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TOP-SECRET SPACE PLANE LANDS ON CALIFORNIA COAST: VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE (AP) — A top-secret space plane landed Friday at an Air Force base on the Southern California coast.

The plane spent nearly two years circling Earth on a classified mission. Known as the X-37B, it resembles a mini space shuttle.

It safely touched down at 9:24 a.m. Friday, officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base said.

Just what the plane was doing during its 674 days in orbit has been the subject of sometimes spectacular speculation.

Several experts have theorized it carried a payload of spy gear in its cargo bay. Other theories sound straight out of a James Bond film, including that the spacecraft would be able to capture the satellites of other nations or shadow China’s space lab.

In a written release announcing the return of the craft, the Air Force only said it had been conducting “on-orbit experiments.”

The X-37B program has been an orphan of sorts, bouncing since its inception in 1999 between several federal agencies, NASA among them. It now resides under the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office.

The plane stands 9 1/2 feet tall and is just over 29 feet long, with a wingspan under 15 feet. It weighs 11,000 pounds and has solar panels that unfurl to charge its batteries once in orbit.



SAN DIEGO (AP) — Opponents of San Diego’s minimum wage increase may have succeeded in stalling the hike for an estimated 200,000 residents.

Foes have gathered enough valid signatures to force a public vote on the hike.

The City Council is slated to vote Monday on whether to rescind the hike or let voters decide its fate on the June 2016 ballot.

Either way, increases approved by the council this summer won’t take effect next January.

In August, the City Council overrode a mayoral veto and approved a plan to gradually raise the city’s minimum wage to $11.50 an hour.

Supporters say the pay hike will boost people’s buying power. Opponents say it will hurt small businesses and prompt layoffs.


GOP CANDIDATE ADDS ANOTHER $1 MILLION OF OWN MONEY: SACRAMENTO (AP) — Former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari is contributing another $1 million of his own money to his campaign for California governor.

The Republican candidate reported the contribution late Friday, bringing his personal contributions to more than $3 million for the primary and general election.

Kashkari reported that he had just $680,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30 and has since raised another $400,000. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has nearly $30 million in two campaign accounts he controls — one for his gubernatorial campaign and one for two ballot initiatives he is promoting.

Kashkari had pegged his net worth at less than $5 million before the campaign.

His campaign spokeswoman, Mary-Sarah Kinner, says fighting for poor and minority children in California “is just that important to Neel.”


MOST OF CALIFORNIA MAN’S BODY EATEN BY BLACK BEAR: EUREKA (AP) —A wild black bear ate most of a Northern California man who likely died earlier of a heart attack, officials said Friday.

Humboldt County Deputy Coroner Roy Horton said he believes 65-year-old Marion Williams died outside his trailer in a remote area before the bear came upon him.

Authorities discovered the remains on Monday after friends reported Williams missing for five days.

Officials tried to trap and kill the bear but called off their attempt because it is doubtful the bear is still in the area near the man’s home in Redway, about 75 miles south of Humboldt, California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan said.

“We’re not going to find the bear,” he said. “The bear was behaving naturally.”

An investigation revealed no signs that the bear attacked and killed Williams. Rather, Horton said that he believes the bear came upon the man’s body and dragged it to a nearby den.

“It looks like he collapsed and died,” he said. “The bear comes along and sees a potential food source.”

There are no reported cases in California of black bears killing people, Hughan said.