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Rulings

CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 20, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO - Law enforcement in California may continue to collect DNA from people arrested for felonies - even if they are never formally charged - and store the genetic profiles in a criminal database, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. An 11-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court decision that refused to shut down the state's practice of swabbing individuals for DNA upon arrest. The 9th Circuit said California's practice was "clearly" constitutional under a Supreme Court decision last year that upheld a similar, but narrower, program in Maryland.
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BUSINESS
March 18, 2014 | By Shan Li and Abby Sewell
Chinese automaker Build Your Dreams is close to losing a $12-million contract to deliver a fleet of electric buses to Long Beach Transit, a deal the company hoped would jump-start its U.S. operations. Federal transit officials said that BYD violated some regulations that made it ineligible to bid in the first place. Both sides are in talks to determine how to best exit the contract ahead of what is expected to be a new round of bidding. It would mark a big setback for the Chinese company, which outbid four rivals last spring to build 10 electrically powered buses for Long Beach.
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.
OPINION
March 17, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Last November, the Internal Revenue Service asked for public comments on proposed rules to rein in political activity by tax-exempt "social welfare" groups that don't disclose their donors. The agency has gotten an earful of negative reaction, not only from conservatives who long have accused the IRS of political bias, but also from some liberal and civil-liberties groups. (The Republican-controlled House has voted to delay the rules for a year.) A few of the criticisms are justified and easily addressed.
OPINION
March 16, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Last week President Obama ordered the Department of Labor to revise regulations determining which workers qualify for federal overtime protections, a move that was presented as a way to increase income for some lower-wage workers. It's not. In reality, it's a matter of basic fairness. The issue begins with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established the national minimum wage for most workers and guaranteed overtime pay for more than 40 hours of work a week. But the law also allowed overtime exemptions to be set by the Labor Department.
NEWS
March 14, 2014 | By Lalita Clozel
WASHINGTON -- Same-sex spouses must be provided equal access to family healthcare plans offered by insurers in the Affordable Care Act marketplace exchanges, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Friday. Beginning next year, “insurance companies will not be permitted to discriminate against married same-sex couples when offering coverage,” Matthew Heinz, the agency's director of provider and LGBT outreach, said in a blog post. According to the guidelines, insurance companies that provide family plans to heterosexual couples will not be allowed to deny similar plans to same-sex married couples.
WORLD
March 14, 2014 | By Raja Abdulrahim
When the women's militia of an Al Qaeda splinter group recently raided a high school in the northern Syrian city of Raqqah, it found a range of violations of its strict interpretation of Islam. Ten young women were deemed guilty of donning a face veil that was too transparent, having visible eyebrows or wearing a hair clip under her hijab , or head covering. Each student was whipped 30 times, said one opposition activist, who asked to remain unidentified because he is wanted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the militant group that until recently was affiliated with Al Qaeda.
NATIONAL
March 14, 2014 | By Joseph Serna
A federal judge has struck down a portion of a law in Arkansas that bans most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, reasoning that the fetus' viability, not heartbeat, determines the legality of such procedures. At issue was an Arkansas law passed last March that said a woman could not receive an abortion beyond 12 weeks if the fetus had a heartbeat, except in cases of rape, incest, if the woman's life was in danger or if the fetus had a highly lethal disorder. U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright ruled that viability - or the fetus' ability to survive outside the womb - was the determining factor in abortion law and that Arkansas' law was therefore unconstitutional.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 12, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO -- A man jailed in Los Angeles County for a month because he was mistaken for someone with the same name and birth date lost a legal effort Wednesday to hold law enforcement agencies responsible for the mix-up. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected  claims by Santiago Rivera that the Los Angeles and San Bernardino County sheriff's departments violated his constitutional rights when they arrested and held him based on a warrant for another man. “The deputies were not unreasonable in believing that Rivera was the subject of the warrant at the time of arrest,” Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, a Reagan appointee, wrote for the court.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 11, 2014 | By Samantha Schaefer
Last year, a couple walking the usual route around their California Gold Country property happened upon a can sticking out of the ground. They pulled it out and uncovered seven others, all filled with hundreds of U.S. gold coins. Experts announced the find last month after a year of work researching and authenticating the 1,427 coins, worth an estimated $10 million. But the origin of the Saddle Ridge hoard remains a tantalizing mystery, one that has coin buffs and amateur sleuths on the case.
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