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State news briefs
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LIVINGSTON TEACHER CHARGED WITH STUDENT SEX: LIVINGSTON (AP) — A California high school teacher has been charged with having a longtime sexual affair with a student.

Merced County prosecutors say Melody Carter-McCabe, the mother of a 6-year-old, has pleaded not guilty to nine felony counts of unlawful sex with the boy, who was 15 years old when the nearly yearlong relationship began in 2010.

The 27-year-old Livingston High School agriculture teacher is facing up to 12 years in prison if she's convicted. She was handcuffed Friday and taken to jail with bail set at $250,000.

Investigators say the teacher was the boy's mentor in Future Farmers of America. The boy says he frequently went to the teacher's San Joaquin Valley home and they had sex at least 50 times.

DVI INMATE ESCAPES PRISON: TRACY  (AP) — Authorities are looking for an inmate who escaped a Northern California minimum security prison.

The Department of Corrections says 25-year-old Raul Edgardo Lopez was discovered missing during Monday's 2:30 a.m. count at Tracy's Deuel Vocational Institution. He was assigned to the facility's dairy.

The California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies have been put on alert.

Lopez was serving a five-year sentence for second-degree robbery in Los Angeles County. He was scheduled to be released on parole in three years.

DRUNKEN DRIVER HITS TEEN NEXT TO CONKED-OUT CAR: HACIENDA HEIGHTS  (AP) — Investigators say a teenager standing next to a conked-out car on a Southern California freeway has been struck and killed by car with a drunken driver behind the wheel.

The Honda Civic hit the 13-year-old girl early Sunday on U.S. Route 60, the Pomona Freeway, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles in Hacienda Heights.

A 41-year-old woman and a 10-year-old boy also standing next to the disabled Toyota Corolla were injured.

The California Highway Patrol arrested 28-year-old Tina Silva of Hacienda Heights has been arrested and booked for investigation of drunken driving. She had fled the crash scene and was tracked down by local police.

JANET JACKSON TO PRODUCE TRANSGENDER DOCUMENTARY: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Janet Jackson has signed on as an executive producer of a documentary on the lives of transgender people living around the world.

New York-based Brainchild Films announced Monday that Jackson was working on "Truth" and would do some of the on-camera interviews. The documentary begins production this summer and will focus on the lives and struggles of transgender persons.

Jackson writes in a statement that she is working on the project to try to stop discrimination of the transgender community.

The 46-year-old sister of Michael Jackson has starred in several films and won five Grammy Awards.


DEAL REACHED FOR TRACKING SIERRA NEVADA WILDLIFE: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service and conservation groups have reached an agreement to strengthen monitoring of Sierra Nevada wildlife.

Under the settlement reached Friday, an independent panel of scientists will evaluate which plant and animal species the Forest Service uses to track the health of Sierra Nevada forests.

The agreement settles a federal lawsuit filed in response to the Bush administration's 2007 decision to reduce the number of species the agency monitored in California's largest mountain range.

That complaint was filed in 2008 by the legal group Earthjustice on behalf of Sierra Forest Legacy, Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club.

The Corvallis, Ore.-based Conservation Biology Institute will be charged with reviewing the Forest Service's monitoring plans for Sierra Nevada indicator species.

CALIFORNIA BOY DIES AFTER FALLING FROM MAUI CLIFF: HONOLULU (AP) — A 12-year-old California boy plunged several hundred feet to his death after he ran toward a cliff while sightseeing with his family on Maui, police said Monday.

Cristian Lopez of Chula Vista, Calif., fell at least 300 feet Sunday from a lookout along Hana Highway on the northeastern side of the island, police said.

The Lopez family was driving along the winding, scenic state highway to Hana, a popular destination for tourists. They parked their rental car at a lookout on the Keane side Honomanu Bay and Cristian quickly jumped out and ran toward a dirt hill at the lookout, said Maui police spokesman Lt. Wayne Ibarra.

Witnesses told police the boy's mother, Tanya Lopez, called out to him, but he kept going and suddenly disappeared over the edge.

A rescuer retrieved the boy's body from the ocean. He was brought to shore then taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead.

Cristian suffered head trauma, Ibarra said. Police do not suspect foul play.

Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga said the cliff is a popular tourist spot but there is no railing.

GALLO BUYS KEY WASH. WINE BRANDS: YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Washington's wine industry is marking a new milestone with word that the world's largest privately-owned winery has bought two longtime Washington brands.

E. & J. Gallo Winery announced the purchase of Columbia Winery and Covey Run Wine from Ascentia Wine Estates on Monday. The price was not disclosed.

Columbia Winery is Washington's first premium winery, originally founded as Associated Vintners in 1962. Covey Run has been operating since 1982.

Brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo founded their winery in Modesto  in 1933, and the family continues to operate the company. Brands include Gallo Family Vineyards and Barefoot Cellars.

Washington ranks second in premium wine production behind California, with more than 740 wineries and 43,000 acres planted in wine grapes.

GRAPEVINE QUARANTINE PARTIALLY LIFTED - SJ COUNTY IN CLEAR: FRESNO . (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing to announce that a grapevine pest that led to fruit quarantines across Northern California has been eradicated in four of the affected counties.

Two years of testing has shown that the European grapevine moth no longer is present in Fresno, Mendocino, Merced and San Joaquin counties, meaning the quarantines in those areas can be lifted, the department plans to announce Tuesday.

The department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says removing the quarantines means that exports of host commodities such as grapes and stone fruit from those counties can resume to Mexico.

Quarantines remain in effect in Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Nevada counties.

The destructive moth first was detected in Napa County in 2009.

FEDS TO MONITOR CALIF ELECTIONS FOR DISCRIMINATION” LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Justice Department is sending monitors to three California counties to watch for possible voter discrimination during the primary election.

With voters headed to the polls Tuesday, the agency said that it will monitor voting places in Alameda, Fresno and Riverside counties for compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.

The act prohibits discrimination, intimidation or harassment in elections based on race or language.

The federal agency said Monday that Fresno and Riverside counties are required to provide voting assistance in Spanish.

Alameda County is required to provide assistance to Hispanic, Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino voters.