Wildfires: The (long) season of living dangerously

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A badly burned body has been found in a transient camp in Carlsbad – the first apparent death connected to a series of wildfires ranging in San Diego County. At least five fires continue to burn, with homes threatened and thousands of residents under mandatory evacuation orders. Two teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of trying to spark brush fires in Escondido and investigators are trying to determine if they’re responsible for other blazes. All told, the fires have burned through more than 15 square miles. A primary concern continues to be the Cocos Fire, which has burned 1,200 acres and destroyed several homes near San Marcos. As of this morning, it was 10 percent contained. Firefighters will get a slight break today from heat that’s been shattering records across Southern California this week. Calmer winds are also expected, and a cooling trend is in store for the weekend.

beckL.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck is looking to re-up. He’s told the police commission that he wants to keep his job for another five years. Beck says the LAPD has undergone “tremendous progress” during his four and a half years. On his watch, both violent crime and gang crime are way down. Beck also cites the completion of the federal consent decree requirements, and the increased use of technology and data collection to fight crime. Beck has clashed with the five-member Police Commission over some issues, such as his handling of officer misbehavior. The board has until mid-August to decide whether to grant Beck another term.

A bill restricting how school districts can monitor and track students on social media has passed the state Assembly. Democrat Mike Gatto says limits should be set as more districts monitor cyberbullying. In his district, Glendale Unified School District hired a firm last fall to monitor Facebook and Twitter posts after two students committed suicide. Gatto’s bill would require school districts to hold public hearings before starting such programs. It would also require schools to collect only publicly visible social media posts – and to delete data after students graduate or leave the district. The bill now moves on to the Senate.

clippersAfter a gutty run, the Clippers are done for the season. The L.A. team lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-98 last night in Los Angeles, falling four games to two in the teams’ second-round playoff series. But the Clippers are sure to continue making news in the weeks ahead. For starters, embattled owner Donald Sterling is refusing to pay the $2.5 million fine handed down by the NBA for his disparaging comments about African Americans. His lawyer says the NBA has no right to kick Sterling out because he hasn’t violated any of the league’s rules. NBA owners are scheduled to vote next month on whether they will force Sterling to sell.

celldrivingCalifornia drivers would face tougher penalties for talking and texting on their cellphones while driving under a bill that’s passed the state Assembly. The bill more than doubles the base fees for a first violation, from $20 to $50, and boosts the fine to $100 for subsequent violations. With additional penalties, the actual fines can be more than triple those amounts. Under the bill, a second ticket would also come with a one-point penalty on the driver’s license, which could lead to suspensions. The measure now heads to the Senate.