Uzbek Immigrant Convicted in Bike-Path Truck Attack That Killed 8

N.Y. Times - 5 hours 22 min ago
Sayfullo Saipov could face the death penalty in the federal case. He said he was inspired to carry out the attack by Islamic State videos.
Categories: Local News

Single family residence sells for $2.2 million in Oakland

San Jose Mercury - 5 hours 23 min ago
6421 Benvenue Avenue - Google Street View6421 Benvenue Avenue – Google Street View

A historic house built in 1914 located in the 6400 block of Benvenue Avenue in Oakland has a new owner. The 1,988-square-foot property was sold on Dec. 21, 2022 for $2,200,000, or $1,107 per square foot. The property features three bedrooms, three baths, and a garage. The unit sits on a 6,500-square-foot lot.

Additional houses have recently changed hands nearby:

  • On Regent Street, Oakland, in June 2022, a 1,501-square-foot home was sold for $2,690,000, a price per square foot of $1,792. The home has 3 bedrooms and 1 bathrooms.
  • In September 2022, a 1,764-square-foot home on Armanino Court in Oakland sold for $2,110,000, a price per square foot of $1,196. The home has 3 bedrooms and 1 bathrooms.
  • A 2,286-square-foot home on the 6600 block of Dana Street in Oakland sold in July 2022 for $2,600,000, a price per square foot of $1,137. The home has 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

 

Categories: Local News

Former NFL linebacker Jessie Lemonier dead at 25

San Jose Mercury - 5 hours 28 min ago

Jessie Lemonier, a former NFL linebacker who played for the Los Angeles Chargers and Detroit Lions, has died at age 25, the teams announced.

Neither organization released a cause of death for Lemonier, who recorded 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 13 career games.

Lemonier and his girlfriend were expecting a baby together, his agent, Drew Smith, told ESPN.

“Jessie was a model teammate and wonderful young man who is gone far too soon,” the Lions said Thursday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

Lemonier joined the Chargers after going undrafted out of Liberty University in 2020. He appeared in six games with Los Angeles that season before being released the following year. Lemonier then signed with the Lions in 2021 and had 15 tackles in seven games, including two starts.

The Cardinals claimed Lemonier off waivers in 2022 but he didn’t appear in a game with the team.

The Arlington Renegade of the XFL selected Lemonier in last November’s draft. The linebacker opted to instead join the United States Football League and signed with the Houston Gamblers, who traded him to the Birmingham Stallions.

Former Charges teammate Breiden Fehoko called Lemonier his “brother” in a tribute Thursday.

“We came in to the league together had to battle through everything rookie year to get where we are,” tweeted Fehoko, who plays defensive tackle. “You were always filled with life bro. I LOVE YOU BRO! Please check up on your people. PLEASE.”

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Categories: Local News

How classified documents ended up at 1984 a show-and-tell

San Jose Mercury - 5 hours 28 min ago

By Calvin Woodward | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — On a winter’s day in 1984, a briefcase stuffed with classified government documents showed up in a building in Pittsburgh, borne by someone who most certainly wasn’t supposed to have them.

That someone was 13-year-old Kristin Preble. She took the papers to school as a show-and-tell project for her eighth grade class. Her dad had found them in his Cleveland hotel room several years earlier and taken them home as a souvenir.

As a different sort of show and tell unfolds in Washington over the mishandling of state secrets by the Trump and now Biden administrations, the schoolgirl episode from four decades ago stands as a reminder that other presidents, too, have let secure information spill.

The Grade 8 escapade and one known as Debategate both involved the mishandling of classified documents that Democratic President Jimmy Carter used to prepare for a debate with Republican rival Ronald Reagan in Cleveland on Oct. 28, 1980. In the latter instance, the Reagan campaign obtained — some said stole — Carter’s briefing materials for the debate.

In today’s docu-dramas, special counsels have been assigned to investigate Donald Trump’s post-presidential cache of classified documents, which he initially resisted turning over, and Joe Biden’s pre-presidential stashes, which he willingly gave up when they were discovered but did not disclose to the public for months.

With classified material also found at former Vice President Mike Pence’s home, there is now a palpable sense in the halls of power that as more officials or ex-officials scour their cabinets or closets, more such oops moments will emerge.

On Thursday, the National Archives wrote to representatives of all ex-presidents and ex-vice presidents back to the Reagan administration to ask that their personal records be checked anew for any classified documents, according to two people familiar with the matter. They were not authorized to speak about document investigations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Carter files fell into Kristin’s hands through a somewhat meandering route.

Two days after the 1980 debate, businessman Alan Preble found the papers in his Cleveland hotel room, apparently left behind by Carter press secretary Jody Powell. Preble took them to his Franklin Park home, where they sat for more than three years as a faintly appreciated keepsake.

“We had looked through them but didn’t think they were important,” Carol Preble, Kristin’s mother, said back then, apparently unimpressed by the classified markings. But for social studies class, Kristin “thought they’d be real interesting. I thought they’d be great, too.”

Off the girl went to Ingomar Middle School on Jan. 19, 1984, with the zippered briefcase.

Teacher Jim DeLisio’s eyes popped when he saw the warnings on the documents inside. Among them: “Classified, Confidential, Executive” and “Property of the United States Government.”

“I truly didn’t want to look at it,” he said then. “I was just too … scared. I didn’t want to know.”

Curiosity got the better of him. That night, he said, he and his wife and daughter pored over the documents, containing “everything you’d want to know from A to Z” on world and U.S. developments. One folder was marked “Iran.” Libya was also in the mix.

Unable to reach Kristin’s family by phone, DeLisio the next day called the FBI, which swiftly retrieved the papers.

A Justice Department official who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity at the time said the bundle of documents was 4 inches (10 centimeters) thick.

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Despite steering the secrets back to their proper place, DeLisio was reprimanded by school officials for calling the authorities before reaching the Preble family or them. The discovery fed into a broader investigation by a Democratic-led congressional committee of the official Carter papers obtained by the winning Reagan campaign.

The Reagan Justice Department declined calls by the committee to appoint a special counsel in that matter. A court case trying to force that appointment failed, and no criminal case was brought. Debategate faded, but not the concern over how classified documents are handled by those in power.

As for Kristin, she earned a niche in history and a “B” on her school project.

This story draws on one by Associated Press writer Marcia Dunn in January 1984 and on research by Rhonda Shaffner in New York.

Categories: Local News

California drought eases as state increases water deliveries to cities, farms

San Jose Mercury - 5 hours 48 min ago

In a major sign that California’s drought conditions are easing after a series of huge storms earlier this month, state water officials on Thursday increased the amount of water that cities and farms will receive this summer from the State Water Project, a series of dams, canals and pumps that provides water to 27 million people from the Bay Area to San Diego.

The increased water deliveries — made possible by rapidly filling reservoirs and a huge Sierra Nevada snowpack — will likely mean that many communities will ease or lift summer water restrictions if the wet weather continues through the spring.

