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POSTED February 24, 2012 8:13 p.m.

TOM CRUISE, ANGELINA JOLIE REHEARSE FOR OSCAR SHOW: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie lit up the Hollywood & Highland Center with their star power when they came to rehearse for Sunday's Oscar show.

The megastars each practiced walking on stage and presenting their categories Friday, handing out prop Oscars to stand-ins pretending to be winners.

Jolie said she was jetlagged after traveling with her family from Sarajevo to Berlin to Paris to Los Angeles, but she still looked stunning in black jeans, heels and a blazer.

"You just blew the minds of two of our stand-ins who got a hug from you," stage manager Dency Nelson told the actress, who replied through a shy smile, saying, "Oh, you're so sweet."

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY MAN DIES AFTER FALLING OFF CLIFF: FELTON  (AP) — Authorities say an elderly man died after falling about 250 feet off a steep cliff in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Felton Fire Chief Ron Rickabaugh says the man was working with a gardener to clear brush Thursday on his property, which sits about 300 feet above the San Lorenzo River.

The victim's identity was not released, but he was believed to be in his 80s.

Rickabaugh says the gardener suddenly couldn't find the homeowner and soon discovered that he had fallen over the heavily wooded cliff.

Officials say the victim landed about 50 feet short of the riverbed after being stopped by a tree.

SENATE MAP REFERENDUM QUALIFIES FOR NOVEMBER VOTE: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — A Republican-backed referendum challenging the new state Senate districts has qualified for the November ballot.

The Secretary of State's office announced Friday that supporters had gathered the 504,760 valid signatures needed to qualify. Supporters had turned in petitions with 711,000 voter signatures.

Last month the California Supreme Court upheld the political map, which was drawn by the state's independent redistricting commission. The justices concluded that the commission's maps were the most appropriate.

Concerned that the new boundaries could diminish their political clout, Republicans challenged the boundaries. They argued that the citizens commission improperly used race as a factor in creating voting districts.

Jeanne Raya, the chairwoman of the commission, says it drew maps in an "open, transparent and nonpartisan" process. Newly drawn state Assembly districts were not challenged.

ANIMAL WELFARE GROUP RESCUES CALIF. STARVING HENS: TURLOCK  (AP) — Animal welfare advocates are working to rescue about 2,000 neglected hens after an estimated 50,000 were discovered this week dead or starving on a chicken ranch in Central California.

Workers with the nonprofit group called Farm Sanctuary were granted access Thursday and Friday to the surviving birds by the Stanislaus Animal Services agency.

The group plans to host the rescued birds at their 300-acre farm sanctuary near Orland, then place them through its rescue and adoption network.

The starving hens were found on a farm near Turlock that was rented by A&L Poultry.

Authorities say the hens had not been fed in more than two weeks. About one-third died of starvation, while thousands were in such poor condition they had to be euthanized.

Officials said the owner Andy Keung Cheung is potentially facing animal neglect charges.

MAN GETS 3 YEARS FOR ASSAULTING CHILD IN RESTROOM: SAN FERNANDO  (AP) — A Southern California man has been sentenced to three years in prison for sexually assaulting a child in a mall restroom.

Los Angeles County prosecutors say 26-year-old Casey Crockett pleaded no contest on Thursday to one count of lewd act upon a child under the age of 14.

A San Fernando judge immediately sentenced the Santa Clarita man to prison and ordered him to register as a sex offender for life.

Investigators say Crocket molested the child in a public restroom stall on Oct. 17 at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.

EX-SCHOOL AIDE GETS JAIL FOR NUDE PHOTOS TO KIDS: SANTA ANA  (AP) — A former afterschool program aide has been sentenced to jail for sending nude photographs of himself to three boys and attempting to meet one of them for sex.

Orange County prosecutors say 21-year-old Miguel Antonio Mendoza was a part-time aide of Villa Park Elementary School.

Investigators say Mendoza met the 11-, 15- and 17-year-old boys through an Internet cellphone application.

He sent the boys nude photos of himself and told them to send naked photos in return.

He also tried to meet the 11-year-old in Fountain Valley for sex, but the boy's mother saw the text messages and called police.

CARJACKER KILLED IN BARRAGE OF LA POLICE GUNFIRE: LOS ANGELES (AP) — An hour-long chase of an armed carjacker in Los Angeles ended with a barrage police gunfire that peppered the stolen car with bullets and killed the suspect just a few feet from a motorist pumping gas at a Koreatown gas station, investigators said Friday.

The dramatic conclusion of Thursday evening's pursuit was broadcast live from a news helicopter, and Los Angeles TV stations on Friday repeatedly replayed the video, which showed officers firing on the Saturn, blowing out the car windows and killing the man in the Shell gas station.

A man pumping gas ducked for cover during the fusillade.

Investigators haven't said how many officers fired or how many times they fired their weapons at the Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue gas station, Officer Lyle Knight said. The video appears to show up to two dozen bullets were fired at the car.

CREWS MAKE PROGRESS AGAINST NAPA WILDFIRE: NAPA  (AP) — Fire crews aided by calmer winds have beat back a wildfire that is no longer threatening homes in a rural area of Napa County.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant says the fire grew very little overnight, but officials increased their estimate of its size based on more accurate GPS mapping. He says the blaze has burned about 200 acres.

Crews on Friday are building more fire lines to halt the spread of the blaze, which is 50 percent contained.

The fire is burning in a canyon area outside the city of Napa. It began around 12:30 p.m. Thursday and spread with the help of gusty winds.

Berlant says investigators are looking into a report that it was sparked by a resident burning landscape debris.

SF  TERMINAL BOMB SCARE BLAMED ON OXYGEN TANKS: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Oxygen tanks in an elderly woman's bag caused a bomb scare Friday that led to a partial shutdown of a San Francisco International Airport terminal and delayed several flights, airport officials said.

Security screeners saw two metal cylinders with wires attached during an X-ray scan of the woman's bag, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said. When questioned, the woman said she did not know what the items were.

"She said, 'I don't know what's in there because I didn't pack the bag,'" McCarron said. "That's a big red flag."

The security checkpoint for Delta Airlines flights in Terminal One was closed off around 11:30 a.m., and a bomb squad was called to the scene. The checkpoint was reopened two hours later when it was determined the tanks posed no danger.

The woman was allowed to continue on her travels, McCarron said.

 

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