San Jose: Arrest made in fatal stabbing of 16-year-old boy

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 19:01

SAN JOSE – An 18-year-old San Jose man has been arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old boy over the weekend in San Jose, according to police.

Detectives identified Michael Obiols as the primary suspect and arrested him at 10:45 a.m. Saturday near his home on Remington Way, San Jose police Sgt. Christian Camarillo said in a news release. Obiols was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on one count of homicide.

The stabbing was reported around 1:35 a.m. the same day near Quimby Road and Caraston Way. Officers arrived to find two victims – the 16-year-old boy and a second adult male – suffering from at least one stab wound each, according to police.

Both victims were taken to area hospitals, the boy with a life-threatening injury and the man with a non-life-threatening injury. Police said the boy died of his injury at the hospital.

The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office will release the boy’s identity after it is confirmed and his next of kin is notified.

The death marked San Jose’s 26th homicide of 2022. The motive and circumstances surrounding the fatal stabbing are under investigation, according to police.

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Anyone with information related to the case can contact Detective Sgt. Barragan at or Detective Ramirez at, or 408-277-5283. Tips can also be left with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-7867 or

Check back for updates.

Categories: Local News

Anthony Rizzo moves down to 6 spot in lineup

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 18:41

ANAHEIM — The Yankees hope dropping Anthony Rizzo down in the lineup will help him get back his swing back on track. Monday night, Rizzo was hitting sixth, a spot in the lineup he has not been in since 2011.

“I’ll do anything to help us hit first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth. Just want to help anywhere,” Rizzo said.

The 33-year-old is hitting .223/.337/.480 with an .817 OPS and 28 homers this season, though 22 of those homers came in the first half of the season. That was when Rizzo hit .224/.344/.498 with an .842 OPS. In the second half he is hitting .219/.317/.429 with a .745 OPS and six homers.

“Right now, obviously, I’m not hitting them the way I’d like to be. There’s some bad ones but there’s just gotta keep grinding,” Rizzo said. “I’ve got to compete and just work through going up there knowing I can compete and get that good-feeling swing back.”

Rizzo has been dealing with back issues since right before the All-Star break. He missed four games in July and five in August. Since coming back from his second stint of missed games, Rizzo’s hitting .200/.273/.300 with a .573 OPS and a home run.

“The guy’s got 28 homers and is wildly productive,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said when asked about Rizzo’s struggles this year. “He’s just not hitting for a high average. I felt like you know before it went down and missed the five games because of the back, felt like right before that he was really starting to catch fire again. And then it’s just been slow to get rolling, kind of battling through.”


Nestor Cortes, who was placed on the injured list Thursday with a strained left groin, is hoping to get on the mound for the first time on Wednesday and throw a side session.

“If that goes well then he could potentially throw a live (batting practice) at the complex at Tampa on Saturday,” Boone said. “And if that were to go, well, then you’d get slotted back into the rotation on the homestand.”


Phil Nevin was appointed interim manager of the Angels shortly after Anaheim left the Bronx. So Aaron Boone has not had the chance to see in person and manage against his close friend and the Yankees’ former third base coach, yet. Monday night will be the first time they go head-to-head — and it will be a little strange.

“It’s always good to see Phil,” the Yankees manager said Sunday. “Hopefully we can make it tough on them. They are coming off obviously a really good series in Toronto. So it will be good to see him, but hopefully hopefully we can make it tough.

“We can shake hands a little bit I think.”

Nevin was Boone’s third base coach from his hiring in 2018 until his contract was not renewed after last season along with hitting coaches Marcus Thames and PJ Pilittere and first base coach Reggie Willits.

Boone and Nevin have been friends much longer and it was a blow.

“It hurt, honestly,” Boone told reporters in October after he signed a contract extension with the Yankees.  “Those are people that I love and care about a lot. But at the same time it’s also the nature of the business. There are tough decisions that have to be made. That’s a reality we have to face every year, some years they hit you a little harder…my relationships with those guys remain strong and I know they’ll land on their feet wherever the road ends up next in their baseball life, but the relationship I have with those guys will last forever.”

Nevin was hired by the Angels to be their third base coach and when Joe Maddon was fired June 7 — five days after they were in the Bronx — he took over as interim manager.


After Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the A’s, the Yankees optioned right-hander Luke Bard back to Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees needed to make room on the 26-man roster to activate Clay Holmes off the injured list.

Bard pitched a scoreless inning Sunday. Greg Weissert, the rookie who was the other candidate to be optioned, pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three on Sunday. It was a dramatic rebound from his major league debut on Thursday where he hit two batters with his first two pitches and had a balk in between. He recorded one out in that game and was responsible for three runs.

Boone admitted that Weissert’s performance on Sunday factored into the decision.

“We felt like Weissert was right now,” Boone said.

The Yankees also placed Marwin Gonzalez on the paternity list and recalled Tim Locastro from Triple-A Scranton.


Categories: Local News

Giants GM Joe Schoen is ‘open for business’ as final roster cuts begin

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 18:38

Giants GM Joe Schoen is “open for business” to upgrade the roster, head coach Brian Daboll said Monday.

That includes trades, waiver claims and free agent signings if necessary.

