Al Leiter, a Mets fan ‘at birth,’ calls his time in Queens the ‘best seven years of my baseball life’

San Jose Mercury - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:35

Growing up in New Jersey, summertime for Al Leiter was, as he puts it, “WOR, Bob Murphy, Lindsay Nelson and Ralph Kiner.” Leiter has vague memories of 1969, when he was nearly four years old and the Mets made a magical run to an improbable World Series title:

“Black-and-white TV, upstairs at a house in Pine Beach, my older brothers and my dad, all excited when they won.”

Tom Seaver, of course, “walked on water, as far as the Leiter family was concerned,” he adds. In 1973, when the Mets made their next trip to the World Series, Leiter was seven and “in the sweet spot of being a young boy, loving baseball,” he says.

No wonder Leiter, now 57, describes himself as a Mets fan “at birth.” Lucky for him, he eventually got a chance to pitch for the team he swooned over as a kid and he was so good at it he’s headed to the Mets Hall of Fame. Leiter will be honored Saturday at Citi Field along with Howard Johnson and broadcasters Gary Cohen and Howie Rose.

Leiter, no surprise, is thrilled to be recognized. “Ya think?” he says, laughing.

“I believe this: It’s always in that innocent heart of every Major Leaguer — once you sign professionally, you know it’s a job. But deep in your baseball soul, you have an affinity for the team you rooted for as a little boy.”

Really, Leiter did more than just pitch for the Mets — he was an affable star in Queens, one who lifted up teammates and fans and helped fuel one of the best eras in club history. Leiter, who arrived in a Feb. 6, 1998 trade with the Marlins, was a big part of the Mets return to the MLB postseason in 1999-2000 after the post-1980s drought.

“Short of winning a World Series, it’s the best seven years of my baseball life,” says Leiter, who did win the Fall Classic with the 1993 Blue Jays and 1997 Marlins. When it ended in 2004, he was disappointed.

Still, his name is all over the Mets’ record books — he’s still sixth in wins and only Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez and Ron Darling made more starts in Flushing. Leiter, who was 95-67 with a 3.42 ERA with the Mets, is one of only nine Met pitchers with more than 1,000 strikeouts.

He also authored one of the best big-money pitching performances in club history, quite a statement considering the Mets’ pitching bloodlines. In 1999, Leiter threw a two-hit shutout in Cincinnati in a tie-breaker game for the National League Wild Card berth, sending the Mets to the playoffs for the first time since 1988. When fans approach him, he says, it’s the game they mention most.

“It was just masterful to watch him carve up the Reds,” recalls reliever Turk Wendell. “Me, Johnny Franco, Dennis Cook, we were sitting in the bullpen saying, ‘We getting in this game?’ We were on call, but chilling out. That was an awesome performance.”

Leiter always embraced his inner Mets-ness — he loved meeting former Mets and was a mentor to younger teammates. He soaked up wisdom from Sandy Koufax, the Hall-of-Famer who grew up in Brooklyn with ex-Mets owner Fred Wilpon. Leiter still cherishes the day Wilpon gave him Koufax’s cell phone number.

Leiter especially loved moments with Seaver, a Mets broadcaster from 1999-2005. Leiter would seek out The Franchise on the team plane to talk pitching while sipping wine from Seaver’s vineyard.

They even had a ritual of sorts: Seaver would pluck the opponents’ lineup card from the back pocket of Leiter’s uniform pants on the days Leiter pitched. Then he’d go down the batting order with ideas: “The fifth inning on, he won’t beat me and he won’t beat me. Then he’d do the seventh inning,” Leiter says. “They were small, simple conversations that made sense.”

When the Mets strived to offer comfort or distraction to the families of Sept. 11 victims, Leiter was among those at the forefront. “Al has a great way of looking into someone’s eyes when talking to them,” says former Mets manager Bobby Valentine. “You feel like he’s looking right into your brain or soul. He was able to show the compassion that was needed in a very sincere way.”

On the mound, Leiter exhibited a repertoire of quirks. He’d chomp on his glove or stomp around, his emotions oozing from every pore. Those, along with his hitting — Leiter had a lifetime average of .085 — still make teammates chuckle.

“Everyone says you’re supposed to control your emotions; Al allowed his to propel him forward,” Valentine says. “I appreciated that.”

