Interior Dept.: Calif. water a national priority

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California's ongoing water crisis is a major national priority, akin to restoring Florida's Everglades or the Chesapeake Bay on the East Coast, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar intends to hold a public meeting in Washington next month to discuss plans to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the freshwater estuary that supplies drinking water to two-thirds of Californians and is one of the most important wildlife habitats on the West Coast, Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes said.

Man held in California toll bridge shooting

SAN FRANCISCO - A man suspected of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend and another person at the entrance to a busy San Francisco Bay toll bridge was arrested early Wednesday after an overnight manhunt.

Nathaniel Burris, 46, of Richmond, Calif., was taken into custody after being spotted by two California Highway Patrol officers about 3:15 a.m. in Placer County, about 120 miles northeast of the shooting at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toll plaza.

Burris was sleeping in an airport shuttle van, but drove off after the officers approached him. He surrendered after a short chase, CHP spokesman Sgt. Trent Cross said.

Report: Mom was asleep at wheel in drowning of sons

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The mother of three young children who drowned after she drove her car into a manmade lake in central Arkansas told police she fell asleep behind the wheel before the crash, waking only after feeling water surge into her car, court documents show.

Amber Turley, 26, told officers she tried to pull her three sons out of Brewer Lake during an early morning thunderstorm but lost sight of them. Officers found the boys, limp and not breathing, after the diaper of her 2-year-old son floated to the surface, according to a police report.

The boys - Aaron, 8, Alex, 7, and Anthony, 2 - were pronounced dead at a hospital.

Turley faces three counts of felony endangerment of a child in the April 19 crash.

Falling fish shatters driver's windshield

MARBLEHEAD, Ohio - A woman in Ohio is telling a fish story about one that got away - from a bird, and damaged her car.

Authorities in northwest Ohio said the fish - a Lake Erie freshwater drum, known as a sheepshead - smashed a car windshield Tuesday when an eagle dropped its catch from a height of about 40 feet.

Sotomayor celebrated at White House

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama threw a big White House party Wednesday to celebrate Sonia Sotomayor as the Supreme Court's first Latino justice - and to publicly savor the victory sure to earn him points with politically potent Hispanics.

The event - televised remarks from Obama and Sotomayor followed by a private reception for a few hundred supporters - was packed with Sotomayor's family and friends, lawmakers, issue advocates, Hispanic community leaders and two of her fellow Supreme Court justices.

Victim of Pa. gym shooting remembered

FRANKLIN, Pa. - The funeral for a victim of a shooting rampage at a Pittsburgh-area health club began at the same time the state Senate was observing a moment of silence for the three women killed in the shootings.

State Sen. Mary Jo White addressed about 400 mourners in Franklin who gathered Wednesday for the funeral of 37-year-old Jody Billingsley. Funerals for the other two victims, 46-year-old Heidi Overmier and 49-year-old Elizabeth Gannon, were on Saturday.

All three women were killed and nine others wounded Aug. 4 at the L.A. Fitness club in Collier Township by gunman George Sodini, who then killed himself.

Federal deficit higher in July; $1.27T this year

WASHINGTON - The federal deficit climbed higher into record territory in July, hitting $1.27 trillion with two months remaining in the budget year.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the July deficit totaled $180.7 billion, slightly more than the $177.5 billion economists had expected.