Seattle news, sports, weather, traffic, talk and community. Wed, 29 May 2024 08:10:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rantz: Chief Adrian Diaz likely out at Seattle Police Department, sources say Wed, 29 May 2024 08:01:05 +0000 Rumors are swirling that Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz is out of his job and a press conference is being called Wednesday afternoon.

One well-placed Seattle Police source tells “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH that it’s likely true. A second source with knowledge of the situation says he’s out as chief.

If true, the departure comes as Diaz and the department faces a number of complaints and lawsuits alleging sexism, harassment and discrimination. A 27-year-veteran of the department sued Diaz for sex and wage discrimination lawsuit. Four female officers alleged they faced bullying, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination within the department. A third lawsuit claimed retaliation for reporting racial discrimination.

More from Jason Rantz: Officer suing Seattle police for gender discrimination accused of gender bias

Is Adrian Diaz really out as Seattle Police chief?

The source said that Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell “does not like the drama around Diaz.”

“I know this mayor and the mayor’s office. I know the mayor is committed to equity and women having equal wages as men. I think they are very, very concerned about women, generally, and (dislike) the drama. I don’t want it to be the case (that Diaz is fired),” the well-placed Seattle Police Department source.

The claims of drama appear to be part of a coordinated effort by a small group of aggrieved Seattle staffers unhappy with Diaz’s staffing decisions and other policy choices.

“The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH has not independently confirmed that Diaz will depart from the chief role.

Related: SPD’s assistant chief placed on administrative leave

Listen to “The Jason Rantz Show” on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and  Facebook.

Image: Seattle Police Department Chief Adrian Diaz is seen in September 2020....
Stock market today: Asian shares decline after a mixed post-holiday session on Wall Street Wed, 29 May 2024 06:34:39 +0000

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower Wednesday after a mixed session on Wall Street following a three-day holiday weekend.

Shares fell in Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Oil prices rose.

The International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for China’s economic outlook, saying it expects the No. 2 economy to grow at a 5% annual pace this year.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.8% in afternoon trading to 38,533.42. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 1.3% to 7,665.60. South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.6% to 2,679.75. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 2.1% to 18,425.09, while the Shanghai Composite edged 0.2% lower to 3,102.04.

On Wall Street, most U.S. stocks fell in a quiet day of trading Tuesday, after bond yields ticked higher.

Nearly three out of every four stocks fell within the S&P 500. But strength for a handful of highly influential Big Tech stocks helped the index hold up overall. It edged higher by 1.32, or less than 0.1%, to 5,306.04.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6% to 38,852.86. The Nasdaq composite rode the strength of tech stocks to gain 0.6%, to 17,019.88 and added to its latest all-time high set on Friday.

Nvidia led the way and jumped 7% to bring its gain for the year so far to a whopping 130%. It’s still riding a wave created by its latest blowout profit report from last week, which calmed some of the worries that Wall Street’s frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology has inflated expectations and prices beyond reasonable levels.

U.S. Cellular climbed 12.2% after T-Mobile said it will buy nearly all of the company. The deal is valued at $4.4 billion and includes up to $2 billion in assumed debt. Shares of T-Mobile US added 0.8%.

GameStop jumped 25.2% after it said it raised $933.4 million in cash through a previously announced sale of stock. The company, whose stock price has often moved more on investors’ enthusiasm than any change to its profit prospects, said it could use the cash for acquisitions, investments or other general corporate purposes.

But the majority of stocks on Wall Street fell under the effects of a modest rise in Treasury yields. Higher yields can help make payments for everything from mortgages to credit cards more expensive, and they tend to put downward pressure on the economy.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 4.54% from 4.47% late Friday. It had been lower in the morning but began trimming its losses after a surprising report showed confidence among U.S. consumers is strengthening. Economists had been expecting it to show a drop in confidence.

Strong spending by U.S. consumers has been one of the main reasons the economy has managed to defy predictions of a recession, at least so far, but some cracks have begun to show. Lower-income households in particular have begun to buckle under the pressure of still-high inflation.

The Fed has been holding the federal funds rate at the highest level in more than two decades in hopes of grinding down on the economy and investment prices enough to get high inflation fully under control. If it leaves rates too high for too long, it could kneecap the job market and overall economy. But a premature cut to interest rates could allow inflation to reaccelerate and inflict even more pain on U.S. households.

This week has several reports that could sway the Fed’s thinking, beyond Tuesday’s on confidence among consumers.

The highlight likely arrives on Friday when the government releases its latest monthly report on spending by households and the incomes that they earned. It will also include the measure of inflation for April that the Federal Reserve prefers to use.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 26 cents to $80.09 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, added 17 cents to $84.39 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar fell to 157.04 Japanese yen from 157.12 yen. The euro cost $1.0851, down from $1.0857.

Jury in Trump’s hush money case to begin deliberations after hearing instructions from judge Wed, 29 May 2024 04:03:54 +0000

NEW YORK (AP) — Jurors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial are expected to begin deliberations Wednesday after receiving instructions from the judge on the law and the factors they may consider as they strive to reach a verdict in the first criminal case against a former American president.

The deliberations follow a marathon day of closing arguments in which a Manhattan prosecutor accused Trump of trying to “hoodwink” voters in the 2016 presidential election by participating in a hush money scheme meant to stifle embarrassing stories he feared would torpedo his campaign.

“This case, at its core, is about a conspiracy and a cover-up,” prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told jurors during summations that stretched from early afternoon into the evening.

Trump’s lawyer, by contrast, branded the star prosecution witness as the “greatest liar of all time” as he proclaimed his client innocent of all charges and pressed the panel for an across-the-board acquittal.

The lawyers’ dueling accounts, wildly divergent in their assessments of witness credibility, Trump’s culpability and the strength of evidence, offered both sides one final chance to score points with the jury as it prepares to embark upon the momentous and historically unprecedented task of deciding whether to convict the presumptive Republican presidential nominee ahead of the November election.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, charges punishable by up to four years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing. It’s unclear whether prosecutors would seek imprisonment in the event of a conviction, or if the judge would impose that punishment.

Jurors will have the option of convicting Trump of all counts, acquitting him of all counts, or delivering a mixed verdict in which he is found guilty of some charges and not others. If they deadlock after several days of deliberations and are unable to reach a unanimous verdict, Judge Juan M. Merchan may declare a mistrial.

The trial featured allegations that Trump and his allies conspired to stifle potentially embarrassing stories during the 2016 presidential campaign through hush money payments , including to a porn actor who alleged that she and Trump had sex a decade earlier. His lawyer Todd Blanche told jurors that neither the actor, Stormy Daniels, nor the Trump attorney who paid her, Michael Cohen, can be trusted.

“President Trump is innocent. He did not commit any crimes, and the district attorney has not met their burden of proof, period,” Blanche said.