Says Leiter: “When you’re so locked in, you really lose yourself and you don’t care what it might look like. I guess I did some goofy stuff.”

All of the above might be fodder when he’s introduced Saturday. Franco is handling that. Leiter is the godfather to Franco’s youngest daughter and the two former Mets are longtime friends.

“Al,” Franco says, “is a guy you want in a foxhole with you.”

A word of advice to his teammates, though: Beware Leiter’s celebratory hugs.

“Al doesn’t know his own strength,” jokes former teammate Todd Zeile. “He’s just so strong and has no idea he’s crushing your body. And he’s got passion to go with it. It’s very unique to Al. It’s an Al-type of embrace.”


Categories: Local News

Let’s relegate bad teams out of US sports. It’s good business

San Jose Mercury - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:24
Luton Town's Sonny Bradley lifts the trophy after their sides victory during the Sky Bet Championship play-off final against Coventry City at Wembley Stadium, London, Saturday, May 27, 2023. Luton Town will play in the Premier League for the first time after beating Coventry City 6-5. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)Luton Town’s Sonny Bradley lifts the trophy after their sides victory during the Sky Bet Championship play-off final against Coventry City at Wembley Stadium, London, Saturday, May 27, 2023. Luton Town’s promotion to the Premier League is an opportunity not given to U.S. minor-league teams.(Adam Davy/PA via AP) 

We need more pain in American professional sports leagues – and by that, I mean financial hurt.

Maybe you didn’t know that much of the world makes their pro teams sweat to keep their status in top-tier leagues. What’s called “relegation” is an annual culling of the sporting herd.

Consider soccer’s English Premier League, for example. Every spring, the three worst of its 20 teams are booted out of one of the world’s top sports league.

Let me explain. As its season was recently winding down, the best Premier League teams competed for championships and qualification to continental playoffs.

The twist of relegation is that season-ending sports drama also played out in real-life “survival games” at the bottom of the Premier League standings. Clubs were fighting to avoid demotion to the second-tier league.

Now I know relegation seems almost un-American. Could you imagine your favorite team being cut from a major league?

But the intrigue surrounding these sporting demotions has become pop culture lore. Relegation was a common theme in the popular “Ted Lasso” comedy from Apple TV about an English soccer team and its quirky and overly-optimistic American coach.

The script had Lasso’s fictional team relegated out of the Premier League, then back in. But the fear of losing that lofty status was ever-present.

“The teams that get relegated, they can get un-relegated, yeah?” Lasso asked in one episode.

Is a bubble brewing for sports businesses?

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That kind of pressure to produce is quite a contrast to America’s franchised pro sports. U.S. owners purchase eternal rights to play in the nation’s pre-eminent leagues governing football – the American kind and soccer, baseball, basketball, and hockey.

Yes, many U.S. sports teams choose the costly fight to battle for supremacy. But no fear of relegation translates to other franchises spending far less money and energy toward victory.

Worse, American sports actually nudge teams to play poorly. There’s too much guaranteed cash flow, win or lose, as well as curious incentives to be really bad.

Think about one way U.S. sports leagues try to keep play competitive. The weakest teams aren’t kicked out, rather they’re awarded better chances at acquiring the next generation of talent.

Relegation’s payoff

Imagine the entertainment value U.S. teams could create by using relegation.

There’s the excitement of a late-season rush for struggling major league teams to avoid getting sent to the minor leagues.

Then add to that buzz what’s happens in the league one notch below. That’s where top teams play to win promotion to the high-profile competition next season.

In English soccer, the top two teams from the second-tier Championship League automatically qualify to for an upgrade to the Premier League for next season. The next four teams in the standings compete to decide who gets the final coveted promotion to the Premier League.

In late May, Luton won that elevation by defeating Coventry in front of 85,700 fans at Wembley Stadium in London in a dramatic match that required overtime play and a six-round shootout.

Forget the cute storylines. “Luton returns to England’s top league after 32 years.” Or that only five years ago, the Hatters were playing fourth-tier soccer. Or that Luton’s 118-year-old home field seats only 10,000 – and will easily be the Premier League’s smallest venue.

This is a real business victory. Premier League is an estimated $200-plus million windfall each for Luton plus the two other promoted clubs – Burnley and Sheffield United – compared to remaining in the second-tier circuit.