“I think that we’re open to really improving our team in any way we can,” Daboll said in a conference call. “I think Joe and his staff, we’ve been meeting all morning on different things. They’ve been doing a really good job of their communication, talking to the coaches and looking at different players to evaluate. I think Joe is open for business.”

This is no different than the spring, when Schoen made calls on Giants receivers Kadarius Toney and Darius Slayton. The process of shedding salary cap space and turning over the roster he inherited will continue all season and into 2023.

The Giants have to cut their roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday, but they’ll remain active past that deadline seeking upgrades for their thin and injury-riddled club.

Slayton’s name came up again Monday in trade rumors. ESPN reported the Giants have gotten trade inquiries on him. Often, teams float that they’ve gotten calls on a player to drum up interest.

In this case, Schoen is trying to get something for Slayton before cutting him outright. Teams are expecting the Giants to release him, though, because it will save them $2.54 million in cap space.

Slayton even said Sunday night that he wouldn’t be surprised if he were on a new team soon. He started camp low on the depth chart and then missed time with a hamstring injury.

Schoen used the same “open for business” phrase on March 1 at the NFL Combine when asked about the possibility of fielding calls on anything at the time, including a potential Saquon Barkley trade.

He has been consistently open to conversations, which is how a GM should be.

Schoen’s next player trade will be his first as the Giants’ general manager, not including some draft weekend trades he made to navigate the board.

He did cut seven players on Monday: safety Yusuf Corker, offensive linemen Josh Rivas and Eric Smith, wide receivers Keelan Doss and Travis Toivonen, corner Olaijah Griffin and kicker Ryan Santoso.

Schoen now has cut six of the 13 undrafted rookie free agents that he signed immediately after this spring’s NFL Draft: Corker, Rivas, fullback Jeremiah Hall, and defensive tackles Jabari Ellis, Chris Hinton and Antonio Valentino. And tight end Andre Miller broke his right forearm.

On Monday, the team also said starting tight end Daniel Bellinger, reserve defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes and reserve running back Sandro Platzgummer have concussions and are in the protocol.


Categories: Local News

The First Shipment of Iranian Military Drones Arrives in Russia

N.Y. Times - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 18:34
Russia could deploy the drones in its war against Ukraine to conduct air-to-surface attacks, carry out electronic warfare and identify targets, according to U.S. officials.
Categories: Local News

California woman sentenced for sex-trafficking teen girls

Seattle Times - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 18:34

A California woman who recruited three teenage girls for prostitution, plying them with alcohol and drugs while advertising them online for sex acts, has been sentenced to 17 years and seven months in federal prison.
Categories: Local News

1 dead after seniors served dishwashing liquid at home

Seattle Times - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 18:33

A resident of a San Francisco Bay Area senior citizens home died after being mistakenly served dishwashing liquid as drinking juice.
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13-year-old driving her parents’ SUV causes 4-vehicle crash involving school bus

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 18:25

A 13-year-old girl driving her parents’ SUV caused a four-vehicle crash that involved a school bus, the Colorado State Patrol said.

The girl, from Longmont, was by herself Friday morning in a 2009 Chevrolet Suburban, and driving north on Highway 287 in an agricultural area between Lafayette and Longmont.

She rear-ended a Kia Optima that was stopped at a red light, patrol trooper Josh Lewis said. The crash sent the Kia into the intersection, where it hit a Boulder Valley School District school bus. The Chevrolet also continued into the intersection, and hit a Subaru Forester and the school bus.

Lewis said the drivers of the Kia and the Subaru were taken to a hospital with moderate injuries. The driver of the school bus suffered moderate injuries but declined hospital treatment. The 13-year-old was not injured.

A Boulder Valley school spokesperson said that the bus had just begun its route and only one student was on board at the time of the crash. That student was not injured.

Lewis said the 13-year-old was charged with careless driving and driving without a license.

Categories: Local News

SF Giants’ ‘backs against the wall’ as they begin final fight for playoff lives vs. Padres

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 18:08

SAN FRANCISCO — Hosting the Padres on Monday to kick off a stretch of 17 games in 21 days against teams ahead of them in the National League playoff race, the Giants face their longest postseason odds of the season.

Whether they are still among those teams fighting for a playoff berth the next time they face the Padres, with three games in San Diego to close the season, will be determined by how they fare over the pivotal stretch of upcoming contests, beginning Monday night.

Entering play, San Francisco sat 7.5 games back of San Diego, tied for a season-high. The computers have given them the slimmest possible odds of erasing that deficit over their final 36 games. Played out 100 times, no projection system has them sneaking into the postseason in more than two scenarios: their most bullish odds, 1.7%, come from Baseball Prospectus, while FanGraphs pegged their chances at 0.7%, or not even one in every 100 simulations.

In other words, they’re sitting in front of the short stack at the card table.

“I don’t think our chances are great by any stretch, but I don’t think we’re dead,” manager Gabe Kapler said before Monday’s game, turning to a poker analogy. “As long as you have a seat at the table and as long as you have a chip on the table, you have a chance. …

“Our backs are more against the wall today that they have been at any other point in the season. … Right now is a moment in time for us where you’re going to see who the toughest competitors are.”

Nobody needs to tell veteran third baseman Evan Longoria, who might be fighting for the last playoff appearance of his career. Despite a lingering hamstring issue popping up again Sunday and forcing him from the game, Longoria has no plans of hitting the injured list for a fourth time this season.

