New California law tightens gun-buying loophole exposed by Poway synagogue shooting

SAN DIEGO — Like the many gun safety bills that have come before it, the one just signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom is borne from tragedy. In 2019, John T. Earnest, a then-19-year-old Rancho Penasquitos college student, opened fire on a Poway synagogue using a rifle he bought at a Grantville gun shop. He did so under a narrow provision that allows 18- to 20-year-olds to buy guns as long as they have a hunting license. Earnest had one — the license just wasn’t valid yet. A measure signed into law Thursday night tightens that loophole. The legislation is the latest reminder that even in a s...

San Diego weed dispensary disputes that its marketing targets minors

SAN DIEGO — The Cookies chain of cannabis dispensaries says its marketing efforts and company name have been misunderstood and distorted by local officials who have criticized the company, saying it targets youth. The chain, which operates stores in La Mesa and Mission Valley, got approval in June to open a third location in Sorrento Valley. Before that approval, the San Diego Planning Commission and the Torrey Pines Community Planning Group said Cookies targets underage customers with its name and Sesame Street-style graphics that evoke the Cookie Monster character. A company official said in...

Federal judge — somewhat reluctantly — upholds California law banning billy clubs

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego federal judge ruled on Wednesday that a California law banning possession of a baton or billy club is constitutional, noting the prohibition's longstanding nature of being on the books for more than a century. The decision is the latest from U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez, who has been given jurisdiction over several cases filed in recent years challenging the state's strict laws regulating weapons. All but this lawsuit have involved firearms. The lawsuit, filed in 2019, takes aim at California's law making it illegal to possess an "instrument or weapon of the ...

Alleged Sinaloa cartel boss charged in San Diego

SAN DIEGO — An alleged boss for Mexico's Sinaloa cartel has been charged by a San Diego federal grand jury on accusations of overseeing drug-trafficking operations at the Arizona border, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday. Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela, 52, who goes by the nicknames "Gigio" and "Yiyo," was indicted in 2018 and remains a fugitive. The indictment was unsealed on the same day Valenzuela was designated as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker under the Kingpin Act. The designation by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control means any pr...

Diving after a 50-year-old mystery: Was helicopter wreckage found off San Diego the famed Helo 66?

SAN DIEGO — Deep-sea divers Brett Eldridge and Tyler Stalter enjoy exploring the wrecks of ships and airplanes deposited by destiny on the ocean floor — sunk by stormy weather, shredded by war, mugged by mechanical mishap. They also share a passion for undiscovered historical hulks, those vessels lost to time and shifting sands. They know the waters off Southern California are home to dozens of them. So they pore over sonar maps and video footage taken by remote controlled submersibles for signs of ghostly ruins, and then dive to see what’s there. Last year, about four miles off Pacific Beach,...

The feds own 57% of California forests. When will they finally act to reduce fire risks?

California's 13 largest wildfires have occurred since the Cedar fire burned 2,820 structures and killed 15 people in San Diego County in October 2003. With the Dixie and Caldor fires front of mind now, it's maddening to hear lip service from lawmakers and bureaucrats, and see how little has been done to take basic steps to reduce wildfire risks. Perhaps the most maddening failure of all is the federal government's refusal to take responsibility for properly maintaining the 57% of California forest land that it owns. It was perverse to hear then-President Donald Trump repeatedly lecture Califor...

Deported Army veteran becomes U.S. citizen after 9 years in Tijuana

SAN DIEGO — Deported Army veteran Agustin Abarca walked onto U.S. soil for the first time in about nine years on Thursday morning. The 74-year-old Vietnam War veteran waved a small American flag from his citizenship ceremony as he exited the San Ysidro Port of Entry into San Diego. His youngest son, Juan Abarca, 36, yelled in celebration and hugged him tightly. "I'm a citizen now," the older Abarca said with a grin. "I don't know what to say. I'm very happy." Abarca is the latest U.S. military veteran to be allowed back into the United States after being deported, thanks to advocacy and legal ...