And that cash was lost by the Leicester, Leeds and Southampton clubs – the trio relegated down to the Championship League for the 2023-24 season.

Thank the tank

In most businesses, you almost never profit by losing. Yet American sports owners can plot to reap the odd business perks of being a loser.

Sure, sports executives never admit to “tanking” – polite words for losing with purpose. However, some tanking teams shed talent. Others ignore tactical options. Or star athletes can be rested at key moments.

And tanking is bad for business as it spins fandom on its head. Team supporters actively argue whether a late-season victory is good news or a bad move, hurting chances to obtain high-end talent.

Tanking, sadly, is a real business tactic because losing can pay.

Note that the Dallas Mavericks were fined $750,000 by the National Basketball Association this spring for what was deemed “conduct detrimental to the league.”

The team sat key players at the season’s end so it could miss the playoffs and get a better draft choice.

Does losing win?

Look at the Anaheim Ducks, the National Hockey League’s worst club this past season.

That infamy got the team the best odds to win the first spot in the NHL’s annual talent draft. And this year’s selections include what observers say is a once-in-a-generation talent.

Ducks fans have suffered several years of horrible results. It’s a retooling bet that losses help the franchise acquire young players who’ll return the team to its  glory days.

Now this decline in the Ducks’ fortunes pains me, a season ticket holder since the team’s inception in 1993. And the Ducks actually “lost” the draft lottery despite favorable odds and will pick second.

So projected superstar Connor Bedard won’t be joining the Anaheim team.

Meanwhile, it seems Major League Baseball’s homestand in Oakland is over.

The A’s are having a historically bad season watched by stunningly few fans. The long-suffering franchise, known for incredibly cheap ownership, has alienated its supporters and local politicians. That indifference cut support for a new A’s ballpark in the city.

This mismanagement unfortunately may have won the A’s a relocation to Las Vegas. The team recently secured tentative deals with Nevada business partners and political leaders, deals that includes taxpayer assistance for a new stadium just off the Vegas Strip.

Bottom line

I know it’s fantasy to think relegation would ever come to an American sports system that’s so darn profitable for its wealthy team owners.

Obviously, there are no replacement teams. The lower-tier U.S. leagues are essentially training grounds for the major-league clubs – not competition for a coveted spot in the game’s top tier.

Still, this missing incentive to win is diluting the product. Regular season matches often lack passion. Teams frequently play just well enough to qualify for the playoffs. Then, sadly, competition begins in earnest.

And that modest motivation speaks only for the teams that dare to seriously compete. It’s too easy for pro sports organizations to accept mediocrity as a profitable strategy.

Or, as Ted Lasso said in the TV show when asked how no relegation impacted the weaker teams in America.

“They play out the rest of the schedule, going through the motions in meaningless games contested in lifeless, half-empty stadiums, and everyone’s pretty much fine with that.”

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

Categories: Local News

California’s Snow Is Melting, and It’s a Beautiful Thing

N.Y. Times - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:24
After several brutal years of fighting drought, California finally got the water that it has so sorely needed.
Categories: Local News

Seattle forecast: Dry, mild weather continues after that balmy May

Seattle Times - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:12

Looking ahead to the weekend, conditions will continue a recent pattern of scattered clouds, partly sunny skies and high temperatures right around average.
Categories: Local News

San Mateo-based Coupa Software cuts jobs after Thoma Bravo completes $6.2 billion purchase

San Jose Mercury - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:12

By Brody Ford | Bloomberg

Coupa Software Inc., the enterprise firm acquired by Thoma Bravo earlier this year, announced job reductions, becoming the latest technology company to prioritize profit in an uncertain economy.

“We aren’t doing this because of new ownership; we’re doing this to put Coupa on a stronger footing for long-term success,” interim Chief Executive Officer Charles Goodman wrote Tuesday in a letter to employees. He added that the cuts were made to improve profitability and decision-making speed. The company will also evaluate its real estate footprint, he said.

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Goodman began leading San Mateo, California-based Coupa on May 1. Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm, completed the $6.2 billion acquisition in February. Coupa, a maker of software that helps companies track and manage the purchasing of goods and services, employed 3,076 people as of January 2022, according to regulatory filings.

