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State news briefs
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AFTER OPPONENT'S TAUNT, FEINSTEIN TAKES TO TWITTER: WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Dianne Feinstein is no longer a no-show on social media.

She joined after a Republican challenger accused her of being out of touch with voters because she wasn't active on Facebook or Twitter.

Feinstein, a Democrat who is running for a fourth full term this year, sent her first tweet Sunday, about progress on a new courthouse in Los Angeles.

Five days earlier, GOP challenger Elizabeth Emken sent a fundraising letter chiding the 78-year-old Feinstein for being disconnected from voters.

"If you want to know what she's doing in Washington, you'll have to mail her a letter or send her a telegram to ask," she said.

Emken, 48, appears to have at least caught the senator's attention.

Feinstein consultant Bill Carrick said the senator's tweets are unrelated to Emken's letter and that she has wanted to start a Twitter account for some time.

Aides in Feinstein's Senate office noted on Monday that people can e-mail her through her Senate website. They said she regularly has responded to thousands of e-mails each month.

Mark Standriff, a spokesman for the Emken campaign, said it was hard for him to imagine that the timing of Feinstein's entry into social networking was unrelated to the points Emken raised in her fundraising letter.

"It's very coincidental," he said. "Hopefully, this means the senior senator from California understands this Internet thing is going to catch on."

Emken is a former IBM manager who lives with her family in Danville, a well-to-do suburb in the eastern San Francisco Bay area. She is active with groups advocating for parents with autistic children.

FAMILY NOT TOLD FOR 9 MONTHS ABOUT WOMAN'S REMAINS: STOCKTON  (AP) — San Joaquin County authorities are investigating why it took nine months for relatives of a missing woman to learn her remains had been found.

The coroner's office identified Tracy Melton's remains in April but survivors didn't find out until last week. Officials believe she is a homicide victim.

Melton was 32 when she disappeared in 1998. One of her bones was found by a road crew in 2002, but it wasn't identified until last year.

Sheriff's Deputy Les Garcia says notification of the family "fell through the cracks" and officials are taking "appropriate steps" to prevent it from happening again.

CA SUPREME COURT REINSTATES MURDER CONVICTION: SAN DIEGO (AP) — The California Supreme Court on Monday reinstated a man's second-degree murder conviction for killing a well-known San Diego surfer, overturning a 2010 ruling by a state appeals court that had reduced it to voluntary manslaughter.

The state's highest court said it disagreed with the decision by the 4th District Court of Appeals that cited insufficient evidence of implied malice by Seth Cravens when he delivered the single fatal punch to 24-year-old Emery Kauanui in 2007.

Cravens was found guilty in November 2009 of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 year to life in prison. The court ruling Monday means he will continue to serve that sentence.

If the voluntary manslaughter conviction had stuck, he could have faced a maximum of 16 years in prison.

CLOVIS TEACHER CHARGED WITH PRODUCING CHILD PORN: FRESNO  (AP) — A second grade teacher in a Fresno suburb is facing federal charges for molesting a 7-year-old student and creating child pornography.

The U.S. Attorney's Office on Monday filed a criminal complaint against 43-year-old Neng Yang.

Yang is accused of sexually abusing the child in recent weeks on multiple occasions and using his cell phone to record the abuse.

Yang, who teaches Freedom Elementary School in Clovis, was arrested Friday and removed from his job.

HOSPITAL CHAIN SEEKS RESTITUTION IN BABY SCHEME: SAN DIEGO (AP) — A San Diego hospital chain says it's a victim in a baby-peddling scheme and the chain is seeking nearly $615,000 from the ringleader.

U-T San Diego says Sharp HealthCare made the claim in documents filed for the February sentencing of Theresa Erickson.

The Poway lawyer pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors say she ran an illegal surrogacy service and duped at least a dozen couples.

Sharp HealthCare says the hospital lost money on the delivery and care costs for seven of those children and qualifies under the federal victim restitution law.

Erickson faces up to five years in prison.

ACTOR WHO WAS MR. PITT ON 'SEINFELD' DIES AT 77: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ian Abercrombie, a veteran British stage and screen actor whose TV roles included Elaine's boss Mr. Pitt on "Seinfeld" and the voice of Chancellor Palpatine in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," has died. He was 77.

A website statement from LucasArts said Abercrombie died Friday. A friend, Cathy Lind Hayes, told the Los Angeles Times that he died at a Los Angeles hospital from complications of kidney failure and recently had been diagnosed with lymphoma.

"Though he played a villain on our show, you would be hard pressed to meet a kinder person," said Dave Filoni, a supervising director for "Clone Wars." ''He loved to laugh and his sense of humor always lightened our record sessions. I will miss his stories, I will miss his performances, and I will miss his contribution to our show."

Abercrombie began his career as a dancer and made his American stage debut in a 1951 production of "Stalag 17."