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February 14, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO - A public elementary school decided in 2011 to require students to wear a uniform with the school's motto, "Tomorrow's Leaders," emblazoned in small letters on the shirts around a gopher, the campus mascot. One parent objected to the uniforms and eventually sued, contending they violated the 1st Amendment's guarantee of free speech. In a unanimous ruling Friday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit largely agreed with her. The panel said the words "Tomorrow's Leaders" potentially violated students' right to free speech and the uniform policy must go unless the school district can justify it under a legal standard that is difficult to meet.
February 13, 2014 | By Rong-Gong Lin II, Doug Smith and Rosanna Xia
Santa Monica will become the first city in California to inspect concrete, steel and wood-frame buildings and require seismic retrofitting for those deemed vulnerable during a major earthquake. The city will spend more than $100,000 over the next year identifying potentially dangerous buildings, then property owners must show they are safe or fix them. City officials said they would determine over the next few months how much time the owners have to complete the retrofitting. The survey is expected to cover hundreds of buildings, including steel office towers, older concrete buildings and wood multistory apartment houses that dot the city.
February 13, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - Citing studies linking soda to obesity, a state lawmaker and medical experts proposed a first-in-the-nation bill Thursday that sugary drinks sold in California carry health warning labels similar to those on cigarette packs. They want warning labels on the fronts of all cans and bottles of soda and juice drinks that have sugar added and 75 or more calories per 12 ounces. The label would read: "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s)
February 11, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - With the state Legislature rocked by multiple scandals, the leader of the Senate has assembled a group of lawmakers to examine the state's decades-old ethics and campaign laws. The Senate Ethics Working Group was formed by Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "I asked a few colleagues to get together informally and examine legislative and campaign finance rules in other states, with an intent to discuss and prepare a package of reforms that strengthen California's laws," Steinberg said Tuesday.
February 11, 2014 | By Carla Rivera
About 75 Cal State Los Angeles students and faculty showed up at a meeting Tuesday of the Academic Senate to demand that a course in ethnic studies be a requirement for graduation. Supporters argued that the courses are important in developing critical thinking and ensuring that the curriculum includes perspectives from all cultures.  The courses can also help students better relate to one another, especially in racially and ethnically diverse Los Angeles, said Jelani Hendrix, 23, a Pan-African studies major who addressed the senate.
February 9, 2014 | Michael Hiltzik
There are two possible policy outcomes to a severe drought like the one California is experiencing now. One is that the drought focuses the minds of political leaders and water users, prompting them to come together to craft a broad, comprehensive solution to a problem that won't be going away. The other is that the community of water users will fragment and turn on one another, with farmers lining up against environmentalists, suburbanites against farmers, and so on. Which way would you guess things are going?
February 6, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - Citing skyrocketing thefts of smartphones and tablets, officials proposed Thursday that California become the first state to require the devices to be sold with "kill switches" that render them inoperable when stolen. State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and other lawmakers said they plan to introduce such legislation with the support of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck. L.A. had a 12% increase in mobile-device thefts in 2012, the most recent figures available.
February 6, 2014 | By Veronica Rocha
Owners of massage establishments will now have to undergo criminal background checks and pay for a city-issued certificate to operate in Glendale. The City Council this week approved a new ordinance requiring massage establishment operators  - who own at least 5% of the business and are not already certified by the California  Massage Therapy  Council - to obtain and pay for a $521 massage establishment owner certificate, the Glendale News-Press reported. The Police Department will perform criminal background checks on massage business owners or operators before they are granted a certificate.
February 6, 2014 | By Lisa Dillman
SOCHI, Russia — Ideally, the time and place to test an Olympics format change would have been a couple of years ago at a smaller competition. Not at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in the 2014 Winter Games. But, much to the bemusement of the freestyle moguls skiers, Olympic officials tend to do things their own way. So, with the women's event starting Thursday, it is a brave new moguls world. The format tweak increases the importance of endurance: There are now two days of competition — a qualification run and a second day with as many as three more rounds.
February 3, 2014 | By Ricardo Lopez
In the latest move in its animal welfare standards program, fast food company Wendy's International Inc. said it would require its pork suppliers to submit quarterly progress reports detailing their efforts to phase out controversial gestation crates. Confining breeding sows to the crates has been criticized as cruel, and dozens of food companies, including Wendy's, have said they would eliminate them from their supply chains.    In an update on its website, Wendy's said it hopes to end the use of gestation crates in its supply chain by the end of 2022.
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