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This Hour: Latest Northern California news, sports, business and entertainment

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CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

Northern California wildfire forces evacuations

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. (AP) - A lightning-sparked wildfire in a Northern California forest has forced the evacuation of 200 to 250 scattered rural homes and other buildings.

Fire spokesman Ken Sandusky says mandatory evacuations were ordered Wednesday night because of concerns that the fire could quickly cover the 10 miles separating it from the community of Scott River Valley.

Officials say the blaze in the Klamath National Forest continues to grow Thursday, pushed by westerly winds sending embers far ahead of the main blaze.

The fire has grown to about 50 square miles and is 20 percent contained since starting two weeks ago.

An evacuation center has been set up in Yreka.

CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT-CUELLAR

California Supreme Court pick confirmed

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Gov. Jerry Brown's nominee to the California Supreme Court has been confirmed.

The three-member Commission on Judicial Appointments on Thursday unanimously confirmed Stanford University law professor Mariano-Florentino "Tino" Cuellar (KWAY'-ahr) to the state's highest court. The Mexican-born legal scholar and registered Democrat will be the court's only Latino.

The 41-year-old Cuellar will fill a vacancy created by the retirement in January of conservative Justice Marvin Baxter. His name will also be placed on the November ballot, so voters can decide whether to keep him on for a 12-year term.

Cuellar faced no opposition. After three witnesses testified in support of him, the commission voted on his confirmation with no debate.

COLLEGE SEX-DEFINING CONSENT

California Legislature passes 'yes means yes' bill

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - State lawmakers have passed a bill that would make California the first state to define when "yes means yes" while investigating sexual assaults on college campuses.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill on Thursday as states and universities across the U.S. are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations. The bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles says his bill would begin a paradigm shift in how California campuses prevent and investigate sexual assault.

Rather than using the refrain "no means no," the definition of consent under the bill requires "an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision" by each party to engage in sexual activity.

It applies to all colleges and universities accepting state financial aid.

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE

Teen's death leads to safeguards for some air guns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Last year's fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy carrying a replica weapon has prompted state lawmakers to approve a bill requiring bright markings on certain air guns.

Democratic Sen. Noreen Evans of Santa Rosa said Thursday that she believes Andy Lopez would still be alive if the bill had been law. The Santa Rosa boy was killed when a sheriff's deputy mistook his airsoft BB gun for a real AK-47.

The bill would apply to guns that fire pellets or BBs that are six millimeters or eight millimeters. They would have to have brightly colored surfaces or prominent fluorescent strips.

Several Republicans say criminals could simply paint real guns to confuse police.

The bill passed the Senate 22-12 Thursday and goes to Gov. Jerry Brown.

CALIFORNIA-SECESSION

2 California counties ask to form separate state

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Representatives of two counties in far Northern California are petitioning state lawmakers for the right to form a 51st state called Jefferson.

Modoc and Siskiyou counties have a combined population of about 53,000. They submitted petitions from their county governments to the secretaries of the state Assembly and Senate on Thursday.

They also filed a petition with the secretary of state complaining about a lack of representation.

Supporters rallied outside the Capitol in green shirts with the movement's logo: two X's and a coiled snake. Their petitions say "California is too large to govern" and should be split into two or more states.

They say the U.S. Constitution allows a region to petition the government for secession. If lawmakers ignore the petition, Jefferson proponents say it will give them standing to sue.

DRILLING-FEDERAL LANDS

Feds to resume leasing for fracking in California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Bureau of Land Management says it will resume oil and gas leasing for fracking on federal land in California next year.

The decision - announced on Thursday - comes after a new study commissioned by the BLM concluded that fracking as it's currently conducted in California isn't poisoning air or water or increasing the risks of earthquakes in the state.

The BLM stopped granting new oil and gas leases in California last year. A federal judge had found that the BLM failed to follow the law in approving fracking on public land in Monterey County.

The study commissioned by the BLM was conducted by the California Council for Science and Technology. The researchers acknowledged that the study was based on limited data.

CLINTON-POLICE SHOOTING

Clinton says frayed trust led to Ferguson violence

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Hillary Rodham Clinton says the fatal shooting of an unarmed Missouri teenager and the violent protests that followed resulted from frayed bonds of trust in his racially divided community.

Thursday's remarks in San Francisco were the former secretary of state's first comments about Michael Brown's Aug. 9 death in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

As a potential Democratic presidential candidate, Clinton has been criticized for waiting so long to talk about the black teen's shooting by a white police officer.

In a speech to a technology group, Clinton criticized the shooting and the numerous tense confrontations between protesters and heavily armed police.

She says U.S. streets shouldn't look like war zones.

BOY ASSAULTED-MOM ARRESTED

Mom won't be charged in school confrontation

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) - Prosecutors say they will not file charges against a Northern California mother accused of grabbing the throat of a 12-year-old boy she suspected of bullying her daughter.

The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office announced the decision on Thursday, saying there were conflicting witness statements, and that prosecutors could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 30-year-old Delia Garcia-Bratcher attacked the boy.

Garcia-Bratcher was arrested on suspicion of child abuse in the May confrontation at a Santa Rosa, California elementary school.

Investigators say two students told police they saw Garcia-Bratcher grab the boy by the throat.

Garcia-Bratcher's attorney, Ben Adams, has said his client did not touch the boy.

GOOGLE-DRONES

Google building fleet of package-delivering drones

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Google's secretive research laboratory is trying to build a fleet of drones designed to bypass earthbound traffic so packages can be delivered to people more quickly.

The ambitious program announced Thursday escalates Google's technological arms race with rival Amazon.com, which also is experimenting with self-flying vehicles to carry merchandise bought by customers of its online store.

Google Inc. has dubbed its effort "Project Wing." Although Google expects it to take several more years before its fleet of drones is fully operational, the company says test flights in Australia recently delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water to two farmers.

Project Wing is the latest venture to emerge from Google's "X'' lab, which also been working on self-driving cars and several other innovations.

PAPARAZZI DRONES

Bill would crack down on paparazzi drones

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown would crack down on paparazzi deploying drones as they chase celebrities.

The state Assembly passed the bill Thursday on a 72-0 vote.

The legislation by Democratic Assemblyman Ed Chau of Monterey Park would make drone operators liable for invasion of privacy when they photograph and record celebrities in their backyards and homes. The issue was highlighted recently when pop star Miley Cyrus posted a video of a drone hovering over her home.

A bill analysis says existing rules might not consider drones visual or sound-enhancing devices that violate privacy laws.

A similar bill introduced last year failed.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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