Longoria, 36, sat out Monday but was optimistic he would be available with another day of rest. Rookie third baseman David Villar was here on taxi squad from Triple-A Sacramento, just in case.

“I’m gonna try to play through it until it rips off or I can’t move anymore,” Longoria said, with a fresh coat of bleach applied to his blond mohawk.

When healthy, Longoria has backed up the urgency of his words with his play on the field. He almost single-handedly willed San Francisco to a win last Sunday in Colorado with a vintage bat-and-glove performance and ended the road trip with the second-highest OPS on the team (.929, bested only by Joc Pederson’s 1.034).

However, those contributions largely went for naught as the Giants went 2-6 on the eight-game trip and fell as far out of playoff position as they’ve been this season. Despite facing two teams in last place of their divisions, the Giants failed to win a series. Besides Longoria and Pederson, who combined for three homers on the trip, the Giants hit two home runs and batted .190 over the eight games.

Kapler turned to an expletive to describe the trip, which can only be looked at as a missed opportunity, as the teams directly ahead of them in the wild card race — San Diego and Milwaukee — each went 4-5 over the same stretch.

The race to the bottom among the three teams fighting for the final National League playoff spot should give the Giants one reason for optimism, if they weren’t one of the same cursed trio trying to see how beleaguered they can enter the postseason.

On one day last week, the National League wild card standings showed the Braves and the Phillies in command of the top two spots, and every team below them until last-place Washington riding a losing streak of at least one game. One club had a winning record over its past 10 games (congratulations to the Chicago Cubs, 14.5 games out entering play Monday).

But the Giants have a seat at the table and chips in front of them.

“If you’re the player at the table in a poker tournament and you have a very, very short stack relative to the rest of the players at the table, you can make a run by doubling up and doubling up and doubling up. It doesn’t happen very often, and I think that’s fair to acknowledge as well, but it happens,” Kapler said. “There’s a good run of baseball left in this team. I’m not going to say our chances are perfect. I don’t think they are. It’s not like we’re very much within striking distance. … If you like poker, there’s the poker tournament analogy of a chip and a chair. I think that’s the only way to look at it and think about it. Everyday is an opportunity to fight and try to win that night’s baseball game and stay in it.”

Belt seeks second opinion

This time last season, it was Brandon Belt who stepped up offensively and carried the Giants across the finish line to inch out the Dodgers for the NL West title, slugging 18 home runs between August and September and batting .349/.451/.721 (an 1.172 OPS) over the final month of the season.

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But as the Giants fight for their postseason lives, Belt’s problematic right knee has forced him to watch from the injured list. Before hitting the IL, the 34-year-old first baseman was still searching for his first home run since the All-Star break.

After one MRI showed no structural damage, Belt was set to receive a second opinion on his inflamed knee Tuesday with Stanford Dr. Timothy McAdams.

“His knee’s a little bit more swollen and a little bit more sore than it has been,” Kapler said. “Now the challenge for Brandon is … this is sort of the toughness that I was talking about. You have to find ways to contribute. You have to find ways to bring your best energy to the ballpark. You have to be dependable and you have to be consistent. That’s toughness in times that aren’t going well.”

Categories: Local News

Bay Area TV Sports Listings: What to watch Tuesday-Wednesday

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 18:00



4 p.m. A’s at Nationals NBCCA

4 p.m. Dodgers at Mets TBS

6:30 p.m. Padres at Giants NBCBA

6:30 p.m. Yankees at Angels MLB


11 a.m. Women’s Worlds: Canada vs. United States NHL


Noon England: Everton at Leeds United USA


9 a.m. U.S. Open, first round ESPN

4 p.m. U.S. Open, first round ESPN, ESPN2



4 a.m. DP WORLD Made in HimmerLand Round 1 GOLF

Horse Racing

6 a.m. Race Night TVG


11 a.m. Astros vs. Rangers or Pirates vs. Brewers MLB

12:30 p.m. Padres at Giants NBCBA

4 p.m. A’s at Nationals NBCCA

4 p.m. Dodgers vs. Mets or Cubs vs. Blue Jays MLB


2:30 a.m. NRL Rugby FS2


9:30 a.m. Italy: Lazio at Sampdoria CBSSN

Noon England: Newcastle United at Liverpool USA

4 p.m. MLS: Atlanta United FC at Philadelphia Union FS1

5:30 p.m. FIFA Fútbol Partido Amistoso Paraguay vs. Mexico UNIV


9 a.m. ITF U.S. Open Men’s and Women’s Second Round ESPN

4 p.m. ITF U.S. Open Men’s and Women’s Second Round ESPN

WNBA Playoffs

5 p.m. Game 2: Connecticut vs. Chicago ESPN2

7 p.m. Game 2: Seattle at Las Vegas ESPN2

Categories: Local News

Religious health care providers beat ACA restriction appeal

Seattle Times - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 17:55

A federal appeals court has upheld a Texas federal court ruling that exempts a group of religious health care providers from the abortion and gender rights requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Categories: Local News

These Celebrities and Politicians Came Out to See Serena Williams

N.Y. Times - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 17:52
As well as Martina Navratilova, Mike Tyson, Katie Couric, Matt Damon, Spike Lee, Lindsey Vonn and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
Categories: Local News

Ukraine Announces Offensive in Kherson, as Inspectors Head to Nuclear Plant

N.Y. Times - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 17:51
The scale of Ukraine’s push in the Kherson region was unclear, but it has vowed for months to mount a counteroffensive to retake territory seized by Russia.
Categories: Local News

One in 24.1 septillion: Prosecutors insist proof they have Sunnyvale cold case killer is in the blood

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 17:29

One in 24.1 septillion.

