Latest Northern California news, sports, business and entertainment

TONSILLECTOMY-BRAIN DEAD GIRL

Family seeks transfer of brain dead Calif. girl

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A lawyer for the family of a 13-year-old girl who was declared brain dead after complications from a tonsillectomy says Jahi McMath's relatives want to transfer her to a nursing home that is willing to keep caring for her.

But lawyer Christopher Dolan said Thursday that doctors at Children's Hospital Oakland need to insert breathing and feeding tubes into the girl before the nursing home can take her.

Dolan declined to name the care facility, but said it is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and is not equipped to perform surgeries.

Children's Hospital wants to take Jahi off life support, a move that her family opposes.

A judge this week gave the hospital permission to proceed after 5 p.m. on Monday to give the girl's mother time to appeal.

TRANSGENDER STUDENT LAW

Calif. schools prepare for transgender rights law

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A new law that spells out the rights of transgender students in kindergarten through 12th grade is set to take effect in California on Jan. 1. To get ready, school districts are reviewing locker room layouts, scheduling sensitivity training for staff and reconsidering senior portrait dress codes.

But educators also are watching and waiting. The first-of-its-kind statute could end up suspended within days of its launch if a referendum to repeal it qualifies for the November ballot.

To obtain a public vote on the law, a coalition of conservative groups has collected hundreds of thousands of signatures. Counties have until Jan. 8 to verify them through spot-checking.

The secretary of state can approve the referendum, determine that it failed or order a review of every signature.

FRESNO PLANE CRASH

Plane crashes in front yard in Calif., killing 2

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A single-engine aircraft crashed in the front yard of a home in Central California on Thursday, killing two people on board.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says a Cessna 172 plane crashed at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, approximately 800 feet west of a runway at Fresno's Chandler Airport.

The plane hit a tree before crashing, authorities said, and caught fire on impact. No one on the ground was injured.

Fresno Fire Department spokesman Koby Johns says the two victims were the adult male pilot and a boy, about 9 years old.

Their names were not released.

The Fresno Police and Fire Departments were on the scene Thursday evening. The FAA and NTSB will also investigate.

The NTSB typically takes months to determine the probable cause of an accident.

BIZARRE CHRISTMAS EVE ATTACK

Calif. man arrested in bizarre Xmas Eve attack

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California man has been arrested on suspicion of attacking his roommate on Christmas Eve and threatening to eat her before killing her dog.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said Thursday that deputies were dispatched to a Santa Rosa home at about 6:30 on Dec. 24 to investigate a report of a disturbance. When they arrived, the victim said her roommate, 35-year-old Alan Evans, had grabbed her head, pulled her hair and slapped her before threatening to kill and "eat her." She then ran to a neighbor's house where she called authorities.

Deputies found the victim's dog — stabbed to death — under Evans's vehicle.

Evans was booked for assault with a deadly weapon, battery, terrorist threats and cruelty to an animal. His bail has been set at $250,000.

CHILD ORGAN DONOR

Girl who died on Christmas Eve becomes organ donor

(Information in the following story is from: The Modesto Bee, http://www.modbee.com)

DAVIS, Calif. (AP) — Amid the unspeakable grief of losing a child on Christmas Eve, a Central California couple has made the decision to donate their daughter's organs so other parents can avoid the kind of pain they are experiencing.

Manteca resident Tony Izzo tells The Modesto Bee that doctors at UC Davis Medical Center on Thursday were harvesting the heart and other organs from the body of his 9-year-old daughter, Mariah.

The girl suffered catastrophic brain injuries on Monday while riding in a small SUV being driven by her aunt. A larger SUV slammed into the vehicle while it was stopped at a red light.

Mariah was pronounced dead at 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Her father says her organs will go to at least five other people. He says Mariah is his little hero.

RIM FIRE-ECOSYSTEM

Report: Rim Fire damage may be up to $800M

SONORA, Calif. (AP) — A new report estimates that the damage to the ecosystem caused by this year's Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park may have cost the local economy $800 million.

The report, prepared by Earth Economics for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, says trees provide a useful function by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, and the blaze has reduced that oxygen output.

The value of carbon storage lost in the fire is between $102 and $797 million, the report said, using data collected in September, before the Rim Fire was extinguished.

In addition, the fire has reduced the value of nearby private property by between $49.7 and 265 million, it said.

The fire, started by a hunter's illegal campfire, burned across about 256,000 acres before it was contained in October.

CALIFORNIA WATER

Interest payments boost Delta plans cost estimate

(Information in the following story is from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — New figures that factor in long-term financing costs have more than doubled the estimated $25 billion price tag of a plan to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

At the heart of the Delta plan are two underground tunnels that would replace the delta's current pumping system that endangers fish and other wildlife. State officials have pegged the entire project's cost, including the tunnels, at $25 billion.

But the San Jose Mercury News reports that when interest payments on bonds to finance the project are factored in, the estimated cost goes up to between $51 billion and $67 billion.

The figures were presented at a meeting of a Central Valley water district last month. The Mercury News says their accuracy was confirmed by the state Department of Water Resources.

TAHOE RESORTS-MAKING SNOW

Lake Tahoe ski resorts pad slopes with own snow

(Information in the following story is from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com)

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Lake Tahoe ski resorts are making up for what Mother Nature has failed to provide.

Resort operators say their ability to make snow has been a savior this holiday season, when skiers flock to the mountains over the busy Christmas and New Year's holidays.

December is typically one of the more important months for snowfall in the Sierra. But this year has been a disappointment.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that on Christmas Day, the Lake Tahoe Basin's snowpack was only 37 percent of average for the date.

But there is some good news. Dry conditions were matched with cold temperatures, allowing those resorts investing in snow-making capability to open substantial terrain for the busy holiday period.

JACK LONDON TREE

Jack London tree won't come down as scheduled

(Information in the following story is from: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, http://www.pressdemocrat.com)

GLEN ELLEN, Calif. (AP) — A tree in Sonoma County that provided shade and inspiration to writer and adventurer Jack London is getting a reprieve from its scheduled removal.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley said this month that the oak tree, though suffering from a fungal disease, is healthy enough to continue standing for another two to 10 years. The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reports that it was scheduled to come down in November because of concerns that one of its branches could fall and damage London's nearby cottage or injure someone.

The 50-foot tall, 350- to 400-year-old tree sits on a ranch site in Glen Ellen that served as London's home from 1905 until his death in 1916. It is now a state park.