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    Epic environmental battle: Plastic bag ban opponents up the ante in Sacramento

    Lobbyists have launched an eleventh-hour effort to kill a bill that would make California the first state to outlaw flimsy plastic grocery bags, delaying a key vote and setting up one of the fiercest legislative battles of the year. 
    In 2014, California's graduating class of students scored higher than those across the country on ACT college readiness tests in English, reading, math and science. However, only 29 percent of California's high school graduates took the tests, compared to 57 percent nationwide.  
    An Ohio man has pleaded no contest to charges that he struck and killed Kristina Chesterman while he was driving drunk in September, then fled the scene. Chesterman, a 21-year-old Livermore native, was a nursing student at Chico State University.  
    The 46th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll gauging public attitudes toward public schools and other education issues shows strong support for charter schools, even though many people don't understand how they work. Many of those polled also revealed opposition to new state curriculum standards known as Common Core.  
    PG&E believes it can withstand expected fines of up to $3.6 billion resulting from the fatal 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno without having to file for bankruptcy, and also was surprised by an obstruction of justice charge in a criminal case linked to the blast, the company's top executive said Wednesday in a wide-ranging interview this newspaper.  
    (Nicole diGiorgio)
    Bonny Doon's Randall Grahm scales back, forges ahead

    He's the beloved, maverick winemaker who led the way for screw caps, ingredient labeling and little-known varietals. Today, eight years after the sale of his big brands, the envelope-pusher is forging ahead as he tries to reseize Bonny Doon Vineyard and breed new wine grapes. 
    (Photos by Omar Vega/Evan Agostini/John Shearer/Invision/AP, File)
    Nicki Minaj to open VMAs -- but not alone

    Ariana Grande and Jessie J will join Minaj in performing 'Bang Bang' at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday. Kim Kardashian named a presenter.