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    Scientists and amateur astronomers are tracking a 1.7-mile-wide asteroid on course to sail past Earth as it makes a wide U-turn on the way back toward the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

    Meteors, Meteorites and Asteroids | How to Capture an Asteroid

    At its closest point to the Earth, asteroid 1998 QE2 will be about 3.6 million miles away -- about 15 times the distance between the Earth and moon. But that comfortable distance -- scientists expected the pass to occur Friday at 1:59 p.m. PT -- is close enough for astronomers to get a good look at the space rock.

    "This is one of the big ones," said Paul Chodas, of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. "It's certainly one to keep an eye on."

    On Wednesday night, astronomers discovered a smaller, 2,000-feet-wide moon asteroid circling the larger rock, The Associated Press reported.

    Participants in the White House's "We the Geeks" webcast are watching during a Google+ Hangout. The Hangout will focus on how asteroids are identified and what's being done to avoid asteroid-related hazards.

    Click here to join the Hangout.

    Friday's approach marks the closest the asteroid will get to Earth for at least the next two centuries. The fly-by allows researchers studying potential threats from space to better understand the asteroid's surface, rotation and other features by using radar (image sequence, right).

    Researchers discovered the asteroid about 15 years ago and obtained their first sequence of radar images Thursday, when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles from Earth.

    Nicola Loaring, of the South African Astronomical Society, used JPL's web site to find the asteroid's coordinates Wednesday night. Astronomers around the world provide observations that JPL researchers use to predict the orbit.

    "It looked like a star moving across the field," Loaring said. "It was moving very slowly. We knew it was the asteroid because it was moving against the background of the stationary stars."

    QE2 -- the name is the product of a standard naming convention and has no connection to the ocean liner -- will not be visible without a powerful telescope. Scientists are using radar facilities in California's Mojave Desert and Puerto Rico to get the best views.

    Twitter users can monitor hashtags #asteroidQE2 and #1998QE2 for updates.

    The fly-by comes after a 150-foot asteroid -- 2012 DA14 -- passed within 17,200 miles of Earth in April. Another space rock lit up the sky over Russia earlier this year, causing a explosion and sonic boom that shattered glass windows.
     



    Photo Credit: NASA

    This graphic provides a look at asteroid 1998 QE2's orbit and proximity to Earth.This graphic provides a look at asteroid 1998 QE2's orbit and proximity to Earth.

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    After finishing third each of the last two years, Arvind Mahankali, a 13-year-old from Queens, New York, won the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee by finally conquering a word of German origin.

    He took the spelling bee's top prize on Thursday by correctly spelling the word “knaidel,” the German-derived Yiddish word for a matzo ball.

    "I thought a German curse has turned into a German blessing," Mahankali said after winning.

    Spelling words of German origin proved difficult for the aspiring physicist in the past. Two years ago, Mahankali pronounced "Jugendstil" as "You could steal" and saluted the crowd when he got it wrong, according to The Associated Press. Last year he misspelled "schwannoma" and proclaimed, "I know what I have to study."

    He told NBC’s “Today” show Friday that he prepared for this year’s contest by making a list of German-origin words and had his mother quiz him.

    "This year I decied that no matter what I wouldn't be eliminated on a German word," Mahankali said on "Today." "So I decided to improve my skills with German."

    He was ready. He spelled "dehnstufe" correctly earlier in the finals and broke “the German curse” Thursday night with the correct spelling of "knaidel."

    "I had begun to be a little wary of German words," Mahankali, who admires Albert Einstein, told the AP. "But this year I prepared German words and I studied them, so when I got German words this year, I wasn't worried."

    Eleven contestants -- out of the original group of 281-- vied for the top prize demonstrating their spelling ability with words such as "auncel," "greffier," "envoutement," "mamaliga" and "transrhenane."

    Mahankali took home $30,000 in cash and prizes and a large cup-shaped trophy. His victory continues Indian-Americans' domination of the contest – though he is the first boy to win since 2008. He is also the first champion from New York since Rebecca Sealfon in 1997.

    "It hasn't completely registered yet that I won," Mahankali told "Today." I didn't really appreciate the magnitude of what had just happened."



    Photo Credit: AP

    Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, New York holds the championship trophy after he won the National Spelling Bee.Arvind Mahankali, 13, of Bayside Hills, New York holds the championship trophy after he won the National Spelling Bee.

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    A tool that lets sexually active people receive and share their STD testing results digitally is now available to junior high and high school students in the Los Angeles School District.