A Coupa spokesperson declined to say how many roles were affected by the workforce cuts, saying “as notifications are ongoing, we’re not in a position to provide a specific number.”

More stories like this are available on


Categories: Local News

WA’s first alpine roller coaster opens in Leavenworth

Seattle Times - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:12

Leavenworth Adventure Park, a short walk from the downtown area, opens with an alpine roller coaster, a climbing wall, a trampoline and a mining sluice.
Categories: Local News

FDA warns consumers not to use off-brand versions of Ozempic, Wegovy

Seattle Times - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:06

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to use versions of the popular weight-loss drug used in Ozempic and Wegovy and sold online because they might not contain the same ingredients as prescription products and may not be safe or effective.
Categories: Local News

3 shootings near Garfield High raise concerns about security, safety

Seattle Times - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 07:00

After three recent shootings near Garfield High School, school officials beefed up security and planned to host a meeting to address staff and family concerns.
Categories: Local News

Semitruck crash closes northbound I-5 lanes in Lakewood

Seattle Times - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:49

Officials advise drivers avoid northbound Interstate 5 near Lakewood in Pierce County after a semitruck crash early Thursday.
Categories: Local News

Mother charged with manslaughter for allowing son to wander from home and freeze to death

San Jose Mercury - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:44

A 24-year-old Michigan woman has been charged with manslaughter on the allegation she was criminally negligent when she allowed her 5-year-old son to wander from their Clinton Township apartment and freeze to death.

Derricka Kenora Fleming was arraigned Wednesday by Magistrate Ryan Zemke in 41B District Court for the incident in which she allegedly put the boy to bed at about 10 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Saravilla Apartment complex near Harper Avenue and 15 Mile Road. He was found several hours later, in the early morning hours of Jan. 23, at a nearby park dressed in an undershirt and underpants. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.

Derricka Kenora Fleming(MACOMB COUNTY JAIL PHOTO)Derricka Kenora Fleming(MACOMB COUNTY JAIL PHOTO) 

The overnight weather conditions were below freezing, with the official low of 27 degrees reported at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, according to the National Weather Service.

A woman called 911 to report a missing child as a male was searching for him, according to a prior report from WDIV-TV (Channel 4, Officers joined in the search and found the boy in a park with a jungle gym and basketball court at the Clinton Cooperative housing complex next door. First-responders conducted life-saving efforts.

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Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 15  years in prison.

“The charges against Derricka Fleming reflect the gravity of the situation and the responsibility she bears in the death of her son,” Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido said in a news release. “It is alleged that she placed her child to bed and left him unattended, resulting in his tragic disappearance and subsequent discovery in a nearby park. The evidence suggests a severe breach of parental duty and neglect that led to this devastating outcome.”

Fleming was being held Wednesday afternoon in the county jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond, 10%. She is scheduled for a June 12 probable cause conference.

Categories: Local News

China Wants to Set the Terms of Any ‘Thaw’ With the U.S.

N.Y. Times - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:40
China has pushed to set the terms of its re-engagement with the Biden administration, rebuffing a request for a defense meeting while urging Washington to drop sanctions.
Categories: Local News

How to Watch the 95th Scripps National Spelling Bee

N.Y. Times - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:36
Thursday night’s finals come after nearly a week of competition involving 231 spellers from around the United States.
Categories: Local News

Clarke Schmidt shows ‘growth’ in best start yet: ‘He’s definitely maturing in his starting role’

San Jose Mercury - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:35

SEATTLE — Clarke Schmidt continued to show signs of improvement Wednesday, as the Yankees’ starter threw his best game of the season against the Mariners.

The right-hander surrendered no runs for the first time this year while logging 5.2 innings of work. While Schmidt received a no-decision in the Yankees’ 1-0, 10-inning loss — Geoge Kirby threw a gem for Seattle — he held the M’s to three hits while striking out seven and walking just one over 84 pitches.

“He was really good tonight,” Aaron Boone said after the game, “and that was another big step for him.”

Overall, Schmidt’s first extended run as a major league starter has not impressed this season. But, as Boone alluded to, the pitcher’s Wednesday outing followed two respectable starts.

Schmidt gave up two runs over five innings to the Reds on May 19, a needed rebound against a bad team after the Rays tagged him for seven earned runs on May 14. Schmidt then limited the Orioles to one run over five frames on May 25, a strong performance after Baltimore beat up on him in early April.

