OBAMA SIGNS BILL CREATING PINNACLES NATIONAL PARK: HOLLISTER. (AP) — Pinnacles National Monument, a 40 square-mile site that includes caves and towering volcanic rock formations popular with climbers, became the country's 59th national park on Thursday.
President Barack Obama signed the bill creating the park.
The new park holds cultural significance for several Native American tribes and is also home to the endangered California condor.
A condor re-establishment program has been in place at Pinnacles since 2003. Every fall, captive-bred condors are released into the wild.
In 2010, for the first time in more than a century, a condor chick successfully hatched there. The park now manages a population of 32 free-flying condors. Other wildlife includes bobcats, cougars, coyotes and wild turkey.
The site in Central California was declared a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.
The bill to make it a national park was introduced by California Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein in the Senate and by Democratic Rep. Sam Farr and Republican Rep. Jeff Denham in the House.
SUIT: SOCCER GROUP SHOULD HAVE BACKGROUNDED ABUSER: SUNNYVALE (AP) — The parents of a 13-year-old girl who was sexually abused by her soccer coach claim the nation's largest youth soccer organization was negligent in failing to require background checks of her abuser.
The lawsuit filed Monday in Santa Clara County Superior Court claims that if U.S. Youth Soccer had checked 37-year-old Emanuele Fabrizio's record, the organization would have seen his 2007 conviction for physical abuse against a woman.
Fabrizio was sentenced to 15 years in prison in October after pleading guilty to one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child and one count of lewd and lascivious acts on a child as part of a plea deal.
Authorities say Fabrizio, of Sunnyvale, abused the girl while volunteering for West Valley Youth Soccer League.
TRUCK CRASH IN VALLEJO CAUSES CLOSURE OF HWY 37: VALLEJO (AP) — Highway 37 in Vallejo was shut down for hours after a big rig fell off a ramp and caught fire, killing the driver.
The California Highway Patrol said the driver of an Ace Hardware semi died from injuries incurred during the accident Thursday morning.
The road was closed between Highway 80 and Highway 121 for about three hours.
Sonoma County fire officials said the rig fell after striking another vehicle, fell into a field and caught fire, causing multiple explosions.
The cause of the accident is not known, but there did not appear to be ice on the roadway.
BERKELEY LAW STUDENT PLEADS IN VEGAS BIRD BEHEADING CASE: LAS VEGAS (AP) — A University of California, Berkeley law school student accused in the death and decapitation of an exotic bird at a Las Vegas resort attraction has pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge against him.
Eric Cuellar pleaded Thursday to instigating or engaging in animal cruelty.
He was sentenced to 48 hours of community service and an alcohol counseling class, and also ordered to pay a $200 fine and $150 in restitution to the Flamingo resort.
Police say 24-year-old Cuellar and fellow law student Justin Teixeira were seen Oct. 12 laughing and throwing around the body of a dead, 14-year-old helmeted guineafowl at the Flamingo's Wildlife Habitat.
Teixeira faces a felony charge of killing another person's animal and other torture and cruelty counts.