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State news briefs
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OC CAT-HOARDER SENTENCED FOR CHILD ENDANGERMENT: SANTA ANA  (AP) — A man who kept 110 cats in a filthy Orange County home where his grandchildren lived has been sentenced for child abuse and endangerment.

City News Service says 69-year-old John Howe of Santa Ana entered guilty pleas on Monday and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Howe's wife and three other relatives still face charges.

Prosecutors say the adults and two girls, ages 6 and 12, lived in a home that housed an illegal cat rescue operation. Neighbors complaining of foul smells led police there in February of 2011.

Authorities say the home was filthy with cat hair and excrement, flies and roaches.

Some 20 cats had to be euthanized. The rest were adopted.

GLITCH LEAVES NEARLY 40,000 WITHOUT CA FOOD STAMPS: SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A computer glitch that inadvertently cancelled food stamp cards has left tens of thousands of Californians unable to use them to buy food.

The Orange County Register says Electronic Benefit Cards for nearly 40,000 people in 18 counties were rendered useless Monday because of computer problems that began Sunday.

The state-issued cards contain money balances and can be used at supermarkets, farmers markets and some restaurants to purchase food and other items.

Authorities say programmers updating software on the computer system accidentally canceled the cards.

Officials expected to have the problem fixed sometime Tuesday morning. Replacement cards also are available at county social service centers.

SACRAMENTO TO EXPAND RAIL WITH $135M FEDERAL GRANT: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Federal transportation officials have given Sacramento $135 million to expand its light rail as the region seeks to increase the reach of its system.

The Sacramento Bee reports that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administration head Peter Rogoff appeared in town Monday to announce the grant.

The project will expand the system another 4.3-miles farther south, to Cosumnes River College.

Local officials want to build a seamless rail network that can take riders from streetcars to light rail to Amtrak, and perhaps eventually to high-speed rail.

LaHood said the Obama administration is eager to help Sacramento lead the way in reintroducing rail transit as a complement to freeways.

GROUPS SUE FEDS OVER LOGGERHEAD TURTLE PROTECTIONS; SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Conservation groups are suing federal wildlife and fisheries officials, claiming the government missed a legally mandated deadline to create protection zones for endangered loggerhead sea turtles.

The coalition filed its complaint Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleging the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service missed a one-year Endangered Species Act deadline to create so-called "critical habitat" for loggerheads.

The 250-pound turtles in both the Pacific and Northeast Atlantic Oceans were listed as endangered in 2011.

The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups claim that, even with endangered status, loggerheads still die off the California, Hawaii and Florida coasts, often because of commercial fishing.

SKI SHUTTLE A HIT BETWEEN NORTH TAHOE SKI RESORTS: TRUCKEE. (AP) — Operators of Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts are praising the start of a new free ski shuttle program.

Several Tahoe partners are supporting the first area-wide free ski transportation program serving North Lake Tahoe, Nev., Truckee, Calif., and Donner Summit. Organizers say the bus service served 395 customers through the first five days of the Christmas holidays.

The buses run between area lodging properties to nine different ski resorts on weekends and holiday weeks. The shuttle will be available through March 31.

The pilot program was created by the North Lake Tahoe Chamber/CVB/Resort Association in partnership with the Truckee/North Tahoe Transportation Management Association, Placer County, the town of Truckee and several ski resorts.

More information is available at

TIPSY TEQUILA-TOTING LA TREE TRIMMER RESCUED: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say a tipsy tree trimmer dangled for nearly two hours in a West Los Angeles tree and it took a battalion of firefighters to rescue him.

Authorities say the man was reported about 40 feet up a eucalyptus tree Monday evening in the Brentwood area. He apparently had lost his footing and was dangling from a strap around his chest and arms.

Fire spokesman tells City News Service that it took 27 firefighters, a 35-foot ladder and ropes to rescue him.

Authorities say the man appeared to be tipsy and had a half-full bottle of tequila was in his belt.

OFFICIAL: CALIF. TEEN FOUND DEAD TOOK OFF JACKET: SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (AP) — Authorities say a California teen who was found dead in South Lake Tahoe after going missing appears to have taken off her ski jacket and become disoriented while walking.

Nineteen-year-old Alyssa Byrne of Petaluma was found near a snow bank by a utility worker on Friday.

Byrne had attended a music festival and may have tried to walk three miles in freezing weather to her hotel in Stateline, Nev.

El Dorado County Sheriff's Lt. Pete Van Arnum said that Byrne's boot prints suggested disorientation. Authorities do not suspect foul play or suicide.

They will try to determine if drugs or alcohol were a factor.

PILOT SURVIVES FRESNO COUNTY HELICOPTER CRASH: FRESNO (AP) — Authorities say the pilot of a crop-dusting helicopter suffered moderate injuries when his helicopter crashed in a field outside of Fresno Tuesday afternoon.

Fresno County sheriff's Deputy Chris Curtice says the helicopter went down around 12:45 p.m. in an open field east of the community of Riverdale.

The pilot was trapped inside the wreckage, but Curtice says rescue crews were able to extricate him and take him to a hospital. The name of the pilot has not been released.

Curtice says the helicopter was in the process of spraying the field with pesticide when the aircraft went down.

GOVERNOR 'GREAT' AFTER CANCER TREATMENT: LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown says he feels great after concluding treatment for early-stage prostate cancer.

The 74-year-old Democrat told reporters in Los Angeles on Tuesday that he's "ready to go."

Brown's office disclosed last month that he was undergoing radiation treatment for the second most common cancer to afflict men. His treatment was scheduled to end this week.

It's Brown's second cancer scare since re-taking the office he first held from 1975 to 1983. Brown had surgery to remove a cancerous growth on the right side of his nose in 2011.

IDS OF DEAD IN PLANE CRASH RELEASED: PORTERVILLE  (AP) — Authorities have identified the victims of a plane that crashed in the Central Valley en route from San Diego to Fresno.

The Kern County coroner's office on Tuesday said James Johnston of Sanger and Jacob Curiel of Imperial died in the crash. Their age have not been released.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says the single-engine Beechcraft BE-35 disappeared from radar and radio contact around 4 p.m. on Sunday. The small airplane went down in a mountainous area about 35 miles northeast of Bakersfield.

A sheriff's helicopter found the crash site the next day. Both men were deceased at the site.