Schmidt, who owns a 5.01 ERA this season, has permitted just three earned runs over his last three starts while totaling 15.2 innings, five walks and 16 strikeouts. He also hasn’t served up a home run over that span.

For pitching coach Matt Blake, Schmidt’s recent run is an indicator of “growth.”

“He’s definitely maturing in his starting role with just an understanding of how to stay out of danger areas [and] what his full arsenal looks like to lefties and righties,” Blake told the Daily News. “But he’s made a lot less mistakes.”

Boone and Schmidt said that “execution” has been a common theme over the last three starts, and the manager was happy with the hurler’s ability to dictate counts on Wednesday night.

Schmidt believes an aggressive, attacking mindset has helped him get ahead of hitters.

“I know I have good stuff,” he said, “so I kind of try not to nibble too much in the zone and just go right at ‘em.”

Blake and Schmidt also said that the 2017 first-round pick is learning how to use his cutter, a new pitch this season, and slider better. Schmidt balanced his arsenal well on Wednesday, using four different pitches 20-something percent of the time.

“Early on in the season, with adding the cutter, we didn’t have really too good of a feel as to how to incorporate it,” Schmidt said. “Now I feel like we’re starting to dial in the pitch package a little bit more and learning how to pitch with the cutter and being able to find new ways to get lefties out.”

As for the slider, Schmidt added, “A lot of times early on this season, I was using it too much, and it was getting abused. Finding the spots to throw it has made it play up a lot more.”

Kyle Higashioka, who caught Schmidt on Wednesday, agreed with the 27-year-old’s assessment. The catcher also said that his own learning process has benefitted Schmidt.

“He’s really kind of coming into his own. We’re figuring out the stuff that kind of works best for him sequencing-wise, and I’m kind of also figuring out where his misses are and what to avoid in certain situations and what happens when he gets tired.”

Schmidt was thrown into the fire — aka the rotation — this spring due to injuries, so he’s had to learn on the fly. With a team like the Yankees, outside observers don’t usually tolerate a long leash for learning curves.

“That’s the hard part about being a young starting pitcher for the New York Yankees,” Blake said. “You’ve got a lot of expectations for guys, and it’s hard to live up to them right out of the gate.”

But Higashioka said it’s important to let things play out. The Yankees have had no choice but to do that with Schmidt, but they’ve publicly maintained faith in the pitcher throughout a lot of lows and, more recently, some highs.

Schmidt hasn’t wavered either, and that confidence has paid off lately.

“Early on this season, when my back was against the wall, I never really doubted that success was coming around the corner,” he said. “I felt like I always had that confidence in my stuff and in my abilities to continue to get guys out.

“We made some adjustments, and we’re continuing to learn and grow and mature as a starting pitcher.”


Categories: Local News

Florida-bound seaweed blob contains flesh-eating bacteria, study shows

San Jose Mercury - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:32

Most people were already aware of the 5,000-mile long sargassum bloom making its way toward Florida — and possibly Alabama — beaches, but thanks to a new study, there’s more to be concerned about than just the stench which accompanies the bloom.

Florida Atlantic University has released a study which found that sargassum bloom contains both the Vibrio bacteria and plastic marine debris, creating what the study’s authors called a “perfect pathogen storm” with significant health risks to both humans and marine life.

The Vibrio bacteria, frequently referred to as the “flesh-eating” bacteria, can cause life-threatening illnesses from seafood consumption, as well as disease and death from open wound infections, according to the report.

Not only can the Vibrio bacteria live within the sargassum, however, it also appears to be able to attach itself to plastic marine debris.

“Plastic is a new element that’s been introduced into marine environments and has only been around for about 50 years,” said Dr. Tracy Mincer, corresponding lead author and an assistant professor of biology at FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College.

“Our lab work showed that these Vibrio are extremely aggressive and can seek out and stick to plastic within minutes,” Mincer said. “We also found that there are attachment factors that microbes use to stick to plastics, and it is the same kind of mechanism that pathogens use.”

The 5,000-mile wide, 11-ton bloom — the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt — is expected to impact Florida’s eastern coast, with some of it making its way into the northern Gulf of Mexico.It’s the second-largest sargassum bloom ever recorded, according to FAU researcher Brian LaPointe.