“Thanks to the water captured and stored from recent storms, the state is increasing deliveries to local agencies that support two-thirds of Californians — good news for communities and farms in the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “We’ll keep pushing to modernize our water infrastructure to take advantage of these winter storms and prepare communities for the climate-driven extremes of wet and dry ahead.”

The State Water Project, approved by voters in 1960 and a key legacy of former Gov. Pat Brown, moves water from Northern California to the south. It takes melting snow from the Sierra Nevada and transports it from Lake Oroville through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to Bay Area communities and all the way to the Los Angeles Basin. In normal times, it supplies drinking water to two out of three Californians — and irrigates about 750,000 acres of farmland.

The state Department of Water Resources said it expects to deliver 30% of requested water supplies in 2023, up from the initial 5% allocation it announced on Dec. 1. But that was before a series of nine atmospheric rivers drenched the state starting in late December, causing flooding and storm damage from Sacramento to Santa Cruz County to Santa Barbara.

The rainfall has been nothing short of amazing.

From Dec. 26 to Jan. 15, 17 inches of rain fell in downtown San Francisco. That was the second-wettest three-week period at any time in San Francisco’s recorded history since daily records began in 1849 during the Gold Rush.

Thursday’s increase in water deliveries is the largest January allocation announcement in five years, since 2017, when state officials announced the 29 agencies that have contracts would receive 60% of their requested amounts.

If it continues to rain and snow, further filling reservoirs, in February and March the amount could increase in the months ahead. By April, 2017, the state delivered 85% allocations.

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Among the agencies affected are the Santa Clara Valley Water District, in San Jose, which provides drinking water to 2 million South Bay residents and relies on the State Water Project for 20% to 30% of its normal annual supply. Also benefitting: the Alameda County Water District, which serves 360,000 people in Fremont, Newark and Union City; and the Zone 7 Water Agency, which serves Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin.

Meanwhile Thursday, a growing amount of California’s land is no longer in drought at all, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly report issued by the federal government. Just 32% of California is in severe drought now, down from 42% last week, and 80% a month ago.

Drought conditions are over in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, Thursday’s Drought Monitor showed, along with other coastal portions of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and northern Los Angeles counties. Most of the rest of the state, including all of the Bay Area has been downgraded over the past few weeks to “moderate drought.”

Categories: Local News

Alaska library board keeps LGBTQ books in youth sections

Seattle Times - 5 hours 49 min ago

An advisory board overseeing a public library in Alaska has voted to keep scores of books containing supposed LGBTQ themes in the children’s and young adult sections instead of moving them to a separate location after complaints were made.
Categories: Local News

LA County coroner confirms Monterey Park gunman cause of death

San Jose Mercury - 5 hours 50 min ago

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed Thursday, Jan. 26, the cause of death of the shooter in the Monterey Park massacre that left 11 dead.

Huu Can Tran, 72, of Hemet, died of a gunshot wound to the head, officials confirmed Thursday, Jan. 26.

“The manner of death was suicide,” a coroner spokesperson said, adding that Tran was examined Tuesday.

RELATED: Suspected Monterey Park shooter claimed his family tried to poison him years ago

Tran took his own life Sunday, after a traffic stop in Torrance in a van he was driving the morning after investigators say he opened fire at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio. Authorities say about 17 minutes after his rampage in Monterey Park Saturday night, he drove to a dance studio in nearby Alhambra, where he was intent on doing the same, but was thwarted after his gun was wrested from him and he was kicked out.

What motivated Tran’s rampage remains unknown.

He had no known recent connection to that ballroom or any of the victims, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said during a news conference Wednesday night.

Luna said investigators have found no proof that Tran had been to the ballroom in the past five years.

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“It doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t,” Luna said when asked about the motive.

Addressing Tran’s past, Luna said investigators haven’t found any information to indicate he had been married at the time of the shooting.

“We have not been able to tie him in romantically to any of the victims so far,” Luna said.

Investigators are looking into the circumstances of the weapons Tran was found to be in possession of, particularly a semi-automatic pistol he was believed to have used at the Monterey Park ballroom, where 42 shots were fired. The pistol was described as a Cobray M-11/9, also known as a Mac 10.

“The weapon was not registered in the state of California. It was purchased by the suspect on Feb. 9 of 1999 in the city of Monterey Park,” Luna said.

Categories: Local News

Former presidents, VPs asked to check again for classified documents

San Jose Mercury - 5 hours 58 min ago

By Colleen Long and Zeke Miller | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The National Archives has asked former U.S. presidents and vice presidents to recheck their personal records for any classified documents following the news that President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence had such documents in their possession, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The Archives sent a letter Thursday to representatives of former presidents and vice presidents extending back to Ronald Reagan to ensure compliance with the Presidential Records Act. The act states that any records created or received by the president are the property of the U.S. government and will be managed by the archives at the end of the administration, according to the two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about investigations.

The Archives sent the letter to representatives of former Presidents Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, and former Vice Presidents Pence, Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Dan Quayle.

The letter was first reported by CNN.

Spokespeople for former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and former vice presidents Mike Pence, Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Dan Quayle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Biden’s lawyers came across classified documents from his time as vice president in a locked cabinet as they were packing up an office he no longer uses in November. Since then, subsequent searches by the FBI and Biden’s lawyers have turned up more documents. Former Vice President Mike Pence, too, this week, discovered documents and turned them in after saying previously he did not believe he had any.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment but the searches by Biden’s attorneys and the FBI appear to fulfill the Archives’ request.

Handling of classified documents has been a problem off and on for decades, from presidents to Cabinet members and staff across multiple administrations stretching as far back as Jimmy Carter. But the issue has taken on greater significance since former President Donald Trump willfully retained classified material at his Florida estate, prompting the unprecedented FBI seizure of thousands of pages of records last year.

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Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate Trump’s handling of the documents, and also Biden’s.

Speaking Thursday at an unrelated news conference, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that though he could not discuss any specific ongoing investigation, “We have had for quite a number of years any number of mishandling investigations. That is unfortunately a regular part of our counterintelligence division’s and counterintelligence program’s work.”

He said there was a need for people to be conscious of laws and rules governing the handling of classified information. “Those rules,” he said, “are there for a reason.”

Associated Press Writer Eric Tucker contributed

Categories: Local News

California’s surprisingly solid job market

San Jose Mercury - 6 hours 2 min ago

Bosses seem to like hiring in the state they like to hate.

And that meant 2022 was a solid year for California’s job seekers.

My trusty spreadsheet, filled with 47 years of annual federal jobs data compiled by the St. Louis Fed, tells me that California bosses added 842,000 employees in 2022.

How big was that? Well, this new “staff” equals roughly all the workers in New Mexico or Idaho.

And it was the most workers added by any state, a ranking California has earned in 25 in the past 47 years. Texas was No. 2 at 732,000 and then came Florida with 477,500 new workers.

Yes, California’s employment market wasn’t perfect. Maybe other states fared better.

