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Sep 16, 2014

California state Senator Wright to resign following fraud conviction

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California state Senator Roderick Wright plans to resign from office later this month following a perjury and voter fraud conviction that saw him sentenced to 90 days in jail, he said in a letter sent on Monday.

Wright, who was convicted in January of lying about whether he lived in the district he sought to represent, was the first of three California Senate Democrats to face criminal proceedings this year. This effectively cost the party a cherished two-thirds majority in the California Senate.

Sep 14, 2014

Former Four Seasons songwriter Bob Crewe dies at 83

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Songwriter Bob Crewe, who co-wrote such hits as “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Walk Like a Man” and played a key behind-the- scenes role in the rise to stardom of the Four Seasons pop group, has died at age 83, his brother said on Saturday.

Crewe died on Thursday at a nursing home in Scarborough, Maine, succumbing to complications from a fall he suffered about four years ago, said his brother and former business partner, Dan Crewe.

Sep 13, 2014

Professor from Europe takes plea deal in 1995 California killing

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A psychology professor from Europe accused of murder in the 1995 stabbing death of a man who she says raped her pleaded guilty to a lesser charge on Friday in Southern California, and prosecutors said she has agreed to testify against others involved in the killing.

Norma Patricia Esparza, 40, who grew up in Southern California, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and is expected to be sentenced to six years in prison, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Sep 13, 2014

Maria Shriver removed from former California Gov. Schwarzenegger’s portrait

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A small image of Maria Shriver on a lapel pin worn by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in an official portrait has been painted over as the actor-turned-politician and his wife go through a divorce, a former aide said.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican who left office nearly four years ago, was the featured star earlier this week when the portrait was unveiled in the state capital of Sacramento.

Sep 6, 2014

Fraternity at Los Angeles university disbands after hazing-related death

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A fraternity at a Los Angeles university has agreed to disband due to the hazing-related death of a 19-year-old pledge who collapsed in the heat on a hike after his group ran out of water, the school’s president said on Friday.

The college, California State University, Northridge, was rocked by the July death of Armando Villa, who was “pledging” or joining a chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and was made to hike in the Angeles National Forest.

Sep 6, 2014

Ex-lawyer for Aryan Nations dies during murder plot prison term

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Former Idaho attorney Edgar Steele, who once represented the Aryan Nations white supremacist group and expressed his own anti-Semitic and racist views, has died in California while serving a 50-year prison sentence for soliciting murder, a prison official said on Friday.

Steele, 69, was taken to a hospital near the federal prison where he was incarcerated in Victorville, California, and died on Thursday, said James Engleman, a spokesman for the high-security facility. A letter to the judge in Steele’s case said a preliminary finding for the cause of death was pneumonia.

Sep 4, 2014

Ex-fiancee of boxer Floyd Mayweather accuses him of online humiliation

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s ex-fiancee filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing him of humiliating her after their breakup by posting online a copy of a sonogram from when she was pregnant with twins and saying she had an abortion.

The lawsuit filed by Shantel Jackson, 29, in Los Angeles Superior Court came little more than a week before the undefeated welterweight’s Sept. 13 rematch against Marcos Maidana.

Sep 4, 2014

Dutch national pleads guilty in U.S. to running online narcotics bazaar

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Dutch national who created and ran an elaborate online marketplace for the buying and selling of narcotics has pleaded guilty to U.S. drug trafficking and money laundering charges, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Marc Willems, 45, of the Netherlands pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the two felony counts and admitted to launching “The Farmer’s Market,” which facilitated the sale of drugs like LSD, ecstasy and marijuana to users in the United States and dozens of other countries, the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Aug 30, 2014

Two California cities to give up military vehicles, amid local unease

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Two Northern California cities have made plans to rid themselves of armored vehicles built to withstand roadside bombs that their police got for free from the U.S. Defense Department, in a move that follows criticism of the police handling of protests in Missouri as too militarized.

Officials in San Jose and Davis took steps to jettison their so-called Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles this week.

Aug 28, 2014

Scientists solve mystery of moving Death Valley rocks

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California’s Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice.

Trails from the movement of the rocks, which show them changing direction suddenly in their movement across the so-called Racetrack Playa, have long befuddled scientists and the general public. People wondered: How were the rocks moved?