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A 4-4 split at the U.S. Supreme Court in a decision affecting unions became the first decision clearly affected by the death of former Justice Antonin Scalia.

Then, a political advocacy organization backed by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers is on a state-by-state mission to knock down film tax subsidies for Hollywood productions. What does it mean for California?

Next, dairy producers from Saudi Arabia are escaping the drought there by buying up land in California and Arizona to grow alfalfa.

Then, the story of a gang interventionist in South L.A.

And finally, a new audit accuses the UC system of lowering academic standards to accommodate more out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition than students from California.

Banner Image: Protestors gather at the Supreme Court during oral arguments on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association; Credit: Laura Markwardt/AAUP via Flickr

Unions Dodge a Bullet at the Supreme Court 7 MIN, 32 SEC

Unions are breathing a sigh of relief in a California case the Supreme Court handed down today. The justices split 4-4 in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. That means that a lower court ruling stands and unions can still collect dues from teachers and other public employees, even if those employees choose not to join their union. It was a case that didn’t look good for unions before the death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia.

Allan Ides, Loyola Law School

Koch-Funded Group Fights Hollywood Tax Credits 8 MIN, 34 SEC

Hollywood has fled California in recent years. States from Georgia to Michigan to North Carolina have lured big-budget productions with generous tax subsidies. Thirty-five states now offer some form of these credits. But now the programs are getting knocked down, state-by-state, by a conservative political group called Americans for Prosperity. The group is backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, and Hollywood is only one of their targets when it comes to fighting corporate tax breaks.

Erich Schwartzel, Wall Street Journal (@erichschwartzel)

What a Drought in Saudi Arabia Means for California Land 8 MIN, 36 SEC

Saudi Arabia is running out of water. This poses a problem for the country’s largest dairy producer, the Almarai Company. Because feeding cows requires food, and growing that food requires water. What’s a large agribusiness to do in the midst of a drought? Almarai and other Saudi companies are buying up thousands of acres of land and water rights in California and Arizona. The catch: Those states are also in a historic drought.

Adam Keats, Center for Food Safety

'Peacemakers' Part 2: The Interventionist 14 MIN, 36 SEC

There’s been a surge of violent crime over the past year in Los Angeles. South L.A. has seen the greatest increase. South L.A. is also a place where community members often do not trust the cops. That's where Skipp Townsend come in. He works with the LAPD to stop gang-related violence before it happens. Townsend is a former gang member. That gives him credibility with people who don't trust law enforcement. As part of KCRW’s ongoing series Below The Ten, reporter David Weinberg brings us part two of a three-part series on the peacemakers of South Los Angeles.

Skipp Townsend at a Southern California Cease Fire Committee gathering where community members come together to end violence. Photo by Alexandra Garretón.

UC Schools Lowered Standards to Attract Out-of-State Students 7 MIN, 34 SEC

A state audit released today reveals that when University of California schools admit out-of-state students, it puts California kids at a disadvantage. That’s especially true for students of color. The UC’s motive is money. Students from other states pay $23,000 more per student in tuition than California residents. Citing budget constraints, the UC has tripled the number of non-residents in the past decade. The audit claims that in order to do that, they’ve lowered academic standards for these students. We hear from the lawmaker who requested the report.

Mike Gipson, Carson City Councilman (@MrMikeGipson)

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