Of course, there was plenty to worry about the muddy 2023 economic outlook or a rash of year-end layoff notices. And we can debate on another day the numerous ways the Golden State might polish its jobs picture and business climate.

Today, let’s simply celebrate the 2022 accomplishments of the state’s employers and employees alike.

Look at all those 2022 job additions in California. They represent 14.4% of all hires nationally in the year. That’s an above-par slice of job creation as California has created 13% of new U.S. jobs since 1976.

Fast pace

California’s 2022 hiring spree equaled a 5% annual growth rate, part of a rebound from job losses in the early days of the pandemic era.

In the past half-century, California had faster job creation in only three years: 1977 through 1979. Yes, that’s when the under-appreciated Jimmy Carter was president.

Also, 2022’s 5% growth rate was the fourth-fastest hiring pace in the nation behind Nevada at 6.5%, Texas at 5.8% and Florida at 5.4%.

That No. 4 ranking is the highest yearly grade California has earned for its hiring pace in the past 47 years. The previous highest performance rank was the fifth-place showing in 2013, as the state’s economy was emerging from the rubble of the Great Recession.

And for all of the businesses bellyaching about California’s unfriendliness to employers, 2022’s wave of added personnel boosted California’s total employment to 17.6 million last year – as usual, the largest job market in the nation.

Equally eye-catching is that this record-sized workforce meant California had 11.6% of all U.S. workers in 2022, the state’s largest share of national employment in the past half-century.

Unemployment cut

The hiring spree helped lower joblessness statewide.

California’s unemployment rate averaged 4.4% in 2022 – down from 7.4% the previous year and 10.3% in locked-down 2020.

Last year‘s joblessness was the third-lowest level for the state in the past 47 years – only 2019’s 4.1% and 2018’s 4.3% were better.

Oddly, perhaps, California’s 4.4% unemployment in 2022 was the nation’s ninth-highest jobless rate.

Historically speaking, California’s unemployment has run well above the rest of the nation for a host of reasons including its concentrations in volatile industries such as technology, real estate, agriculture and hospitality.

Ponder the fact that California’s best years on the national unemployment scorecard over nearly a half-century were 1986 and 1987. That’s when the state ranked 25th best for unemployment rates.

Yes, No. 25 is California’s No. 1 year.

Curious combo

There’s a big challenge being a California worker: the state’s mix of typically speedy job creation along with lofty unemployment.

Start with a 2022 oddity: The job-growth pace (5%) topped unemployment (4.4%) for the first time in 47 years.

Or mull the long-term picture.Related Articles

California jobs grew at a 1.73% annual average rate since 1976 – 16th-best tempo among the states and topping the 1.45% U.S. pace. But in that same timeframe, California unemployment averaged 7.2%, the sixth-highest among the states.

That curious combination speaks to the mercurial nature of the state economy that features numerous peaks and valleys. Brisk job creation requires risk, and sometimes entrepreneurs and fast-growth companies strike out – forcing employees to find other gigs.

Just think about the historic above-average joblessness among the nation’s five fastest-growing job markets over the past half-century.

No. 1 Nevada – with 3.7% annual job growth since 1976 – has averaged 6.7% unemployment (13th-highest nationally) over 47 years. And No. 2 Arizona’s 3.1% average hiring pace was tied to 6.2% unemployment (22nd-highest nationally).

No. 4 Florida’s 2.7% job growth came with 6.1% unemployment (24th-highest) and No. 5 Texas’ 2.4% hiring pace ran along 6% unemployment (25th-highest).

The outlier was No. 3 Utah, with 2.9% average job growth but only 4.7% unemployment (ninth-lowest).

Or mull over Nebraska. Its 3.4% historic unemployment rate is the nation’s low. But it’s hiring pace since 1986 of 1.32% yearly is a below-par 28th best.

You see, bosses want to operate in places where’s there an ample pool of job candidates. And unemployment can be seen as a measure of worker supply.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com

Categories: Local News

After the California storms, elephant seals arrive to give birth at Point Reyes

San Jose Mercury - 6 hours 2 min ago

January’s wicked weather was not kind to the local elephant-seal population. Huge waves and powerful tides slammed mothers and their newborns on California’s beaches – many pups are thought to have died. The good news is a lot of pregnant seals seem to have ridden out the storms at sea and are finally coming onto land to give birth.

At the Point Reyes National Seashore, there’s a large pile-up of cows, pups and expectant mothers on Drakes Beach. It’s a great time to observe the delightfully named “peak of pupping,” says Sarah Codde, a marine ecologist at the national seashore.

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“We have set up designated elephant-seal viewing areas for the public to watch all the action that takes place in an elephant seal rookery,” she says. “They might see adult females give birth (peak of pupping is later this week and into next week) and they will definitely see pups nursing and bonding with their moms. They might see males fighting with each other, as the males compete for dominance over this group of females. In the weeks to come, the public will be able to see the weaned pups, which will stick around until late April.”

It’s also a rare chance to observe females give birth or interact with pups conveniently in front of the Kenneth Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach. That’s only happened a couple of years in recent memory – usually males take up that real estate.

Folks who want to seal-watch should stay within the designated viewing areas and keep their voices low, as moms and pups are close to the parking lot. That parking lot is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; more information about viewing the seals is available at the website of the national seashore.

In the weeks to come, biologists will monitor how the powerful storms might have affected the local seals’ mortality. Here’s Codde with some more info:

Many females might have stayed offshore while the bulk of the storms were happening and waited to haul out until after the storms ended. The storms hit early in the pupping season, so we didn’t lose a lot of pups, since many of them weren’t born yet. But of the pups that were born before/during the storms, we lost a high percentage. It’s tough to know how many pups were lost, but my guess is around 50 – 100 pups. As comparison, last year we had about 1,300 pups born at Point Reyes. The peak of pupping is usually the last week of January and first week of February, so we’ll see if that ends up being the same, once we get through the next few weeks and can look at the counts of seals.

Cows and pups hang out near picnic tables in early 2023 at Point Reyes National Seashore.Cows and pups hang out near picnic tables in early 2023 at Point Reyes National Seashore. (U.S. National Park Service)
Categories: Local News

Yankees can’t afford to hope Isiah Kiner-Falefa magically gets better

San Jose Mercury - 6 hours 10 min ago

Throw a dart at a board of advanced offensive statistics, and the Yankees’ 2022 shortstops probably ranked near the bottom of whatever category you hit.

The group, led by Isiah Kiner-Falefa and his 131 starts at the highly-valued position, fared decently in batting average and on-base percentage. But among the 30 teams in Major League Baseball, the Yankees’ shortstops were 17th in OPS and weighted on-base average, had the 24th-ranked slugging percentage, were 26th in Statcast’s hard-hit percentage and came in dead last in home runs and isolated slugging (a statistic calculated by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage). They also had the highest ground ball rate in the league, removing most chances for extra base hits as soon as the ball left their barren bats.

