Monday, March 28
CALIFORNIA MINIMUM WAGE
Economists eye California minimum wage proposal
Economists are warning about the potential for unintended consequences from California leaders' plans to boost the state's minimum wage to the highest in the nation.
Jeffrey Clemens, an economics professor at the University of California at San Diego, said Monday that an unknown portion of low-wage workers will lose their jobs instead of getting raises.
David Neumark, an economics professor at the University of California, Irvine, says an increase from $10 to $15 by 2022 would reduce employment among the least-skilled workers by at least 5 to 10 percent.
Neumark says that the effects would vary by geography. In high-wage counties such as San Francisco and Santa Clara, about 22 percent of workers would get a raise. In places such as Fresno and Merced counties, about half the workers would.
Justice Department cracks iPhone; withdraws legal action
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI says it successfully used a mysterious technique without Apple's help to break into an iPhone linked to the gunman in a California mass shooting. The surprise development effectively ends a pitched court battle between Apple and the Obama administration. The government told a federal court Monday without any details that it accessed data on gunman Syed Farook's iPhone and no longer requires Apple's assistance. Farook and his wife died in a gun battle with police after killing 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December. Apple did not immediately comment on the development. A U.S. magistrate last month ordered Apple to provide the FBI with software to help it hack into Farook's work-issued iPhone.
No injuries reported as fire consumes former church building
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fire has badly damaged a South Los Angeles church building used by homeless people but authorities say everyone managed to get out safely before part of the roof collapsed. Fire officials say the fire erupted shortly after 5 a.m. Monday in a two-story building on Hoover Street. About 125 firefighters took nearly two hours to douse the fire. At one point, the roof partially collapsed and firefighters had to leave the building, using hoses to pour water on it from outside. The building wasn't currently in church use. Authorities say it was occupied by homeless people who fled before firefighters arrived.
CALIFORNIA DROUGHT-MIDDLE EAST
Saudi land purchases fuel debate over US water rights
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Saudi Arabia's largest dairy company will soon be unable to farm alfalfa in its own parched country to feed its cows. So it's turning to an unlikely place to grow the thirsty crop — the drought-stricken American Southwest. Almarai Co. bought land in January that roughly doubled its holdings in California's Palo Verde Valley, an area that enjoys first dibs on water from the Colorado River. The company also acquired a large tract in Arizona that has fewer well-pumping restrictions than other parts of the state. The purchases totaling about 14,000 acres have rekindled debate over whether a patchwork of laws and court rulings in the West favors farmers too heavily at a time when cities are urging people to take shorter showers and tear out grass lawns.
CAL STATE-FACULTY STRIKE
Key report calls for higher pay for Cal State faculty
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A key report released Monday calls on the California State University system to give faculty the pay raises they've requested as the two sides prepare for a five-day strike next month if they can't reach an agreement. Jennifer Eagen, president of the California Faculty Association, says the independent report confirms the position that faculty members are underpaid. The administration, however, says it doesn't have the money to divert to more pay at a time when it has committed spending to other priorities. Union members currently are in the second-year of a three-year contract. The faculty association is seeking a 5 percent salary increase for 2015-16.
HARASSMENT PROBE DENOUNCED
Faculty criticize UC Berkeley over sexual harassment claims
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — University of California, Berkeley faculty members are condemning the university's handling of yet another sexual harassment case. The San Francisco Chronicle reports Monday that in a letter to Vice Provost Janet Broughton, tenured professors in Berkeley's South and Southeast Asian Studies department say they are frustrated that numerous complaints against an assistant professor have not been addressed for more than a year. Four cases against the professor were filed with the university during the 2014-15 academic year, none of which has been completed. The news comes as UC Berkeley in recent weeks has come under fire for its handling of several high-profile sexual-harassment cases against a prominent astronomer, an assistant basketball coach and the dean of its law school.
CONDEMNED INMATE DEATH
Condemned San Quentin inmate dies of natural causes
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A 64-year-old condemned inmate died Saturday of natural causes after serving 35 years on death row. Bernard L. Hamilton was sentenced to death on March 2, 1981, by a San Diego County jury for the May 31, 1979, first-degree murder and second-degree burglary of Eleanore Buchanan. Hamilton was convicted of kidnaping, murdering and dismembering Buchanan's body after she caught him burglarizing her van. He died at a medical center after serving time at San Quentin. Hamilton had a prior conviction for burglary in 1973. He had been on death row since March 4, 1981. Since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, 70 condemned inmates, including Hamilton, have died from natural causes.
California swap meet vendor accused of selling pirated music
FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — A vendor at a Southern California swap meet has been arrested on suspicion of selling digital drives containing pirated music with a retail value of more than $860,000. Police in Fontana said Monday that investigators found Fernando Sanchez March 23 at the Bel Air Swap Meet offering thumb drives and flash drives for sale. Officials say the dozens of drives contained more than 725,000 illegally obtained songs. They didn't say how many Sanchez might have sold. The 21-year-old was arrested and could face a felony charge for failure to disclose origin of a recording. It wasn't immediately known if he has an attorney.