    Qpid.me relays STD and HIV test results from a health care provider to the user, who can then choose whether to send that information to a potential partner.

    The free service is available to anyone older than 13. It's not a program implemented district wide, but rather is available for health education teachers to use in their curriculum if they choose to, Timothy Kordic, manager of LAUSD’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, told NBC4 Thursday.

    “We have a huge epidemic of STDs going on in Los Angeles right now. We know that the people we have to look at and target right now are 13- to 24-year-olds,” Kordic said.

    "That’s the group that are increasing their infection rates … and it’s coming from sexual activity,” he added.

    Offering a digital tool to tech-savvy students so they can be aware of their sexual health status seemed natural, Kordic said.

    “We need to make sure we get as much information to the youth as possible to make sure they make better, healthy decisions,” Kordic said.

    Kordic said QpidMe.com was “heavily” vetted to make sure it was appropriate for students as young as those in seventh grade.

    If students choose to use the service, they’ll receive two messages – one with their results and another about how to prevent the STDs for which they were tested, among them gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV.

    That message will say something to the effect of “be careful. Even though they’ve been tested, they may have had sex since. Make sure you use a condom,” Kordic said.

    There’s no way to search for other users’ sexual health status and all of the information comes directly from a health care provider or clinic – it’s never self-reported, Qpid.me founder Ramin Bastani said.

    When asked if using his service among high school students may promote sexual activity, he replied: “We’re actually promoting testing.”

    NBC4's Kim Baldonado and John Cadiz Klemack contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: www.jupiterimages.com

    Health teachers at LAUSD now have the option to teach their students about an online tool that lets them receive and share their STD test results via text message.Health teachers at LAUSD now have the option to teach their students about an online tool that lets them receive and share their STD test results via text message.

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    Coffee and cigarettes, for some, are an inseparable pair. But if that coffee is from Starbucks, smokers will have to take a walk if they want to light up.

    Cigarettes and their electronic counterparts will no longer be permitted within 25 feet of any Starbucks storefront in the U.S. or Canada effective Saturday. The ban will also prohibit smoking on Starbucks patios—a policy that's already in effect in some parts of the country with more stringent smoking regulations.

    "The intent is to provide a healthy environment for our customers in the outdoor seating areas of our stores," Starbucks spokesperson Jaime Riley said.

    Smoking is currently banned inside all Starbucks locations.




    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    NEW YORK - AUGUST 21:  A couple has iced coffee drinks at a Starbucks Coffee shop in lower Manhattan August 21, 2009 in New York City.  Starbucks, America's dominant coffeehouse chain, is changing some of its prices, raising them for elaborate specialty drinks and cutting prices for some others.  (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)NEW YORK - AUGUST 21: A couple has iced coffee drinks at a Starbucks Coffee shop in lower Manhattan August 21, 2009 in New York City. Starbucks, America's dominant coffeehouse chain, is changing some of its prices, raising them for elaborate specialty drinks and cutting prices for some others. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

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    Police have issued a Silver Alert for an 11-year-old New Haven boy who has been missing since early Thursday morning.

    When Davante Jones-Whitfield was last seen, he was wearing a blue and white shirt, black shorts and blue and white sneakers.

    He has black hair and brown eyes. He is 4-feet-6 and weighs 100 pounds.

    If you see him, call New Haven police at (203) 946-6316.


    Davante Jones-Whitfield has been missing since Thursday morning.Davante Jones-Whitfield has been missing since Thursday morning.

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    A special playground at Prendergast School in Ansonia is now open and each detail was chosen as a tribute to a special 6-year-old girl.

    The playground is dedicated in honor of Catherine Hubbard, a 6-year-old girl killed in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

    On Friday, there were sounds of joy and laughter as children lined up to slide at the new playground.

    Catherine’s mother, Jenny, spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

    "And remember that no matter what, everybody loves you," she said.

    The Ansonia playground is the third of 26 that the New Jersey Firefighters Benevolent Association will build in communities across the northeast in honor of the 20 students and six staff killed in the shooting.

    "Our job is to keep children safe and when bad things happen to kids, it's a failure of the system, so this is a way of us trying to heal ourselves and make some sense of it," Bill Lavin, president of the New Jersey Firefighters Benevolent Association, said.

    Even the colors chosen for the playground honor Catherine, who loved purple and pink.

    "We had Fred, Catheine's older brother, act as the foreman on the job. He steered us to the tire swing, the colors, and it's really a gift," Lavin said.