“It’s incredible,” LaPointe said in mid-March. “What we’re seeing in the satellite imagery does not bode well for a clean beach year.”

The new dangers found in the FAU study add to the risks already associated with sargassum, chiefly the risk to people with respiratory problems stemming from the release of hydrogen sulfide, which gives the sargassum it’s unpleasant odor.

If or how much the sargassum bloom will impact the Alabama coast remains to be seen. Mendel Graeber at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab told in March that major storm, currents and other factors will impact the sargassum as it moves into the Gulf.

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“There’s a chance that some of it will end up washing up on our beaches, but at this point, we can’t really predict that,” Graeber said.

Meanwhile, in an interview with WEAR, Mincer said the sargassum becomes more of a threat as it dries after reaching the shore, with the Vibrio bacteria growth increasing.

“If you handle this seaweed, it’s a good idea to wash your hands,” Mincer said, “and if you’re going to be doing a lot of it, wear gloves, and if you have an open cut or something stay away from it.”

Mincer also noted that the Vibrio bacteria is easily treated with antibiotics.

“They’ve (the vibrio bacteria) never seen antibiotics before,” he said, “and so they have hardly any antibiotic resistance genes at all. So, they haven’t adapted to that at all,”

— Warren Kulo /

©2023 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Categories: Local News

7 awesome Bay Area things to do this weekend, June 2-4

San Jose Mercury - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:30

You think we’re going to take it easy after the long Memorial Day weekend? Fughetaboutit — we have a bunch of new ways to have fun this weekend, from great live and streaming shows to some killer wine country adventures.

As with everything these days, be sure to double check websites for any last-minute changes in health guidelines. Meanwhile, if you’d like to have this Weekender lineup delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning for free, just sign up at or

1 WATCH: A strange and brilliant new series

A new Apple TV+ series finds two people locked in a high-stakes contest for control of the world’s most valuable wine collection. It tops our roundup of new shows and movies you should totally watch this weekend.

2 PLAY & SIP: Check out the new winery experience

Bay Area wineries have really evolved from the sip-and-split days of yore, where after a 30-minute stop in a tasting room, you were ready to move on. Nowadays, wineries are packing on the fun; here are 5 worthy of an all-day visit. Oh, and if you are up for a breakfast winery pairing, we’ve got deets on that, too.

Noah Lamanna, left, and Diego Lucano star in “Let the Right One In.” (Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre)  3: SEE & HEAR: Scare yourself silly

Horror classics rarely make it to the live stage. But Berkeley Rep’s “Let the Right One In” and Opera Parallele’s “The Shining,” offer two compelling exceptions to that rule.

4 CELEBRATE: It’s Pride month

And you can bet the Bay Area offers myriad ways to commemorate the rainbow-hued month — in fact, here are 35.

5 COOK & EAT: A lighter lasagna

Trust us, this layered gratin you can easily make at home is as satisfying as traditional lasagna, but skips the meat and pasta.

Ragazzi Boys Chorus will perform their spring concert "Created for Joy!" June 4 at Aragon High School Theater in San Mateo. (Ragazzi Boys Choir)Ragazzi Boys Chorus will perform their spring concert “Created for Joy!” June 4 at Aragon High School Theater in San Mateo. (David Allen/Ragazzi Boys Choir)  6 SEE & HEAR: Great shows are all over

From Symphony San Jose’s performance of the epic “Carmina Burana” to the beloved Ragazzi Boys Choir (pictured), there are a lot of cool live shows to take in this weekend and beyond.

7 PLAY: The devil of a video game

The new “Diablo IV” is a big game with a LOT of fun stuff going on. But do yourself a favor and give yourself time to really savor it.

Categories: Local News

Government body warns of increased health threats from climate change in Germany

Seattle Times - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:28

Germany’s disease control agency warns that rising temperatures due to global warming will increase the likelihood of heat stroke, vector-borne illnesses and other health risks in the country.
Categories: Local News

Beach traffic turns Highway 17 into a mess again: Roadshow

San Jose Mercury - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:05

Q: Someone needs to get the southbound entrance to Highway 17 closed on weekends! Drivers, stay on 17! Getting off at Camden or Lark is not going to save you any time! Really!!!

