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POSTED February 3, 2012 8:31 p.m.

ARMSTRONG 'GRATIFIED' BY NO CHARGES IN DOPING CASE: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal prosecutors dropped their investigation of Lance Armstrong on Friday, ending a nearly two-year effort aimed at determining whether the seven-time Tour de France winner and his teammates participated in a doping program.

Armstrong has steadfastly denied he doped during his unparalleled career, but the possibility of criminal charges threatened to stain his legacy as the world's greatest cyclist and could have cast a shadow over his cancer charity work.

"I am gratified to learn that the U.S. Attorney's Office is closing its investigation," Armstrong said in a statement. "It is the right decision and I commend them for reaching it. I look forward to continuing my life as a father, a competitor, and an advocate in the fight against cancer without this distraction."

The probe, anchored in Los Angeles where a grand jury was presented evidence by federal prosecutors and heard testimony from Armstrong's former teammates and associates, began with a separate investigation of Rock Racing, a cycling team owned by fashion entrepreneur Michael Ball.

U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. announced in a press release that his office "is closing an investigation into allegations of federal criminal conduct by members and associates of a professional bicycle racing team owned in part by Lance Armstrong."

CLOSE LOOK AT LEAK DAYS AWAY AT CAL NUKE PLANT: LOS ANGELES (AP) — It will take until the middle of next week before inspectors get a close look at a tube leak that prompted operators to shut down a nuclear plant on the California coast, officials said Friday.

Southern California Edison took the San Onofre Unit 3 nuclear plant off-line Tuesday as a precaution, after detecting the leak in a tube that carries radioactive water in a steam generator. A tiny amount of radiation could have escaped into the atmosphere, but officials say no one was endangered.

The tube in the plant located 45 miles north of San Diego is relatively new, and it's not yet clear whether the leak could be related to unusual, premature wear found on hundreds of similar tubes in Unit 2, its twin plant that was shut down earlier this year for routine maintenance.

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, more than a third of the wall had been worn away in two tubes at Unit 2, which will require them to be plugged and taken out of service. At least 20 percent of the tube wall was worn away in 69 other tubes, and in more than 800, the thinning was at least 10 percent. The inspection is continuing.

The temperature inside Unit 3 was 105 degrees on Friday, and company spokeswoman Jennifer Manfre said more time was needed for the plant to cool to make it safe for workers and equipment.

NAMASTE, TRAVELERS! SFO OPENS AIRPORT YOGA ROOM : SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stressed out by flying?

Travelers in Northern California can now find their inner calm in the Yoga Room at San Francisco International Airport.

The quiet, dimly lit studio officially opened last week in a former storage room just past the security checkpoint at SFO's Terminal 2.

Airport officials believe the 150-square-foot room with mirrored walls is the world's first airport yoga studio, said spokesman Mike McCarron.

The room, open to all ticketed passengers, contains a few chairs and yoga mats but no instructors or televisions. No shoes, food, drinks or cell phones are allowed.

A prominent blue-and-white sign with a Buddha-like pictogram beckons visitors: "Come check out our Yoga Room."

JUDGE DENIES MIRKARIMI REQUEST FOR VISITATION: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A judge on Friday denied embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's emergency order granting visitation to see his toddler son.

Mirkarimi said afterward that he was "crushed" by the decision of Judge Ronald Albers in Family Court. However, the judge did grant a request expediting a hearing on the matter as Mirkarimi is due back in court on Wednesday.

"I terribly miss my family and my son. The process is what we expected," Mirkarimi said. "We'll keep fighting. I look forward to next week."

Mirkarimi, 50, is not allowed to see his wife, Eliana Lopez, and their 2-year-old son, Theo, after being charged with misdemeanor domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after an alleged domestic violence incident on New Year's Eve.

Lopez, 36, repeatedly has said her husband did not abuse her.

Despite the judge's ruling on the emergency order was expected as judges rarely grant such requests without extreme circumstances, an emotional Mirkarimi was optimistic that he would be able to see his son this weekend.

MEL GIBSON MAY BE WITNESS IN DISCRIMINATION TRIAL: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Attorneys for a deputy who arrested Mel Gibson on suspicion of drunken driving want to call the Oscar-winner as a witness during an upcoming trial to determine if the officer suffered discrimination because of the case.

The trial will focus on what happened to Deputy James Mee after he arrested the actor-director in 2006, and whether he endured discrimination because he is Jewish.

Mee's attorneys are hoping to show the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department moved to protect Gibson because the star had a close relationship with the department before his arrest.

Attorneys for the county have denied Mee faced discrimination or retaliation.

The case is likely to focus heavily on Gibson's arrest, when the actor made anti-Semitic comments that Mee claims his superiors forced him to remove from a report.

6 WOMEN CRITICALLY HURT WHEN CAR HITS TREE : LOS ANGELES (AP) — Six women are hospitalized in critical condition after their car slammed into a tree in South Los Angeles, ejecting five of them and leaving another trapped in the wreckage.

Investigators say alcohol may be a factor in the 2:47 a.m. Friday crash on Florence Avenue. No other vehicles were involved.

Police Sgt. Norma Vargas says an open container of alcohol was found in the car.

Five  women in the car were thrown from the vehicle and firefighters had to pry a front seat passenger from the demolished car.

Spence says all the women were taken to hospitals in critical condition.

GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL THAT ALLOWS INTERNAL BORROWING: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that will help the state avoid cash-flow problems this spring by allowing it to borrow from existing government funds.

The governor on Friday announced he had signed SB95, which was passed this week by the Legislature. The cash-management bill ensures that the state has enough money to operate until the bulk of its tax revenue arrives in the spring.

It allows Controller John Chiang to borrow $865 million from various internal accounts. He says tax revenue for the current fiscal year is $2.6 billion lower than projected.

Chiang has said he does not anticipate having to issue IOUs or delay tax refunds.

 

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