    Michelle Barona, of Ansonia, never met Catherine, but felt compelled to go to the playground and the unique butterfly garden planted in memory of the victims. She said she hopes the playground will stand as a reminder that there is healing after tragedy.

    "We’re here for them forever and we'll always keep them in our hearts and prayers every day," Barona said.
     


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    A school bus is on fire in the area of West and Spring streets in Southington.

    The fire was reported around 10 a.m.

    The First Student bus was bringing seniors from RHAM High School in Hebron to a field trip at Lake Compounce in Bristol, according to the superintendent’s office.

    No students were injured and another bus has been sent to bring the students to the amusement park.

    People who were on the bus were evacuated before firefighters arrived.

    Jule Gunas sent in this photo.



    Photo Credit: Submitted by Jack Welch

    This school bus is on fire in Southington.This school bus is on fire in Southington.

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  • 05/31/13--09:32: Bus Catches Fire in Sherman

  • A coach bus caught fire in the area of Routes 55 and 39 in Sherman on Friday morning and Route 55 is closed in the area.

    Litchfield County dispatchers said the call came in at 11:16 a.m.

    Passengers got off the bus safely. Whether they were students or adults is not known.
     


    There is a bus fire in Sherman.There is a bus fire in Sherman.

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    Avon police arrested a Unionville woman on prostitution charges after she advertised prostitution online, according to Avon police.

    Elizabeth Clark, 23, of Unionville, met an Avon police detective and agreed to perform a sex act for money, according to Avon police.

    She was charged with prostitution, possession of narcotics and possession of paraphernalia.

    Police said she is a suspect in several larcenies at businesses in Avon and Simbsbury and she admitted to stealing from CVS in Avon.
     



    Photo Credit: Avon Police

    Elizabeth Clark was arrested and charged with prostitution after she offered an Avon police detective sex in exchange for money, police said.Elizabeth Clark was arrested and charged with prostitution after she offered an Avon police detective sex in exchange for money, police said.

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  • 05/31/13--13:10: Massive Fire at Texas Hotel

  • Firefighters are battling a massive fire at a hotel in Houston, according to Click2Houston.com.

    For more information, see Click2Houston’s Web site.



    Photo Credit: NBC

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    Evacuations were again ordered Friday in the 2,500-acre brush fire burning in steep, rugged terrain of San Francisquito Canyon, north of Los Angeles.

    Flare-ups, meanwhile, tested homeowners' nerves as they watched firefighters and water-dropping aircraft battle the blaze during a second day of hot and dry conditions.

    The fire was 15 percent contained as of Friday night.

    A probation camp called Camp Mendenhall was being evacuated at about 2:30 p.m., as were areas north of South Portal Road and West of San Francisquito Canyon. The fire was moving north toward Lake Hughes Road.

    A Red Cross evacuation center is set up at the Marie Kerr Park, located at 39700 30th St. West Palmdale, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. Large animals can be taken to the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds' Gate 3 at 2551 West Ave. H in Lancaster.

    Containment of the Powerhouse fire, reported Thursday afternoon, was estimated at 15 percent Friday as crews fought the fire during another warm day in the Santa Clarita Valley, about 50 miles north of LA.

    Flare-ups and spot fires were reported early Friday -- prompting the morning evacuation order -- and temperatures in the 90s are likely during the afternoon and weekend.

    Evacuations had been ordered Thursday and then lifted.

    Resident Frank Disesso watched with relief as water-dropping aircraft attacked the fire Friday morning.

    "The embers were coming down, and they were so big they were burning my arms," said Disesso. "You could hear them hit all the oak leaves in the yard."

    Homeowner Arlene Summers said her family used a fire hose to spray water on their house, yard and trees Thursday evening.

    "No garden hose is going to get this under control," said resident Arlene Summers. "It's nerve-racking."

    About 600 personnel from the U.S. Forest Service and Los Angeles County Fire Department are battling the fire, which burned power transmission lines and forced road closures Thursday as it burned uphill in steep terrain and heavy brush north of Santa Clarita. The department of water and power shut down larger transmission lines in the area.

    The fire is burning away from Green Valley, a community within Angeles National Forest.

    "We want to hit this as hard as we can with air resources and boots on the ground," said Nathan Judy, spokesman for Angeles National Forest. "We just want to make sure this fire doesn't switch and start heading back toward this way."

    The fire was first spotted Thursday by a power plant station operator burning north of Power Plant 1 near San Francisquito Canyon Road.

