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SCIENCE
January 30, 2013 | By Bettina Boxall
Irrigation in California's Central Valley pours so much water vapor into the atmosphere that it significantly drives up summer rainfall and runoff in the Southwest, according to a new study. Using a global climate model and estimates of agricultural water use in the Central Valley, UC Irvine scientists concluded that increased evapotranspiration and water vapor export from the valley had a significant effect on the interior Southwest's weather patterns. Average rainfall during the region's summer monsoon season is 15% greater than it would be without the influence of Central Valley irrigation, and the extra precipitation boosts Colorado River flows by 28%, according to the researchers' computer modeling.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 23, 2014 | By Diana Marcum
FRESNO - The state's new effort to map the areas most at risk from pollution features hot spots up and down California. But nowhere are there more of the worst-afflicted areas than in Fresno - in particular a 3,000-person tract of the city's west side where diesel exhaust, tainted water, pesticides and poverty conspire to make it No. 1 on California's toxic hit list. "I'm looking at this map, and all I see is red. We're right here," Daisy Perez, a social worker at the Cecil C. Hinton Community Center, said as she located the center of the red areas that represented the top 10% most-polluted census tracts in California.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 14, 2014 | By Diana Marcum
A nearly yearlong investigation has led to the dismantling of a drug organization that distributed narcotics from Mexico to the Central Valley, and from there all over the country, authorities said Monday. At a Fresno news conference, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris said that a task force led by the Department of Justice had arrested 11 people and seized 56 pounds of methamphetamine, four kilograms of cocaine, 942 marijuana plants, one vehicle and nearly $269,000 in cash. The alleged network was known as the Magana organization and Harris said it was based in Tulare County.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 16, 2014 | By Los Angeles Times staff
A lost sea lion pup nicknamed Hoppie found at a Central Valley orchard about 100 miles from the ocean is recovering at a marine mammal center in Sausalito after its inland adventure. The confused animal was discovered last month at Mape's Ranch near Modesto, where workers contacted wildlife officials, the Fresno Bee reported. A volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito eventually coaxed the lost sea lion into a wire cage, where it promptly fell asleep, KTVU-TV reported.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 1, 2013 | By Anthony York
Anti-gambling activists and Native American tribes that own some of the largest casinos in the state were unable to stop state lawmakers from approving a new casino deal in Madera County earlier this year. Now, they're hoping state voters will halt the project. Opponents of a new casino planned by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians submitted more than 800,000 signatures in county offices across the state on Tuesday to place the fate of the new casino before voters next fall.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 2, 2013 | Fox 40 Sacramento
A Central Valley handyman working in the backyard of a Manteca house said he was shocked to discover a patio that appeared to be made of dozens of grave markers. Daniel Lopez said he reported his discovery to the police and the landlord who owns the house. "It's kind of scary," Lopez said. “There were 300-plus, I think. Wouldn't have known it until somebody flipped them over; they looked like bricks.” The markers, each one belonging to a deceased person, were face-down and used to build a backyard patio.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 3, 2013 | By Joseph Serna
A freight train derailed Sunday in a small town outside of Modesto, closing the track temporarily but otherwise causing little damage. About 10 cars derailed just before 5 p.m. Sunday in Denair, a town about 15 miles southeast of Modesto, the Modesto Bee reported. All but three of the cars were empty and no hazardous material was aboard, the Bee reported. There were no reported injuries, but the track was damaged and was closed until further notice. Amtrak is using buses to carry passengers whose trips were affected by the crash.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 19, 2013 | By Dan Weikel
A lawsuit alleging that approval of the high-speed rail system's first sections in the Central Valley violated state environmental laws was settled Thursday, eliminating a legal obstacle that could have delayed construction. A Sacramento County Superior Court judge approved an agreement that calls for the California High-Speed Rail Authority to further reduce the project's effects on farming operations, preserve agricultural land and provide additional compensation for landowners.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 17, 1999
"Contest Offers Chance to Reshape the Central Valley" (March 13) seems more like a search to find just the opposite of saving what is probably the world's largest bread basket. In my view, contrary to the so-called experts, the solution is simple. All the Legislature has to do is to pass a law that will preclude the conversion of agricultural land to any other use. Doing this, which is no doubt politically difficult, would not only save this most precious natural resource, but would strictly limit a population explosion, whether by birth or by migration.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 26, 2013 | By Angel Jennings
Eight men with ties to a Mexican drug ring were arrested after authorities in the Central Valley discovered a drug den filled with more than $1 million in processed marijuana, authorities said. A narcotics team served a search warrant to residents inside the Madera home Wednesday after receiving a tip of a "menacing grow," said Erica Stuart, spokeswoman for the Madera County Sheriff's Office.  Agents seized 83 plants, 500 pounds of processed marijuana and another 30 pounds of packaged marijuana "ready to hit the streets," she said.
