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Entries in California (368)

Friday
Dec142012

6.3-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Near Southern California

Jason Reed/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the west coast of southern California on Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but no injuries or damages have been reported.

The quake, which was downgraded from a preliminary reading of 6.4, hit 163 miles south southwest of Avalon, Calif., at 2:36 a.m. local time.  It was seven miles deep, according to the USGS.

No tsunami warning was issued following the quake.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec122012

California Double-Murder Charge: Fiancee Says She Was Duped

Costa Mesa Police Dept.(NEW YORK) -- Rachel Buffett, the California actress who is accused of helping her ex-fiance Dan Wozniak cover up an alleged double-murder, says she was duped and her only crime was falling for the wrong man.

"I'm innocent," Buffett, 25, told ABC News on Tuesday.  "It was like the person I loved never really existed."

Police say the Long Beach, Calif., actress wasn't tricked at all, and not only knew the real Wozniak -- who is charged with killing two friends in an attempted money-making plan -- but that she was an accessory, covering up the crime.

Wozniak, 28, is in jail on two felony counts of special circumstances murder, while Buffett is out on $1 million bail after she was taken into custody Nov. 20 on suspicion of being an accessory to murder after the fact, The Los Angeles Times reported.

It's unclear when they will go to trial.

Wozniak's neighbors Sam Herr, 26, and Julie Kibuishi, 23, were killed in the spring of 2010, when Buffett and Wozniak were community theatre actors starring in the musical Nine.

Police say on the same day the couple performed in the play, Wozniak lured college student Herr, who had recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan, into the theater and shot him.  Wozniak then allegedly dismembered the body.

Prosecutors say that the motive for the killing was to steal Herr's savings account.

"He took away my best friend, my son," Sam's father, Steven, told ABC News.  "Every father out there listening to this absolutely knows how I feel."

On the night of the killings, Herr's father went to his son's apartment, where he found the body of Kibuishi, a friend and classmate of Herr's.  She had also been shot, and there was evidence of a sexual assault.

But authorities say Wozniak attempted to make it look like Herr had shot Kibuishi, and then killed himself.

It was when cash disappeared from Herr's bank account that police traced it back to Wozniak.

Wozniak, who is facing a possible death sentence, has pleaded not guilty.  Buffett is going public, saying the only thing she's guilty of was falling in love with the wrong man.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec072012

California Student Starts Modesty Club in Reaction to Too Much Skin

Brent Hatch(SOUTH PASADENA, Calif.) -- High-school freshman Saige Hatch was sick of seeing her peers revealing too much skin when she came to school each day.

"From elementary to middle school, and then to high school, I noticed immodesty," she told ABC News.  "I really wanted to start a club to bring awareness to it and bring remembrance to what modesty is."

Inspired by her brother's No Cussing Club, Hatch, 15, started the Modesty Club at South Pasadena High School in South Pasadena, Calif., in September to bring attention to her cause.

"A shift is coming, sneaking through the literal fabric of our culture," read a statement on the club's website.  "Our bright heroic women are being made the fool.  A fool to think that to be loved they must be naked.  To be noticed they must be sexualized.  To be admired they must be objectified."

While South Pasadena High School has a dress code that requires students to cover the "range of skin from armpit to 'The Bottom Line,'" defined as "a hand's width below the bottom of the buttocks," Hatch is crusading for a more traditional definition.

She said she views immodest dress as showing cleavage, showing one's midriff or one's shoulders.  Immodesty also includes shorts, dresses, pants and skirts that are too short or tight, she said.

The Modesty Club only boasts 17 members at school, but Hatch said the website has helped to garner more than 1,000 members who come from all 50 states and 14 countries.

This week, Michael Cacciotti, the mayor of South Pasadena, commended Hatch for her efforts and granted her a proclamation.  The city has declared Dec. 3-7 "Modesty Week" in South Pasadena.

Cacciotti had granted her brother a similar proclamation when he started his own club.

"People are afraid to stand up," Hatch said.  "I know there are a lot of people who wanted to start it, but sometimes it's hard to stand up and take the courage to start a club."

She said that as she moves forward with the club, Hatch plans to put together an online petition to members of the film and magazine industries for more modest attire. Hatch also has plans to write to clothing designers to make more modest clothing for women, in general, and to arrange to have a vote in school to enforce the dress code or switch to uniforms, she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec052012

Port Strike in California Ends After Eight Days

Laura Lezza/Getty Images (file photo)(LOS ANGELES) -- The stalemate between union workers and shipping companies that crippled two ports in California for more than a week is over.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced late Tuesday night that an agreement was reached after accompanying federal mediators to the talks.

"I think its appropriate to say mission accomplished," Villaraigosa said.

The eight-day strike shut down 10 of the 14 terminals in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, through which nearly half of the nation's cargo moves.  The walkout left billions of dollars worth of goods sitting in the water, unable to be delivered to stores and other businesses across the U.S.