Their 91 wRC+ best illustrates how forceless the combination of Kiner-Falefa and Marwin Gonzalez were. Those two were the shortstop for 90% of the team’s games, and if not for Oswald Peraza hitting well during his 11 starts down the stretch, the collective numbers would have been even deeper in the shortstop sinkhole.

Starting with Kiner-Falefa — who figures to still be part of the plan in 2023 after re-upping for one year and six million dollars — the issues are obvious. He does not hit the ball hard at all. While his teammate Aaron Judge had Statcast’s highest hard-hit rate at a punishing 60.9%, Kiner-Falefa’s 29.8% mark placed him in the bottom ten of all MLB qualified hitters. That means that only 29.8% of Kiner-Falefa’s batted balls were 95 miles per hour or greater. The league average was 38.2%. While several of Kiner-Falefa’s neighbors at the bottom of the exit velocity charts had great seasons — Jeff McNeil and Luis Arraez, last year’s batting champions, are the very next hitters on the list after IKF — those men were producing far more line drives and far fewer grounders than the Yankees’ 27-year-old project.

When Kiner-Falefa put the ball in play, he put it on the ground more frequently than any other qualified American League hitter. That’s clearly been part of the strategy for Kiner-Falefa during his entire career, as he does not possess the type of power that will lead to 20 home runs if he just starts elevating the ball more regularly. He prides himself on his contact rate (which is, admittedly, elite), but much of that contact proved to be empty last year.

One of the more humorous stats from Kiner-Falefa’s turbulent Bronx debut is that, among the 16 AL hitters to record more than 100 singles, he was the only one with an OPS+ below 100. In other words, despite hobnobbing with Carlos Correa, Cedric Mullins and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on the singles leaderboard, Kiner-Falefa’s 84 OPS+ tells us he was still 16% worse than the average hitter. That stat is adjusted for the hitter benefits that come with Yankee Stadium, too, casting an even darker shadow on his summer.

The question of how to fix Kiner-Falefa is both complicated and simple. Teaching a guy to consistently hit the ball harder over the course of a single offseason is no easy task. Altering a deeply-ingrained approach could also make things worse, as these habits he’s developed are some 20 years in the making and reversing them now would turn familiar into foreign. The simplicity of the situation comes from the fact that this is just who he is as a hitter. Most of his 2022 numbers are eerily similar to his 2021 figures from Texas. The Yankees knew they were getting a light-hitting utility infielder whom they hoped could be their everyday shortstop. The player they got slapped grounders through the hole every chance he could get, but also never walked and was deeply allergic to stroking the ball into the gap with any sort of ferocity, same as he ever was.

With Gonzalez now out of the picture, Kiner-Falefa and Peraza are the two shortstops on the current 40-man roster. Oswaldo Cabrera can fill substitute duty if needed. But the battle, at least at the beginning of the season, is between IKF and Peraza, who doesn’t turn 23 until June. Most people — including probably Kiner-Falefa, if he was feeling especially candid — would say that Peraza is a better hitter despite having just 57 regular-season plate appearances to Kiner-Falefa’s 2,054. If the Yankees think the two play a comparable brand of defense, which is not very hard for Peraza given how poorly Kiner-Falefa graded in arm strength and Outs Above Average, then Peraza should definitely be the starter.

Let’s pump the brakes for now on Anthony Volpe, who’s stood in the batter’s box just 99 times above Double-A and struck out in 30 of those chances. He’ll be in the bigs sooner than later, and maybe even before the All-Star break if he cracks the code on Triple-A pitching, but expecting him to be ready by Opening Day is reckless and premature unless he goes ballistic in spring training.

There’s a chance that more of Kiner-Falefa’s weak contact becomes base hits. His .296 batting average on balls in play last season was the lowest of his career, and the new rules about shifting should help all ground ball hitters, even if the improvements are marginal. But the problem was slugging. Peraza provided that in small doses after he was called up last September, and his nanosized sample would put him on pace to pound 35 extra base hits if given 500 plate appearances. Kiner-Falefa was good for 24 in 531 plate appearances, the fewest of anyone who strode to the plate that many times.

If the Yankees like singles, fielding errors and the cold comfort of knowing what they’re going to get, Kiner-Falefa is their guy. If they’re looking for someone who deals more in doubles and homers, with the added allure of unknown possibility, they need to give Peraza the job and let him run with it.

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Categories: Local News

Aberdeen, Bowie and Delmarva begin process to receive public improvements for ballparks, meet MLB standards by 2025

San Jose Mercury - 6 hours 11 min ago

Not all ballpark improvements are necessarily sexy, eye-catching, or even noticeable.

“I gotta modernize an elevator,” Kyle Torster, the City of Aberdeen’s Director of Public Works said last month regarding Ripken Stadium, home of the IronBirds.

Yet, such improvements are needed to keep aging ballparks functioning. And in the case of some specific renovations, they’re required so minor league teams retain their affiliation with Major League Baseball.

MLB dictated in 2021 that each of its minor league clubs play in stadiums that meet certain standards for players and last year, the state of Maryland set aside public money for that purpose, authorizing the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $200 million.

Maryland’s three Orioles-affiliated minor league teams — the High-A IronBirds, Double-A Bowie Baysox and Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds — recently sent letters to the stadium authority requesting some of those funds. Each of those teams play in ballparks that are between 20 and 30 years old and though the parks have many needs, the fund’s top priority is to meet MLB’s new requirements so the clubs remain affiliated.

MLB is requiring each club to have “modernized facility standards better suited for professional athletes,” per a news release.

Minor league rosters and staffs have grown in size in recent decades and so clubhouses, for example, are now required to be larger. There are also now more women in pro baseball, serving as coaches and umpires, and ballparks will need to have more than just men’s bathrooms on the service level — which used to be the case in some instances.

MLB cut the number of minor league teams from 160 to 120 in 2020, eliminating affiliations with teams in places such as Frederick and Hagerstown. It has now decreed that each remaining team play in a ballpark up to the new standards by 2025.

“Major League Baseball has reorganized their minor league system,” Michael Frenz, the stadium authority’s executive director, said last year. “Cities have lost teams, and the primary reason has been the adequacy of their facilities. This will help Maryland’s municipalities keep their minor league teams.”

Ballparks in Frederick, which is home to a yet-named Atlantic League team in addition to an MLB Draft League squad, and Waldorf, home to the Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, might be able to access the $200 million fund, though those teams are not official affiliates of MLB. Separately, the home of the Blue Crabs just received a $1.5 million state grant for renovations.

And Hagerstown, which is in the midst of receiving a $70 million ballpark funded by the state and will host an Atlantic League team in 2024, could also request money from the stadium authority, though its park will be built with MLB’s standards already in place.

The $200 million fund could further be accessed by other sports venues like equestrian centers or venues for youth sports tournaments, but stadium authority criteria outlined a pecking order: “i. minor league baseball stadiums with affiliated teams; ii. minor league baseball stadiums with nonaffiliated teams; iii. other Sports Entertainment Facilities that generate positive economic impact for the State.”

