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State news briefs
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SF BAY AREA BUS DRIVERS GIVE STRIKE NOTICE: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Union employees of a San Francisco Bay Area bus system say they will walk off the job this week if they don't reach a contract deal.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 issued a strike notice on Monday. The union represents about 1,800 Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District bus operators, mechanics, and dispatchers.

Union spokeswoman Margaret Hanlon-Gradie says the union plans to go on strike at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

The news comes as the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency and its train workers remain locked in a contract dispute.

Hanlon-Gradie says the union and AC Transit are at odds over the hiring of part-time workers and health and safety issues. A call to AC Transit was not immediately returned.

AC Transit carries about 175,000 passengers every weekday, mostly in the East Bay. It was vital during last month's BART strike.

TRUCK FIRE OFF BAY BRIDGE SNARLING MORNING COMMUTE: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A big rig fire on a skyway just off the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is snarling the morning commute for drivers using the span to try to get into San Francisco.

The fire Monday morning was on the westbound skyway of Interstate 80 in downtown San Francisco. Smoke and flames were visible from below the roadway.

The fire appeared to be out as of 6:50 a.m., though two lanes of the skyway were expected to remain closed for hours.

Traffic on the bridge was backed up, and authorities were recommending people find alternate routes into the city.

CARJACKER COMMITS SUICIDE AFTER CRIME SPREE: SAN BERNARDINO (AP) — Southern California authorities say a carjacker who slashed a man's throat during a weekend crime spree killed himself by deliberately crashing into a freeway pillar at more than 100 mph.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise reports 43-year-old Cary Meeks of Hesperia died Saturday in San Bernardino.

Authorities say Meeks slashed the throat of a 61-year-old Fontana man, who survived, then carjacked a 73-year-old man and took him along during a police chase.

Investigators say Meeks eventually freed the man and deliberately plowed into a bridge pillar near the junction of Interstate 215 and Interstate 10.

Meeks had a second-degree murder conviction. He got probation after acknowledging he accidentally set a 1997 fire in the San Bernardino National Forest that killed the pilot of a firefighting helicopter.

ASSEMBLY CRAFTING LEANER WATER BOND PROPOSAL: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Assembly Speaker John Perez says his chamber is working on a $7 billion to $8 billion water bond proposal to replace a $11.1 billion bond first slated for the ballot in 2009.

The Democratic leader told reporters Monday that he sees "an absolute appetite" in the Legislature for a package to pay for water infrastructure projects. A ballot measure to provide that funding has been postponed twice amid lagging public support.

Perez, of Los Angeles, says he expects to win support from most of the interested groups to replace the bond proposal currently slated for the 2014 ballot. He says the money is needed to improve access to quality water and boost storage capacity.

COUPLE ACCUSED OF LOCKING 2 KIDS IN CAR TRUNK: HIGHLAND (AP) — San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies have arrested a couple after discovering they had been driving with their two children stashed in the car's trunk.

Authorities say 32-year-old April Burgo and 29-year-old Richard Burgo were booked for investigation of cruelty to a child Sunday night. A third suspect in the car was arrested and booked on a similar charge.

A witness saw a child in the trunk of a black Cadillac at the drive-thru of a Baker's restaurant in Highland.

A deputy spotted the car and stopped it as it made a U-turn.

A 6-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl were found crying when April Burgo opened the trunk. Investigators said the car had a "strong odor" of alcohol.

BOY FOUND IN WASHING MACHINE DIES : LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of an 8-year-old Southern California boy who was found inside a washing machine at his home.

Authorities say the boy's father found him head-first with his legs sticking out of a water-filled top-loader at their Castaic home last Wednesday night and pulled him out.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials say the father had been working in the yard and the boy's mother had gone to the store.

The boy wasn't breathing when firefighters arrived. He was resuscitated and hospitalized but died Sunday. His name wasn't released.

10 STRANDED AS LA TRANSFORMERS RIDE STOPS: UNIVERSAL CITY  (AP) — It was a heart-stopping moment on the Transformers 3D thrill ride, but don't blame the Decepticons.

Authorities say the motion simulator ride at Universal Studios Hollywood stopped unexpectedly Monday, temporarily stranding 10 passengers.

Los Angeles County fire officials say the ride vehicle, which moves along a track through a dark, screen-lined path, stopped shortly after 9 a.m. and firefighters were called.

The passengers were safely evacuated, and nobody was hurt.

It's unclear what caused the malfunction, but Universal says the ride will be inspected as a precaution. It will be rebooted and should resume later in the day.

AFTER CUTS, FITCH UPGRADES CALIF. BOND RATING TO A: SACRAMENTO . (AP) — Fitch Ratings is boosting California's bond rating to an 'A' grade and has revised the state's outlook to positive in another signal the financial industry approves of the state's efforts to trim spending.

The ratings agency said Monday that California has made notable progress on "timely, more structurally sound budgets, spending restraint, and sizable reductions in budgetary debt."

The rating applies to the $72 billion in outstanding general obligation bonds.

Fitch's review says economic growth has resumed, including in the battered housing market, but the state's finances remain subject to volatile swings and a shortage of reserves.

The upgrade follows an 'A' grade from Standard & Poor's in January. It is the first upgrade from Fitch since January 2010 at the height of the financial crisis.