The National Retail Federation had called on President Obama to intervene in the strike, saying most of its members have been affected.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec032012

Federal Agent Killed When Drug Smuggler Rams Coast Guard Boat

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) -- A federal law enforcement officer was killed when a dope smuggler’s small craft rammed a Coast Guard boat in a midnight interception of a marijuana load off the California coast, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Four suspects are in custody and a manhunt is under way for at least two others who may have escaped to a coastal island.

According to sources, the incident took place early Sunday morning, at approximately 1 a.m., when the Coast Guard intercepted two boats -- a pleasure craft and a panga boat, which is a small, fast launch -- near San Clemente Island, in Santa Barbara County.

The Coast Guard, according to initial reports, took the pleasure craft into custody and detained two occupants.

The Coast Guard cutter crew then lowered their smaller boat into the water in order to take custody of the individuals on the panga boat.  At that point, the operation turned deadly.

As the Coast Guard small craft approached the panga, the driver of the panga rammed it and actually drove over the top of the boat, striking two agents and killing one of them.

Other members of the Coast Guard team took the occupants of the panga into custody, making for a total of four suspects in custody -- two from the pleasure craft and two from the panga.

Sources said that authorities believed that two additional suspects were dropped off on Santa Cruz Island just before the interception of the two boats.

The Santa Barbara Sheriff's SWAT team was working with the U.S. Border Patrol on Sunday, searching Santa Cruz Island for additional suspects.

The small Coast Guard Boat that was rammed was taken to Oxnard.  Coast Guard officials said they planned to transport this boat, as well as the pleasure craft and panga boat, to the Coast Guard Base in the Port of Los Angeles.

According to sources, the Coast Guard Investigative Services are requesting assistance from the Los Angeles Police Department Scientific Investigation Division (SID) forensics unit and photo unit.

Arrangements are under way to secure the vessels at the Port until Monday morning, when SID can respond.

The panga was operated by Mexican nationals, and the cargo was marijuana, law enforcement sources said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec022012

Chinese Women Pay to Give Birth at California Maternity Mansion, Secure Citizenship for Babies

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- The unassuming home at the top of the hill in an upscale Chino Hills, Calif., neighborhood has been operating as a "maternity mansion," charging women from China high prices to give birth in the United States, essentially buying American citizenship for their babies, according to neighbors who want the operation shut down.

An address found on AsiamChild.com, a Chinese language website advertising the American birthing experience to prospective mothers, matches with the Chino Hills residence. Packages on the site range from $5,000 to $15,000 and call the expenditure a "worthwhile investment" in order to have an American baby.

"We are trying to get the word out that we are not going to condone this type of behavior and allow this type of business to come into our family-oriented community," said Rossana Mitchell, a 22-year resident of the city and spokeswoman for Not In Chino Hills, a group that was formed in response to the "maternity mansion."

The 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States.

Authorities in Chino Hills began looking into the residence several months ago, after neighbors feared the numerous, heavily pregnant women they saw filtering in and out of the seven bedroom home could be part of a human trafficking ring.

Last week, the City of Chino Hills issued the foreign-based owner of the home a cease-and-desist order for allegedly operating a hotel in a residential neighborhood, which is illegal, Los Angeles ABC station KABC-TV reported.

ABCNews.com was unable to reach owner Hai Yong Wu for comment.

The website includes tips for mothers on how to hide their pregnancies from U.S. customs officers, so they can receive a visitor's visa.

Pregnant mothers are advised to wear a dark T-shirt and use a large backpack to cover their stomachs, according to advice on the website. They are also told to not bring in any items specific to pregnant women and babies, in order to prevent suspicion.

Aside from citizenship, the website touts other perks American citizens enjoy, including free public education, better loan rates and social welfare during retirement.

"It's so blatant and from doing my research, this is an epidemic and it's nationwide," Mitchell said. "It's a way to buy citizenship. We don't want it here in Chino Hills."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov282012

Storms Slam Northern California

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The first of three powerful storms is hitting Northern California, where travelers are feeling the strongest impact.

The winds are causing flights to be delayed and canceled in San Francisco and Oakland. Heavy rain has been falling, making freeways crawl. And if that's not enough, there are big concerns about possible mudslides. A wildfire burned close to some homes, making the soil very unsteady.

The rain is expected to continue through Sunday. In total, up to 10 inches of rain could fall in some areas north of San Francisco.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov242012

Camel Roams Southern California Streets After Escaping Circus

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- A circus camel roamed the streets of a Southern California city after it escaped from its handlers.

The camel is part of the Ramos Bros. Circus and the incident started during some exercises Friday afternoon.

“Somebody dropped a wrench and one of them got scared,” said Douglas Ramos, co-owner of Ramos Bros. Circus.