Steinglass sought to defray potential juror concerns about witness credibility. Trump, for instance, has said he and Daniels never had sex and has repeatedly attacked Cohen as a liar.

The prosecutor acknowledged that Daniels’ account about the alleged 2006 encounter in a Lake Tahoe hotel suite, which Trump has denied, was at times “cringeworthy” but he said the details she offered — including about decor and what she said she saw when she snooped in Trump’s toiletry kit — were full of touchstones “that kind of ring true.”

And, he said, the story matters because it “reinforces (Trump’s) incentive to buy her silence.”

“Her story is messy. It makes people uncomfortable to hear. It probably makes some of you uncomfortable to hear. But that’s kind of the point,” Steinglass said. He told jurors: “In the simplest terms, Stormy Daniels is the motive.”

The payoff unfolded against the backdrop of the disclosure of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording in which Trump could be heard bragging about grabbing women sexually without their permission. Had the Daniels story emerged in the aftermath of the recording, it would have undermined his strategy of spinning away his words, Steinglass said.

“It’s critical to appreciate this,” Steinglass said. At the same time he was dismissing his words on the tape as “locker room talk,” Trump “was negotiating to muzzle a porn star,” the prosecutor said.

Blanche, who spoke first, sought to downplay the fallout by saying the “Access Hollywood” tape was not a “doomsday event.”

Steinglass also tried to reassure jurors that the prosecution’s case did not rest solely on Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer who paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet. Cohen later pleaded guilty to federal charges for his role in the hush money payments, as well as to lying to Congress. He went to prison and was disbarred, but his direct involvement in the transactions made him a key witness at trial.

“It’s not about whether you like Michael Cohen. It’s not about whether you want to go into business with Michael Cohen. It’s whether he has useful, reliable information to give you about what went down in this case, and the truth is that he was in the best position to know,” Steinglass said.

Though the case featured sometimes seamy discussion of sex and tabloid industry practices, the actual charges concern something decidedly less flashy: reimbursements Trump signed for Cohen for the payments.

The reimbursements were recorded as being for legal expenses, which prosecutors say was a fraudulent label designed to conceal the purpose of the hush money transaction and to illicitly interfere in the 2016 election. Defense lawyers say Cohen actually did substantive legal work for Trump and his family.

In his own hourslong address to the jury, with sweeping denials echoing Trump’s “deny everything” approach, Blanche castigated the entire foundation of the case.

He said Cohen, not Trump, created the invoices that were submitted to the Trump Organization for reimbursement and rejected the prosecution’s caricature of a details-oriented manager, suggesting instead that Trump was preoccupied by the presidency and not the checks he was signing. And he rejected the idea that the alleged hush money scheme amounted to election interference.

“Every campaign in this country is a conspiracy to promote a candidate, a group of people who are working together to help somebody win,” Blanche said.

As expected, he reserved his most animated attack for Cohen, with whom he tangled during a lengthy cross-examination.

Mimicking the term “GOAT,” used primarily in sports as an acronym for “greatest of all time,” Blanche labeled Cohen the “GLOAT” — greatest liar of all time — and also called Cohen “the human embodiment of reasonable doubt.” That language was intentional because, to convict Trump, jurors must believe that prosecutors proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“He lied to you repeatedly. He lied many, many times before you even met him. His financial and personal well-being depend on this case. He is biased and motivated to tell you a story that is not true,” Blanche said, a reference to Cohen’s relentless and often bitingly personal social media attacks on Trump and the lucrative income he has derived from books and podcasts about Trump.


Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.


Follow the AP’s coverage of former President Donald Trump at

Mexico’s next president is likely a woman. But in some Indigenous villages, men have all the power Wed, 29 May 2024 04:03:19 +0000

PLAN DE AYALA, Mexico (AP) — At 4:30 a.m., the girls and women begin to appear in the dark streets of this rural village of Tojolabal people in southern Mexico. They walk in silence. Some are headed to grind corn to make their family’s tortillas. Others fetch firewood to carry home, on their backs or with the help of a donkey. The youngest hurry to finish chores before running to school.

Hours later, it’s still morning, and it’s time to talk. A group of young women and men gathers in a classroom at the Plan de Ayala high school. They’ve come to discuss gender equality and reflect on the role of women in this remote Indigenous community in Chiapas, Mexico’s poorest state.

Jeydi Hernández, 17, wants to be a veterinarian and play basketball, though her first attempt to form a team failed: “There were 12 of us, but my friends got married, and there were only four of us left.” Madaí Gómez, 18, complains that she can’t express opinions in her town: “They think women don’t know anything.”

Two Indigenous women lead the workshop, and dozens attend. Years ago, such an initiative would not have been so well-received, they say. But change is coming — albeit slowly.

Seventy years ago, Mexican women won the right to vote, and today the country is on the verge of electing its first woman president. Yet some of the Indigenous women who will vote in Sunday’s national election still don’t have a voice in their own homes and communities.

In Plan de Ayala and other corners of Mexico, women can’t participate in local government. Men set priorities. They decide how to spend resources: repair the school or the park? Plan de Ayala’s women aren’t even registered residents, even though they are on voter rolls, so its 1,200 men can only guess at the true population.

With no official data, it’s unclear how many communities operate this way. But it’s one of many contradictions for a part of the Mexican population that for centuries has been marginalized. Now, Indigenous women are pushing for change — little by little — with the younger generation often leading the charge.


Of more than 23 million Indigenous people in Mexico — nearly 20% of the population — well over half live in poverty, according to government data from 2022. And women face the worst of it, with the lowest rates of literacy in their communities and little, if any, rights to own land.

Neither of the two women candidates for president — Claudia Sheinbaum for the governing Morena party and the opposition’s Xóchitl Gálvez — have spoken much about Indigenous issues. Still, women in this region can’t hide some hope that a woman president could better address some of their most pressing needs: health care and education access, and protection from domestic violence.

The status of Mexico’s Indigenous peoples leaped onto the international stage in 1994 in Chiapas, when Zapatista guerrilla fighters declared war against the government. They aimed not to take power, but demanded that the government address racism and marginalization suffered by Indigenous peoples. The movement had unusually high participation from women.

Twelve days of fighting and years of negotiation culminated in 2001 with a constitutional amendment that recognized the right of Indigenous people to autonomous government; to preserve their languages, land and cultural identity; and to have access to basic rights such as health care and education.

This allowed many small Indigenous communities to govern themselves and choose their leaders without national political influence. It also meant that the federal government frequently looked the other way when those local customs contradicted basic rights like gender equality.

After the uprising, Indigenous women felt encouraged to fight for their rights in their communities. In some places they succeeded. But poverty and inequality persist in many Indigenous communities.

