Latest California news, sports, business and entertainment


LA County children's social workers go on strike

LOS ANGELES (AP) — About 4,000 children's social workers are going on strike after contract talks with Los Angeles County officials broke down.

The Service Employees International Union Local 721 announced the walkout Wednesday night. The union plans to picket at 16 locations starting Thursday morning.

Union employees have been working without a contract for more than two months.

The union said negotiations came to a halt this week when county officials refused to consider workers' demand to reduce caseloads by hiring and training more social workers. The union had sued the county over the issue, alleging that a directive from an arbitrator to reduce the social worker-to-child ratios in one county child welfare office had been ignored.

A call to the county Department of Children and Family Services was not immediately returned.


Poll: Californians divided over Obama's health reforms as president's job approval declines

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Californians twice voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama, but they are split on his most important domestic policy achievement — health care reform.

A Public Policy Institute of California survey released Wednesday finds that just 44 percent of Californians favor Obama's Affordable Care Act, while the same percentage has an unfavorable opinion.

In better news for the new law, two-thirds of uninsured residents say they plan to get insurance by next year now that it is more available to them. Nearly a quarter said they would opt to remain without health insurance.

At the same time, Obama's job approval rating has taken a hit, with 51 percent of Californians approving. That matches a record low from two years ago and is down 10 points from last summer.

The survey was conducted the month after the Affordable Care Act's online marketplaces went live on Oct. 1, a disastrous rollout for the federal exchange that serves 36 states.

The Public Policy Institute survey interviewed 1,700 adults by telephone from Nov. 12-19 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.


Calif. couple conceives rare identical triplets

(Information in the following story is from: The Sacramento Bee,

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Doctors at a Northern California hospital say a couple has given birth to a rare set of naturally conceived identical triplets.

The Sacramento Bee reports Abby, Brin and Laurel Hepner were born Nov. 22 at Sutter Memorial Hospital to Hannah and Tom Hepner, of Quincy.

The triplets were produced when a single, fertilized egg split into three.

Dr. William Gilbert, director of Sutter Women's Services, says the odds of producing identical triplets without fertility drugs range from 1-in-1-million to 1-in-100-million.

He said the rarity makes it difficult to more accurately calculate the frequency of such births.

Abby weighed 3 pounds, 2 ounces; Brin 3 pounds, 11 ounces; and Laurel 4 pounds.

The triplets are still in the hospital until they can maintain body temperature and eat properly.


OC says neighborhood Christmas lights can stay

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — An Orange County neighborhood that was ordered to take down its elaborate Christmas light display has won a dazzling victory.

Residents of the Wagon Wheel area of Trabuco Canyon had a Wednesday deadline to remove lights that stretch on steel cables across the street between some 20 homes.

The county said the lights encroached on the public roadway and could pose a fire hazard. Homeowners were warned that unless the lights were removed, they could face misdemeanor charges and fines of up to $500 per day.

But after the threat made the news, the county switched course.

The Orange County Register says residents were told Tuesday that the lights can stay if they submit permit applications and the installations pass inspections. The county's even waiving the permit fee.


15 arrested in takedown of Central CA drug ring

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say 15 people have been arrested in the takedown of a drug trafficking ring suspected of dealing large amounts of heroin in San Luis Obispo County.

The county sheriff's office said officers from multiple agencies participated in Wednesday's raid, and they seized an unspecified amount of narcotics, guns and money.

The raid was the culmination of an investigation in which detectives had already seized about 2 ¼ pounds of heroin and an ounce of methamphetamine with a street value of more than $100,000.

Authorities said the ring operated out of Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo and several other cities in the area, and had direct ties to Mexican drug cartels.


3 plead not guilty in S. Cal grandma murder plot

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California couple and their alleged hitman have pleaded not guilty to plotting the death of the woman's mother, who was beaten with a baseball bat in her Long Beach home.

City News Service says Holly Ramos, her husband Frank Haverly and Keith Phillips entered pleas Wednesday to attempted murder and other charges.

Prosecutors say Phillips tried to bludgeon, suffocate and strangle 62-year-old Elizabeth Wells in October.

Wells had sought to foster her young grandchildren after Ramos was arrested in Monterey County on narcotics and child endangerment charges. Wells also filed a fraud complaint against her daughter for allegedly forging checks on the mother's bank account.

Prosecutors say Phillips got into the mother's home by posing as a social worker wanting to talk about the children.