After 40 years with no leads, Santa Clara County District Attorney Barbara Cathcart stood outside a courtroom Monday and said the DNA evidence investigators now have from a 75-year-old Hawaii man is such a supreme match to the 1982 murder of a Palo Alto teenager, it would take an incomprehensible number — a septillion has 24 zeroes — to prove otherwise.

“The probability of selecting an unrelated individual from the population at random that has this DNA profile is one in 24.1 septillion,” Cathcart said. “There, of course, are not that many people on the planet Earth nor multiple planet Earths.”

They are confident Gary Gene Ramirez is the one. Now 75, he wobbled on a cane into a Santa Clara County courtroom for the first time on Monday and faced charges of kidnap, rape and murder.

Police were stymied for decades trying to solve the murder of Karen Stitt, a 15-year-old Palo Alto High School student who spent the evening at Sunnyvale Golfland with her boyfriend and was waiting alone for the bus around midnight on Sept. 2, 1982, when she was abducted, raped and stabbed 59 times.

Karen Stitt, 15, in an undated photo had recently moved from Pennsylvania to Palo Alto when she was stabbed 59 times and left for dead next to a Sunnyvale garden center. Police say they have her killer in custody in Maui, solving a 40-year-old cold case. (Courtesy of Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office)Karen Stitt, 15, in an undated photo had recently moved from Pennsylvania to Palo Alto when she was stabbed 59 times and left for dead next to a Sunnyvale garden center. Police say they have her killer in custody, solving a 40-year-old cold case. (Courtesy of Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office) 

The DNA from the killer’s blood found on Karen’s jacket and on the cinder block wall next to where her body was found the next morning didn’t match any DNA from the criminal database, suggesting her killer had never been arrested before or since.

It wasn’t until 2018, after forensic genealogy techniques helped apprehend and convict the Golden State Killer, that Sunnyvale Police and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office had new hope they could track down Karen’s killer, even 40 years later.

Teaming up with a forensic genealogist, they matched the DNA from the Sunnyvale crime scene with DNA profile markers – likely of distant relatives – publicly posted on a genealogy website. Following the family tree, police narrowed the suspect to Ramirez, who grew up in Fresno and spent time in the 1980s in the Bay Area. After Ramirez was arrested in Maui, where he had been living close to his brother since the late 1980s, police conducted a mouth swab to obtain his DNA, then compared it to the old blood sample.

“It exactly matched him,” Cathcart said.

On August 20th, Sunnyvale Detectives transported Gary Gene Ramirez from Maui to California without incident. He was booked into Santa Clara County Jail. His court date has not yet been determined. Ramirez was arrested in Maui on August 2nd, 2022 in connection with the 1982 cold case homicide of 15 year old Karen Stitt. (Courtesy of Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety)Gary Gene Ramirez was arrested in Maui on Aug. 2, 2022, in connection with the 1982 cold case homicide of 15 year old Karen Stitt. (Courtesy of Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety) 

On Monday, Ramirez appeared with white hair and glasses, leaning on a cane beside Public Defender Lara Wallman. He isn’t expected to enter a plea until the next hearing scheduled for 9 a.m., Oct. 28. Although the killing is considered a capital crime, Ramirez will not face the death penalty because District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced in 2020 he will no longer seek it in any prosecutions.

Karen’s mother died when she was young, but her father lived until 2018 without justice for his daughter. Karen’s aunt, Robin Stitt Morris, watched Monday’s arraignment online from Florida. She said she is confident the case against Ramirez is “bulletproof.”

“I will be disappointed if he doesn’t take ownership and plead guilty,” Morris said. “Gary Ramirez has lived freely with the knowledge of his unfathomable crimes for nearly 40 years. The time for him to bear the consequences is long overdue.”

Ramirez is being held without bail and his public defender made no attempt Monday to modify that, although she has that option in the future.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - August 29: Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Barbara Cathcart, who is prosecuting the case against Gary Gene Ramirez, speaks to the media at the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, in San Jose, Calif. Ramirez has been charged with the 1982 brutal killing of Karen Stitt, a 15-year-old Palo Alto girl who was abducted from a Sunnyvale bus stop then raped and stabbed to death. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – August 29: Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Barbara Cathcart, who is prosecuting the case against Gary Gene Ramirez, speaks to the media at the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, in San Jose, Calif. Ramirez has been charged with the 1982 brutal killing of Karen Stitt, a 15-year-old Palo Alto girl who was abducted from a Sunnyvale bus stop, then raped and stabbed to death. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) 

Cathcart, the prosecutor, said that while she is confident the killer is in custody, more investigation is under way to confirm Ramirez’s whereabouts in 1982. Authorities are also studying evidence collected at Ramirez’s home – a guest house behind another home – in Maui.

In a brief interview Monday, Ramirez’s older brother, Rudy Ramirez, said he hadn’t spoken to his brother since his arrest.

“I don’t want to comment,” he said. “I’ll just wait and see what happens.”

Sunnyvale Police collected this undated photo of a young Gary Gene Ramirez, who was arrested Aug. 2, 2022, at age 75 at his home in Maui for the killing of 15-year-old Karen Stitt of Palo Alto in 1982, an arrest police say finally solves a 40-year cold case. (Courtesy of Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office)Sunnyvale Police collected this undated photo of a young Gary Gene Ramirez, who was arrested Aug. 2, 2022, at age 75 at his home in Maui in connection with the killing of 15-year-old Karen Stitt of Palo Alto in 1982. (Courtesy of Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office) 

When he was first contacted after his brother’s arrest, however, Rudy Ramirez told the Bay Area News Group that he was incredulous that his soft-spoken brother could be the killer. Gary Ramirez is one of four brothers, he said, who grew up in what he called a “dysfunctional family” in Fresno.

Gary had spent several years in the Air Force before moving back to Fresno with his mother, he said. He lost track of his brother in the early 1980s, he said, but in the late ‘80s invited him to move to Maui to be close to him. Gary worked a number of odd jobs, including as an exterminator, before retiring with a bad hip. He was married twice and raised two daughters.

One of those daughters voluntarily provided her own DNA to police that helped them zero in on Gary Ramirez.

Categories: Local News

San Jose Sharks trade goalie Adin Hill — to their biggest rival

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 17:17

SAN JOSE — The Sharks alleviated their logjam in net by trading one of their three goalies — to their biggest rival in the NHL.

The Sharks sent Adin Hill to the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday for a 2024 fourth-round selection, leaving them with Kaapo Kahkonen and James Reimer as their two main goalies for the upcoming season.

The deal gives the Sharks some more space under the NHL salary cap as Hill’s contract carries a $2.175 million cap hit for this season. The Golden Knights, arguably the Sharks’ most hated opponent in the league, now have another option in net after Robin Lehner was lost for the season to injury.

“James Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen are experienced veterans who are capable of providing quality goaltending for our team,” Sharks general manager Mike Grier said in a statement.

“We have significantly increased our organizational depth at the goaltending position over the last six months. This trade provides an opportunity for Adin to compete for playing time while adding another asset that our organization can use in the future. We wish Adin the best in Vegas.”

The Sharks sent a 2022 second-round draft pick and AHL goalie Josef Korenar to the Arizona Coyotes last July for Hill and a 2022 seventh-round pick. In one season with the Sharks, Hill had a 10-11-1 record with a 2.66 GAA and .906 save percentage with two shutouts in just 25 games, as he battled a lower-body injury for the second half of the season.

Hill, a 6-foot-5, 203-pound native of Comox, British Columbia, was originally selected by Arizona in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Please check back for updates to this story.   

Categories: Local News

Newsom, lawmakers agree on plan to extend life of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 17:16

By Michael R. Blood | Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — California Gov. Gavin Newsom and a group of legislators reached a last-minute compromise to extend the lifespan of the state’s last operating nuclear plant by up to five years. But the proposal faces an uncertain future as the Legislature concludes its two-year session this week.

To pass, the proposal to keep the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant running needs a two-thirds vote in the state Assembly and Senate, a threshold that can be difficult to reach. Last week, a competing proposal emerged from Democratic legislators that would use $1.4 billion to speed up development of renewable power and transmission lines, while leaving intact plans to shutter the twin-domed plant by 2025.

Newsom has argued that the reactors are needed to fill gaps in the state power supply as California transitions to solar, wind and other renewables. He earlier proposed the reactors remain online for an additional 10 years, which was dropped in the latest version of the plan.

The legislation is anchored to the assumption that operator Pacific Gas & Electric will qualify for a share of $6 billion the Biden administration has set aside to rescue nuclear plants at risk of closing. But if that doesn’t happen, the state could consider backing out of the deal.

PG&E also would need approval to keep running from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a process that has not started and sometimes takes years to complete.

Pro-nuclear advocates and industry-linked groups have praised the idea of a longer life for the reactors and their carbon-free power in the climate change era. But environmentalists and other critics warn of safety risks from nearby earthquake faults and tons of spent nuclear fuel at the site, along with potential future costs that could land on ratepayers.

Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups that negotiated and signed the agreement to close the plant by 2025, pointed to language in the bill that would allow PG&E to seek public dollars to pay for as-yet-unknown refurbishment costs for a longer operating run.

Cavanagh said it amounted to a risky “blank check” for the utility, and he said his group would oppose the deal.

He also pointed to language in the bill that states a longer run for the plant “may be necessary” to improve statewide power reliability, which he said backs up complaints from the NRDC and others that no detailed analysis has been done concluding that the reactors are needed beyond 2025. It also directs state utility regulators to conduct a study to determine if Diablo Canyon’s power is needed beyond that date.

The bill calls for extending the plant’s lifespan to improve reliability but “the study hasn’t been done yet” to support that, Cavanagh said.

The plant on the coast midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco produces 9% of the electricity for California’s nearly 40 million residents. The legislation also calls for a $1.4 billion forgivable loan for PG&E, and the state earlier set aside up to $75 million to extend operation of older power plants scheduled to close.

The debate has left PG&E in an awkward position, assessing the possibility of a longer run while simultaneously continuing to plan for closing and dismantling the plant as scheduled.

To keep the plant running, Newsom is trying to find a way to unspool the 2016 closure agreement agreed to by environmentalists, plant worker unions and the utility. The decision to close the plant also was endorsed by California utility regulators, the Legislature and then-Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

Legislators have complained about being bull-rushed at the end of the two-year session with a vastly complex plan, which is expected to be voted on by midweek.

State Sen. John Laird, a Santa Cruz Democrat whose district includes the plant, last week raised the possibility of the Legislature approving a stripped-down bill that would provide PG&E only with what is “absolutely necessary” for the utility to apply for federal funding.

To apply for the $6 billion federal program by a Sept. 6 deadline, Diablo Canyon needs state legislation to show it has a path to continue operations beyond its planned shutdown.
Laird said he is reviewing the compromise, but said it appears to meet many of his concerns, including a more aggressive schedule to develop renewables and setting a five-year cap on continued operations.

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Even if it is approved, a summary of the compromise bill released by the state Public Advocates Office said state utility regulators could cancel the extended run at a later date if there is a lack of federal dollars, if capital needs climb above $1.4 billion or if enough new, zero-carbon power comes online to make the reactors unnecessary.

Laird declined to speculate on the bill’s chances of passage.

“Everybody is reading it and trying to make their individual decision,” he said.

Categories: Local News

Aaron Rodgers slams Cal teacher who almost got him expelled

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 16:51

Imagine the history of American professional football if, as Aaron Rodgers says, a professor at UC Berkeley had succeeded in getting him expelled after she told him he would never make it in the NFL or amount to anything.

In a conversation this weekend with podcaster Joe Rogan, the reigning NFL’s Most Valuable Player said his college career was at risk, which probably would have meant he wouldn’t have been able to impress scouts for the 2005 NFL Draft.

With the situation, Rodgers sounded most angry about how this unnamed teacher unfairly penalized him for improperly citing works in a paper, treating him more harshly than she treated other students for similar issues. He also sounded both aggravated and triumphant, recalling how she cruelly dismissed his NFL dream.

“She ripped me apart,” the Green Bay Packers quarterback said about a meeting he said he had with the teacher during office hours. He said she told him, “You are an entitled athlete. You expect things to be given to you. What are are you going to with your life?”

When Rodgers said he told her, “I’m going to play in the NFL,” she replied, “No way in hell.”

Rodgers, who wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school, first attended Butte College in Oroville before transferring to UC Berkeley. He left after two years, entered the 2005 NFL draft and was chosen No. 24 in the first round by the Green Bay Packers.

Rodgers’ account of his conflict with this teacher came nearly one hour into a three-hour conversation with Rogan. The Chico-reared quarterback generated headlines in August 2021, admitting to Rogan that he had intentionally misled the media about his COVID-19 vaccination status. He told reporters at the he had been “immunized” instead of being upfront about not wanting to get the vaccine.

“I’d been ready the entire time for this question and had thought about how I wanted to answer it,” Rodgers told Rogan. “And I had come to the conclusion I’m going to say: ‘I’ve been immunized.’ And if there’s a follow-up, then talk about my process.”

“But, I thought there’s a possibility that I say ‘I’m immunized,’ maybe they understand what that means, maybe they don’t,” Rodgers continued. “Maybe they follow up. They didn’t follow up. So then I go the season (with) them thinking — some of them — that I was vaccinated.”

Some three months later, Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19, missed an NFL game and confirmed he was unvaccinated, setting off a firestorm of criticism that he had lied about a public health issue and endangered the safety of fellow Packer employees, other players, and the media.

In an interview at the time, Rodgers explained that he was allergic to an ingredient used in the vaccine, so he worked with a holistic doctor on a treatment that he said effectively “immunized” him. Rodgers also lashed out about the NFL accusing him of violating COVID-19 safety protocols, saying there was a “witch hunt” to find out what players were unvaccinated.

While Rodgers softened his stance in subsequent interviews over the past year, he sounded aggrieved again about the situation while talking to Rogan. He told Rogan was made out to be a “liar” even though his status was well-known within the Packers organization.

Rodgers also repeated his witch hunt allegation, and he and Rogan lamented how people at the time couldn’t raise questions about the safety of the vaccines or criticize state and federal responses to the pandemic lest they be accused of promoting vaccine “hesitancy.”

With Rogan, Rodgers seemed interested in settling a few scores, even as he said that his “ayahuasca journey” — the use of traditional psychoactive substances to help him gain personal insight and growth — had helped diffuse some of his anger, leaving him mostly interested in spreading kindness and positively.

Speaking more about the Cal teacher who tried to get him expelled, Rodgers said he and more than a dozen other members of the Cal Golden Bears football team were enrolled in a class that sounds like an easy academic class designed for students to fulfill a basic requirement.

“I wrote a paper, and she said I cited incorrectly,” Rodgers said. Fourteen other students got Fs on the paper for improper citations but they were given the chance to rewrite the paper.

“Not me,” Rodgers said. He said he told his quarterback’s coach that he would be late for a 2 p.m. practice because he needed to meet this teacher in her office.

“She was was ready for me,” Rodgers said. When he pointed out that other students had been given the opportunity to rewrite their papers, he said she then lashed into him about his NFL dream.

“What I’ve seen from you is you’ll never amount to anything,” the teacher said, according to Rodgers, who added that he was probably the best student athlete in the class.