So, the ballparks in Aberdeen, Bowie and Delmarva will first receive renovations.

“The priority is on those three right now,” Al Tyler, vice president of the Capital Projects Development Group of the stadium authority, said last month.

Those upgrades could range from improved batting cages to newer washers and dryers.

Owners of those parks will likely hope for repairs beyond what MLB requires. Torster noted that Aberdeen’s ballpark has seats and concrete which, worn down over time, need to be replaced.

The City of Aberdeen hired architecture firm Ewing Cole in 2022 to assess the city’s ballpark needs, finding that the ballpark required $57 million in improvements, of which, $9 million is related to achieving MLB standards. (Those figures could be different, however, from the standards MLB mandates.)

The stadium authority is waiting to learn what each park requires. Some renovation could begin as early as this year.

Local leadership in Aberdeen, Bowie and Wicomico County (home of the Shorebirds) sent letters to the MSA in October and November requesting that the stadium authority consider awarding grant money to each of them.

“Though many improvements have been made in recent years, the Stadium will require additional renovations in order to meet recently adopted Professional Development League standards, as required by Major League Baseball,” a letter from Wicomico County leadership said.

“Other stadium improvements, including those specifically requested by the Baltimore Orioles, are also needed to make the stadium more modern and viable long-term, and to deliver a first-class product to players, coaches and fans.”

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Categories: Local News

Easing into retirement: How to create a ‘glide path’

San Jose Mercury - 6 hours 15 min ago

The investing information provided on this page is for educational purposes only. NerdWallet does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks, securities or other investments.

In investing terms, a “glide path” describes how a mix of investments changes over time. Typically, the mix gets more conservative — with fewer stocks and more bonds, for example — as the investor approaches a goal such as retirement.

You also can create a glide path into retirement by making gradual changes in your working and personal life in the months or years before you plan to quit work. Retirement can be a jarring transition, especially if you haven’t set up ways to replace the structure, sense of purpose and socializing opportunities that work can bring, says financial coach Saundra Davis, executive director of Sage Financial Solutions, a nonprofit financial education and planning organization in San Francisco.

“People are excited to leave [work], but then once they leave, they feel that pressure of ‘How do I define myself?’” Davis says. “‘Am I important now that I’m no longer in the workforce?’”

What do you want your life to look like?

Davis suggests people start by thinking about what they want from retirement. That could mean visualizing your ideal day: where you’re living, what you’re doing, who you’re spending time with. Free tools such as YearCompass and Unravel Your Year can help you identify what “sparks joy” for you and what you want more of in your life, Davis says. These tools allow you to reflect on your recent past and plan for the future.

“What are the things that have been calling you? What gives you energy?” Davis asks.

Your ideal retirement may well face roadblocks: a lack of money, ill health or the need to provide care for someone else, for example. But understanding what you really want from this phase of your life can help you figure out ways to get what’s most important, she says.

“Just because you might have some limitations, either physical or emotional or financial, don’t assume that that counts you out,” Davis says.

Discuss your vision of retirement with your spouse or partner to “see if you’re on the same page,” suggests David John, senior strategic policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Your significant other may have different ideas about when to retire, where to live and what they want to do with their time, and those should be discussed before either of you quits work, John notes.

“We tend to assume that people agree with us, when we haven’t had a formal discussion about something, and that can prove to be a mistake,” John says.

What role will work play in your retirement?

Some employers have phased retirement programs that allow people to cut back to part-time work while retaining a paycheck and benefits. Other companies don’t have formal plans but may be willing to accommodate an employee who asks, particularly if the worker is a high performer, says Joe Casey, a retirement and executive coach in Princeton, New Jersey, and the author of “Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy.”

Phased plans give employers time to look for a successor while allowing workers to ease into retirement, says Melissa Shaw, a wealth management adviser for financial services firm TIAA in Palo Alto, California.

“They still have more freedom to start to enjoy and plan for the next phase,” Shaw says. “It’s a good way to transition.”

If phased retirement isn’t an option, a part-time job or consulting work can help people keep a foot in the work world while they shape their post-work life, Shaw adds.

How will you stay connected and sharp?

Loneliness doesn’t just diminish the quality of your days — it also can diminish the quantity. Social isolation and loneliness significantly increase someone’s odds of premature death and are associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia as well as higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many people underestimate the social connections that work provides, Davis says. They also may not anticipate how much their social circles can shrink over time as people move away or die. Davis recommends making friends of different generations to counteract that trend. Hobbies and volunteering are among the ways to find prospective friendships, she says.

But it can also help to find friends or mentors among people who have retired, Shaw says. Senior centers, social connection sites like Meetup and the AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect service are other ways to find potential social contacts. One of Shaw’s clients connected with a group of retirees at a gym before he retired, combining his desire to stay active and healthy with an informal support group, Shaw says.

“Having others around you who have experienced retirement and who can provide support and tips and share ideas is extremely valuable,” Shaw says.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press. 

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Liz Weston, CFP® writes for NerdWallet. Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston.

The article How to Create Your Retirement Glide Path originally appeared on NerdWallet.
Categories: Local News

James Dolan worried about Knicks without ‘important’ Mitchell Robinson

San Jose Mercury - 6 hours 15 min ago

BOSTON — James Dolan seems satisfied about the Knicks season thus far but concerned about the next “four weeks” without Mitchell Robinson.

“The Knicks are doing well,” the team owner told FOX5 New York on Thursday morning. “They’re not at the top of the league, but they’re not at the bottom. And they’re in a playoff position now.

“We just lost a player — Mitchell Robinson — for four weeks, and he was important to us. So we have to make it through the next four weeks.”

The Knicks never provided a recovery timeline for Robinson, only that he’ll undergo a re-evaluation three weeks from the surgery on Jan 19. After Dolan’s suggestion that Robinson will be out until after the All-Star break, a team spokesman said, “Nothing changed in our update.”

Heading into Thursday’s game against the Celtics, the Knicks were 1-3 since Robinson broke his thumb on the head of Wizards guard Bradley Beal. They were seventh in the Eastern Conference — which, despite Dolan’s claim, doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot — and also have the NBA’s toughest remaining schedule based on the opponent’s current record.

Dolan, meanwhile, seems more optimistic with his other sports team, the Rangers, who are sixth in their conference with 60 points in 48 games.

“Being a team owner, you have good days and bad days. When you win, it’s a good day. When you don’t win, it’s a bad day,” said Dolan, who was wearing a Rangers scarf. “I think the Rangers are really cooking. They have a shot this year to win the whole thing.”

Dolan’s appearance on FOX5′s Good Day New York represented his first in-depth media interview in nearly four years, and it mostly concerned his controversial use of Facial Recognition Technology to ban lawyers from all MSG venues who are part of active lawsuits against Dolan.

Dolan said it’s his right as a business owner, comparing it to a baker who was sued by a customer and no longer wanted to sell that person bread. When interviewer Rosanna Scotto reminded Dolan that MSG receives tax abatements from New York City, the 67-year-old redirected from the premise that it’s more than a private company.