Juana Cruz, 51, is one of the women on a crusade to bring change. She grew up listening to stories of the abuses suffered by four generations of her family forced to work on an estate where they had to speak Spanish rather than their native Tojolabal, a Mayan-family language. She remembers being beaten in school for not speaking Spanish well.

Today she is one of the most veteran social activists in Las Margaritas, the municipality that includes Plan de Ayala, and director of Tzome Ixuk, which means “organized woman” in Tojolabal. Her collective accompanies victims of domestic violence to report crimes, organizes talks to hear communities’ needs, hosts workshops for men and women about gender rights, and teaches children Tojolabal. Political parties have approached her, she said, but she rejected their recruitment efforts — she wants to focus on organizing and educating in a politically independent environment.

“The ability that we have to decide is because we are not (affiliated) with any authority,” Cruz said.

Six years ago, the Zapatistas and other Indigenous groups elected María de Jesus Patricio, better known as Marichuy, to run for president as their first independent candidate. She faced intense racism and didn’t make it onto the ballot. “But she gave us strength,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s own activism stretches back to the Zapatista uprising, when she first heard about “organizing” for rights. In the mid-1990s, she demanded water, electricity, sewer and schools for an Indigenous neighborhood in Las Margaritas — demands that prompted dozens of men to attack her, she said.

She described politicians finding her demands unacceptable — they believed Indigenous people didn’t need such things.


Since Cruz and others made those basic demands, there’s been progress in places like Las Margaritas, a sprawling township of some 140,000 people spread across about 400 mostly Indigenous communities, including Plan de Ayala. Some people here were born on hugemassive estates where Indigenous workers were treated like slaves. Today, many get by with money sent from relatives who’ve made it to the United States.

Unwritten rules still govern much of life in the villages. Mexican law prohibits marriage until age 18, but many teens leave home years earlier and live as couples until they can legally wed. The community considers them married.

For some girls, it’s the only way to escape abusive homes — one 15-year-old described to The Associated Press how a relative beat her almost daily.

“I wanted to get married as soon as I could,” she said, even though she knew it meant giving up her dreams of continued education. “I would love to study again, but I still can’t because that’s the way the rules are here.”

“When you marry, you leave school, you leave everything that you have,” said the girl, whose name AP is withholding because she’s a victim of abuse.

Increasingly, girls and young women are rejecting such norms. That’s part of what’s discussed in the workshops at Plan de Ayala high school.

About a third of those gathered said they would like to continue studying, according to María Leticia Santiz, 28, and Liz Vázquez, 33, who lead the discussion.

“You all have the ability to make decisions in your communities, in your schools, in your families,” Vázquez tells the group. “You are a generation of change.” Santiz translates to Tojolabal.

A buzz spreads through the group. Using the native language generates confidence and shows the youths they can be proud of it, Santiz said: “There are still young people, women who are ashamed of the language, of being Indigenous.”

Vázquez and Santiz are from a collective called Ch’ieltik, which means “we are those who grow” in the Indigenous language Tseltal. The group’s goal is to encourage conversation and reflection among young people in some of Chiapas’ most closed communities, learn the realities of people there, and provide tools to improve their lives.

Santiz says that in Plan de Ayala, where women have never held positions of authority, some women do want to participate in local civic life.

But “they don’t dare because they feel they are going to be punished,” Santiz said. “The social compacts that the people have sown in them are very ingrained.”


In Plan de Ayala, like most rural corners of Las Margaritas, there is little evidence of the coming national election. Posters of Sheinbaum are seen in some places. The face of Gálvez — who has Indigenous roots, with an Otomi father — is not.

Vázquez says that personally, she has not connected with either candidate. But in the workshop, she tells the group that a woman becoming president proves nothing is impossible.

Santiz is wary of politicians. “I haven’t seen a change, attention toward the Indigenous,” she said.

She said she wishes politicians would be authentic in their outreach to Indigenous communities and not simply use their people to sell an inclusive image: “Being Indigenous isn’t just coming from an Indigenous community,” she said. “It’s returning and doing things for your community.”

Experts say politicians have long looked down on Indigenous people and have wrongly explained away chauvinistic behavior as the carrying on of ancestral practices. Examples of Indigenous women rising to power — for example, in leading the fight against controversial infrastructure projects like dams — have been minimized.

The campaigns of the two leading female presidential candidates are notable for what’s lacking: any prioritization of gender issues or detailed plans to address issues in Indigenous communities.

Sheinbaum insists she will try to reach agreements to compensate for past injustices against some Indigenous peoples. Gálvez has only gone so far as to remind voters of projects she pushed when she was in charge of Indigenous development under a previous administration, two decades ago.

In Plan de Ayala, Vázquez and Santiz leave the workshop at the high school encouraged. The young men seemed receptive to speaking about equality, and they see signs of change: fathers supporting their daughters’ dreams, young women carving out spaces for themselves.

After the workshop, Madaí Gómez, the 18-year-old, heads home to finish helping her mother. She’s not yet sure about continuing school — she wants to be economically independent and considers herself a strong woman who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Maybe she’ll stay here and find work. Maybe she’ll try making it to the U.S.

That afternoon, she puts on her soccer uniform and heads to the local field, optimistic that more girls want to join. On the dirt track, teens pass older women wearing traditional embroidered blouses and shiny satin skirts returning from the fields, their bodies stooped by huge bundles of grass hoisted on their backs.

Gómez said she believes in the potential of women in her community and thinks Mexico’s first woman president could show they can do more even than men.

“I want gender equality to come, for them to give us that chance to raise our voices, for our voice to be valued the same as a man’s,” she said.

Appeals court won’t halt upcoming Alabama execution Wed, 29 May 2024 02:35:27 +0000

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday declined to halt the upcoming execution of an Alabama man convicted in the beating deaths of an elderly couple during a 2004 robbery.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied two separate requests for an execution stay for Jamie Ray Mills, 50. Mills is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection Thursday evening in Alabama.

Mills was convicted of capital murder for the 2004 slaying of Floyd and Vera Hill in Guin, a small city located about 82 miles (132 kilometers) northwest of Birmingham. Prosecutors said Mills and his wife went to the couple’s home where he used a ball-peen hammer, tire tool and machete to beat and stab the couple before stealing $140 and prescription medications.

The three-judge panel denied stay requests in two different cases. One case argued that newly discovered evidence proved prosecutors concealed a plea deal with Mills’ wife to get her to testify against her husband. The other challenged aspects of the state’s lethal injection protocol.

Angie Setzer, a senior attorney with the Equal Justice Initiative, which is representing Mills, said they are disappointed in the decisions and will appeal. Setzer said the cases show the “state’s deceit and concealment both at Mr. Mills’ trial and with regards to executions.”

Attorneys with the initiative in April asked a federal judge to reopen the case, arguing newly discovered evidence proved prosecutors lied about having a plea deal with Mills’ wife who provided key trial testimony against him. The defense lawyer for JoAnn Mills signed an affidavit saying the district attorney agreed that “he would not pursue the capital charge and would agree to a plea of murder” if she testified at her husband’s trial. After testifying, JoAnn Mills pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

The state maintains there was no plea deal and submitted its own affidavits from the district attorney and his investigator.

U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler ruled that Mill’s argument was raised too late and did not prove that the conviction was obtained by fraud or misconduct.

Mills’ attorneys sought a “certificate of appealability” to get the 11th Circuit to take up the issue. Chief Judge William Pryor, in ruling for the state, wrote that they did not meet the required legal threshold because “no reasonable jurist could conclude that the district court abused its discretion.” The appellate court then denied the stay request.

Circuit Judge Nancy G. Abudu concurred in the decision but wrote that she was concerned about the rigid interpretation of rules in death penalty cases preventing further exploration of the issue.

“Unfortunately, even when a petitioner’s life hangs in the balance, our case law does not extend sufficient procedural and substantive due process protection,” Abudu wrote.

Floyd Hill, 87, died from blunt and sharp-force wounds to his head and neck, and Vera Hill, 72, died from complications of head trauma about 12 weeks after the crime, the attorney general’s office wrote in a court filing. A jury voted 11-1 to recommend a death sentenced for Jamie Mills, which a judge imposed.

Melinda French Gates to donate $1 billion over next 2 years in support of women’s rights Wed, 29 May 2024 01:29:50 +0000 Melinda French Gates said she will be donating $1 billion over the next two years to individuals and organizations working on behalf of women and families globally, including on reproductive rights in the United States.

It’s the second billion-dollar commitment French Gates has personally made in the past five years. In 2019, she pledged over ten years to expand women’s power and influence.

Earlier this month, French Gates announced she would step down from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and vowed to focus on women and families. As a part of leaving the Gates Foundation, French Gates received $12 billion from Bill Gates for her philanthropy going forward.

French Gates, one of the biggest philanthropic supporters of gender equity in the U.S., said Tuesday in a guest essay for The New York Times that she’s been frustrated over the years by people who said it’s not the right time to talk about gender equality.

“Decades of research on economics, well-being and governance make it clear that investing in women and girls benefits everyone,” she wrote.

French Gates said over the last few weeks she’s started directing what will total $200 million in new grants through her organization, Pivotal Ventures, to groups working in the U.S. to protect women’s rights and advance their power and influence. The grants are for general operating support, meaning they are not earmarked for specific projects. The groups include the National Women’s Law Center, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Teresa Younger, the president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, who also received a grant, has long called on donors to give unrestricted, multi-year funding to organizations. She praised French Gates’ new commitment as a part of a larger trend of major women donors giving generously to nonprofits.

“If philanthropy took lessons from the way that women are moving money, we would see more money in the field having greater impact,” Younger said.

Her organization learned of the grant, which is the first they’ve received from Pivotal Ventures within the last week, and Younger said there was no application process. She declined to disclose the amount of the grant but said it would help expand their work with organizations in the South and Midwest.

The nonprofit MomsRising Education Fund also received a grant that will extend to the end of 2026, with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, its executive director and CEO, saying, “We’re deeply honored and enormously grateful that Melinda French Gates is stepping up for women and families in a time when the rights of our daughters may be significantly less than of ourselves or our own mothers.”

French Gates also pledged to give 12 individuals $20 million each to distribute to nonprofit organizations of their choice before the end of 2026. Those funds will be managed by the National Philanthropic Trust, one of the largest public charities that offers donor-advised funds, a spokesperson for Pivotal Ventures said.

In total, French Gates announced $690 million in commitments out of the promised $1 billion, which also includes an “open call” for applications that the organization Lever for Change will administer this fall. French Gates said $250 million will be awarded to fund organizations working to improve women’s mental and physical health globally.

French Gates’ Pivotal Ventures is a limited liability company that also manages investments in for-profit ventures, so there is little public information about its grantmaking or the assets it manages. Pivotal Ventures has focused on a number of avenues to increase women’s economic and political participation and power, like closing the wage gap, compensating care work often done by women, and encouraging women to run for political office.

Pivotal Ventures said it has committed $875 million of the $1 billion that French Gates pledged in 2019 to a mixture of venture and philanthropic funding. Additionally, the Gates Foundation has funded research and interventions to improve maternal mortality and women’s health more broadly for years. In 2020, it hired its first president for its gender quality division and in 2021, the foundation pledged $2.1 billion to gender equity efforts convened by UN Women.

In her essay Tuesday, French Gates touched upon the high maternal mortality rates in the U.S., noting that Black and Native American mothers are at the highest risk.

“Women in 14 states have lost the right to terminate a pregnancy under almost any circumstances. We remain the only advanced economy without any form of national paid family leave. And the number of teenage girls experiencing suicidal thoughts and persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness is at a decade high,” she said.

French Gates will be leaving the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation next week. She helped co-found the organization nearly 25 years ago.

The Associated Press receives financial support for news coverage in Africa from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and for news coverage of women in the workforce and state governments from Pivotal Ventures.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will change its name to the Gates Foundation. It is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world. As of December 2023, its endowment was $75.2 billion, thanks to donations from Gates and the billionaire investor Warren Buffett. While it works across many issues, global health remains its largest area of work, and most of its funding is meant to address issues internationally rather than in the U.S.

Photo: Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Melinda French Gates speaks at the forum Emp...
2 Tukwila teens charged with Costco parking lot murder Wed, 29 May 2024 01:01:17 +0000 King County Prosecutors announced last week charges against two teens for the murder of Mingyuan Huang in a Tukwila parking lot back in January.

Ilyiss Abdi, 18, and Salman Haji, 19, are charged with murder, robbery and attempted robbery. Abdi is behind bars on $5,000,000 bail but, according to court documents, Haji has fled the country.

Court documents stated the two teens were in a stolen car and on a crime spree on January 26. They allegedly stole a car in Seattle and then tried to use stolen credit cards in Normandy Park. Then they drove to a crowded Costco parking lot and saw two elderly sisters loading their car. They jumped out and allegedly tried to rob the women but when they resisted, Haji allegedly shot Huang once in the chest, while Abdi waited in the car. The two then sped off.

Huang died in the parking lot.

The shooting happened around 10:40 a.m. about 50 feet outside the front door of the store.

Other local crime: Attempted robbery near Auburn Walmart goes awry, victim shoots at suspects

According to those close to the investigation, Huang had no prior connection to the shooter before the fatal encounter.

Following the shooting, police agencies all over Western Washington were on the lookout for the suspects and the vehicle they were driving.

“I think people wondered when they didn’t see a headline of an arrest right away, or a charge right away if things were happening and they certainly were happening behind the scenes,” Casey McNerthney with the King County Prosecuting Attorey’s Offices said.

Court documents stated that less than a month later, Abdi was allegedly involved in another deadly incident. In that case, Abdi was charged with assault and firearm enhancement. He was previously convicted of attempted burglary.

Both teens are due in court on June 5 at 9 a.m.

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, or email him here.

Photo: Prosecutors announced last week charges against two teens for the murder of Mingyuan Huang i...
Rantz Exclusive: Semi Bird reprimanded for fraud against US Army, after ‘stolen valor’ claims Wed, 29 May 2024 00:02:55 +0000 The candidate for governor the Washington State Republican Party endorsed was reprimanded by the Department of Defense (DOD), with a commanding officer saying he perpetuated “fraud” against the United States government in an effort to advance his career over more deserving candidates. The investigation followed accusations from the U.S. Army Special Forces, the Green Berets, that Republican gubernatorial hopeful Semi Bird engaged in stolen valor by misrepresenting his actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom and claiming unearned experience.

Bird was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with Valor for “exceptionally valorous conduct in the face of the enemy” on July 9, 2006. He was serving as a Special Forces Engineer during Operation Iraqi Freedom at the time. He was also awarded the Army Commendation Medal for “exceptionally meritorious service” as an Area Support Team Member. Both awards are highlighted on Bird’s campaign website and have been noted in speeches and on social media to bolster his candidacy.

However, documentation obtained exclusively by “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH includes a 2009 letter of reprimand against Bird. The letter, signed by then-Brigadier General Hector Pagan, details several instances of misconduct, including that Bird wore awards and badges he did not earn, falsified documents and sought career advancement by deceiving the U.S. Army.

Semi Bird – Military Documents – 0524 by scoogan on Scribd

What did Semi Bird say he did to earn commendation?

Bird was awarded the Bronze Star and a Commendation Medal for heroic work on the battlefield. A narrative accompanying the Bronze Star, obtained by “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, said he helped neutralize an ambush attack “with total disregard for his personal safety.”

Additionally, two Green Beret operators who were on the ground on July 9, 2006, including one who he says was responsible for conduct which Bird (and Bird’s major) claimed credit for, spoke exclusively to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, describing Bird as a “fraud.”

Bird has responded to the allegations by asserting they are an attempt “to dishonor a veteran.” He denies any acts of stolen valor, while downplaying the significance of the reprimand.

Why did the U.S. Army reprimand Semi Bird?

As outlined in the reprimand letter, Pagan told Bird the investigation found he “wore awards and badges that you had not earned.” Additionally, Pagan said Bird knowingly “submitted false documents for the sole purpose of gaining an unfair advantage against other individuals” seeking entry into the Warrant Officer Corps. Entry into this program would have afforded Bird a significant increase in pay and responsibilities.

Pagan also discovered Bird “manipulate(d) the system for your personal gain by aiding in the drafting of NCOERs (non-commissioned officer evaluation reports) which you knew to be false” and “enlisted the help of senior NCOs and Officers to perpetuate this fraud against the government.” He said Bird was seeking “personal gain” at the expense of the “good order and discipline of the armed forces.”

“The submission of false information to gain a promotion amounts to fraud against the United States Government,” Pagan wrote.

Pagan began investigating after members of the Special Forces community raised questions about the veracity of many of Bird’s claims. Some heard him claim he was from a unit they knew he was never with. Others said he attended schools that they had been to, but Bird was never able to confirm his attendance.

“Your actions represent a serious departure from the high standards of integrity and professionalism expected of a Special Forces Solider in this Command. Your conduct in this matter causes me to seriously consider your suitability for continued service as a Solider in the United States Army,” Pagan added.

Bird responded to the reprimand within seven days as required, writing that he “first and foremost accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Bird accompanied Green Berets as part of a Tactical Psychological Operation Team on the evening of July 9, 2006. He was in the trail vehicle in the convoy alongside his major.

In the narrative, then-Staff Sergeant Bird is said to have killed an enemy combatant who threatened soldiers with rocket-propelled grenades (RPG). He then helped secure the perimeter around a disabled American military vehicle while still under heavy attack.

The narrative says that at least four enemy personnel engaged the convoy in an ambush, which included two RPGs. Bird exited and “without hesitation, dismounted the vehicle in order to effectively return fire,” according to the narrative.

After reportedly suffering a concussion from the RPG blast approximately twenty feet away, he “immediately regained his composure, got accountability of his security element, and returned fire.” A second RPG reportedly struck Bird “in the helmet with a piece of fragmentation.”

After a third RPG severely wounded an Iraqi Special Operations Force soldier embedded with the Americans, the narrative says Bird “was able to neutralize the threat.”

But, according to operators on the ground during the ambush, Bird did not engage the enemy as the narrative claimed.

Semi Bird accused of stolen valor

“The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH spoke with two Green Berets who engaged the enemy on July 9, 2006. Both Special Forces operators, requesting anonymity to avoid personal gain from their service, provided a stark contrast to the narrative surrounding the commendation awarded to Bird.

“I shot the guy. I shot the RPG gunner. So, it was a bit of a surprise to me many, many years later to read a copy of the award where apparently that was claimed by Sergeant Bird, or whoever wrote the actual write-up for him,” the Green Beret disclosed.

Amidst the chaos of battle, where “everybody’s firing in all directions,” the Green Beret acknowledged that some details could be mistaken. However, he characterized Bird’s claim as “a stretch,” expressing doubt over whether Bird even exited his vehicle during the engagement.

“Yes, he was firing off if he was outside of his vehicle firing at all, which I have no knowledge of. He surely wasn’t doing any of that in the direction that I was engaged in. He definitely didn’t get the RPG gunner, which was one of the bits of the write-up in the actual award, which again, I didn’t see until years later,” the Green Beret said.

‘There was immediate pushback’ from stolen valor claims against Semi Bird

While recovering from an injury sustained during the battle, the Green Beret heard Bird and his major had “written each other valor awards” for their supposed conduct.

“I got a good laugh at it at the time. That’s just a s*** show. That’s never gonna go anywhere because nobody ever saw them do anything,” he explained. “And then it just kind of disappeared off into the darkness, right? Didn’t hear anything else about it. Didn’t really care. But I was never asked or interviewed about any of the stuff because I’d been medevacked.”

The Green Beret says when Bird and the major’s awards were submitted, “There was immediate pushback in-house.”

He and others didn’t make too big a deal after the initial pushback because, he said, “We were in the middle of a war.”

‘Stolen Valor isn’t just some idiot at the mall wearing a combat award that he didn’t earn’

About five months later, the Green Beret says there was an awards ceremony that honored Bird’s major. He said he remembers Birds’ narrative to closely mirror what was submitted for his major.

He called the ceremony “bittersweet” because he had been jumping through hoops to get two other Special Forces recognized for their valorous conduct. He said he had to repeatedly nominate them before they were finally awarded Bronze Star medals.

