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POSTED November 5, 2013 7:11 p.m.

SAN JOSE STATE FORCED TO CANCEL SPRING COURSES: SAN JOSE  (AP) — San Jose State University students may have a tough time getting into classes as budget problems force it to make deep cuts to programs.

Department heads learned late last week, days before spring registration was to begin, that they would need to slash programs immediately to keep budgets balanced.

Shirley Reekie, the head of the kinesiology department, says she was told Thursday at 4 p.m. that she would need to cut 20 classes by 5 p.m.

A university spokeswoman says she doesn't know how many classes or programs are being affected.

Dean Charles Bullock explained Monday in an e-mail that some faculty may lose part or all of their usual assignments or be asked to teach outside their primary area of expertise.

EFFORT TO CLONE MUIR'S GIANT SEQUOIA IS SUCCESSFUL : MARTINEZ . (AP) — Efforts to clone a 130-year-old giant sequoia planted by naturalist John Muir on his San Francisco Bay area property have been successful.

A Michigan tree-cloning organization collected cuttings from the tree earlier this year, and say roots have begun to grow.

The 75-foot tall tree is dying from two regional fungal diseases.

Keith Park, a horticulturist and preservationist at the John Muir Historic Site, said it is possible the new trees may become infected with the disease.

Still, he said the effort was an important part of keeping an historic link to Muir at the naturalist's former home in Martinez.

David Milarch of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, the group cloning the trees, says the clones are living links to Muir's life.

HYPODERMIC NEEDLES CLOSE SF BAY AREA ROAD: EL SOBRANTE  (AP) — Authorities are trying to determine the source of dozens of used hypodermic needles that were found on a San Francisco Bay Area roadway.

The California Highway Patrol says it received a call about the needles around 5 a.m. Tuesday. They were on a road in the city of El Sobrante.

The CHP estimated the number of needles at about 1,000, but Contra Costa County hazardous materials officials told the Contra Costa Times (http://bit.ly/19yoGFh) it was a little over 50.

The road was closed in both directions, as hazardous materials crews cleaned up the needles.

E-CIGARETTES INCLUDED IN UC SMOKING BAN: BERKELEY . (AP) — University of California officials are reminding students and faculty that the system wide smoking ban going into effect next year includes electronic cigarettes.

Josh Moskowitz, a member of the UC committee that wrote the smoking ban, tells the Oakland Tribune (http://bit.ly/1cJbFIs ) that questions about the long term health effects of e-cigarettes led officials to include them in the ban.

Backers claim electronic cigarettes, which heat a flavored liquid until it produces a vapor, but no smoke, are safer than traditional smokes.

The newspaper says about 10 percent of UC employees smoke cigarettes, and 8 percent of students smoke.

It's unclear how many on UC campuses use the new electronic cigarettes.

All 10 schools in the system will go tobacco-free by Jan. 2. The ban also includes smokeless tobacco, or chew.

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WOMAN IN FATAL HIT AND RUN APPEARS IN COURT: SAN MATEO . (AP) — A woman accused of driving drunk when she struck and killed a Bay Area couple in October has made her first court appearance after numerous postponements.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that the 54-year-old Marjorie Reitzell was arraigned Tuesday on felony charges including gross vehicular manslaughter. She did not enter a plea.

Prosecutors say Reitzell, a Redwood City resident, had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the limit when she struck Kamal Singh, 45, and Balbir Singh, 50, on Oct. 24 as the couple walked their dog.

The arraignment was postponed several times until jail medical staff could give her a medical clearance to appear. Outside of court Tuesday, her brother Ronald Reitzell said she has been battling pneumonia.

Marjorie Reitzell is being held on $2 million bail.

 

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