S. Cal man fights extradition in dismember case

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Southern California man suspected of killing and dismembering a man in Hawaii is fighting extradition.

U-T San Diego says the attorney for Bryan Suitt made that announcement during a Wednesday hearing in San Diego.

A Hawaiian grand jury indicted the 46-year-old last month for second-degree murder. The U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force arrested him on Monday at his mother's home in Coronado. He remains jailed.

Hawaiian authorities believe that Suitt killed 34-year-old Alex Gonzales and threw his dismembered corpse in an Oahu ravine. A couple looking for recyclables found the decomposing body parts in September.

Authorities haven't revealed a possible motive for the killing.


Former Carter adviser Eugene Eidenberg dies at 74

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Eugene Eidenberg, a Silicon Valley executive who was a top adviser to President Jimmy Carter and had important roles in the U.S. telecommunications industry, has died. He was 74.

A statement from the family says Eidenberg died of a brain tumor on Tuesday in Santa Monica, where he'd undergone treatment.

Carter says Eidenberg was a "delightful and cherished friend and a superbly competent and dedicated public servant."

Eidenberg joined the Carter administration in the mid-1970s. He ultimately became secretary to the Cabinet and assistant to the President for intergovernmental affairs, reporting to Carter on implementation of domestic policies.

Later, he was director of the Democratic National Committee.

In 1982, he joined MCI Communications and held several executive positions. He went on to posts with several high-tech and venture capital businesses.


SolarCity to back up solar with Tesla batteries

NEW YORK (AP) — The solar panel installer SolarCity is beginning to address one of solar power's big drawbacks: The sun doesn't always shine.

The solution: big battery packs. The supplier: electric car maker Tesla Motors, whose CEO is also the chairman of SolarCity.

The battery packs will allow customers a way to provide backup power and lower electric bills.

The batteries will be offered first to commercial customers because of the way many commercial electric bills are calculated. SolarCity is also conducting a pilot program in California for homeowners, but because residential bills are calculated differently — and the batteries are expensive — it could be years before batteries make financial sense for homes.

SolarCity won't charge customers for the battery, but will instead offer it as a service for a monthly fee.


Ford celebrates Mustang's 50th with new design

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — The Ford Mustang is celebrating its 50th birthday with a new design and plans to go global.

Ford Motor Co. will reveal the 2015 Mustang Thursday at events in New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Sydney, Barcelona and its hometown of Dearborn, Mich.

The car goes on sale next fall in North America and later in Europe and Asia.

The new car has plenty of cues from the old, including a long sculpted hood, sloping fastback and trapezoid-shaped grille with the Mustang logo. But it also has some new features, including a roof that tapers dramatically in the front and rear and narrower, more menacing headlights.

Ford won't yet say how much the Mustang will cost, but the current version — which was redesigned in 2005 — starts at $23,000.


Korver leads Hawks to 107-97 win over Clippers

ATLANTA (AP) — Kyle Korver scored a season-high 23 points and tied the NBA record for consecutive games with a 3-pointer in the Atlanta Hawks' 107-97 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

Paul Millsap finished with 25 points and Al Horford added 21 to help the Hawks snap a two-game losing streak.

Blake Griffin scored 24 points and Chris Paul had 19 points and 11 assists as the Clippers lost their second straight.

Korver, returning from a bruised rib that sidelined him the last four games, tied Dana Barros' NBA 18-year-old record by hitting a 3-pointer in his 89th straight game.

He made his first attempt in the game's first minute and finished 6 for 9 beyond the arc.


Cal St-Fullerton earns 78-64 win at Pepperdine

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) — Marquis Horne pumped in 21 points to lead Cal State-Fullerton to a 78-64 win at Pepperdine Wednesday night.

Trailing by five points at the break, the Titans (3-6) opened the second half with a 20-10 run to take a five-point lead, a lead they extended to 11 points with four minutes to play.

Steve McClellan sandwiched a jumper and a three-point play around a Michael Williams 3-pointer to push the Titans lead to 11 points with 3:59 left to play.

Horne was 9 of 11 from the floor and grabbed seven boards. McClellan added 13 points off the bench and Williams added 12 more, going 4 for 4 from the line in the final 1:23 to hold the Waves at bay.

Brendan Lane had 24 points to lead Pepperdine (5-4). The Waves were held to just eight offensive rebounds and were out-boarded by a 42-29 margin.