Saturday, February 1, 2014
California says it won't be able to supply water
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Amid California's drought, state officials have announced they won't be able to provide water to agencies serving 25 million people and nearly 1 million acres of farmland.
Friday's announcement marks the first time in the 54-year history of the State Water Project that such action has been taken.
State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin says there simply is not enough water in the system now. He says the action was taken to conserve water in the state's reservoirs, which are far below normal levels.
Most of the towns and farms that draw from the State Water Project have other sources of water. But those also are limited because of the dry conditions.
Calif. to recognize that gang members can change
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Prison officials are enacting new rules that they say will make California the first state to recognize that inmates can quit prison gangs and put that lifestyle behind them.
However, gang associates would have to steer clear of gang activities for about a decade to qualify for less restrictive prison rules, while gang leaders would have to behave for a minimum of 14 years.
The draft regulations made public Friday are the latest changes to rules that keep some gang members locked in special isolation units at Pelican Bay in far Northern California and other prisons for years. As many as 30,000 inmates have joined widespread hunger strikes to protest the prolonged isolation.
Prison officials consider more than 2,800 of California's nearly 134,000 inmates to be gang members or associates.
BORDER PATROL-SHOOTING PHOTO
Photo of child shooting at border demo draws ire
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A photo of a Border Patrol agent helping a child shoot a powder-filled ball at a target resembling a person sparked outrage by activists, who say the scene appeared to represent the shooting of an immigrant.
But the Border Patrol said in a statement Friday that any suggestion the picture means the agency shows citizens how to attack immigrants is "patently false."
The photo, showing a device resembling a gun, was taken at a June law enforcement community demo at a mall near the Mexican border.
Spokesman Paul D. Carr says the target was a standard, nondescript human figure used at shooting ranges.
Pedro Rios, chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, says the demonstration was "unconscionable," especially because it involved a child and was close to areas where real people have been shot.
Federal grand jury indicts 3 in LA-area wildfire
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted three men on charges of causing a Los Angeles-area wildfire that burned five homes.
Clifford Henry Jr., Steven Aguirre and Jonathan Jarrell were charged Friday with six counts, including violating fire restrictions and causing timber and brush on national forest land to burn. They each could face 12 years in prison.
The indictment supersedes earlier federal charges. The three remain jailed and have not entered pleas. Officials didn't have information on the men's attorneys, and they could not be reached for comment.
Authorities say the men set a campfire in the Angeles National Forest on Jan. 16 during Santa Ana winds and extreme fire danger. The men said a gust blew burning paper into some brush, sparking a 3-square-mile blaze.
The fire forced thousands to evacuate the foothill communities of Glendora and Azusa.
STATE SENATOR-VOTER FRAUD
Convicted state lawmaker introduces crime bill
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A state senator convicted of eight felonies this week has introduced — and just as quickly withdrawn — a bill that would have allowed those in similar circumstances to have their crimes reduced to misdemeanors.
Democratic Sen. Roderick Wright apologized in a statement distributed by his office Friday after he was rebuked by a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
"Wrong senator, wrong time," says Steinberg spokesman Rhys Williams.
Wright faces more than eight years behind bars after a Los Angeles County jury found him guilty Tuesday of voter fraud and perjury.
On Thursday, he introduced SB929, which would allow those convicted of non-violent felonies to ask a judge to reduce the offenses to misdemeanors if their sentence does not include state prison and they are rehabilitated.
TOXIC SITE SETTLEMENT
$11M settlement reached over Rialto toxic site
(Information in the following story is from: The Press-Enterprise, http://www.pe.com)
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — Federal regulators have reached an $11 million settlement over toxic contamination at a former Southern California industrial site.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise says the deal was reached Friday in a lawsuit involving the EPA and the estate of a former fireworks manufacturer. The money will help pay for a massive cleanup of the site in Rialto, 50 miles east of Los Angeles, and to reimburse the agency for its work.
The 160-acre site was contaminated over the decades when it was used to make and store fireworks, rocket motors and munitions. It was declared a federal Superfund site in 2009 after perchlorate and other chemicals were found in local groundwater.
The EPA earlier reached $50 million worth of settlements with companies that used the site, including B.F. Goodrich.
