Donald Sterling: I was ‘baited’ into racist remarks

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Donald Sterling has broken his silence. The embattled owner of the L.A. Clippers made his first public comments since being banned from the NBA for life for offensive remarks about blacks. In an interview with CNN, a distraught Sterling acknowledged telling a female friend that he didn’t want her to bring blacks to Clipper games, but he says he was “baited.” Sterling insists he’s not a racist and says he’s remorseful and deserving of another chance. The NBA has not commented on the interview. But the League did issue a statement yesterday saying that under its Constitution Shelly Sterling’s interest in the team would be terminated if the owners vote to oust Donald Sterling. Shelly Sterling has maintained that she’s legally entitled to keep ownership of the Clippers, even her husband is forced to sell. The Clippers players, meanwhile, stormed back from 16 points down to take a thrilling victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday at Staples Center. The two-point win evened their second round playoff series at two games apiece.

atkinsThe California State Assembly gets a new leader today. When Democratic Assemblywoman Toni Atkins is sworn in as Speaker she’ll become the first open lesbian to hold the position, the third woman, and the first lawmaker from San Diego. Atkins says the state has a lot of issues to address, including the water crisis, jobs, debt, the environment and homelessness. As Speaker, she’ll be charged with appointing members to Assembly committees, setting up committee schedules, and making decisions on funding and staffing. The State Senate will also elect a new leader later this year, replacing the termed out Darrell Steinberg.

Public school students in California are in the midst of annual standardized testing – and for the first time all of those tests are being taken on computers. The transition isn’t always going smoothly. The L.A. Times reports that some students have had difficulty operating the computers. Other computers didn’t function properly – and slow connections have bogged things down at some schools. Students are using laptops, desktops and tablet computers to take the exams. This year’s test scores won’t be used to evaluate teachers and students. State officials decided to make this year a test of the new system, allowing school districts to work out the kinks.

coastoakCalifornia’s coast live oaks are facing a new threat carried by a tiny, burrowing beetle. It’s called foamy bark canker disease and it develops from a fungus hosted by western oak bark beetles. U.C. Riverside researchers say that when infected beetles bore into the trees, the fungus blocks water and nutrients from circulating. Eventually, reddish sap and cream-colored foam ooze from the trunk and branches, and slowly, the tree dies. Infected branches can be pruned to stop the spread of the disease. But if the infestation is on the trunk, nothing can be done. Trees with telltale signs of infection have been found far south as Orange County and as far north as Monterey.

LeviThe San Francisco 49ers are apparently ready to play hard ball with perhaps the greatest player in the history of the franchise. The football team says it may block a development project led by former quarterback Joe Montana in a dispute over parking places. The 49ers will play in a new stadium in Santa Clara next season. Under the terms of its stadium deal, the 49ers are entitled to nearly 800 parking spaces at a lot next door to the stadium. But that parcel is where Montana and his partners are proposing to build a hotel and entertainment center. The team says the Montana project could be a no-go unless the city comes up with an equal number of parking spaces.