“I finally got them approved. And in the same ceremony, there is this field grade who is having a valor award read for his actions during this same deployment. It was comical because of how long it took me to get guys who actually, really deserved something recognized. Two years, submitting over and over again” he said.

The Green Beret said there were other parts of the narrative that he knew other Special Forces were responsible, yet Bird and the major were taking the credit.

“That was probably the most unique and egregious type of aspect of this,” he said. “Stolen valor isn’t just some idiot at the mall wearing a combat award that he didn’t earn or whatever. But somebody who actually took credit for stuff that other people around him did. This is the first time I’ve ever seen or heard of that.”

A second Green Beret backs ‘Stolen Valor’ claims against Semi Bird

“The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH spoke with a second Green Beret and senior operator who took part in the firefight. He also said Bird was not responsible for what earned him the commendations.

“(The other Green Beret) killed one of the RPG firers. So that part where Misipati (Semi) Bird says that he shot and engaged and neutralized the guy that was shooting RPGs — that’s a blatant lie,” the second Green Beret told “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH.

He said this RPG enemy was the one directly in front of, and closest to, the truck Bird was in. He does not believe he could have been talking about another enemy fighter.

This second Green Beret also said he did not see Bird exit the disabled vehicle to help get it towed out. According to this Green Beret, who saw the operational summary report, no enemy KIA (“killed in action”) was attributed to Bird.

“(The other Green Beret) facilitated that hookup, not Misipati Bird. Bird didn’t get out of the truck and pull security, all those (are) complete lies,” he said.

He also questioned Bird’s concussion, calling it “an embellishment of bulls***.”

“What I will tell you is that Misipati Bird and this whole process, you know, he used this to gain favor and empower his career after that particular point, all the way up to now, including being the nominee for the Republican Party for the governorship of the state of Washington. And it’s all been built on a fabrication of lies,” he concluded.

‘This is personal. It’s very personal.”

When he saw that Bird and the major were up for a valor award, the second Green Beret says he remembers thinking, “This is such bulls**t.” But he also acknowledges that, at the time, the awards process for Special Forces “was absolutely broken.”

“This is personal. It’s very personal,” he explained. “And I’ll tell you, the biggest regret that I have about my time is not fighting hard enough for my teammates. Because they should have been — each one of them — should have had multiple awards recognizing, (and) acknowledging their valorous activities, the gallantry, that inconspicuous valor that they put their asses in harm’s way for, over and over.”

A fear of his is to see Bird’s stolen valor discredit the Green Berets — the “quiet professionals,” which is how Green Berets prefer to behave — and be used to advance a political career. He hoped  Bird would quietly go away after this news was revealed. He says this is an example of Green Berets trying to police themselves.

But this is not the only claim of “stolen valor” made against Bird.

The ‘scuba’ claim

The second Green Beret said Bird initially submitted a photo to the Army where he was wearing Scuba Diver Insignia on his uniform (it’s commonly referred to as a “scuba bubble”). It is earned after qualifying as a Special Forces combat diver. The Green Beret said Bird falsified this history as well.

When asked about his scuba bubble, the Green Beret said Bird could not recall basic and key facts about the scuba combat diver school in Key West, Florida. He initially told someone he thought the school was in “Key West, California,” according to a third military source.

“It is a very memorable experience. It will be one of the most physically challenging and exhausting activities you will participate in your life,” the Green Beret said.

He said that because Bird couldn’t explain his experiences particularly well, it led to the Pagan investigation. He called Bird “a snake slithering through the National Guard processing system.”

A third military source, who requested anonymity, confirmed this account.

Bird accepted the reprimand’s findings at the time

In a Dec. 9, 2010 memorandum in response to the letter of reprimand, obtained by “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, Bird wrote, “I first and foremost accept full responsibility for my actions.” Bird incorrectly dated the letter 2010 instead of 2009.

“The intent of this memorandum is to acknowledge the fact that I submitted false and inaccurate information in my Warrant Officer (WO) packet to include false NCOER’s in order to compensate for unrated time and meet the requirements for the WO program. My actions constitute nothing less than a fraud against the United States Army plain and simple,” Bird wrote.

He admitted that he “took advantage of the senior NCO’s and Officers in my chain of command” by betraying their trust and offered that “this incident has served as a wakeup call for me as a senior NCO.” He said he has submitted new forms, corrected records, and offered a new official photo “to correct the wrong I have perpetrated against the United States Army.”

Prior to this reprimand, Bird had been court-martialed for assaulting a sergeant while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. He said it was the result of the sergeant using a racial slur against him.

Bird pushes back on stolen valor concerns

Bird defended his record during a 67-minute phone interview May 24. He lamented that “it’s amazing how on Memorial Day we lost ourselves once again to try to discredit a veteran” and called the claims made against him “evil.”

The gubernatorial hopeful flatly denied taking credit for the actions of others. He pointed to documentation from the award narrative and his major’s witness account as proof.

Bird also alleged that, at the time, a senior noncommissioned officer from his unit “had a problem with me” and had been out to get him. He would not name the individual.

“This individual went so far as to a Judge Advocate General telling him, ‘If you continue to push this, we will file charges on you. I don’t know why you’re going after Bird so hard. But if you continue to do this, we will file charges on you. We verified his stuff. Why are you doing this?'” Bird recalled.

What “awards and badges” did Bird wear that he didn’t earn?

Bird also addressed the reprimand finding that he wore awards and badges that he did not earn.

Initially, Bird said he could only think of the scuba bubble badge. He denied telling anyone he said he trained in Key West and this resulted from a paperwork problem that prevented him from verifying that he attended training school.

Bird said there was an allegation made about an Aviator Badge he was wearing from his time as a flight medic. But he said that the National Guard “verified all of my awards and medals” when they “scrubbed” through his personnel form and the Aviator Badge “was verified.”

“That was it. So, when they (Pagan) say ‘awards and badges,’ that’s the terminology,” he said.

But that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Images: Washington Republican gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird has addressed the reprimand finding that he wore awards and badges that he did not earn.

Washington Republican gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird has addressed the reprimand finding that he wore awards and badges that he did not earn. (Photos obtained by “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH)

“The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH obtained two official Army photos: one taken before the reprimand, and one after. According to an independent third party expert who reviewed the photos for this story, between the photos, Bird appears to have removed the German Jump Wings, an oak leaf cluster on his Army Commendation Medal, and a star device on his National Defense Service Medal, in addition to the Special Forces Combat Divers Badge.

Promises of access to files were unfulfilled

Bird explained that he had documents on his computer in a folder titled “Slander” that would dispute claims made against him. During the interview, he promised to provide them to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH.

“I’m gonna give you everything, OK? I’m gonna give you so much more. Because at this point in time, I am sitting here with my wife … we signed up to try to do something good for our state … this is going to be good because I want everyone to know …,” he explained.

