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State news briefs
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LAP-BAND MAKERS WON'T SELL IT TO 1-800-GET-THIN: LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Irvine-based makers of the Lap-Band say they will no longer sell the weight-loss device to companies affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing company.

The Los Angeles reports Thursday that Allergan issued a statement saying it has decided to discontinue sales without offering further details of the decision.

The Times reports five Southern California patients have died since 2009 following Lap-Band surgeries at clinics affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN.

The marketing company has been the target of state and federal investigations in recent months.

Alexander Robertson, a lawyer who represents relatives of patients who died following Lap-Band surgeries, applauded the decision and said it will save lives.


FRESNO . (AP) — Officials with the California Fish and Game Commission have rejected changes to striped bass regulations, which farmers had sought to gain more access to water.

Commissioners voted Thursday not to increase fishing quotas or decrease size limits for striped bass in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The vote was a victory for fishermen, who had argued that higher quotas would eventually eradicate the bass population.

The proposed changes, introduced by the Department of Fish and Game, stem from an April settlement over a 2008 lawsuit. In voting not to make any changes, commissioners determined that the current rules satisfied terms of the agreement.

In the suit, a group of San Joaquin Valley water districts had said the striped bass harmed native fish species, including threatened salmon.

Motorist electrocuted after power pole crash

MADERA. (AP) — A San Joaquin Valley motorist crashed his car into a power pole and was electrocuted by downed lines when he got out of the wreckage.

The Fresno Bee says the 28-year-old Fresno man was driving on a Madera County road on Wednesday night when he lost control of his car and crashed into a power pole, bring down some live wires.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. John Johnson says the man got out of his car and walked into one of the live wires, killing him instantly.



Yellow-legged frogs earn spot on endangered list

SACRAMENTO (AP) — They aren't as famous as the threatened red-legged frogs of Calaveras jumping fame, but two types of yellow-legged frogs are getting new special protections.

The California Fish and Game Commission voted Thursday to list the Sierra mountain yellow-legged frogs as threatened and the Southern mountain yellow-legged frogs as endangered. The commission acted after the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition outlining the decline.

Both species live in alpine lakes and are a food source for non-native trout.

Studies have shown that livestock grazing and pesticide drift from farms in the Central Valley contribute to the decline. Their numbers have shrunk by half since 1995.

The state already had taken steps to protect the frogs by ending some fish-stocking programs and moving some to former habitats.

PG&E loses bid to for license renewal costs

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) — Regulators have rejected Pacific Gas & Electric's request to charge ratepayers for license renewal costs at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The California Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday dismissed PG&E's motion to have ratepayers pay $85 million for the license renewal at the central coast plant.

According to the San Luis Obispo County Tribune ( the fees would pay for the plant's operating licenses for another 20 years — to 2044 and 2045.

Utility spokesman Tom Cuddy says PG&E will file to reopen the proceedings at a later time.

Utility to pay fine for Hinkley pollution spread

HINKLEY  (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has agreed to pay a $3.6 million fine for violating a water board's order to contain a plume of cancer-causing chromium 6 that has been spreading in part of Hinkley, the same Mojave Desert city whose woes inspired the film "Erin Brockovich."

The San Bernardino County Sun ( ) says between 1952 and 1966 the utility used chromium 6, also known as hexavalent chromium, to reduce corrosion in cooling towers at its natural gas compressor station in Hinkley. The utility was eventually required to clean up the pollution but residents learned in 2011 that it spread northward by about two miles in one area, contaminating groundwater.

The fine will go to Hinkley Elementary School to develop a water replacement system and into a state water fund.

Calif. Gov. Brown appoints new pesticide regulator

FRESNO (AP) — Environmental groups are applauding the naming of a former conservation official as California's new chief pesticide regulator.

Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Brian Leahy on Thursday to head the Department of Pesticide Regulation. Leahy is the former assistant director at the California Department of Conservation, as well as a former organic farmer.

California's previous pesticide regulator, Mary-Ann Warmerdam, resigned last March to work for Clorox. Her resignation came amid an uproar over the state's approval in December 2010 of a controversial pesticide.

Warmerdam had called methyl iodide "the most evaluated pesticide in the department's history" and insisted it could be used safely with strict mitigation measures.

But environmental groups said she mishandled the evaluation and let the pesticide manufacturer sway her to overrule the recommendations of her own scientists.

DPR's scientific advisors and an independent scientist panel have said the chemical can cause cancer.

Immigrants land on Calif. beaches by boats

HUNTINGTON BEACH (AP) — The Border Patrol says 14 suspected illegal immigrants have been taken into custody after a smuggling boat was found on the sand at Huntington Beach.

Border Patrol spokesman Steven Pitts tells the Orange County Register ( ) that the group that had been aboard the 24-foot boat was taken to a border station. The nationality of those in custody hasn't been disclosed.

On Wednesday, an abandoned 30-foot panga smuggling boat was found 200 yards off Fernald Point in Santa Barbara County's Montecito area.

Sheriff's spokesman Drew Sugars tells the Santa Barbara News-Press ( that lifejackets found on the beach suggest up to 20 people may have been aboard.

There has been an increase in human and drug smuggling panga boats along California's coast in recent months.

Unsafe poles contributed windstorm outages

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California Edison overloading some power poles and botched efforts to restore power, contributing to massive electrical outages from a windstorm last fall, state regulators said.

At least 21 of the 215 wooden utility poles that toppled failed to meet safety regulations because they were overloaded with wires, telecommunications and electrical equipment, and 17 supporting guywires didn't meet safety standards, according to a preliminary report from the California Public Utilities Commission.

The poles are jointly owned by the utility and companies that use them to support telephone and other telecommunications equipment.