“We get tax abatements. Every team in New York gets tax abatements,” Dolan said. “If you don’t think we should have tax abatements, we should take away from all the teams. Which of course they don’t want to do.”

Dolan receives a tax break that’s up to roughly $43 million per year because of an exception drafted in 1982 by Mayor Koch. Various New York lawmakers have since threatened to repeal the exemption.

Dolan added Thursday that he won’t relocate MSG despite a suggestion from Mayor Adams that he’s open to that discussion as Penn Station gets a massive renovation.

“I’m not going to move Madison Square Garden,” Dolan said. “It’s in a good place right now. It’s easy for everybody to get to. And honestly, we invested billions of dollars into the building.”

But Dolan has dropped one project: his blues band, JD & The Straight Shot, which has been on hiatus because the opening of his new venue in Las Vegas, the Sphere, experiences continuous delays.

“It’s sucking up all my time,” Dolan said. “I have to wait until I finish this project. Then I’ll get back to the music.”

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Categories: Local News

Dolphins Q&A: Will special teams coordinator be fired? What are top 5 offseason priorities?

San Jose Mercury - 6 hours 20 min ago

Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Chris Perkins answer questions from readers.

Q: David, enjoy reading/watching your content. Question, why haven’t I heard anyone mention the fact Miami hasn’t fired their Special Teams coach? That’s shocking to me. I think him getting fired is, at least, as warranted as the Boyer firing. But I haven’t see anyone discussing this. Thoughts? — Ross S., via email

A: Most on the outside believed special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was just as likely to be shown the door as defensive coordinator Josh Boyer. Yet, Crossman survived last week’s announcement of cuts while Boyer — along with safeties coach Steve Gregory, outside linebackers coach Ty McKenzie and assistant linebackers coach Steve Ferentz — were relieved of their duties.

We’re now a week removed from that release, and the further we get from it, the more it feels like that’s the extent of the Dolphins’ firings on the coaching staff.

Miami’s special teams struggles were well-documented. The Dolphins gave up several long kick and punt returns. On their end, they never got much in their own return game — outside of, say, Cedrick Wilson Jr.’s 50-yard punt return in the AFC wild-card playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Kicker Jason Sanders had an up-and-down year with costly misses among his 26-of-32 campaign that also saw three failed extra points. He did, however, kick Miami into the playoffs with his 50-yarder against the New York Jets in Week 18 after missing four from such distance.

There were other blunders on special teams, notably the infamous “butt punt,” which nearly cost Miami the 21-19 Week 3 win over the Bills when punter Thomas Morstead — a bright spot otherwise — had his punt from the team’s own end zone ricochet off the backside of upback Trent Sherfield and out through the back of the end zone for a safety.

Like Boyer, Crossman had a fair share of excuses with injuries. Key special teams players either missed time or had to contribute more than expected on offense or defense, altering some of his units.

Maybe coach Mike McDaniel looks at the field of available replacements and doesn’t see anyone as an upgrade over Crossman. Maybe McDaniel hires a new coordinator for special teams and keeps Crossman in a demoted role (see former offensive line coach Lemuel Jeanpierre last year). Maybe there’s some communication between them encouraging him to look elsewhere, while not announcing him as fired to save face.

Or maybe McDaniel just likes Crossman’s coaching style and process, and he feels his coordinator will deliver better results next season.

Q: Would you prefer a first year DC or someone with experience? @eric__jf on Twitter

A: I’d personally prefer an experienced, veteran defensive coordinator that McDaniel can just hand the keys to the defense and know that side of the ball has its own head coach-like voice for the unit. Such a candidate can also provide support for McDaniel in leading the overall operation while McDaniel is free to leave his fingerprints all over his offense.

Okay, that’s a lot of words to simply say I prefer Vic Fangio as the hire. Fangio was McDaniel’s top choice when he was hired last offseason, but he was told to retain Boyer, according to reporting from our Dave Hyde. Now, he’s got his chance to get his guy.

That’s not to say the other three candidates currently interviewing for the role — Seahawks’ Sean Desai, Saints’ Kris Richard and Dolphins linebackers coach Anthony Campanile — wouldn’t be excellent hires. But Fangio’s résumé has earned him the perception as the top choice here.

Q: In order for Miami to be more successful next season than this season what are your top 5 must do’s for the Dolphins aside from Tua being able to stay on the field? Dan Giunta on Twitter

A: I’ll keep the answer brief (and yes, taking all the necessary measures to give quarterback Tua Tagovailoa every chance to remain healthy next season would be high on this list):

1.) Hire the right defensive coordinator and other assistants to fill out the staff; 2.) Clear cap space with restructured deals, trades, cuts, other maneuvers to regain flexibility; 3.) Extend Christian Wilkins to lock him up as a franchise cornerstone to lead the defense through the rest of the decade; 4.) Find fits at cornerback, linebacker, tight end, right tackle and maybe a running back through free agency or the draft; 5.) Secure the backup quarterback position in order to be prepared if Tagovailoa again has to miss time.

Q: Do you think McDaniel would consider (or should he) delegate some of his game-day head-coaching duties? I believe Gase did that with his Assistant Head Coach and I don’t remember him having issues with play calling, timeouts, challenge flags… @anthonyrockk on Twitter

A: McDaniel most certainly has to make some change to his game-day operation after it was exposed at the most critical time, a playoff loss. His tone in addressing it after the season sure makes it seem like he will attack it head-on.

He should find a better balance with delegation as he may have thought he could handle too much himself as an enthusiastic, first-year head coach.

I don’t think McDaniel will want to sacrifice play-calling duties, as he takes pride in that aspect — maybe too much, at times, trying to come up with the perfect play instead of just getting the call relayed in a timely manner. The packages, formations and motions may have to get simplified in key moments where the team can’t afford a slip-up.

He surely needs to address his replay review system after starting 0 for 5 on challenges before getting his first one overturned deep in the regular-season finale.

Have a question?

Email David Furones, or tag @ChrisPerk or @DavidFurones_ on Twitter.

Previously answered:

Will Miami pursue a quarterback this offseason?

How will two regular-season meetings vs. Bills factor into playoff game?

Should Tua consider retirement after latest concussion scare?

Is Bradley Chubb contributing?

How impactful can defensive front be?

Should Mike Gesicki have been shopped in trade talks? Why so many penalties?

Is Christian Wilkins next for multi-year extension?

()

Categories: Local News

SC abortion ban gets hearing for first time this session

Seattle Times - 6 hours 20 min ago

An abortion ban is once more beginning to move through the South Carolina General Assembly.
Categories: Local News

Five drivers were racing when one fatally struck California bicyclist, family’s lawsuit alleges

San Jose Mercury - 6 hours 26 min ago

Five drivers were racing on a rural Central Valley road when one of the cars struck and killed a bicyclist last year, a lawsuit by her family says.

