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PM news, smoke edition: Cotton, Calabasas, Denny's

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Morning traffic in downtown was a nightmare as two freeways (the 10 East to the 110 South) were shut down and harried commuters shunted off onto clogged surface streets. Don't blame the St. Patty's parade — an 18-wheeler packed with cotton collided with a minivan and, as the truck toppled into the crash refuse, its cargo burst into flames. Amazingly, no one was injured. The freeways weren't reopened until 2pm. (We would have posted about this sooner, but we were stuck at Figueroa and Washington for oh... don't ask).

If you want to light up a perfectly legal cigarette in Calabasas, you'll have to go to a smoker's ghetto detention center "outpost" for the pleasure. The ban on smoking outdoors — including parks, doorways and bus stops — went into effect today. Those who would rather fight than switch must be ready to rumble.

Is it karmic payback time for some Denny's executive? This week there have been three fatal shootings at California Denny's restaurants. A post-Anaheim Los Angeles Angels baseball game fight turned deadly when someone starting shooting in an Anaheim Denny's last night. In an Ontario parking lot this week, a Pomona man was shot and killed on Thursday. And three people died in Pismo Beach on Wednesday. Nasty string of coincidences. Nasty.

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photo of cotton crash from NBC4-TV news