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NEWS FROM ACROSS CALIFORNIA
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• WAR MEMORIAL VANDALIZED WITH GRAFFITI: DANVILLE (AP) — Northern California officials are offering a reward for information on vandals who covered a war memorial with graffiti over the weekend.

Danville Police Chief Steve Simpkins said on Wednesday that the city along with private donors have issued a $6,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.

Police were called to All Wars Memorial in Danville after graffiti was found on pavement, stone paths and granite benches near the memorial, which is dedicated to everybody who served in American wars.

Officials say the black and red spray-paint was discovered Monday morning, and that the memorial was most likely vandalized Sunday evening.

 

• 6-YEAR-OLD KILLED IN ACCIDENT INVOLVING GRANDFATHER: VACAVILLE  (AP) — Authorities in Northern California say a man was backing up his pickup truck when he struck and killed his granddaughter as the 6-year-old rode a bicycle in Vacaville.

The California Highway Patrol says the accident occurred Wednesday as 58-year-old Brad Beck drove on a gravel road on his property.

The CHP says Beck was trying to attach his truck to a boat trailer and did not know his granddaughter, Gianna Ferro, had been riding her bicycle directly behind the truck. As Beck backed up, he struck her causing fatal injuries.

 

• LAWYER: SLEDGEHAMMER WAS ALLEGED QUADRUPLE KILLING WEAPON: SAN BERNARDINO  (AP) — A defense attorney says he expects prosecutors to argue that a Southern California man used a sledgehammer to kill a family of four whose bodies were found years later in desert graves.

Charles Merritt has a preliminary hearing next week in San Bernardino.

His lawyer, Jimmy Mettias, tells the Daily Press of Victorville that prosecutors will probably contend Merritt used a 3-pound sledgehammer to kill his business partner Joseph McStay, the man’s wife and their two young sons in their San Diego County home.

The family went missing in 2010 and their bodies were found three years later.

Mettias tells KCBS-TV the prosecution alleges Merritt wrote checks to himself on the business account and McStay found out. He says no physical evidence ties Merritt to the home.

 

• LOS ANGELES LEADERS GIVE FINAL APPROVAL TO $15 MINIMUM WAGE: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Officials have given final approval to an ordinance that makes Los Angeles the largest city in the U.S. to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The City Council voted 12-1 in favor of the increase Wednesday and forwarded it to Mayor Eric Garcetti. His office says he plans to sign it Saturday.

The wage hike received lopsided majority votes from the council last week and in May despite complaints from the business community. 

The ordinance boosts the wage to $10.50 in July 2016, followed by annual increases to $12, $13.25, $14.25 and $15. Small businesses and certain nonprofits get an extra year to phase in the increases.

Seattle and San Francisco also have passed laws that gradually raise the hourly minimum wage to $15.

 

• TRAIN HITS VAN IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA, 2 MEN KILLED: FRESNO (AP) — Authorities say an Amtrak train hit a van in Central California on Wednesday and killed two men.

The driver attempted to cross the train tracks and was hit by the train.

Their names and ages were not immediately available.

Authorities say no one on the train was injured in the Wednesday morning crash at Conejo and Peach avenues in Fresno.

 An Amtrak representative says the train left from Sacramento and was headed to Bakersfield with a stop in Hanford scheduled. The train is stopped and will be until the coroner’s office completes its investigation. It’s not yet known if other trains will be impacted. Passengers have been transported off the train.

 

• 27 OF EINSTEIN’S PERSONAL LETTERS GOING ON AUCTION BLOCK: LOS ANGELES (AP) — When he wasn’t busy scribbling out the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein seems to have spent a fair amount of time writing letters involving topics such as God, his son’s geometry studies, even a little toy steam engine an uncle gave him when he was a boy.

The Einstein Letters, which include more than two dozen missives, will go up for sale Thursday at the California-based auction house Profiles in History. Some were in English and others in German. Some were done in longhand, others on typewriters.

Amassed over decades by a private collector, the letters represent one of the largest caches of Einstein’s personal writings ever offered for sale.

But more than that, they give a rare look into Einstein’s thoughts when he wasn’t discussing complicated scientific theories with his peers, said Joseph Maddalena, founder of Profiles in History.

“We all know about what he accomplished, how he changed the world with the theory of relativity,” Maddalena said. “But these letters show the other side of the story. How he advised his children, how he believed in God.”

In one letter, Einstein urged one of his sons to get more serious about geometry. In another, he consoled a friend who recently discovered her husband’s infidelity. In still another to an uncle on his 70th birthday, Einstein recalled how the toy steam engine the uncle gave him years ago had prompted a lifelong interest in science.

On the issue of God, Einstein dismissed the widely held belief that he was an atheist.