CALIFORNIA DROUGHT-GROUNDWATER REGULATION
Groundwater regulations headed to Gov. Jerry Brown
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California is on the verge of regulating groundwater for the first time under legislation headed to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The state Assembly on Friday approved AB1739 on a 44-27 vote. It is one of three bills overhauling the state's "pump-as-you-please" policy by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson of Sacramento and Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills, both Democrats.
The package would require some local governments to develop groundwater management plans and allows the state to intervene if necessary. Supporters say drought conditions have led to over-pumping and sinking land as water users turn to unregulated wells.
Republicans and Central Valley Democrats opposed the bills, saying they were rushed and will hurt farmers.
The Assembly sent two groundwater bills back to the Senate, where they are expected to be approved later Friday.
Feds critical of California twin tunnel project
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Federal officials say a pair of giant water diversion tunnels proposed for Northern California could violate the federal Clean Water Act and harm endangered fish.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week released its formal comment on the state's Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a $25 billion project aimed at stabilizing water supplies in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. The project has drawn criticism from Delta-area farmers and environmental groups.
The EPA's Jared Blumenfeld says the project could degrade the ecosystem that's home to the Delta smelt and supplies water to local farmers and communities.
Richard Stapler, of the state's Natural Resources Agency, says the agency is considering the EPA's concerns and others that have come up and has delayed a final decision on the project until next year because of them.
Bills to deter wrongful convictions go to governor
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Lawmakers have sent Gov. Jerry Brown two bills designed to thwart or reverse wrongful convictions.
SB980, which passed the Senate 32-3 Friday, changes the criteria for a judge to order DNA testing. It would require law enforcement agencies to tell defendants when they possess evidence that could be tested for DNA.
It also would let judges order DNA evidence to be run through the FBI's nationwide database to look for a match.
Defendants would not have to show initially that DNA testing will prove they are innocent. And judges would not have to decide that the DNA evidence would be enough to get the defendant released from prison.
The second bill, AB885, allows juries in criminal cases to consider whether prosecutors are intentionally withholding evidence. It passed the Assembly 45-17.
CALIFORNIA PRISONS-MENTAL HEALTH
California mentally ill inmates get special units
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - State corrections officials have agreed to shift mentally ill inmates into specialized housing units instead of placing them in isolation, a decision that marks a major shift in how the system deals with such prisoners.
The agreement filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento comes after a federal judge ruled in April that California's treatment of mentally ill inmates violates constitutional safeguards against cruel and unusual punishment.
He acted after the release of videotapes that showed guards pumping large amounts of pepper spray into the cells of mentally ill inmates.
The state will create separate short- and long-term housing units for mentally ill inmates who prison officials say must be kept in solitary confinement. The agreement also calls for them to get more treatment and more time outside.
Northern California wildfire grows overnight
HAPPY CAMP, Calif. (AP) - Fire officials battling a vast blaze in a forest in far Northern California say air crews should be able to get going earlier than they have over previous days.
Fire spokesman Jake Rodriguez says smoky skies have reduced visibility and prevented air drops on the blaze in the Klamath National Forest until late afternoon. But skies on Friday and the following few days are expected to be clear.
The lightning-sparked fire complex near the logging and gold mining town of Happy Camp has grown dramatically over the past several days, becoming a threat to about 250 rural homes. Some of the homes are under mandatory evacuation orders.
The two fires in the complex had burned through about 69 square miles as of Friday morning. One was 10 percent contained. There was zero containment on the other.
San Jose police getting rid of armored vehicle
(Information in the following story is from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com)
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - A San Francisco Bay Area police department is getting rid of an armored vehicle it received from a federal military surplus program, saying the vehicle could endanger trust with the community.
The move by police in San Jose follows criticism of the the use of armored vehicles by police responding to protesters angry about the shooting of a teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.
San Jose police spokeswoman Sgt. Heather Randol says the department was discussing giving up the mine-resistant, ambush-protected troop transport vehicle even before the scrutiny brought on by the unrest in Ferguson.
She tells the San Jose Mercury News while the vehicle is a useful tool, it could be viewed as militarizing the police.
Some police officials, however, defend the vehicles, saying they are intended to keep officers safe.
TEACHER'S TROUBLING TWEETS
California teacher reprimanded for sending tweets
NEWARK, Calif. (AP) - A teacher in Northern California has been disciplined for making threatening and explicit remarks about students on her Twitter account.
The Newark Unified School District gave a written reprimand to Newark High School teacher Krista Hodges, who tweeted between April and June that she wanted to stab and pour coffee on some of her students, according to the Oakland Tribune.
In one tweet she said some students "make my trigger finger itchy."
Interim Superintendent Tim Irwin says he consulted state education law, the Newark school board's policy and the teacher's union contract before disciplining Hodges.
Newark police are also investigating.
Hodges, who continues to teach at the school, says she deeply regrets sending the tweets and never expected anybody would take her seriously.
She has since deleted her account.
MARIJUANA RAID-WATER THEFT
California marijuana grow stole reservation water
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Authorities have torn out an illegal marijuana operation in Central California that they say was siphoning water from streams that supply an American Indian tribe.
Lt. Patrick Foy of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday the growers created seven reservoirs - some capable of storing 5,000 gallons - that relied on water from the Tule River Tribe. The tribe's reservation is in the Sierra Nevada foothills 70 miles northeast of Bakersfield.
No arrests were made in the five-day operation, but Foy says officials cleared out nearly 14,000 plants, 10 miles of plastic irrigation pipes and 12,000 pounds of trash, including propane tanks and car batteries.
Members of the tribe had discovered the illegal grow and reported it to state officials.
Giant millipedes caught at San Francisco airport
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Authorities say they captured nearly two-dozen live giant millipedes inside a fake toy box at San Francisco International Airport.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced Friday that officers made the discovery recently while inspecting a large box mailed from Germany. The box was marked, "Toy Car Model," but an X-ray showed there was no toy inside the box.
Officers instead found 20 millipedes, each a about a foot long, wrapped in a mesh bag inside a Styrofoam box along with some dirt and paper.
Customs officials say the millipedes have been turned over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture because the sender did not have the proper permits. It was not clear what they were intended for.
Court won't restore Oracle's $1.3B verdict vs. SAP
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court is refusing Oracle Corp.'s request to reinstate a $1.3 billion verdict it won against German rival SAP SE in a long-running copyright dispute.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Friday that the jury's award was excessive. A trial judge in 2011 reached the same conclusion and slashed the verdict from $1.3 billion to $272 million.
The appeals court gave Oracle a choice between an award of $356.7 million or a new trial. An Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment.
The legal battle revolves around SAP's $10 million acquisition of the small software services firm TomorrowNow, which helped service Oracle applications.
Oracle uncovered evidence that TomorrowNow was breaking into Oracle's computers to steal instruction manuals and other technical information about software Oracle had copyrighted.
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