Hours after the call, attorney Matthew Taylor with Boise-based Taylor Law Offices emailed “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH. He said he would assist Bird in providing “additional answers or comments regarding your discussion about his military history” and that future requests should go through him, to be taken “under consideration.”

Initially, Taylor did not respond to multiple emails asking for the files and for clarification on what awards and badges were referenced in the reprimand to put better context to the photos. We had set a noon deadline for receiving these files. However, at 3:54 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28, Bird representatives contacted “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH requesting a meeting the following day, Wednesday, May 29. But he did not provide the promised documents. After careful consideration, we have decided to publish the story at 5 p.m. on May 28. Any new information or context provided by Bird’s representatives will be included in future updates.

Bird claimed confusion over the reprimand

When first asked about the reprimand, Bird went into detail about a rule violation, explaining what, why, and how everything happened. He said the reprimand was not supposed to be public, claiming it was “a reprimand that … happens all the time in the military. And my reprimand, again, was supposed to be buried.”

But he was talking about a separate incident unrelated to the Pagan reprimand.

Bird said he falsely attested on an evaluation sheet for a soldier in his unit, to help that soldier advance in his training. This incident had not been previously reported.

Bird explained that he merely confused this new incident with what Pagan found because this happened so long ago. He then said this incident didn’t lead to a reprimand. But he also claimed it was “the only reprimand I ever had” and claimed this incident “was supposed to be sealed.” This leaves an open question as to whether or not Bird actually did face a second reprimand tied to the incident he revealed.

“This is a duress moment for me. And I’m not trying to make excuses for it. I’m just being very, blatantly honest with you. There is truth in what I’m saying. But there’s a lot of confusion because I don’t recollect much of what you’re saying. I do recollect that firefight,” Bird said.

Former JAG breaks down the severity of Semi Bird stolen valor claims

“The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH shared the DOD documents and Bird interview with attorney Jeffrey Lustick for his review and expertise.

Lustick served in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps and was the director of Military Justice for the 1st Special Operation Wing and the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. He’s also a former Washington Air National Guard member and currently has a civilian legal practice with offices in Bellingham and Las Vegas.

“When you wear a badge, a ribbon, or medal on your uniform, and it’s something that you did not earn, it is potentially a criminal offense under Article 106(a) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and could result in brig (jail) time, (rank) reduction to Private, forfeitures of pay, and a bad conduct discharge,” Lustick explained to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH.

It’s also a crime under the UCMJ to make a false official statement under Article 107. Lustick says it has a maximum punishment of five years in prison, a reduction to E-1, and a possible dishonorable discharge.

Lustick explained that, “this can also be termed ‘stolen valor’ under civilian law and military law, and it’s a complete slap in the face when valor is stolen by a military member.”

In 2005, Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act to prohibit falsely representing oneself as having been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces or any service medals or badges. However, in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional. In response, Congress enacted a more limited version of the Stolen Valor Act in 2013. This revised act makes it illegal to falsely claim to have earned the top four valor awards, the Purple Heart, or combat-related qualification badges for financial gain or any tangible benefit.

Is this stolen valor under the law?

When asked if Bird’s case was one of stolen valor, Lustick said “it depends.”

“If his German Jump Wings and the ‘scuba bubble badge’ and a cluster on his ribbon rack are all fake, it’s probably a minor case, except it’s even more aggravated when done by a Special Operations soldier who tells lies like this and get others involved in telling the lies,” he said.

If Bird’s Bronze Star with Valor device wasn’t actually earned, then Lustick calls it “a clear case of stolen valor and it’s no wonder why members of Bird’s Green Beret Team are still talking about this several years later. It’s not an axe to grind. It would be about trying to get Bird to stop stretching the truth.”

“There is a professional culture within the Special Operations Community, which is made up of Army Green Berets and Rangers, Navy Seals, Marine Raiders, Air Force Pararescue and Combat Controllers, and other not so publicly well known operators,” Lustick explained. “They describe themselves as being ‘silent professionals’ who often shrug off individual accomplishments as a simple fulfillment of their difficult duties. This is their personal ethos that they live by all throughout their careers.”

Why did this only earn a reprimand?

After reading the General Officer Letter of Reprimand given to Bird for the 2009 incident, Lustick said that was “surprised that he being such a senior NCO with 17 years of experience, that it didn’t result in at least non-judicial punishment, which is when a commanding officer calls out the misconduct and the soldier agrees to accept punishment.”

Lustick speculates Bird only faced a letter of reprimand because there’s “a gray area” involving members of the Army National Guard regarding whether they serve in a federal or state status.

“But National Guardsmen also serve sometimes in positions with the Department of the Army or the Department of the Air Force, where they change status day by day. They become federalized for special duties or when receiving federal training and then revert back to state status,” Lustick noted.

The ‘gray area’ explained

When a National Guard member is not in a federal status, they do not automatically fall under the jurisdiction of the UCMJ.

“A senior NCO who is a Special Operator and who wears badges and ribbons he didn’t earn to embellish his record is not tolerated within the SOF community. Plus, as the letter of reprimand also says, this NCO got others to help him carry out the fraud submit a fraudulent special selection application. That’s almost always going to result in a court-martial if the person doing it is on active duty in a federal status.” Lustick explained.

It is unclear if Bird was on federal orders and, therefore, in a federal status when he received the Letter or Reprimand. If Bird had been in the National Guard in Washington at the time, then jurisdiction would have fallen to the Washington State Adjutant General, who at the time was Air Force Lt. General Frank Scoggins.

Image: A group of people in attendance at the Washington State Republican Party 2024 Convention hold up signs supporting Semi Bird as the gubernatorial candidate they wish to endorse.

A group of people in attendance at the Washington State Republican Party 2024 Convention hold up signs supporting Semi Bird as the gubernatorial candidate they wish to endorse. (Photo provided by the Semi Bird for Governor campaign)

Lustick was one of a few military prosecutors for the Washington Guard until late 2008 and says, “Bird’s name never came up. When the SOCSOUTH JAGs handled this, they apparently never reported what had happened to us.”

Political implications with Semi Bird stolen valor claims and official reprimand

Bird, a former Richland School Board Director, earned the Washington State Republican endorsement after a somewhat contentious party convention in April.

Delegates endorsed Bird over his Republican opponent, former King County Sheriff and U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert. It was an early endorsement for the party, intended to help keep Republicans focused on backing the candidate with the best chance of winning in the general.

The endorsement vote was initially called off at the convention. Party leadership said Bird “was not forthcoming” during the vetting process. It was a reference to a 1993 conviction on a federal misdemeanor charge of bank larceny. The Seattle Times reported it was connected to falsifying a credit application “with intent to steal and purloin” funds from U.S. Bank. Bird used the name and social security number of his father on the application. He said he takes full responsibility for the incident.