PORN FILMS-CONDOM FINE
CA porn company fined $78K for workplace safety
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco porn company has been hit with a fine of nearly $80,000 for maintaining dangerous workplace conditions, among them allowing performers to have sex on camera without using condoms.
Kink.com spokesman Michael Stabile says many performers prefer not to use condoms and that the fine is part of a long-running campaign by those who oppose the porn industry.
The inspection was prompted by a formal complaint filed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a Los Angeles advocacy group, after two Kink performers — Cameron Bay and her then-boyfiend Rod Daily — tested HIV-positive last year.
Last September, California lawmakers voted down a bill that would have required that porn actors use condoms.
But CalOSHA rules already require companies to minimize employees' exposure to blood and other potentially infectious bodily fluids.
HOT SAUCE LAWSUIT
Irwindale spicing up suit against Sriracha plant
IRWINDALE, Calif. (AP) — A Los Angeles suburb is spicing up its lawsuit against a hot-sauce manufacturer it claims polluted the air with pungent smells.
Stephen Onstot, an attorney representing Irwindale, tells City News Service that the small industrial city east of Los Angeles will add a breach-of-contract claim to its existing nuisance suit against the Sriracha plant.
Onstot says the city will allege that owner Huy Fong Foods failed to comply with certain operating conditions, including not emitting foul odors.
Defense attorney John Tate told a judge Friday that he didn't object to the modification.
Irwindale sued the company in October after nearby residents alleged that plant odors were causing asthma and other health problems.
A judge has ordered the company to stop any operations that might be causing the odors.
Kanye West won't be charged after attack claim
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kanye West will not face criminal charges over an incident in which he apparently punched a man in a Beverly Hills chiropractor's office.
Los Angeles County prosecutors declined to file charges against the rapper because he had reached a civil settlement with the man and there were no significant injuries documented after the altercation.
A document rejecting a battery case says the 18-year-old man had used a racial slur in an argument with West's fiancee Kim Kardashian on Jan. 13.
West was not arrested, and his attorney Blair Berk declined to comment on the prosecutor's decision.
The prosecutor's charge evaluation sheet says there were conflicting witness accounts about how many times West punched the man, but it noted that he wasn't seriously injured.
Bieber's friend charged with drug possession
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors have charged Justin Bieber's friend Lil Za with two counts of drug possession after detectives found him with ecstasy and oxycodone in the singer's mansion earlier this month.
The would-be rapper was arrested on Jan. 14 when sheriff's detectives searched Bieber's mansion looking for evidence in an egg-tossing incident that caused thousands of dollars in damage to his neighbor's home.
Lil Za, whose real name is Xavier Domonique Smith, was the only person arrested during the search. Bieber remains under investigation for felony vandalism.
Smith was also charged with damaging or destroying a jailhouse phone. All three charges are felonies.
Jail records do not list an attorney for the 20-year-old.
Authorities initially said they arrested Smith on suspicion of cocaine possession, but they amended the charges after testing the drugs.
LAKERS RINGS STOLEN
Guard gets 180 days in jail for Lakers rings theft
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former security guard who stole Los Angeles Lakers championship rings from a training center has been sentenced to 180 days in jail.
Los Angeles County prosecutors say Mejia (Meh-HEE'-yuh) Monterroso pleaded no contest to grand theft Friday. He also will have to pay nearly $14,000 in restitution.
Monterroso was arrested in December.
Prosecutors say the 23-year-old was a guard at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo last year when he took three championship rings and hundreds of gift cards during a night shift.
Police say they found two of the rings at his Inglewood home.
All-Star Nowitzki leads Mavs past Kings 107-103
DALLAS (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki scored 34 points and the Dallas Mavericks held off Sacramento 107-103 Friday night, handing the Kings their sixth straight loss in another game without leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins.
A night after being named an All-Star for the 12th time, Nowitzki helped the Mavericks rally in the fourth quarter after they squandered a double-digit lead in the first half and fell behind by 14 in the third.
Brandan Wright had his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds, including a floater in the lane that put the Mavericks ahead for good at 96-94.
Rudy Gay scored 35 to lead the Kings, who have the worst record in the Western Conference (15-31) and were without Cousins for the fifth straight game because of a sprained left ankle.