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Gas drops for second straight day in state


LOS ANGELES (AP) — California's reign of pump pain is easing as prices drop for the second day in a row.

The AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report for Thursday says the average price of regular is just under $4.66 a gallon — down more than a penny in two days.

However, it's still the highest price in the nation.

The highest state price is $4.75 a gallon in the San Luis Obispo area. San Francisco has $4.73, with Los Angeles and San Diego reporting around $4.70.

The drop follows a 50-cent runup at the pump, fueled in part by refinery and pipeline problems. Some lawmakers have called for an investigation of the hike.

Analysts say California's early switch to a cheaper but more polluting winter blend of fuel should help lower prices.

Catholics say first prayers at Crystal Cathedral

GARDEN GROVE . (AP) — Roman Catholics have said their first prayers in the Crystal Cathedral since the church bought the Orange County landmark.

A prayer breakfast was held Wednesday in the sanctuary of the former Protestant megachurch. More than 1,200 Roman Catholics filled the steel-and-glass cathedral in Garden Grove. They prayed in front of an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that was blessed by the pope.

No Mass was said because the church hasn't yet been sanctified for it.

The cathedral was built by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller and was the site of his "Hour of Power" broadcasts. The Diocese of Orange bought the cathedral in bankruptcy court last year for nearly $58 million and has renamed it Christ Cathedral.

Yosemite worker recovering after 35-foot plunge

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK. (AP) — Authorities say a Yosemite National Park hotel worker who went missing for nearly three days is recovering after she apparently plunged 35 feet while hiking in rugged terrain.

Jessica Rose Garcia, 23, suffered a broken pelvis and leg. She also was scheduled for spinal surgery.

Garcia was last seen on Saturday. A search began the next day after she failed to show up for her first day of work at the Wawona Hotel. Dozens of searchers scoured the park.

Authorities say Garcia apparently fell about 35 feet and was without food or water until rescuers found her Tuesday afternoon.

Judge suspends hearings into Calif. pipeline blast

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two California judges granted a request Thursday to temporarily suspend public hearings into a deadly natural gas pipeline explosion and instead hold closed-door negotiations on how much the pipeline's owner should pay in fines.

PG&E could face hundreds of millions of dollars in possible fines.

The commission's president, Michael Peevey, said holding private negotiations could bring about a settlement much sooner.

Marin County woman suspected of embezzling $1.5M

SAN RAFAEL  (AP) — A Marin County woman has been arrested on suspicion of embezzling $1.5 million from the San Rafael commercial real estate company where she worked.

Jodi Michele Azevedo, 44,  of Petaluma was arrested on Wednesday at her home.

San Rafael police say Azevedo — an employee with Parkway Properties Investment Corp. — stole the money over about a decade by writing checks to herself from the corporate account.