Bicyclist Adela Santana-Mullooly, 51, was riding on Watts Valley Road in Fresno County on the morning of Oct. 2 when an Acura NSX crossed the center line on a curve and struck her head-on, the California Highway Patrol said. She died at the scene.

The suit alleges the Acura’s driver — a 45-year-old Clovis man — was racing at least four other cars and contends the drivers exhibited “a wanton disregard” for the safety of others, the Fresno Bee reported.

The other cars were two Porsche 911s, a Lamborghini and a Ferrari, the suit says.

The two-lane Watts Valley Road, which extends from ranchland north of Sanger to the Sierra Nevada foothills, is a favorite route of bicyclists. Santana-Mullooly was riding with a group on the Sunday morning, training for a daylong ride later that month, the Fresno Cycling Club said in a memorial post. Around 10:20 a.m. she was westbound, heading toward Fresno, when the eastbound Acura struck her while cresting a small rise.

Santana-Mullooly taught anthropology at Fresno State and Clovis Community College. She is survived by her husband, their three sons — a 12-year-old and 10-year-old twins — and an 18-year-old stepson and 21-year-old stepdaughter, her obituary said.

The suit seeks financial damages from the Acura’s driver.

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Categories: Local News

How California’s recent flooding could set the stage for a dangerous wildfire season

San Jose Mercury - 6 hours 31 min ago

By Rachel Ramirez and Renée Rigdon | CNN

With vast stretches of desert that give way to towering, snow-capped mountains or the waters of the Pacific Ocean, California’s landscape has always been alluring. But it is this very climate — where dry summers and wet winters provide the perfect conditions for tourism and agriculture — that’s also the state’s vulnerability.

Everything could be dried out one year, then completely drenched the next. For years, historically dry conditions have pushed the West to uncharted territory, triggering never-before-seen water shortages. Then at the end of December and into the early weeks of January, an onslaught of rain and snow finally came, significantly reducing the severity of the drought.

But Californians know the pendulum could abruptly swing the other way again: If moisture doesn’t stick around and heat sets in, experts worry the wintertime rain and snow could prime the landscape for an intense wildfire season.

“The dangerous side to this could be — and we’ve seen this in the past — is we get all this moisture, which increases the amount of spring growth around the state, and then all that growth dries out after we no longer get more moisture and becomes just additional fuels,” Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist at the University of California, Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab, told CNN.

More important than the amount of moisture in the ground right now is what’s there at the end of winter, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“What’s concerning is that now, in a warming climate, even in some of the wet years, we’re seeing significant or even elevated severe fire activity because of how dry and warm it gets in the intervening months,” Swain told CNN.

While it’s too early to tell exactly, he added, the ingredients for a dangerous fire year are slowly coming together.

It’s happened before. Issac Sanchez, CalFire’s battalion chief, said he recalls 2020 being an “unusual year,” with the season starting off with atmospheric river storms that dumped plenty of rain and snow and fueled vegetation growth across California.

But those conditions quickly turned to drought, fueling record-breaking wildfires that burned more than 4 million acres — the worst wildfire season in state history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“We can’t say we’re going to get a lot of fires this year, because we simply don’t know,” Sanchez told CNN. “What we can point to is we can see that the conditions for large destructive fires are going to be there and we have to be prepared when that happens, because we don’t know when or where the fire is going to be.”

California was slammed this winter with nine back-to-back atmospheric river storms, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Those storms — conveyor belts of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere emerging from the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean — unleashed record rainfall, deadly flooding, debris flows and hurricane-force winds.

In just three weeks, the storms brought an average of nearly 12 inches of rain — more than 32 trillion gallons of water — to the state. San Francisco saw nearly 18 inches in that three-week span, which is more than the city accumulated in the previous 12 months combined.

High-elevation snowpack — which serves as a natural reservoir that eases the drought, storing water through the winter months and slowly releasing it through the spring melting season — now stands at more than 200% for this time of the year and is roughly equivalent to what the region sees at the end of the season, on April 1.

“The numbers have been big, but we are still concerned that if we hit a prolonged dry and warm period, we may not end up in a spot that’s favorable come March and April,” Schwartz said. “We still have several months to get through in the water season, and these aren’t static numbers.”

California’s winter storms significantly improved the state’s surface drought conditions. As of Thursday, nearly 90% of the state was in some level of drought. But it was only three weeks ago that nearly 7 million Californians lived in areas of extreme drought — the second-worst designation. That number has since dropped to zero.

Climate researchers have said it’s the lack of precipitation, higher temperatures and an increase in evaporative demand — also known as the “thirst of the atmosphere” — that has pushed the West’s drought into historic territory.

So these storms, experts say, were desperately needed. Schwartz said he wants moisture and the elevated snowpack to stick around to avoid an active fire season.

The barrage of storms has also increased soil moisture, which is good for California’s severely parched vegetation. Moisture in plants and new growth help keep California wildfires at bay. April 1 is usually the time of the year when the state has the highest fuel moisture content.

But that moisture needs to hold until then. Kurt Solander, a hydrologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, told CNN that storms could potentially have a strong impact on this year’s wildfires. It all depends on the moisture content of plants across the state during the late spring and early summer months.

“It could be that the faucet providing the atmospheric rivers that we are seeing shuts off abruptly for the remainder of the winter,” Solander told CNN. The rain California has already seen “could promote the growth of [plant] fuels” that would increase the likelihood that areas which have burned in years past could burn again.

If temperatures climb in the coming months, the sun could bake out what little moisture there is in the ground. Once all the vegetative fuel dries out, that’s when fire woes begin to emerge, said Lee Turin Dickman, a plant ecologist with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“Even if it’s not particularly dry, if there are changes in the plant’s dry mass or carbon content, that can actually make the vegetation drier than you might expect based on weather or climate conditions,” she told CNN, referring to the phenomenon called the “spring dip” in which moisture content declines.

The winter storms sparked some hope for drought-stricken California, but experts forecast another dry spell ahead as temperatures warm.

“We see persistence of drought in Southern California as well as most of Nevada,” said Joe Casola, regional director for climate services in the Western region of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “It doesn’t mean it’s not going to rain or snow in these places, it just won’t be enough necessarily in January, February, March and April to offset some of the drought conditions that we are still experiencing.”

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, for instance, is still under a regional drought emergency as it expects a fourth consecutive dry year.

If dry and relatively warm conditions form over the coming months, Swain said that could substantially offset the gains that recent snow and rain storms brought in recent weeks. And dry conditions, in concert with low humidity and extreme heat, are a recipe for a destructive wildfire season.

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“If we have another summer punctuated by record heat — as we have pretty much every year for the past decade, at least somewhere in the West — then all of that extra vegetation still manages to dry out more or less completely,” Swain said. “So, by the end of the summer and the fall, the peak of the dry season, what you then have is a system full of extra vegetation that is just as dry as it would have been.”

California is no stranger to life-threatening, landscape-altering fires. And scientists have showed that climate change is making them worse. In his research, Solander recently found that California was the only state where the rate of fire reburns, or areas burned multiple times over the years, has increased and was consistently higher than other areas of the West.