    There were no problems reported with SoCal Edision power lines Friday, according to utility spokesman Paul Klein. The fire appeared to be moving away from the lines, but crews continued to monitor the fire's direction.

    A firefighter injured when a rock fell on his leg was treated and released. No other injuries have been reported.

    Viewer Photos: Send Images to isee@nbcla.com or click here.

    Evacuation orders for about 200 homes south of San Francisquito Canyon and Spunky Canyon were lifted at 10 p.m., according to a U.S. Forest Service official. Mandatory evacuations ordered Friday morning for the Green Valley area have been lifted.

    The fire prompted a weekend air quality advisory for residents in the Santa Clarita Valley and San Gabriel Valley mountain areas.

    "In all areas of visible smoke or where there is an odor of smoke, all individuals are urged to be cautious and to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of public health for Los Angeles County.

    Firefighters have responded to several wildfires during a hot, dry and windy May in Southern California.

    The nearly 2,000-acre White fire in Los Padres National Forest, which started Monday, was 100 percent contained Friday north of Santa Barbara.

    On Tuesday, the Magic fire burned about 150 acres near Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park in Valencia.

    The Grand fire started May 15 near Frazier Park. Crews continue to monitor the area after the fire burned more than 4,000 acres, but little to no fire activity has been observed, according to the U.S. Forest Service web site. 

    NBC4's Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.


    The Powerhouse fire burns north of Santa Clarita Thursday May 30, 2013.The Powerhouse fire burns north of Santa Clarita Thursday May 30, 2013.

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    New Haven police have arrested two teens accused of shooting a BB gun at a 9-year-old boy and hitting him in the shoulder.

    Police responded to a Sheffield Avenue home around 5 p.m. on Tuesday for reports that a child had been assaulted.

    The boy and his mother told police that he was outside when he was shot. He looked in the direction the shot came from and saw two boys on a second-floor balcony.

    One was holding a black BB gun, police said. When the boys saw the victim look at them, they ducked inside, police said.

    The officers knew the teens and headed to Lilac Street, where they found the suspected offenders, separated them and questioned them, police said.

    Each blamed the other. One said the BB gun was a pump pellet gun and told police where it had been hidden, police said, and the BB gun was recovered.

    When police asked the other teen where the pump pellet gun was, he said he didn't know about any such gun, and then corrected the officer's description of the weapon to an "assault" style gun, according to police.

    The teens were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree, risk of injury, carrying a dangerous weapon, assault in the third degree and breach of peace.

    The older teen was placed in jail and the younger was released to his grandfather with a promise to appear in court, police said.
     


    Police arrested two teens accused of shooting a 9-year-old boy with a BB gun.Police arrested two teens accused of shooting a 9-year-old boy with a BB gun.

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    A plane with engine trouble has landed safely at Brainard Airport in Hartford.

     


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    The temperature tied  the record heat for this date in Connecticut on Friday.

    The thermometer reached 9t degrees Fahrenheit at Bradley, which matched the record high temperature for May 31, set in 1987.

    The heat is expected to last through the weekend.  Connecticut would officially be in a heat wave if the temps reach 90 on Saturday.  A heat wave is defined by three or more consecutive days with temperatures in the 90s.

    SEE THE FULL FORECAST

    As Connecticut deals with day two of intense heat, Bloomfield has opened a cooling center.

    Cooling centers opened at:

    • The Alvin & Beatrice Wood Human Resources Center, at 330 Park Avenue, until 9 p.m. on Friday. The phone number is 860-243-8361.
    • The Prosser Library, at 1 Tunxis Avenue, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The phone number is 860-243-9721.
    • The McMahon Wintonbury Library, at 1015 Blue Hills Avenue, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The phone number is 860-242-0041.

    The town will provide water, but residents are asked to bring their own food.

    Bring medications, emergency contact phone numbers and any other items you will need during the day. Service dogs are welcome, but call for information regarding other pets.

    How are you beating the heat? Send photos to photos@nbcconnecticut.com



    Photo Credit: Submitted

    A child finds a way to beat the heat on day two of this hot weather.A child finds a way to beat the heat on day two of this hot weather.

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    Family and community members gathered Friday night  to pray for the victims of a hit-and-run in Bridgeport.

    6-year-old Diamond Battle and her 61-year-old aunt, Bennie Mae Smith, were struck by a car at the corner of Highland and Washington Aves just before 9 p.m. Monday night.

    The incident left Diamond fighting for her life and her aunt injured.