Rodgers said he complained about her “derogatory” comments and unfair treatment to someone on staff who served as a liaison between Cal academics and the sports programs.

Because of that, Rodgers said, the teacher had “a vendetta” against him. By the end of the semester, she had written up a report, alleging that he was disruptive in class, regularly late, and should be expelled.

“I literally was on time every day, sat in the middle of the row, and I was probably one of the only football players, taking notes and paying attention,” Rodgers said. Nonetheless, he said he was given two choices: Write a letter of apology or face expulsion.

Rodgers didn’t confirm that he wrote the apology letter, but he wasn’t expelled. Rodgers explained to Rogan how he used this teacher’s treatment as a motivator.

If she resented football players or was in any other way “damaged,” as Rogan suggested, she “took it out on the wrong person,” Rodgers said.

“Big props to that teacher for trying to ruin my life and my dreams,” Rodgers said. “You just gave me some ammo.”

Categories: Local News

Letters: Housing pause | Treat addicts | Housing rule | Staying cool cheaply | Christians and pluralism | Biden’s hypocrisy

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 16:30

Submit your letter to the editor via this form. Read more Letters to the Editor.

Drought demands
pause in new housing

Your Aug. 22 headline on the front page (“Can area’s drought, housing cohabitate?”) showcases the question of whether the drought or housing is the priority.

After years of perennial drought, the answer would appear to be obvious. The developers and the politicians believe both can be addressed. In retrospect, a housing and building moratorium should have been mandated years ago.

This is not a NIMBY issue but a common sense way to prevent further water shortages which we are currently experiencing. The increased building will also cause more power outages throughout the entire region. Let’s hope reason overrides greed and political interests.

Mark Sever

Addicts need treatment,
not safe injection sites

Re. “Newsom shoots down Bay Area drug injection sites,” Page A1, Aug. 23:

Thank you, Gov. Newsom, for being the voice of reason and common sense with your veto on the disaster that was Senate Bill 57. The last thing any city needs is sanctioned drug abuse on its streets.

Sadly, some elected officials think that allowing for more drug use in a safe setting is the answer. People with addictions need real solutions to help with fighting and overcoming their substance abuse, not more drugs to feed it.

Besides, health care providers take an oath to do no harm. I’m pretty sure sanctioning drug abuse is a clear violation of that vow.

Sharon Dixon
San Leandro

Housing rule puts
shoe on other foot

I’ve been waiting for this: In his Aug. 28 letter to the editor, Robert Drury decried the existence of off-campus student housing in Berkeley, which welcomes all manner of people other than us White folk.

Given that marginalized people have been excluded and worse for decades, centuries, eons, from places and opportunities overtly or “understood” to be for Whites only, maybe it’s high time we experience what it feels like to be rejected on the basis of our skin color alone. I’m sure it’s uncomfortable, Mr. Drury, having that shoe on your foot for a change.

Louise Gray

Tips to beat rising
cost of staying cool

We understand no one likes energy bills that are higher than expected. Heat waves are causing customers to crank up their air conditioning, which can lead to higher summer energy bills.

PG&E does not add any markup on the energy we buy for our customers’ use, neither gas nor electric. What we pay, you pay. Yet, the market prices for energy supply costs, which account for about half of a customer’s monthly electric bill, are expected to be about 75% higher this summer compared to last year.

Customers can take simple steps to improve energy efficiency in their homes:

• Pre-cool the home: use the air conditioning in the morning or overnight.

• Set thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting, when home.

• Change air filters regularly.

• Close window coverings.

• Enroll in free programs including Bill Forecast Alerts and Budget Billing.

For more tips, visit

Aaron Johnson
Vice President of PG&E’s Bay Area Region

Conservative Christians
believe in pluralism

I am a Christian and a nationalist. But I’m not a Christian nationalist. Thomas Higgins (“The idea of Christian nationalism is a malignant falsehood,” Page A6, Aug. 23 guest column) and Bill McGrath (“Christianity has no place in our politics,” Page A6, Aug. 25 letter) fail to understand the difference.

Most Christian conservatives today strenuously reject the idea that America should be a Christian nation, in which Christian views and values should dominate. Rather, we believe in pluralism. That is, that all people, whether they are religious of any form or non-religious, should have an equal right (as much as is possible) not only to believe what you want to believe, but to be able to express it openly, and, even, to try to influence society accordingly.

To believe that religion must be kept out of politics and government is actually the ideal of Marxism, not American democracy. And everywhere Marxism and its exclusive secularism prevails it leads to the enslavement and impoverishment of all but the 1% or so in power.

Christopher Andrus

Biden is fast and loose
with COVID emergency

“It’s the economy, stupid” was the phrase Bill Clinton used for his 1992 presidential run. Thirty years later “It’s the hypocrisy, stupid” that will be associated with Joe Biden.

He constantly preaches “the rule of law” but conveniently forgets in July 2021 Speaker Pelosi said he lacks executive authority to grant debt forgiveness, that such action would be illegal, and that loan cancellation requires an act of Congress. His legal justification for debt forgiveness is the post-9/11 HEROES Act, which allows student loan relief due to war or “national emergency,” which the Department of Education now says is the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May 2022, Biden tried to end Title 42 restrictions, which allowed the expulsion of asylum seekers because of the COVID pandemic. So in May we no longer had a COVID emergency on the border but in August we have a COVID pandemic student loan emergency. Oh, the hypocrisy.