Cheryl Kole, Monte Sereno

A: This is a problem every summer as beach-bound traffic clogs Highway 17. Some drivers try to beat the backup by driving through Los Gatos but this does not save time. The best solution for beach-bound traffic is to leave early in the morning to get ahead of the crowd.

Q: Extending the Caltrain Peninsula Corridor into downtown San Francisco already sounds difficult. I’d love to see if and how it plays out, being an avid train fan, and knowing that the Caltrain is far from empty in the morning and evening.

I think the terminal being closer to Union Square would be a massive benefit from getting off the train and being faced with the options of walking or getting an Uber. However, I wonder what that could even look like, with all the buildings, infrastructure and skyscrapers in the way.

They tore up the tracks decades ago where passenger and freight trains street ran Embarcadero, in the days of the Southern Pacific Railroad, long before Caltrain. They are still working on the Muni light rail extension, a nightmare project on its own.

If they are trying to link the current line to the proposed and already-built California High Speed Rail transit center, next to the Salesforce building, the only option I can think of is going underground. Which means, if it comes to fruition, expect to not see any tracks being laid for another 20 years.

Ryan Calpito

A: This will be one of the most-watched projects over the next several years. It will cost a lot of money, but has the support of many transportation agencies.

Q: This isn’t exactly a traffic or roads issue, but I take Zanker Road north to work every day and I notice that many of the redwood trees along the street from Brokaw to Trimble are dead or dying. Any idea why, or what can be done about it?

Jerry Mack, San Jose

A: We typically see redwoods here struggling due to drought, said Colin-the-city-spokesman.

They don’t usually decline immediately from a lack of water. Instead, stress builds up over time and about five years after a drought, trees go into decline.

In many cases, the damage we now see was caused by the 2012-2016 drought. Also, our area’s dry local climate, heavy clay soil, and heavily built-out landscape make life tough for redwoods, which aren’t suited for an urban environment and require a lot of fog. Drought exacerbates their stress.

Look for Gary Richards at or contact him at

Categories: Local News

NFL expanding The Smart Heart Sports Coalition

Seattle Times - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:02

The NFL has expanded The Smart Heart Sports Coalition to 26 member organizations as it continues to advocate for all 50 states to adopt policies that will prevent high school students from fatal outcomes from sudden cardiac arrest.
Categories: Local News

San Jose animal shelter looking for homes for hundreds of dogs, cats and other pets

San Jose Mercury - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:01

The San Jose Animal Care and Services Center is seeing record-high numbers of animals coming to the shelter, with more than 900 dogs, cats and other pets calling the shelter home as of late May.

Jay Terrado, the Deputy Director of the center, said what’s happening in San Jose is part of a broader national crisis taking place in shelters across the country of more pets arriving and staying longer. With so many animals at the shelter, the center is pleading with the community to help out, and warning that their ability to help new animals is limited because of their strapped capacity.

A kitten is spoon fed at the Animal Care and Services Center on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in San Jose, Calif.  The center is experiencing record-high numbers of pets entering the shelter and staying longer.  (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)A kitten is spoon fed at the Animal Care and Services Center on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in San Jose, Calif. The center is experiencing record-high numbers of pets entering the shelter and staying longer. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

As of late May, there were around 250 dogs and puppies, roughly 600 cats and kittens, and several dozen other pets, such as rabbits, at the shelter. To manage the number of animals in need of care, the shelter said it was only taking in sick, injured or aggressive pets, and asking the public to tap their networks – utilizing rehoming platforms like or, social media, and other channels – before turning an animal in at the center.

At the San Jose Animal Care and Services Center alone, the number of pets coming to the shelter jumped 85% from March to April of this year. The number of kittens jumped nearly 300% from March to April, with 743 kittens surrendered to the shelter last month alone. The shelter expects these numbers to worsen in the coming months, once “peak kitten season” begins in June.

“Now is a great time to consider fostering or adopting a shelter animal,” San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan said in a statement. “With our shelter at capacity, taking in an animal can save the life of another.”

Adoptable animals can be found on the shelter’s website.