The camel ran out of its tent and onto Glendale city streets.

“Literally there was 10 people running after this camel, it was craziness on the street, I heard kids yelling and screaming,” witness Diana Madison told ABC News Los Angeles station KABC.

The camel ran into a gas station and was lured back to the circus with a carrot, unharmed.

Ramos joked that maybe the camel just wanted to get in some Black Friday shopping.

“You know, we do this every day. This time I guess she just wanted to go shopping or something, I don’t know. Black Friday deals,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov192012

Public Nudity Ban Considered in San Francisco

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- San Franciscans may be forced to wear clothes outside of their homes and some nude activists aren’t pleased.

City lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that, if passed, would make it illegal for anyone over the age of 5 to expose their genitals in public.  Exemptions will be made for parades and festivals held under a city permit, according to the ordinance.

A group of activists filed a federal lawsuit against the city last Wednesday, asking that a judge issue a temporary restraining order to stop the vote on Tuesday and provide the court enough time to determine the merits of the case.

One of the plaintiffs, Mitch Hightower, has organized an annual “nude-in” demonstration over the past several years.

“The ‘Nude In’ is intended to promote a spirit of tolerance, peace and fellowship among the attendees,” the lawsuit said, claiming that if enacted, the ordinance would violate the constitutional right of free speech.

“It attempts to criminalize nudity even when engaged in for the purpose of political advocacy,” the lawsuit said.

George Davis, who ran for mayor in 2007 and District 6 supervisor in 2010, both times as the “nude candidate,” joined the suit, claiming he uses nudity “as part of his political expression.”

If the ordinance is enacted, first time offenders would be fined $100.  The fine increases to $200 if it’s the second offense within 12 months.  The third time a nudist is caught, they could be slapped with a $500 fine and potentially charged with a misdemeanor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov162012

Transgender Woman Files Lawsuit After Getting Tased by Ranger

KGTV/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A Ramona, Calif., transgender woman has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that a Bureau of Land Management ranger used a Taser on her because she used to be a man.

"I consider myself to be a victim of a crime," Brooke Fantelli told ABC News.

Fantelli had driven out to the desert in Imperial County, Calif., for a photo shoot with two models and a photographer in her Datsun racing pickup truck on Oct. 22, 2011.

During the shoot, Fantelli said a Bureau of Land Management ranger pulled up and asked what was going on.  He asked everyone for their identification and for Fantelli's registration.  The group complied.

Fantelli said the ranger, referred to in the complaint as "Ranger Peter," was polite at first, calling her "ma'am" and "miss."  But when he returned her license to her, his demeanor changed.

While she had been female for two years prior to the incident, Fantelli said that she had yet not changed the gender marker on her license.

"When he handed me back my ID, he said, 'You used to be a boy.'  I said yeah," Fantelli said.

From then on, Fantelli said the ranger started referring to her as "mister, sir, and then dude."

While the ranger searched her vehicle, Fantelli said she heard him say, "Please step away while I check its truck."

The photo shoot was allowed to continue, but the ranger stayed, Fantelli said.  After nearly an hour and a half, the models asked Fantelli to go over to his car and ask him if he would mind leaving.

Fantelli said the ranger then told her he was arresting her for being drunk in public.  During the shoot, she had been drinking a beer, she said, but was not drunk.  According to the complaint, the ranger did not conduct sobriety tests before arresting Fantelli.

The situation escalated when other law enforcement officials started arriving on the scene, she said.  She put her hands up in the air to show she was not resisting, she said.

Officers ordered Fantelli to lie face down in the dirt and put her hands behind her back.  When she refused, she was tased.

"He shot me point blank," she said.

The photographer on the shoot captured the incident on her cellphone.  The video shows Fantelli standing with her arms up in the air before being knocked over by the voltage from a Taser dart.  While she was on the ground, the ranger used the Taser again, this time shooting her in the genitals.

"He Tasered my crotch, and then ripped [the Taser probe] out," she said.

Fantelli said she was taken to the hospital and given a blood test, where her blood alcohol content was 0.0, according to the complaint.

Then, she was taken to jail, and charged with public intoxication, violently resisting arrest, and making a terrorist threat -- which is a felony offense.

"In the hospital, the ranger looked at me, and I said, 'You and I are not through yet,'" she said.  "That's what he wrote up the threat as."

While the district attorney has declined to pursue the criminal charges, Fantelli is suing the United States and the ranger himself.

When the incident occurred, the Bureau of Land Management issued a statement condoning "Tasers as a law enforcement tool when threatening behavior is exhibited that poses a risk to public safety, as well as the safety of BLM staff."

"When deploying Tasers, rangers target the subject's lower center mass, legs or back if possible.  It appears the ranger targeted appropriately in this case," the statement said.

BLM spokeswoman Erin Curtis said she could not comment on the pending lawsuit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio