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State news briefs
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METAL THIEVES TARGETING MODESTO FIRE HYDRANTS: MODESTO  (AP) — Metal thieves are targeting Modesto fire hydrants, putting residents at risk and costing the city thousands of dollars.

The thieves turn off the water, remove 10 to 12 large bolts and haul away the 100-pound hydrants. The cast iron hydrants would fetch about 12 cents a pound as scrap.

Authorities are mystified, saying any reputable recycler would immediately notify police if someone showed up with a fire hydrant.

Crews start replacing the missing hydrants on Thursday. The cost could run up to $4,000.

JUDGE DENIES REQUEST TO STOP ANTI-MUSLIM FILM CLIP: LOS ANGELES (AP) — An actress who appeared in an anti-Muslim film trailer that sparked violence in the Middle East lost her legal challenge on Thursday to have the 14-minute trailer taken down from YouTube.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin rejected the request from Cindy Lee Garcia because she wasn't able to produce any agreement she had with the makers of "Innocence of Muslims" and the man behind the film hadn't been served with a copy of her lawsuit.

Garcia's attorney, Cris Armenta, told reporters that her client plans to return to court in three weeks with more evidence to bolster her case.

The video posted to YouTube has been linked to protests that continue to rage across the Middle East. The White House has asked YouTube to take it down and the company has refused, saying it doesn't violate its content standards.

While Thursday's legal ruling might further antagonize protesters, the lawsuit had little chance of succeeding because of a federal law that protects third parties from liability for content they handle, legal experts said.

SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR TO FLY OVER BAY AREA: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Bay area residents are slated to be among the last Americans who will get a chance to see the space shuttle Endeavor before it retires in a Los Angeles museum.

The shuttle is expected to fly near the State Capitol building in Sacramento just after 8:30 a.m. on Friday before passing over the Bay Area about an hour later. However, the times may change depending on weather.

The California Highway Patrol says prime places to watch the fly-over include the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley and Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The Endeavor logged more than 123 million miles in its 25 trips over two decades.

The California Science Center in Los Angeles, the shuttle's new home, agreed to pay $28 million for the farewell tour.

SECURITY COMPANY SUED FOR PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — A Northern California security company is being sued for allegedly refusing a security officer to come back to work after her maternity leave.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Thursday filed a discrimination lawsuit accusing the Quest Intelligence Group of violating federal law for not contacting security guard Tabitha Feeney after she took a leave to have a baby.

The suit says when Feeney contacted the West Sacramento company to schedule her return to work, she was told that there was no work and she would be called if any became available.

The suit says the company never contacted Feeney as an EEOC investigation noted that Quest hired several males within weeks of Feeney's request to return to work.

JUDGE WON'T LET CHEF REPRESENT SELF IN MURDER CASE: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A chef who is accused of murdering his 39-year-old wife and boiling her body for four days to get rid of the evidence won't be allowed to represent himself in the last days of the trial.

Judge Rand Rubin rejected David Viens' request Thursday, saying it was too late in the proceedings for him to take over.

The 49-year-old stood up from his wheelchair Thursday to object when his attorney Fred McCurry told the court that the defense had no more evidence to present.

Viens is accused of murdering his wife Dawn sometime before she vanished in October 2009, and was badly injured when he jumped off an 80-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes after learning he was being investigated as a suspect.

BROWN SIGNS 18 BILLS THAT BENEFIT VETERANS: SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California veterans and their families will receive a slew of new state benefits — from cheaper college tuition to expedited vocational licenses — under a legislative package signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday.

The Democratic governor said in a statement that the 18 bills "respect the honor and dignity of those who serve."

He also took the opportunity to needle Congress about failing to work across party lines for the benefit of service members in a similar way.

"Yesterday, a bill to invest in job training for veterans was blocked because of Washington political infighting," he said. "Here in California, Republicans and Democrats joined together to support our veterans."

Among the bills signed into law are AB2371, which provides treatment for criminal defendants suffering from a mental illness acquired during military service, and SB1287, which grants injured veterans discounted fishing licenses.

Another, AB1505, says California will reinstate benefits for soldiers discharged from the military for being gay if the federal government does.

Many of the new laws involve higher education. One triples the number of years veterans are eligible for priority registration at public colleges. Another extends eligibility for in-state tuition.

PARK RANGERS CLEARING RIVER HOMELESS ENCAMPMENTS: SACRAMENTO . (AP) — Sacramento County park rangers are clearing homeless encampments along the American River.

Authorities estimate up to 200 homeless people illegally camp along the river north of downtown between Discovery Park and the Bushy Lake area behind Cal Expo.

County park rangers, in response to business and resident complaints, have begun night patrols to root out and evict the homeless.

The park is closed from dusk to dawn.