Volunteer Marek Markuszewski, left, dog walks Dylan through a courtyard at the Animal Care and Services Center on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in San Jose, Calif.  The center is experiencing record-high numbers of pets entering the shelter and staying longer.  (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)Volunteer Marek Markuszewski, left, dog walks Dylan through a courtyard at the Animal Care and Services Center on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in San Jose, Calif. The center is experiencing record-high numbers of pets entering the shelter and staying longer. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

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Adoptions are available in-person at 2750 Monterey Road in San Jose on Mondays (noon to 4 p.m.), Tuesdays to Fridays (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and Saturdays and Sundays (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). All adoption fees for dogs over six months old are also waived until June 30.

The shelter has also opened up a new foster feature – Foster Fridays – which allows people to take a dog or kitten home for the weekend. Until June 30, the shelter will also be offering “on-the-spot training” for those interested in taking a dog or kitten home for the weekend.

Categories: Local News

Fatal Fremont crash raises new questions about boulder “minefield”

San Jose Mercury - Thu, 06/01/2023 - 06:00

A turnout on a frontage road in Fremont once described as a haven for truckers and people living in RVs is now a “minefield” of boulders that may have contributed to a fatal crash earlier this month.

The move to install the rocks along Kato Road, controversial at the time, was an example of what is known as “hostile architecture”—a type of design that creates barriers to restrict behavior— that pushed the homeless population living there elsewhere into the county.

But in trying to solve one safety issue by putting the boulders in the turnout, did the city create a larger problem?

Tractor trailers, cars and recreational vehicles are parked along Kato Road in Fremont, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. In 2020, the city of Fremont installed boulders along Kato Road to stop vehicles from  parking on the roadside. A motorist died after hitting the boulders on May 12, 2023. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)Tractor trailers, cars and recreational vehicles are parked along Kato Road in Fremont, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. In 2020, the city of Fremont installed boulders along Kato Road to stop vehicles from parking on the roadside. A motorist died after hitting the boulders on May 12, 2023. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

Kelly Abreu, a longtime Fremont resident and member of the Mission Peak Conservancy, a local advocacy group for public access, believes it did. “If you look at transportation safety engineers, they put guardrails in dangerous spots,” Abreu said.“They did the exact opposite here–they created a minefield.”

Just a few blocks from a Tesla Factory, the turnout had become a home for people living in RVs, as well as commercial truckers looking for a place to sleep or store their vehicles. In 2020, the city placed dozens of boulders in the large turnout of the 3-mile frontage road running parallel to Highway 880.

The city argues that it is unsafe to have people living in a turnout between a highway and a frontage road.

“It’s just not an area intended for camping,” said Geneva Bosques, a city spokesperson.. “We never had the facilities in place to protect people living along that roadway.”

The fatal crash on May 12 has raised new questions about that decision.

During a May 24 meeting of the Fremont Mobility Commission, an analysis the city’s six traffic fatalities so far this year indicated that a 57-year-old woman died after colliding with the boulders while rounding the corner of Kato Road on May 12. She died six days after the crash.

According to Bosques, Police Chief Sean Washington said alcohol was a factor in that crash and referred to it as a “severe DUI.”

This map shows the location of Kato Road in Fremont, California. Boulders have been placed along the road to discourage truckers and people living in RVs from camping there. The map also shows the location of a fatal car accident that occurred when a driver struck one of the boulders.Beyond the safety concerns, Abreu said the boulders ultimately just pushed people down the road. There are still numerous commercial trucks taking up parking spaces, sticking into bike lanes and adding to the congestion of the I-880 frontage roads. People are still living in RVs on other nearby frontage roads, including Albrae Street just a few miles north.

In Abreu’s view, the boulders were installed not because of safety, but because the previous encampment was too visible from the highway.

“It was an image problem,” Abreu said. “They didn’t want the view from 880 when you look to the side to be a long line of RVs and trucks. It made the city look bad.”

Bosque said it’s unclear if any other crashes have happened in the boulder turnout since they were installed three years ago, and she’s not aware of the city having had any discussions about installing reflectors or a guardrail.

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According to Bosques, the city stands by its decision to vacate the turnout. She said at the time only two people were displaced, and that many vehicles had been abandoned there. Bosques said the city conducted outreach before installing the boulders and has other safe parking programs in place.

A “housing navigation center” next to City Hall provides showers and laundry, substance abuse services, case management, and substance abuse services for over 50 unhoused people. City officials believe these types of programs are a much safer alternative to a freeway turnout.

“That area was always intended to be a no-parking zone for the city,” Bosques said.

Categories: Local News