NAVY BRIBERY SCHEME
4th US Navy official charged in bribery scheme
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Prosecutors say a fourth member of the U.S. Navy has been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in a multimillion-dollar scheme involving a Singapore-based defense contractor accused of giving cash, vacations and the services of prostitutes in exchange for information.
The U.S. attorney's office says Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug made his initial court appearance Thursday, a day after special agents arrested him in San Diego. A judge ordered him held on $100,000 bond and subject to GPS monitoring. He hasn't entered a plea, and messages seeking attorney comment were not immediately returned.
Prosecutors allege the 27-year-old Layug, a Japan-based logistics specialist, revealed classified Navy information in exchange for cash, luxury travel and electronics from employees of the military contracting company at the center of the alleged scheme.
California health care sign-ups exceed projections
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A late surge of sign-ups pushed California's health insurance exchange nearly 100,000 enrollees beyond the original projections of the Obama administration.
The agency that runs the marketplace said Thursday that nearly 1.4 million Californians selected a policy through the exchange by Tuesday's end of open enrollment. Last fall, the Obama administration had anticipated that 1.3 million Californians would sign up.
Among the questions going forward are whether the newly purchased insurance policies will meet consumers' expectations and whether the mix of enrollees will be sufficient to satisfy insurance companies that are participating in the exchange.
An additional 1.9 million people gained coverage through Medi-Cal, California's version of Medicaid. The state opted to accept the expansion of the low-income health insurance program that was offered under the federal health reform law.
Condition upgraded for victim of firetruck crash
MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (AP) - Authorities have upgraded the condition of a man who was critically injured in a Los Angeles-area crash involving two firetrucks.
The trucks were heading to a fire Wednesday in Monterey Park when they collided, pushing one into a cafe and injuring 15 people - including six firefighters.
On Thursday, officials say only two people remain hospitalized - a Monterey Park firefighter in moderate condition and a civilian whose condition was upgraded from critical to critical but stable.
California Highway Patrol Officer Doris Peniche tells the San Gabriel Valley Tribune (http://bit.ly/1gNpMko ) that the civilian is a 51-year-old man with head and leg injuries.
The trucks had their lights and sirens on when they collided at an intersection, but only one had a green light.
LEGISLATIVE BROTHERS-CAMPAIGN FINES
Campaign agency considers fines for 2 GOP brothers
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California's political watchdog agency is considering whether to fine two brothers for transferring money between their campaigns while both were running for state Assembly in 2008.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission took the case under review Thursday after hearing arguments.
It now has a month to decide whether to accept an administrative law judge's recommendation that Sen. Tom Berryhill of Twain Harte and his brother, former Assemblyman Bill Berryhill of Ceres, be fined for transferring $40,000 between their legislative campaigns.
The brothers, both Republicans, deny violating campaign finance rules.
The administrative law judge recommended a fine of up to $35,000 for Tom Berryhill and his campaign committee and up to $10,000 for Bill Berryhill and his committee.
Commissioners can accept, reject or modify the recommendation.
IMMIGRATION SUIT-DETENTION HEARINGS
ACLU files suit on timeliness of asylum interview
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Immigration advocates are filing suit against the federal government, saying immigration officials are violating their own rules by failing to provide a speedy hearing to some immigrants who face deportation.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco by two California affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigrant Justice Center.
The groups say the Administrative Procedure Act requires that people who face removal orders and who have been previously deported should be granted a speedy interview to decide if they have a reasonable fear that they would be persecuted in their home country.
The plaintiffs allege that some immigrants have spent months in detention awaiting interviews and later, asylum hearings.
The Department of Homeland Security didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services didn't provide comment.
Salmon released in California river restoration
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Tens of thousands of spring-run Chinook salmon are being released into the San Joaquin River, marking a major milestone in the federal plan to restore native fish populations to the state's second-longest river.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 54,000 hatchery-produced salmon into the river from a site near Fresno on Thursday. Though environmentalists are celebrating the release, federal water managers say the state's drought means not all of the fish will return to spawn.
The San Joaquin River carried the continent's southernmost Chinook salmon run until the Friant Dam was built in 1942 above Fresno to capture its water for crops.
The restoration effort is the result of a 2006 legal settlement that ended a decades-long legal tussle between farmers, environmentalists and the federal government.
CALIFORNIA BUS CRASH
911 calls capture chaos after truck-on-bus crash
ORLAND, Calif. (AP) - Frantic calls to police from the scene of last week's deadly crash between a tractor-trailer and tour bus carrying students included one from a dazed student who struggled to put into words what just had happened.
The call was included on 911 recordings release Thursday by the California Highway Patrol as it investigates the cause of the crash that left 10 people dead.
In the call from the student on the bus, shrieks can be heard as the person tries to recount how a Fed-Ex truck barreled across the median of Interstate 5 and hit the bus head on about 100 miles north of Sacramento.
The student manages to escaped the fiery wreck, and the dispatcher says everyone should get as far away from the vehicle as possible.
The bus was carrying 44 Southern California high school students to Humboldt State University on April 10.
Five students died, as did three adult chaperones and the drivers of the truck and chartered bus.
