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Judge allows Blackwater center

Thu., June 5, 2008

A federal judge Wednesday ordered the city to allow military contractor Blackwater Worldwide to begin using a new counterterrorism training center in a warehouse outfitted with an indoor firing range.

District Judge Marilyn Huff ruled that the company would suffer irreparable harm if it could not begin holding classes there for Navy sailors.

Blackwater sued last month to force the city to issue final occupancy permits after the required inspections were already approved, claiming officials upended normal procedures because they feared a political backlash.

The city responded that the company misled officials about the nature of the center, which includes a multilevel mock ship built out of cargo containers, to avoid triggering a full review by the city planning commission and a possible City Council vote.

The city said in a statement that it would probably appeal.

Sacremento, Calif.

Statewide drought declaration issued

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a statewide drought Wednesday, warning that the state’s water supply is falling dangerously low because of below-average rainfall and court-ordered water restrictions aimed at protecting fish.

“We must recognize the severity of this crisis we face,” Schwarzenegger said at a Capitol news conference. He said this spring had been the driest on record in Northern California, which supplies most of the water to the state.

Along with the proclamation, the governor issued an executive order intended to speed transfers of water to areas experiencing the most severe shortages, help local water districts boost conservation efforts, identify risks to the state’s water supply, and assist farmers.

The governor stopped short of declaring a water emergency. Administration officials say Wednesday’s move is a first step, intended to put Californians on notice that rationing could be coming if the situation does not improve. Some areas of the state are more vulnerable than others.


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