“One of the primary drivers of wildfire re-burns in California was the moisture flux from plants during the late spring to early summer months,” Solander said, noting that he will have to go back and check the “moisture content of plants across the state during that time to better understand” how fires may play out later in the year.

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Categories: Local News

Palestinians: Israeli troops kill 10 in West Bank raid

San Jose Mercury - 6 hours 33 min ago

By Majdi Mohammed and Tia Goldenberg | Associated Press

JENIN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP) — Israeli forces killed at least nine Palestinians and wounded several others in a large-scale raid Thursday in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said. The deadliest single operation in the territory in two decades prompted Palestinian leaders to cut security ties with Israel, a move that could lead to more violence.

The Israeli military also fatally shot a 22-year-old Palestinian later in a separate incident.

The raid in the Jenin refugee camp increases the risk of a major flare-up in Israeli-Palestinian fighting, poses a test for Israel’s new hard-line government and casts a shadow on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s expected trip to the region next week.

Raising the stakes, the Palestinian Authority said it would halt the ties that its security forces maintain with Israel in a shared effort to contain Islamic militants. Previous such efforts have been short-lived, in part because of the benefits the authority enjoys from the relationship and also due to U.S. and Israeli pressure to maintain it.

The PA already has limited control over scattered enclaves in the West Bank, and its forces have little authority in militant strongholds like the Jenin camp. But the announcement could pave the way for Israel to step up operations it says are needed to prevent attacks.

Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, threatened revenge for the raid. Violent escalations in the West Bank have previously triggered retaliatory rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces in the West Bank and on the country’s border with Gaza went on heightened alert. Protesters filled the streets in the territory, chanting in solidarity with Jenin. Palestinians in the refugee camp dug a mass grave for the dead and Abbas declared three days of mourning.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, said Abbas had decided to cut security coordination in “light of the repeated aggression against our people, and the undermining of signed agreements,” referring to commitments from the Oslo peace process in the 1990s. He also said that the Palestinians planned to file complaints with the U.N. Security Council, International Criminal Court and other international bodies.

The PA last cut security coordination with Israel in 2020, over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s drive to annex the occupied West Bank, which would render a future Palestinian state unviable. But six months later, the PA resumed cooperation, signaling the financial importance of the relationship and the Palestinians’ relief at the election of President Joe Biden.

Barbara Leaf, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, said the administration was deeply concerned about the situation and said civilian casualties reported in Jenin were “quite regrettable.” But she also said the Palestinian announcement to suspend security cooperation with Israel was a mistake.

“Obviously, we don’t think this is the right step to take at this moment,” she told reporters, saying the Palestinian vow to bring the matter to the U.N. and the International Criminal Court was problematic.

“We want to see them move back in the other direction,” she said, adding: “They need to engage with each other.”

Thursday’s gunbattle erupted when Israel’s military conducted a rare daytime operation in the refugee camp that it said was meant to prevent an imminent attack on Israelis. The camp, where the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group has a major foothold, has been a focus of near-nightly Israeli arrest raids.

At least one of the dead was identified by Palestinians as a militant; it was not clear how many others were affiliated with armed groups.

Later in the day, Israeli forces fatally shot a 22-year-old, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, as Palestinians confronted Israeli troops north of Jerusalem to protest Thursday’s raid.

Tensions have soared since Israel stepped up raids in the West Bank last spring, following a series of Palestinian attacks.

Israel’s new national security minister, far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, who seeks to grant legal immunity to Israeli soldiers who shoot Palestinians, posted a video of himself beaming triumphantly. He congratulated security forces, saying the government gives “backing to our fighters in the war against the terrorists.”

The raid left a trail of destruction in Jenin. A two-story building, apparently the operation’s target, was a charred wreck. The military said it entered the building to detonate explosives.

Palestinian Health Minister May Al-Kaila said paramedics struggled to reach the wounded during the fighting, while Akram Rajoub, the governor of Jenin, said the military prevented emergency workers from evacuating them.

Both accused the military of firing tear gas at the pediatric ward of a hospital, causing children to choke. Video at the hospital showed women carrying children into a corridor.

The military said forces closed roads to aid the operation, which may have complicated rescue efforts, and that tear gas had likely wafted into the hospital from nearby clashes.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the 61-year-old woman killed as Magda Obaid, and the Israeli military said it was looking into reports of her death. Health officials identified the eight other dead as men ranging in age from 18 to 40. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade — an armed militia affiliated with Fatah, the secular political party that controls the Palestinian Authority — claimed one of the dead, Izz al-Din Salahat, as a fighter. The ministry said at least 20 people were wounded.

According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, May 14, 2021, was the deadliest day in the West Bank since 2002, with 13 Palestinians killed that day in confrontations. But Thursday marked the single bloodiest incursion since 2002, during an intense wave of violence known as the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, which left scars still visible in Jenin.

“We ask that the international community help the Palestinians against this extremist right-wing government and protect our citizens,” said Rajoub, the Jenin governor.

U.N. Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said he was “deeply alarmed and saddened” by the violence. Condemnations came from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Turkey, which recently reestablished full diplomatic ties with Israel, as well as from neighboring Jordan.

Saudi Arabia criticized the raid, saying it rejected the “serious violations of international law by the Israeli occupation forces.” Qatar called it a “brutal Israeli aggression” and an “extension of the heinous and horrific crimes of the occupation against the defenseless Palestinian people.” Kuwait and Oman added condemnations.

Tensions over West Bank violence have spilled into Gaza before.

“The response of the resistance to what happened today in Jenin camp will not be delayed,” warned top Hamas official Saleh Arouri.

The Islamic Jihad branch in the coastal enclave has repeatedly fought against Israel, most recently in a fierce three-day clash last summer that killed dozens of Palestinians and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem last year, making 2022 the deadliest in those territories since 2004, according to B’Tselem. So far this year, 30 Palestinians have been killed.

Israel says most of the dead were militants. But youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in the confrontations also have been killed. So far this year, not including Thursday, one-third of the Palestinians killed by Israeli troops or civilians had ties to armed groups.

Last year, 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

Israel says its raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart attacks. The Palestinians say they further entrench Israel’s 55-year, open-ended occupation of the West Bank, which Israel captured along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians claim those territories for their hoped-for state.

Israel has established dozens of settlements in the West Bank that now house 500,000 people. The Palestinians and much of the international community view settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace, even as talks to end the conflict have been moribund for over a decade.

Goldenberg reported from Tel Aviv, Israel. Associated Press writers Areej Hazboun and Isabel DeBre in Jerusalem, Jon Gambrell in Dubai and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed.

Categories: Local News

Tyre Nichols’s Death Renews Attention to Use of Force: What to Know

N.Y. Times - 6 hours 40 min ago
A Supreme Court precedent still dominates the legal approach to the use of force, while a patchwork of state and city laws governs how the police should act.
Categories: Local News

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