One after another, U.C. campuses honor slain students

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There are no classes at U.C. Santa Barbara today. The campus is taking a time out to mourn the murders of six students by mentally disturbed loner Elliot Rodger. A memorial for the victims of the rampage is planned for 4 p.m. at UCSB. It’s expected to draw thousands of students and community members. About 2,500 people turned out for a vigil on the UCLA campus last night. All 10 U.C. campuses are planning tributes this week, and flags are flying at half staff throughout the university system. Attention in the case is now turning to how Rodger was able to purchase a small arsenal of guns, despite his history of psychological troubles. Had Rodgers previously made threats, he could have been barred from owning guns. But there’s no evidence that he did that. In California, mental illness does not prevent a person from owning guns in most cases.

waterIn the midst of the worst drought in decades, huge amounts of California water are being given away for free to thousands of companies, farms and others, with no system to track how that water is used. The Associated Press reports that California water use records are full of errors and years out of date. That means officials with the state Water Resources Control Board do not know if rights holders are over-drawing or wasting water. The AP study finds that nearly 4,000 companies, farms and cities hold more than half of the claims on the state’s rivers and streams, and use trillions of gallons of water each year. Such groups are exempt from drought-related cuts in water allotments this year, even though they use the greatest amount of water.

L.A. “teacher jail” has now become teacher home confinement. LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy says that – starting today – instructors accused of breaking district rules will no longer be required to report to a downtown office. The “teacher jail” has been the subject of intense criticism from the teacher’s union, with some instructors languishing for years as their cases play out. Teachers are paid while they are in “teacher jail,” but many have called the assignment humiliating. The instructors are required to perform clerical duties, but often they sit around doing nothing. District officials say the policy change stems from practical concerns: such as supervision costs and space issues. But the union says its opposition spurred the change. About 250 LAUSD teachers are currently the subject of misconduct investigations.

dj lrspellingbee0531 19Students from Torrance and Placentia will be among 281 competitors in the 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee starting today in Maryland. Before they can get on the main stage with their peers, Timothy Lau, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Calle Mayor Middle School in Torrance, and Samuel Littrell, 12, a sixth-grader from Golden Elementary in Placentia will take a computer-based spelling and vocabulary test that’s considered the first round of the bee. The final round of the competition will be aired on ESPN Thursday evening.

clapping5A woman who was arrested after she repeatedly clapped at a Riverside City Council meeting has filed a federal lawsuit. Attorney Letitia Pepper, a longtime critic of Riverside city government, claims her constitutional rights were violated when she was taken away in handcuffs last June after authorities say she disrupted the meeting by repeatedly applauding speakers, even after being warned not to do so. Her suit names the city of Riverside, the mayor, the city attorney and the chief of police. City officials say they respect free speech rights at council meetings, but that meeting rules aim to ensure that city business can be carried out without unnecessary disruptions.