tickets they can’t afford to pay, they get caught in a vicious cycle of violations and fines, often leading to lost driver’s licenses and even lost jobs. Have we been too hard on almonds? They’re an $11 billion business in California, but have suffered a lot of criticism during the drought for being water hungry crops. We rundown the new movies coming out this week, including a new Nicholas Sparks adaptation and a smart sci-fi thriller about artificial intelligence. And, speaking of artificial intelligence in movies, we talk to a researcher to help us sort fact from fiction.

Banner Image: traffic ticket issued by police officer

Traffic Debt 14 MIN, 39 SEC

A troubling trend is happening in California: traffic tickets are funding the court system. A new study by a coalition of legal aid and civil rights groups finds that low income Californians are the most affected. They get caught in a vicious cycle of violations and fines, often leading to lost licenses. This makes it harder to keep or find employment.

Everette Cain, 28-year old from South LA, who has more than $4,000 in ticket fines and court fees from just 3 citations. His licence is currently suspended.
Theresa Zhen, A New Way of Life Reentry Project

Not Just a Ferguson Problem - How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California

Almonds 8 MIN, 57 SEC

Almonds are an $11 billion business in California, but they’ve come under scrutiny for being water intensive to grow. They’ve become like the Hummer during times of high gas prices: a symbol of waste or extravagance that might not make sense during drought conditions. But have almonds been unfairly-maligned? Is the fault not in almonds, but ourselves, or rather, other water issues?

Alissa Walker, Curbed (@awalkerinLA)
Mark Hertsgaard, Nation magazine (@markhertsgaard)

Seriously, Stop Demonizing Almonds by: Alissa Walker
How Growers Gamed California’s Drought - by Mark Hertsgaard

Movies 14 MIN

Our Friday round-up of movies finds a strange mix of choices. A new movie, based on a book by Nicholas Sparks, delivers a similar setup to one of his more famous works, “The Notebook.” It’s called The Longest Ride. It’s a love story divided between the present and the 1940’s. There’s also the directorial debut of actor Ryan Gosling, called “Lost River.” It’s an indie film about a single mother, played by Christina Hendricks, who runs up against the criminal underworld, while her son discovers a secret underwater town. And the best reviewed film of the bunch is “Ex Machina,” an intelligent sci-fi thriller about artificial intelligence, from the writer of 28 Days Later.

Devin Faraci, Badass Digest (@devincf)
Amy Nicholson, host of the podcast The Canon (@theAmyNicholson)

Artificial Intelligence 8 MIN, 56 SEC

Filmmakers have always been fascinated by artificial intelligence. These sentient man-made beings range from the cold and sinister -- think HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey -- to the warm and intimate -- like Samantha, the operating system in Her. But AI is a growing business that’s pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. With the release of the new movie Ex Machina, we try to separate fact from science fiction.

Yigal Arens, Information Sciences Institute (@yarens1)

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