Navy identifies 5 San Diego sailors killed in helicopter crash off coast

Five sailors killed when their helicopter crashed on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and fell into the sea were identified by the Navy on Sunday. The six-person crew of the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter was conducting routine operations on the flight deck of the carrier Tuesday afternoon when the helicopter crashed. One sailor was rescued from the water and is in stable condition, the Navy said. The crash is under investigation. A three-day search for survivors was called off Saturday morning. The sailors killed include two pilots, an aircrewman and two corpsmen, the Navy s...

5 sailors presumed dead in Navy helicopter crash near San Diego; search suspended

SAN DIEGO — Five sailors who went missing after their helicopter crashed on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and fell into the sea are presumed dead, the Navy said Saturday. The announcement marks an end to the three-day search for the crew and a transition to a search and recovery operation. The Navy has not yet found the wreckage, but it is known where the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter went into the water — about 60 nautical miles off the San Diego coast. One of the helicopter’s crew was rescued from the water following Tuesday’s crash and is in stable condition ashore. Fi...

Judge finds US border officials unlawfully turned asylum seekers away from ports of entry

SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in San Diego found that U.S. border officials unlawfully sent asylum seekers away from ports of entry and denied their due process rights to be screened for protection claims. In an order late Thursday afternoon in a lawsuit filed by legal groups representing Al Otro Lado, an organization that supports migrants in Tijuana, and a class of unnamed asylum seekers, Judge Cynthia Bashant said that since 2016, Customs and Border Protection had violated its legal obligations by instructing its officers to tell asylum seekers to turn around and wait in Mexico to be processe...

The majority of California voters want to keep Gov Gavin Newsom: poll

SAN DIEGO — More than half of California voters would vote ‘No’ in the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, according to the results of a statewide poll released Tuesday — two weeks before ballots are set to be counted. The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for The San Diego Union-Tribune, KGTV 10News in San Diego and KABC-TV in Los Angeles, said 51% of those asked indicated they support Newsom continuing his term; 43% said they would vote to remove Newsom from office. The results come about a month after another SurveyUSA poll suggested the recall effort would succeed, with more than half of likely voters...

Stewart Copeland eager to reinvent The Police's music with 'Police Deranged for Orchestra'

SAN DIEGO — The world premiere of Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Stewart Copeland's "Police Deranged for Orchestra" with the San Diego Symphony on Friday marked a full-circle moment for the star drummer-turned-composer. In 1971, at the age of 19, the Virginia-born, Lebanon-raised Copeland moved to San Diego from London after completing his first year of college in England. He enrolled at California Western University — which was located on the campus of what is now Point Loma Nazarene University — and also studied at downtown's School of Performing Arts. "I lived at the end of Del Monte Street in O...

Afghanistan’s collapse confirms immense scale of George W. Bush’s policy screw-up

In 1983, Harvard-educated psychiatrist turned Carter administration bureaucrat turned conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer wrote a remarkably prescient column for Time magazine about “the mirror-image fallacy” — the presumption of so many American policymakers and Americans in general that the leaders and residents of other nations shared our values. “If people everywhere, from Savannah to Sevastopol, share the same hopes and dreams and fears and love of children ... they should get along. And if they don’t then there must be some misunderstanding, some misperception, some problem of commun...

San Diego sheriff: No sample taken from deputy for toxicology test in alleged fentanyl 'overdose'

SAN DIEGO — Facing continued scrutiny over its release of a video last week that claimed a deputy sheriff overdosed after coming into contact with fentanyl, the county Sheriff's Department on Thursday night released unedited body-worn camera footage from the two deputies involved. Sheriff's officials also said in a statement that the department is unable to release information about toxicology tests conducted on the deputy because "the hospital did not take a sample from Deputy (David) Faiivae as part of his treatment." Experts interviewed this week said that's not unusual because hospitals do...

Caitlyn Jenner tours US-Mexico border in San Diego during recall campaign

OTAY MESA, Calif. — Gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner toured the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego on Friday, building on a platform in the recall race that includes calls for construction of former President Donald Trump's border wall to resume. As she spoke to reporters near the eastern edge of the fence in Otay Mesa, a small group of Brazilian migrants walked from Tijuana into San Diego through an opening in an unfinished portion of the border structure, where metal slats lay discarded nearby. Border Patrol union officials, who led Jenner, 71, on the tour, used the incident to drive home...

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