Judge's order preserves NSA surveillance records
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge in San Francisco has stopped the destruction of millions of telephone records collected by the National Security Agency.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White issued a nationwide order Monday to safeguard evidence for invasion-of-privacy lawsuits until March 19.
The secret federal court that approved the NSA's surveillance requires that documents be purged after five years for privacy reasons. On Friday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court denied the federal government's request to keep the records for the sake of pending lawsuits.
According to court documents, the NSA was set to destroy the records Tuesday.
White, who's overseeing one of the lawsuits, said "the Court would be unable to afford effective relief once the records are destroyed" and before he decided if their collection was legal.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORMS
California campaign finance bill sent to governor
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - State lawmakers have sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill designed to strengthen California's campaign finance standards in response to a recent case that prompted the largest campaign reporting fine in state history.
AB800 passed the Assembly on Monday over opposition by Republicans. They objected to a provision that gives the state Fair Political Practices Commission the authority to audit campaign funds before elections.
Several Republicans say the bill could affect elections before targeted candidates have a chance to defend themselves.
Assemblyman Richard Gordon, a Democrat from Menlo Park who carried the bill, says the bill will give voters confidence that elections are conducted fairly.
The measure responds to $15 million in anonymous donations that were funneled into two 2012 initiative campaigns.
It received final approval on a 54-19 vote.
2 workers burned by acid at Tesoro refinery
MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP) - Two workers were burned by acid at a Tesoro refinery processing unit where a similar incident occurred last month.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that sulfuric acid spilled on two contract workers Monday at the company's Golden Eagle Refinery in Contra Costa County.
County hazard materials specialist Maria Duazo says both workers escaped serious injury because they were wearing protective garments.
A company said in a statement that the workers were decontaminated in a shower before being taken to the hospital.
The company said the incident is unrelated to last month's chemical release, where two workers not wearing protective gear sustained first-and-second degree burns.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which is investigating the previous incident, said it will also look at the latest accident.
Phillips 66 fined $230K for SF Bay air violations
RODEO, Calif. (AP) - Phillips 66 Company has been fined $230,900 by San Francisco Bay Area air quality officials for numerous air pollution violations.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District says the settlement covers 19 violations from 2008 and 2009.
Among the violations the company was cited for failing to take flare-gas samples, inadequate measurement of flare gas flows and inaccurate ground level monitoring of hydrogen sulfide.
Jack Broadbent, the air district's executive officer, says the district has the responsibility to protect the health of residents around refineries. He says any violations, no matter how minor, are not tolerated.
Janet Grothe, a spokeswoman for Phillips 66, said most of the violations were disclosed by the company to the board and were fixed quickly.
California quake downgraded to magnitude-6.8
EUREKA, Calif. (AP) - An earthquake that struck offshore and rattled the Northern California coast has been downgraded to a magnitude-6.8.
The quake about 50 miles west of Eureka on Sunday night was initially reported as a magnitude-6.9. It was felt widely across the region and across the Oregon border, but there were no reports of injuries or damage.
The quake had produced 20 aftershocks of magnitude-3.5 or larger by late Monday morning, and more were expected over the coming days.
California senator pushes utility security bill
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Prompted by last year's sabotage shooting attack of a PG&E substation, a California lawmaker has introduced legislation that would require utilities to beef-up security.
State Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat from San Mateo, announced the proposed legislation at a press conference Monday in San Francisco. Hill said serious security holes were exposed by the April attack by sniper shots of a substation near San Jose, Calif. that knocked out 17 transformers.
Officials rerouted power to avoid a blackout, but it took PG&E workers nearly a month to repair the damage. No arrests have been made.
Hill's bill would require utilities to assess security risks and make needed improvements.
A PG&E spokesman said the utility is reviewing bill. He said the utility began revamping its security after the attack.
California man found guilty in freeway shooting
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - A Northern California man who authorities say wanted to start a right-wing revolution has been found guilty of attempted murder in a shootout with California Highway Patrol officers on an Oakland freeway.
The Oakland Tribune reports that an Alameda County jury convicted Byron Williams on Monday of four counts of attempted murder as well as multiple weapons charges.
Prosecutors say the 48-year-old Williams, of Tuolumne County, had an arsenal of weapons in his pickup truck on July 18, 2010 when he engaged at least eight California Highway Patrol officers in a nearly 20-minute gunbattle.
The CHP had stopped Williams for traffic violations on Interstate 580.
Authorities say Williams was on his way to San Francisco, where he planned to attack what he considered liberal organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union.
Woman sets off home explosion in suicide attempt
REDDING, Calif. (AP) - A 51-year-old woman trying to take her life sustained serious burns in an explosion at her home in the 3700 block of East Keswick Dam Road.
Redding police said Monday that the woman told them she had flooded her house with natural gas before lighting a flame in an attempt to kill herself.
The blast was reported at 2:30 a.m. by numerous people in the neighborhood.
Redding Fire inspector Patrick O'Connor on Monday said he would not release the woman's name, but he said that the home sustained significant damage, with 75 percent of the structure affected by the explosion and fire.
The woman suffered severe burns, he said. She was transported to Mercy Medical Center and later transferred to the burn center at the University of California, Davis.
COLD CASE QUILT-ARREST
Husband pleads not guilty in 'Quilt' murder case
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - A Northern California man has pleaded not guilty to killing his wife on the same day of the year that she was found strangled in her car 25 years ago.
David Zimmer entered his plea Monday in a Santa Clara County courtroom in the slaying of his estranged wife, Cathy Zimmer. Her body was found wrapped in a colorful patchwork quilt in the backseat of her Chrysler New Yorker in the parking lot at San Jose International Airport on March 10, 1989.
The 66-year-old Zimmer of Half Moon Bay, Calif., was arrested Friday about a month after investigators released new evidence in hopes of finally solving the case.
His brother, Robert Zimmer of Santa Clara, has been arrested on similar charges.
Authorities say their arrests came after new evidence linked them to the killing.
Brown praises gay activists for courage in change
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Gov. Jerry Brown is accepting an award from the gay rights community for advancing equality during his political career.
Brown tells Equality California supporters that equality for gays and lesbians has improved tremendously in the last 40 years because of the courage of activists, who he says are "the cutting edge."
During an awards speech Monday night, the Democratic governor said when people live in society's shadows, "the only way out is courage."
Equality California says Brown was the first politician in America to appoint a gay judge, in 1979, and cited at least five actions he has taken as governor since 2011 in honoring him with its leadership award.
That includes a bill he signed last year allowing transgender students in public schools to choose which bathrooms to use.
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