    "If anything bring Diamond back to us, it's going to be prayer," said a vigil attendee.  Battle's great uncle recently visited Diamond in the hospital,

    "So she is making progress. She's fighting hard," said Richard Bonney, who says last night Diamond opened her eyes for the first time and Friday was responsive to questions.

    "When tragedy hits you, it's always good to know that there's someone to share that with you and you don't have to feel the brunt of it by yourself."

    Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett attended the vigil to show support for the family. He says they've had tips that have come in and they're also looking at the surveillance video of the car that sped off.

    "It was very grainy but it was certainly something to act upon," Gaudett added. "It was a starting point for us and as I said we're still asking the public for any information they might have."

    The principal of Battle's school also attended along with other teachers to pray for the student who always smiles.

    "And I felt there was a grand disrespect of her when that happened and we wanted to come out and show that she matters," said Ann DeBernard, principal of the Watersville school. "And that picture tells you just how she is. She's a nice beautiful girl."

    Bennie Mae Smith who was also hurt was improving, but family members say she had a setback Friday and that her health won't get better until Diamond gets better.

    Investigators say they're looking for a light colored or silver S-U-V that fled the scene. If you have any information, call New Haven Police at 203-946-7660.
     

     


    Diamond BattleDiamond Battle

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    A suburban Chicago high school senior was struck and killed by lightning during Thursday's storm, officials said.

    Jennie Dizon, 17, of Downers Grove, was found unconscious and not breathing in O'Brien Park, at 68th Street and Dunham Road, shortly after 5 p.m., officials said. She was pronounced dead at the scene and the DuPage County Coroner's report said the death is "consistent with a lightning strike."

    Her death was just days before her graduation at Benet Academy, scheduled for Sunday.

    "It was God's will," her father, Eric Dizon, said Friday.

    The senior was on the color guard and was planning a trip to Europe. Her post-graduation plans were to study theater at the University of Cincinnati.

    The family said Dizon had dropped off her younger brother and sister, who also attend Benet Academy, at a dentist's office. The teen journaled often, and the family said they believe Dizon went to the park to write.

    Younger sister Emmeline Dizon said she kept calling her sister's cell phone for a pickup from the dentist's office but didn't get an answer. Walking home, she said she saw the ambulances at the park but didn't know anything was wrong with her sister until police came to the door.

    Police said it was a witness who saw lightning and saw Dizon on the ground. The witness went to help but Dizon was unresponsive, an officer said.

    “Benet Academy is mourning the loss of senior Jennie Dizon, who passed into eternal life last evening, apparently having been struck by lightning during a thunderstorm," school officials said in a statement posted online. "Throughout the day today, Benet's chaplain, campus minister, counselors, administrators, and teachers have been available in the chapel, in their offices, in classrooms, and throughout the school building to offer assistance, comfort, and consolation to our students and members of the school community. Please join the entire Benet Family in remembering Jennie and the Dizon family in prayer.”

    A Mokena man died last weekend after being struck by lightning while fishing with friends in central Illinois.

    Lighting kills as many as 70 people in the United States each year and injures more than 500, according to estimates from the National Weather Service.


    Jennie DizonJennie Dizon

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    A sold out crowd turned out at the Comcast Theatre in Hartford for the Luke Bryan concert and the fans were greeted by a heavy police presence.

    Crowds arrived early for the Friday night show, with many people tailgating in parking lots around the venue. Police roamed the crowds looking mainly for underage drinkers but they also encountered plenty of overly-intoxicated adults.

    By the time the concert started, police estimated some 50 court summonses were issued for underage drinking, which was far less than past concerts.

    "It's a great crowd. It's a hot night and I have to give them credit.  They've complied with what we've asked for. We haven't gotten a lot of problems and it's unusual," said Sgt. Rich Holton of the Hartford Police Department.

    About ten people under the age of 21 were transported to area hospitals for alcohol related problems before the show began, according to A.M.R. Ambulance.

    "With the increased police officers we definitely notice a reduction. In the past it's really been out-of-control with a significant amount of transports," said Todd Lomento of A.M.R. Ambulance.

    For the most part, people welcomed the extra police patrols, saying the crackdown is well worth it.

    "I think the police presence is excellent tonight. It's fun to watch," said Mike Nowak of Mystic.

    "I think it's a good thing. I was 18 once but now I'm older and I've learned don't drink in public," said Tom Pearson of Woodstock.

