Latest California news, sports, business and entertainment

BORDER PATROL-DEATH

Death of man in Border Patrol custody investigated

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego County Medical Examiner's office is investigating the cause of death of a man who collapsed in a Border Patrol holding cell on Christmas Eve after he was taken into custody for allegedly carrying three pounds of marijuana.

The Border Patrol said Saturday that the man, a U.S. citizen, was stopped at a checkpoint on Interstate 8, near the Mexican border.

He was taken to a holding cell after authorities said they found the marijuana, drug paraphernalia and traces of methamphetamine in his car.

Soon afterward he collapsed. Paramedics were unable to revive him.

Border Patrol officials say they are cooperating with the investigation.

Officials didn't immediately release the man's name.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Federal government ends extended jobless benefits

WESTMINSTER, Calif. (AP) — The end of unemployment checks for more than a million jobless Americans has driven people to consider selling cars, moving and taking minimum wage work after already slashing household budgets and pawning personal possessions.

The change affected 1.3 million people on Saturday and will affect hundreds of thousands more who remain jobless in the months ahead.

The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress want to continue the program but the extensions were dropped from a budget deal earlier this month. Republican lawmakers have balked at the program's $26 billion annual cost.

Greg and Barbara Chastain of Huntington Beach, Calif. say they have exhausted their state unemployment benefits since losing work in June and now may uproot their family and move to save on rent.

MARK TWAIN-LAKE TAHOE

Nevada again aims to name Tahoe cove for Twain

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada officials are launching a new bid to give Mark Twain recognition in the state where he assumed his pen name in 1863.

The Nevada State Board on Geographic Names is again pushing a proposal to name a scenic Lake Tahoe cove for Samuel Clemens, Twain's real name.

The state board no longer maintains the cove should be named for Twain because he actually camped there in 1861.

The board's national counterpart rejected the naming effort two years ago, citing doubt about whether Twain camped at the spot as a factor.

Nevada board members now say they want to name the cove for Twain merely because of his association with Tahoe and the lack of a geographic feature in the state named for him.

MOTHER SLAIN

Police arrest son in slaying of Redlands woman

REDLANDS, Calif. (AP) — Redlands police have arrested a 25-year-old man for investigation of murder after officers responding to a call found his mother slain and his sister injured.

Police spokesman Carl Baker says officers arrived at the family's home about 5:30 a.m. Saturday to find the 46-year-old woman dead and her 21-year-old sister injured.

They found the woman's 25-year-old son, Pablo Hernandez Jr., outside the home.

Baker says Hernandez was arrested for investigation of murder and attempted murder.

Authorities didn't reveal the extent of the younger woman's injuries, but say she is hospitalized after undergoing surgery.

They asked that anyone with information on the incident contact them.

BUS STRIKE

AC Transit workers ratify labor deal, avert strike

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Workers with a major San Francisco Bay area bus system ratified a labor deal, ending the threat of a strike.

Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District drivers and mechanics on Friday voted for the agreement, which includes a 9.5-percent wage increase over the next 3 years.

The 1,625 workers rejected two previous proposals negotiated between the union and AC Transit.

Under the new agreement, AC Transit workers will make a flat monthly contribution of $120 per employee for health care.

The agreement comes after a cooling-off period imposed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The transit system's board of directors is scheduled to vote on the agreement next month.

TOUR BUSES HALTED

Feds tell LA-based bus company to cease operations

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered a Los Angeles-based bus company to cease operations after concluding it was endangering public safety.

The Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says its investigators found the Its Good Promotion tour-bus company did not regularly screen its drivers for drug or alcohol use or regularly inspect its vehicles.

Safety officials say a spot inspection of a bus attempting to cross the border from San Diego to Mexico earlier this month set off an investigation after 17 serious safety defects were found.

Its Good Promotion officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.

The company's office phone has been disconnected and a message left at a company official's home was not immediately returned.

FAULTY FELON TRACKING

1 in 4 GPS trackers of LA County crooks faulty

(Information in the following story is from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A state audit shows that one in four GPS devices used to track criminals released in Los Angeles County doesn't work properly, allowing dangerous felons to sometimes roam freely for weeks.

The Probation Department audit obtained by a public records request from the Los Angeles Times says problems with the devices included defective electronics that generated false alarms and batteries that wouldn't hold a charge.

Probation Department Deputy Chief Reaver Bingham called such faulty technology "a recipe for disaster."

Sentinel Offender Services, a contractor that provides the devices, says most problems were caused by untrained probation officers and felons who violated instructions.

AIR QUALITY-FIREPLACES

SF Bay area air agency issues new wood-burning ban

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Bay Area air quality officials are prohibiting the use of wood-burning fireplaces for another day after determining the region's air is unhealthy.

For the 7th day straight, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued an alert for Sunday, which makes use of fire pits, woodstoves or manufactured fire logs illegal.

Homes where woodstoves or fireplaces are the only heat source are exempt.

Jack Broadbent, the district's executive director, says particulates from burning wood create unhealthy air.

Air quality has suffered recently due to a prolonged dry spell that has allowed pollution to remain in the area.

It was the 22nd "Spare the Air" alert since Nov.

First time violators face a possible $100 fine, or $500 for a 2nd citation.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAM-PROBLEMS

State energy efficiency program off to slow start

(Information in the following story is from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An effort by California to spur the installation of energy efficiency retrofits in 100,000 homes by giving homeowners a rebate is off to a slow start.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that in its first 3 years, Energy Upgrade California has given rebates to about 16,000 home and business projects.

The program offers up to $4,500 for replacement of old furnaces, fixes for leaky windows and other efficiency retrofits.

Consumer advocates have been critical of the program, which through 2012 spent more on startup costs and marketing than it did on rebates.

The program has so far spent at least $237 million in federal, local and ratepayer funds.

California energy officials say efficiency upgrades are a key to meeting California's greenhouse gas reduction goals.

NEW LAWS-CALIFORNIA

New Calif. laws try to help employees, immigrants

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Democrats who control the California Legislature put a priority in 2013 on helping workers, as illustrated by many of the laws taking effect in the new year.

In lawmakers' most far-reaching move, minimum-wage earners will be paid $9 an hour starting July 1. It will be the first of two dollar-an-hour boosts that will push the base wage to $10 by 2016, giving California one of the nation's highest rates.

In addition, domestic workers now must be paid time-and-a-half if they work more than nine hours in a day or more than 45 hours in a week. Workers in industries such as agriculture and landscaping must get rest breaks during hot weather.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed 805 bills into law in 2013, while vetoing 96.