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POSTED May 14, 2012 1:07 a.m.

• CALIFORNIA FACING HIGHER $16 BILLION SHORTFALL: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — California’s budget deficit has swelled to a projected $16 billion — much larger than had been predicted just months ago — and will force severe cuts to schools and public safety if voters fail to approve tax increases in November, Gov. Jerry Brown said Saturday.

The Democratic governor said the shortfall grew from $9.2 billion in January in part because tax collections have not come in as high as expected and the economy isn’t growing as fast as hoped for. The deficit has also risen because lawsuits and federal requirements have blocked billions of dollars in state cuts.

“This means we will have to go much farther and make cuts far greater than I asked for at the beginning of the year,” Brown said in an online video. “But we can’t fill this hole with cuts alone without doing severe damage to our schools. That’s why I’m bypassing the gridlock and asking you, the people of California, to approve a plan that avoids cuts to schools and public safety.”



• CHP SAYS 30,000 TICKETED FOR USING CELL PHONES: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California Highway Patrol officials say about 30,000 people across the state are facing fines after being ticketed for using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving.

CHP spokeswoman Sgt. Diana McDermott says the tickets were issued in April as part of a campaign enforcing the state’s so-called distracted driving laws.

Of the tickets issued last month, about 5,900 were handed out to San Francisco Bay area drivers.

Officials want to remind drivers that it is illegal in California to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle, unless the phone is being used in hands-free mode, or during an emergency.

Texting or reading a message on a cell phone or using an electronic device to communicate while driving is also prohibited.



• NO DAMAGE AFTER 2 QUAKES RATTLE SONOMA COUNTY
: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — No damage has been reported after two earthquakes rattled a remote area of Northern California.

The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 3.9 quake hit at 5:38 a.m. Sunday about 24 miles north of Santa Rosa, or about 80 miles north of San Francisco

USGS geophysicist Don Blakeman says a second quake with a preliminary magnitude of 2.8 hit at 8:24 a.m. in the same area. Blakeman says the second earthquake was likely an aftershock to the first quake.

The area where the earthquakes hit is near the Geysers geothermal development, a region that experiences frequent seismic activity.



• UC BERKELEY OFFICIALS SAY PROTESTERS REMAIN ON LOT:
ALBANY (AP) — Officials at the University of California, Berkeley appear to be losing their patience with protesters who remain on a patch of land owned by the university.

University spokesman Dan Mogulof says about 20 to 30 people were at the 10-acre site in Albany Sunday afternoon, while some of the protesters had stayed overnight on the property.

Protesters said Saturday that they were removing their equipment from the agricultural research lot, but Mogoluf says some equipment remained on the property.

With the planting of crops by researchers set to begin this week, Moguluf warned that university officials were “going to do what needs to be done” so that faculty would have access to the site.



• 2 UNLV RESEARCHERS DISCOVER NEW SCORPION SPECIES
: DEATH VALLEY (AP) — Two University of Nevada, Las Vegas researchers have discovered and documented a new scorpion species.

Michael Webber and Matt Graham wrote about the discovery made in Death Valley National Park in the scientific journal ZooKeys in March.

The species, Wernerius inyoenis, is tiny and measures only about two-thirds of an inch. It was named after Death Valley’s Inyo Mountains, where it was found.

Graham and Webber are doctoral students in biology who specialize in scorpions.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Graham found the scorpion near the bottom of a pile of rocks in 2009 while part of a team working for the National Park Service.

The duo determined it was a new species after conducting DNA tests and searching academic journals.

There are nearly 2,000 known different species of scorpions.



• POPULAR TAHOE BIKE TRAIL CLOSED FOR REPAIR WORK
: SOUTH LAKE TAHOE  (AP) — One of Lake Tahoe’s most popular bicycle trails will be closed for up to a month because of maintenance and repair work.

The U.S. Forest Service will close portions of the 3.2-mile Pope-Baldwin Bike Path on Tahoe’s south shore beginning this week.

Crews will repair cracks, holes and bumps in the paved surface in an effort to improve safety and accessibility.

According to the Forest Service, the bike trail averages around 1,600 users per day.



• NO EXPLOSIVES IN GRENADE FOUND IN  BOTANIC PARK
: PALOS VERDES ESTATES . (AP) — Authorities say a grenade forced the shutdown of a park of public botanical gardens in Southern California, but the device turned out to be inert, and no one was hurt.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Danny Coon said in a statement Sunday that the grenade was discovered along a trail at South Coast Botanic Gardens in Palos Verdes Estates. The park was closed for more than an hour while a sheriff’s bomb squad examined the device.

Coon says it turned out to be an actual grenade casing, but it contained no explosives.

Investigators suspect that the device may have been left behind by a production company that recently filmed a movie in the gardens.



• FBI AGENT MISSING, POSSIBLY ARMED, SUICIDAL: BURBANK  (AP) — Law enforcement officers in Southern California searched in rugged mountain terrain for a second day on Sunday for a missing FBI agent who was said to be despondent and possibly suicidal.

About 100 FBI agents, 40 sheriff’s department rescuers and a dozen local police officers participated in the search for Los Angeles-based Special Agent Stephen Ivens. He was described as an avid hiker and runner.

FBI Special Agent Steve Gomez said dogs had tracked Ivens’ scent toward the Verdugo Mountains, east of Burbank, but searchers have fanned out throughout Los Angeles County.

Ivens, 35, was last seen by family members Thursday evening, authorities said. He left his Burbank home the next morning on foot and had not been seen since, FBI officials said at a news conference. His wife reported him missing Friday at 7:30 a.m.

Ivens was distraught and authorities fear he may have harmed himself, according to KABC-TV. Officials did not say why Ivens was distraught.

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