    Police expect to also have an extra police presence at the Comcast Theatre next weekend when the Dave Matthews Band returns for two shows.

     


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    Minimum-wage workers in California could see their first raises in six years if a bill that passed the state Assembly this week continues to make its way through Sacramento.

    The state’s minimum hourly wage would increase from $8 to $8.25 next year under the bill. It would rise to $9.25 by 2016 and adjusted for inflation in following years.

    That would make it the highest minimum wage in the country, if other states' wages stay the same as they are now. Washington currently has the highest minimum wage at $9.19.

    AB10 passed the Assembly Thursday on a 42-24 vote. It now heads to the Senate.

    Democratic supporters of the measure contend the minimum wage has not kept pace with the rising costs of food, gasoline and other necessities.

    “The last time the minimum wage was increased in California, gas was at $3.25 a gallon in this state,” said Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, who is spearheading the change.

    “I don't know about you, but I haven't seen gas prices at that level for a very long time.”

    Seven states have set their minimum wages higher than California, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

    Minimum wage is $9.19 in Washington; $8.95 in Oregon; $8.60 in Vermont; and $8.25 in Nevada, Connecticut, Washington D.C., and Illinois.

    Massachusetts is the only other U.S. state with an $8 per hour minimum wage.

    Opponents argue that minimum-wage jobs are often held by teenagers or workers who soon move on to higher-paid positions. Alejo said his mother-in-law has earned the minimum wage at one of her jobs for 20 years.

    Business leaders oppose the bill, which they say would burden employers and force them to cut jobs. A study by the National Federation of Independent Business said more than 68,000 jobs could be lost during the next decade as a result.

    “Small-business owners at a minimum get a double whammy on Jan. 1” when various taxes and fees from the federal health care law also will go into effect, said John Kabateck, executive director for the state's NFIB chapter.

    An assemblyman from Chino Hills argued that because different regions of the state face different economic challenges, it could be harmful to increase the minimum wage in areas with a lower cost of living.

    “If we do a blanket change like this, it puts us out of competition with other states,” said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills.

    Federal law sets a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have set their minimum wage levels higher than the federal standard.

    Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina have no minimum wage law.


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    A hepatitis A outbreak in California and four other Western states may be linked to a brand of berries sold at Costco stores, officials said Friday.

    At least six of 30 cases of the liver disease were in California — one each in Orange, Riverside, San Diego and Humboldt counties, and two in San Bernardino County.

    The virus was believed to be linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend. Costco has removed the product from its shelves, according to the California Department of Public Health.

    Attorney Bill Gaar, representing Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., told the Associated Press that investigators appeared to be focusing on imported pomegranate seeds in the product.

    The department has recommended anyone with the product at their home should throw it away. Anyone who has consumed the fruit mix in the last 14 days should contact their doctor, said the agency's director, Dr. Ron Chapman.

    Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice. Symptoms develop two to six weeks after consuming contaminated food or drink, according to the California Department of Public Health.

    The potentially severe illness can last up to several months and can require hospitalization.


    Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend may be linked to a hepatitis A outbreak, officials said Friday, May 31, 2013.Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend may be linked to a hepatitis A outbreak, officials said Friday, May 31, 2013.

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    A Meriden Police Officer accused of police brutality is taking the stand in his own defense on Friday and said he did not mean to injure Pedro Temich when placing him in a holding cell on May 1, 2010.

    "I didn't intend to injure him at all," Meriden Police Officer Evan Cossette said. "I thought he was going to step back a few steps. I was surprised when he fell."

    Bill Dunlap, a law professor at Quinnipiac University with no ties to the case, said on Thursday that hearing what Cossette was thinking is extremely important.  The prosecution says Cossette used unreasonable force against Temich when placing him in the holding cell, then falsified a police report to cover it up.

    “Usually it's because they want to tell their own story.  They're going to have a different point of view.  They're going to be able to explain what they were thinking at the time,” Dunlap said. “The prosecution has to prove intent. They have to prove that not only these events happened, but they have to prove that Officer Cossette intended or fully understood what was going on.”

    Cossette testified on Friday that he felt threatened by Temich.

    "He tightened up his body; he dropped his head, and I thought he was coming at me," Cossette said.

    There is a risk to Cossette taking the stand. 

    Defendants aren't required to testify and many don't because of the cross-examination.

    “It's very easy in many cases, for a prosecutor to pull apart details of a defendant's story, and if you start pulling apart little details, may be the whole thing falls apart in the eyes of the jury,” said Dunlap.


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