Martin Wilmington

Categories: Local News

Q & A: What’s causing the mass die-off of Bay Area fish?

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 08/29/2022 - 16:30

One of the Bay Area’s largest algae blooms in recent memory could intensify with the arrival later this week of the longest, most intense heat wave of the year — creating pitch-perfect conditions for the toxic algae to potentially kill even more fish across the San Francisco Bay, experts and water regulators said Monday.

The bloom — which is a chief suspect in the killing of thousands of fish across the San Francisco Bay over the last several days — appears to be affecting everything from tiny yellowfin goby to sharks, bat rays and possibly even green sturgeon, an already threatened species.

Experts and water quality regulators have little idea about when this so-called red tide event will end, And for the time being, they say, there is no readily available solution to reverse its and end the die-off of Bay Area marine life.

It’s also not clear what can be done to dispose of the thousands of dead fish fouling popular waterfront destinations including Oakland’s Lake Merritt, where the dead fish have started to cause pungent, rank odor to emanate from parts of the lakeshore.

Here’s what experts are saying about the fish die-off — and how it might end.

When did this fill kill start, and what type of marine life is affected?

Dead fish first started appearing in the San Francisco Bay on Friday. Since then, they’ve been observed in Foster City, the Alameda estuary, Keller Beach, Sausalito, Fort Baker and Lake Merritt, according to reports submitted to San Francisco Baykeeper, an environmental group focused on water conditions in the Bay.

Myriad types of fish have been killed, including white sturgeon and stripped bass, according to Jon Rosenfield, senior scientist for San Francisco Baykeeper. He claimed at least one green sturgeon — which is considered a threatened species under the Federal Endangered Species Act — also has been found dead. However, a state survey team has yet to find any such green sturgeon carcasses.

What’s killing all the fish?

No specific cause has been officially determined, though environmental groups and water quality regulators suspect that a red algae bloom is to blame. The likely culprit, they say, is Heterosigma Akashiwo, a type of phytoplankton that has long been found in the San Francisco Bay — though rarely to the extent seen recently. It’s extremely adaptable and thrives in nutrient-rich estuaries, making the Bay a perfect haven for it.

The phytoplankton is found in waterways across the world, including Chile, France and Asia, as well as along the Pacific Coast, including Monterey Bay. It’s particularly dangerous for fish, because it produces multiple substances — including at least one neurotoxin — that can affect fish gills, said Raphael Kudela, professor of Ocean Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Certain types of bacteria like to feed of this type of algae, and in doing so, it can cause oxygen levels in the surrounding water to crater, killing fish. But regional and state water and wildlife officials are still studying fish specimens to determine what exactly caused these fish to die in the Bay, said Eileen White, executive officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

“We’ve never seen anything of this magnitude,” White said, of the algae bloom.

What’s causing this algae to spread so much, and why now?

It’s still unclear why this particular type of algae — which has long been a part of the Bay’s ecosystem — started blooming now. “It’s kind of like the lottery – sometimes some other organism will pop and do really well. And this year it turns out to be Heterosigma.”

However, conditions across the Bay this summer have been extremely favorable for its type of phytoplankton to spread, Kudela said. The phytoplankton can survive in water that has relatively low salinity levels, which the Bay boasts. And it does well in sunny, hot conditions when runoff from the nearby river deltas is low — much has been the case, due to California’s ongoing historic drought.

Kudela said it’s difficult to attribute any one specific algae bloom to climate change. However, research suggests that the overall conditions that are conducive to such blooms can be attributed to climate change, including hotter weather and increased droughts.

Is the algae bloom harmful to humans?

Not really. This specific type of red algae affecting the Bay produces toxins that chiefly affect fish gills — meaning that humans are largely safe from its worst impacts.

But officials and experts are advising people to avoid algae-affected waterways and practice caution. And reports have emerged of people suffering skin irritation after having come into contact with water rich in this algae, and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board is asking people to stay away from any impacted areas. In some cases, the algae can cause difficulty breathing — often for people with underlying respiratory issues who stand too close to the algae. As a result, San Francisco Baykeeper also suggests people avoid affected shorelines.

How much longer will this last?

That’s anyone’s guess at the moment. Typically, outbreaks of this type of phytoplankton last only a week.

Almost nothing can be done by humans to reverse its spread, once a bloom begins, Kudela said. Some places — including in Asia — have treated water with certain bacteria that eat away at the algae, or other substances that kill it off. However, such measures would be considered an exceptionally unusual move, and could have unintended repercussions.

Typically, bacteria already existing in the Bay have helped to keep this type of algae in check, or reverse any previous blooms, Kudela said. Same goes for viruses that have been known to impact such phytoplankton. With little in the way of rainfall forecast for the Bay Area in the foreseeable future — another common means to halt an algae’s spread — there’s little telling how much longer this bloom will last.

While Kudela said it would be extremely unusual for the bloom to last another week, the looming heat wave is leaving experts guessing, due to it offering the exact type of conditions preferred by this type of phytoplankton. After all, the algae bloom already is surprising experts.

“This is pretty usual, in terms of the size of the area that it’s covering,” Kudela said.

Categories: Local News