BUSINESS
April 16, 2014 | By Shan Li
The vast majority of Californians believe, unsurprisingly, that the state is in the throes of a serious water crisis. But many disagree about what can be done about it. About 54% of Golden State voters believe farmers could cut down on their water with no real hardship by changing crops and being more efficient, according to the latest Field Poll. Separately, two-thirds said they support voluntary water rationing, while only 27% favored mandatory cuts in water use. Opinions also were divided when people assigned blame for the drought.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 14, 2014 | By Diana Marcum
A nearly yearlong investigation has led to the dismantling of a drug organization that distributed narcotics from Mexico to the Central Valley, and from there all over the country, authorities said Monday. At a Fresno news conference, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris said that a task force led by the Department of Justice had arrested 11 people and seized 56 pounds of methamphetamine, four kilograms of cocaine, 942 marijuana plants, one vehicle and nearly $269,000 in cash. The alleged network was known as the Magana organization and Harris said it was based in Tulare County.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 9, 2014 | By Marisa Gerber and Diana Marcum
The mother of Jose Manuel Martinez, the man officials say confessed to killing more than 30 people across the country, described herself Wednesday as completely overwhelmed and wary about the truth of his statements. In an interview at her Richgrove, Calif., home Wednesday afternoon - the day after officials announced Martinez was being charged with nine counts of murder committed in the Central Valley and Santa Barbara County and spanning 30 years - Loreta Fernandez said she was still processing the news.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 9, 2014 | By Diana Marcum, Scott Gold and Marisa Gerber
RICHGROVE, Calif. - In March 2013, a man with brooding, mahogany eyes and a walrus mustache traveled from his home in California to visit relatives in Alabama. The trip did not end well. When a business acquaintance insulted Jose Manuel Martinez's daughter, Martinez put two bullets in the man's head, officials said. It was a matter "of family honor," Errek Jett, an Alabama prosecutor, said Wednesday. But it was not, it turned out, the first time he had killed - far from it, authorities believe.
BUSINESS
April 2, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - Pacific Gas & Electric Co., indicted by the federal government for criminal behavior stemming from a Bay Area natural gas explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes, still faces more trouble. In the next few months, PG&E will face the likelihood of a fine from the California Public Utilities Commission as high as $2.25 billion for its role in the September 2010 disaster in the city of San Bruno. On Tuesday, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco announced that a grand jury indicted PG&E on 12 alleged violations of the federal Pipeline Safety Act involving poor record keeping and faulty management practices.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 25, 2014 | By Diana Marcum
FRESNO -- More than 1,000 farm workers are expected in Delano on Tuesday night to watch the first feature film about Cesar Chavez. The film, directed by Diego Luna and starring Michael Pena as Chavez, is set in the 10 years surrounding the grape boycotts that began in the Kern County farm town in the 1960s. The film will screen outdoors at the Forty Acres , a parcel of land on Delano's outskirts that is now a National Historic Monument. It was here that Chavez's 1968 fast drew national attention to harsh working conditions in the fields.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 24, 2013 | By Anthony York
SACRAMENTO -- After weeks of nasty campaigning and spending that topped $5 million, Republican farmer Andy Vidak holds a lead of nearly 6,000 votes over Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez as voters went to the polls Tuesday in a Central Valley state Senate race that could still be days away from being settled. The California secretary of State's office said Wednesday morning that Vidak has just over 39,000 votes, or 54%, and Perez has 33,252 votes, or 46%. But an unknown number of provisional and absentee ballots have yet to be tallied and could take days to count.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 16, 2014 | By Los Angeles Times staff
A lost sea lion pup nicknamed Hoppie found at a Central Valley orchard about 100 miles from the ocean is recovering at a marine mammal center in Sausalito after its inland adventure. The confused animal was discovered last month at Mape's Ranch near Modesto, where workers contacted wildlife officials, the Fresno Bee reported. A volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito eventually coaxed the lost sea lion into a wire cage, where it promptly fell asleep, KTVU-TV reported.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 18, 2014 | By Bettina Boxall
Thanks to February storms, state officials are slightly easing drought restrictions on water deliveries, but the changes won't make a difference to most of the state. The prime beneficiaries will be Central Valley irrigation districts with the most senior water rights. Although last month's above average rainfall in Northern California improved the water supply picture somewhat, officials Tuesday continued to predict that the big state and federal water projects that help supply a majority of Californians will deliver little or no water to most agricultural and urban agencies this year.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 17, 2014 | Tony Perry
Thomas Cox, a third-generation Imperial Valley farmer, is driving his pickup along the gravel roads that separate large fields of lettuce, broccoli, onions and wheat. The discussion turns, as it often does in the Imperial Valley, to water. "Without water," said Cox, 27, "our ground would be useless. " But with copious amounts of water, the Cox family and others have turned half a million acres of desert into one of the most bountiful farming regions in the world -- a fact unchanged by the drought gripping much of California.
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