IN BRIEF

22 TAKE EARLY RETIREMENT

Officials say 91 laid off at Hawthorne Army Depot

Mineral County officials say 91 people have been laid off from the Hawthorne Army Depot and another 22 have taken voluntary early retirement.

Shelley Hartmann is executive director of the Mineral County Economic Development Authority. She said more layoffs are planned at the government-owned, contractor-operated military industrial installation.

The Day & Zimmerman Hawthorne Corp. has operated and maintained the facility since January 2000.

County officials said the layoffs will be hard on the community 130 miles southeast of Reno. About 4,500 people live in Hawthorne.

ONE KILLED, FIVE HURT IN 2008

Wrong pipe in repair blamed for fatal house explosion

Federal investigators say a utility company used a wrong pipe to repair a gas line, leading to a deadly house explosion in a Sacramento, Calif., suburb last year.

The National Transportation Safety Board released initial findings Thursday about the explosion of a house in Rancho Cordova on Christmas Eve 2008. The blast killed 72-year-old Wilbert Paana and injured five others. Two homes on either side were also damaged.

Investigators found that Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the utility that supplies natural gas to the area, used a packing pipe not approved for gas line repairs in September 2006.

CRUMBLING CLIFF

Cranes dump boulders below seaside apartment complex

Cranes are busy dumping 200 tons of boulders along a crumbling seaside cliff below a Pacifica apartment complex.

The 12-unit building about 10 miles south of San Francisco was evacuated Thursday after recent storms caused large chunks of the sandy cliff to topple into the ocean. The complex now stands about 10 feet from the cliff.

One crane used a large bucket on long cables to lower three-foot diameter riprap to the base of the cliff to protect it from moderate surf. A staging area nearby was busy Saturday as dump trucks brought in more boulders.

Officials said residents likely won’t be able to return home until after Christmas.

RED-AND-WHITE HAT

Bad Santa suspected in thefts from vehicles

Siskiyou County sheriff’s deputies are on the lookout for a naughty Santa suspected of stealing cash, an unloaded shotgun and other items from unlocked vehicles.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp said a man wearing a red-and-white Santa hat was spotted breaking into about 14 vehicles in Dunsmuir, a mountain town 200 miles north of Sacramento, Calif.

Gravenkamp says the bad Santa also stole two digital music players and a CD player overnight Friday.

GROUPS CRITICIZE USE OF FORCE

Police test cameras to record interactions with public

San Jose police are testing head-mounted cameras to record interactions with the public.

The test using 18 patrol officers comes as citizens’ groups criticize the department for too often using force during arrests.

Officers are to turn on the cameras every time they talk with anyone. They download the recordings after every shift.

The cameras are the size of a Bluetooth cell phone earpiece and attach by a headband above the ear.

San Jose is the first major American city to try the devices, made by Arizona-based Taser International. Taser is paying for the experiment, but the price could be high if San Jose equips all 1,400 officers.

Each kit costs $1,700, plus a $99 per officer monthly fee. That’s $4 million department-wide each year.

LAST NIGHT OF HANUKKAH

Neo-Nazi demonstrators wave flags outside synagogue

Congregants at Temple Beth El who had gathered to celebrate the last night of Hanukkah were met by a group of neo-Nazi demonstrators who waved red-and-black swastika flags outside the Reform synagogue in Riverside, Calif., on Friday evening.

Rabbi Suzanne Singer said she suspects that the demonstration — the third such protest in recent months at the temple — was connected to a counterprotest held by members of the synagogue in September, when neo-Nazis protested at a day laborer site.

“It’s not that were unconcerned,” she said in an interview Saturday. “We’re just not going to allow them to dictate how we worship and how we live as Jews.”

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