LA AIRPORT A380 ACCIDENT
Korean Air A380 hits 2 light poles at LA airport
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Korean Air A380 superjumbo jet hit two light poles while taxiing to its gate at a remote end of Los Angeles International Airport with hundreds of passengers aboard.
Airline spokeswoman Penny Pfaelzer says the flight arrived from Seoul Wednesday afternoon with 384 people aboard. She says an airport operations vehicle guided the jet onto a taxiway that wasn't wide enough.
The plane's right wing was found to be scratched but no one was injured. Two 30-foot light poles were bent in the incident.
The A380 is the world's largest commercial airliner, carrying passengers in a double-deck configuration. It has a wingspan of nearly 262 feet.
A Boeing 747 replaced the A380 for a flight to Seoul that was scheduled for late Wednesday night. The flight was delayed 11 hours.
IRAQI WOMAN BEATEN
Jury convicts husband in Iraqi woman's death
EL CAJON, Calif. (AP) - A jury has convicted an Iraqi immigrant of bludgeoning his wife to death in their suburban San Diego home, a case that was initially considered a hate crime.
Kassim Alhimidi shook his head as the verdict was read Thursday. He was charged with murdering his 32-year-old wife, Shaima Alawadi, in El Cajon (kuh-HOHN'), home to one of the largest enclaves of Iraqi immigrants in the U.S.
Prosecutors argued that the 49-year-old defendant lied to police about his troubled marriage and apologized to his wife as she lay dying in a hospital. Defense lawyers said Alhimidi loved his wife.
Investigators initially considered the March 2012 killing a hate crime after a note was found near the body that read: "This is my country, go back to yours, you terrorist."
Firework injures fans during Dodgers-Giants game
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Police say several people suffered minor injuries when a fan threw a firework onto a walkway at the San Francisco Giants ballpark during a Dodgers-Giants game.
A loud bang was heard around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, with smoke visible above right-center field.
Witnesses reported seeing a man in a Giants hat in the outfield bleachers throw a large firecracker into a group of people near a concession stand. At least five people reported injuries, including dizziness and temporary loss of hearing.
Police spokesman Gordon Shyy says 21-year-old Paolo Pavone was arrested and booked on suspicion of willfully discharging and possessing an explosive, and discharging a firework in a public place.
The Giants beat the Dodgers 2-1.
Military shell prompted evacuation of hundreds
SOLVANG, Calif. (AP) - California authorities say the military ordnance that prompted the evacuation of hundreds of people in the tourist town of Solvang was a used shell but it still was potentially dangerous.
Between 500 and 700 homes and businesses were evacuated Wednesday after the 105 mm shell was discovered amid trash in an alley.
Santa Barbara County sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover says the 18-inch-long shell had been fired but still had its fuse, making it potentially unstable. She says it could have caused widespread damage if it had exploded.
The evacuation ended early Thursday after bomb squads took the shell away and blew it up.
Hoover says it's unclear where the shell came from.
Solvang is a city of about 5,000 known for Danish themes that reflect its founders.
NATIONAL PARKS-FISH MERCURY
Mercury found in remote national park streams
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Federal scientists have found high amounts of mercury in fish caught in remote areas of national parks in the West and Alaska.
The finding is included in a recently published study by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service. Researchers say the vast majority of the 1,400 fish caught as part of the study had acceptable levels of mercury.
But quantities in 4 percent of the fish gave them cause for alarm. Health officials say exposure to high levels of mercury can damage the brain, kidneys and a developing fetus.
The study sampled fish from 21 national parks in 10 Western states, including Yosemite National Park in California and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
The park service is coordinating with state officials on potential fish-consumption advisories.
California rail line fined for worker deaths
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Workplace safety officials fined a San Francisco Bay Area commuter rail line $210,000 on Thursday over the deaths of two of its workers on tracks.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency workers - Christopher Sheppard, 58, and Laurence Daniels, 66 - were not qualified to do the track inspection work they were performing, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health said.
Cal OSHA also found a trainee was at the controls of the train that struck the men, and a procedure in effect to keep the workers safe was inadequate.
BART said Sheppard and Daniels were working under a practice that made them solely responsible for their safety. The agency later changed those rules, requiring trains to slow down, stop or change course as they approach track workers.
FATAL SAILBOAT CRASH
1 dead, 1 injured in Redwood City boating accident
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) - The head of a yacht club says the deadly crash of a sailboat into a channel marker buoy in the San Francisco Bay was a tragic accident.
Sequoia Yacht Club Commodore Winston Bumpus said Thursday that the 42-foot Catalina sailboat "Bella," was among 30 boats participating in a noncompetitive race in Redwood City sponsored by his club.
The San Mateo County Coroner's office has identified the victim of Wednesday's crash as 39-year-old Yong Sun of Burlingame. Bumpus says Sun and another man who was seriously injured were guests of the sailboat's owner, who is a yacht club member.
Redwood City Police Lt. Sean Hart says it does not appear that alcohol was a factor in the accident as the sailboat owner passed a sobriety test.
Hart says investigators will be looking into what caused the accident.
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