Delegates overturned the decision to nix the endorsement and voted to back Bird.

Will a reprimand and claims of stolen valor end the Semi Bird campaign?

It’s hard to imagine that stolen valor claims, and an admission of falsifying records to defraud the Army, won’t leave even the Semi Bird campaign supporters with questions about his conduct.

For Lustick, the letter of reprimand and Bird’s response make it clear: he can’t be trusted.

“I think it calls into question a lot of claims that he’s made about his military service. I think it calls into question about his ability to be truthful and honest. And this is not the type of person that you should trust moving forward,” Lustick said. “Because if you will put yourself in front of soldiers who have died, who have been permanently injured, who have given their lives for military service, and you’re trying to claim that you did the same thing when in reality you didn’t, that is despicable, and certainly should not be something that we overlook.”

But Bird contends he will not allow this “slander” to stop him his gubernatorial campaign.

“But here’s what’s not going to happen. I’m not going to quit. I’m not getting off the ballot. They’ve already tried to character assassinate me. So now, here’s this,” Bird said to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH.

Listen to “The Jason Rantz Show” on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and  Facebook.

Image: Washington Republican gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird speaks at a Veterans Day event at th...
A driver with an Oregon-based medical care nonprofit is fatally shot in Ethiopia while in a convoy Tue, 28 May 2024 23:34:15 +0000

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A staff member with an Oregon medical care nonprofit was killed when the team he was traveling with in a convoy was fired upon in Ethiopia, officials said Monday.

Mustefa Alkisim was a Medical Teams International driver traveling in the insecure Amhara region of Ethiopia Friday when men fired at the group, organization spokesperson Karen Kartes Piatt said in an email. Alkisim was killed and other staff members were injured, she said.

“As we mourn the loss of our colleague, we honor his memory and dedication to his work,” a post on the organization’s Facebook page said.

At this time, the faith-based organization said it does not believe the shooting was an intentional, targeted attack on the staff or the organization, which was founded in 1979 and provides medical care for people in crisis, such as survivors of natural disasters and refugees.

“We are closely reviewing and addressing the circumstances surrounding this tragic loss and determining next steps as an organization,” a news release from the organization said.

Medical Teams adheres to the humanitarian principle of neutrality, never taking sides in conflicts, according to the news release.

“Yet increasingly, armed actors fail to adhere to International Humanitarian Law, outlined in the Geneva Conventions, which requires them to take steps to ensure protection of humanitarian workers,” the news release said.

Last year, 260 aid workers worldwide were killed, a 120% increase over the previous year, the nonprofit said, adding that this “disturbing” trend has continued into 2024.

Medical Teams began providing medical services in Ethiopia in April 2021, and is currently serving refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict-affected communities in five regions of the country.

Federal forces in Ethiopia are engaging in fighting with several rebel groups in its regions as well as ethnic-related insurgencies, which have led to deaths and the displacement of people. Rebel groups are based in Amhara.

European-Japanese climate research satellite launched from California aboard SpaceX rocket Tue, 28 May 2024 23:11:28 +0000

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A European-Japanese climate research satellite designed to study Earth’s temperature balance was launched into orbit from California on Tuesday.

The EarthCARE satellite lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Space Force Base atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:20 p.m. The satellite was successfully deployed about 10 minutes later, SpaceX said on the launch webcast.

The name EarthCARE is short for Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer.

The satellite is equipped with four instruments to study the role of clouds and aerosols — particles suspended in the atmosphere — in reflecting solar radiation back into space and trapping infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface.

The research is a cooperative project between the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

After stage separation, the reusable Falcon 9 first stage booster landed back at Vandenberg, completing its seventh flight.

El Niño’s exit paves way for hurricane-force winds in Western Washington Tue, 28 May 2024 22:39:54 +0000 The National Hurricane Center and its parent organization, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), recently released this season’s hurricane outlook which begins on June 1.

The Pacific Northwest does not get hurricanes but does get hurricane-force winds with strong north Pacific storms that manage to brush the coast or track inland. Yet for those with relatives and friends who live in hurricane-prone areas along the east and gulf coasts, or if you plan to visit these regions, this outlook can be quite important in early readiness.

The outlook focused on yet another high-activity tropical cyclone season in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions that began in the mid-1990s. There are 17 to 25 named storms anticipated, eight to 13 of which are expected to become hurricanes, and four to seven strengthening to major hurricanes — Category 3 or higher.

From soggy to sunny: This week’s Washington weather roller coaster

The hurricane wind scale ranges from a Category 1 with sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph, a Category 3 of 111 to 129 mph, to the top Category — a 5 with sustained winds of 157 mph or higher. To give perspective, the granddaddy of all non-tropical wind storms to strike the lower 48 in American history, the 1962 Columbus Day Storm, had winds of up to 150 mph along the Oregon and Washington coasts, and in excess of 100 mph in the western interior valleys from Eugene, Oregon, to Vancouver, BC.

The primary reason for the anticipated high number of tropical cyclones is the record warmth of sea surface temperatures from the African coast to the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard. Those sea surface temperatures are already well into the 80s.

Tropical cyclones feed off warm waters of 80 degrees or warmer, and can rapidly intensify with these record warm waters. An example last October in the eastern Pacific was hurricane Otis which intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in less than 24 hours before making landfall in Mexico.

More weather: Does Washington get tornadoes? Here’s what you need to know

Another key reason for the expected high number of tropical cyclones is that El Niño has ended. El Niño tends to tear apart Atlantic tropical cyclones. With the El Niño weather pattern removed, these tropical cyclones have more room to strengthen, hence the more active hurricane outlook for this season.

It is important to prepare in advance for any tropical cyclones. Not only do they produce strong damaging winds, but also heavy rain amounts and flooding, and even tornadoes. But most important is wind-driven storm surge. Since the 1960s, more than half of all tropical cyclone fatalities have involved storm surge flooding. There are a number of storm surge examples, but one significant recent event was Hurricane Katrina which struck Louisiana and Mississippi, resulting in over 1,300 fatalities.

So if you have friends and relatives in these hurricane-prone regions, they need to prepare for what may be a very active hurricane season. If you plan to visit these same areas this summer or early fall, know in advance of any potential incoming storms and prepare ahead of time. Waiting until the storm approaches may be too late.

Ted Buehner is the KIRO Newsradio meteorologist. You can read more of Ted’s stories here and follow him on X.

Photo: This Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023, satellite image shows Hurricane Lee, right, off in the centra...
Former California water official pleads guilty to conspiring to steal water from irrigation canal Tue, 28 May 2024 22:30:19 +0000

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A former California water official has pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal water in a deal with federal prosecutors in the state’s crop-rich Central Valley.

The Los Angeles Times reports Tuesday that 78-year-old Dennis Falaschi, who used to head the Panoche Water District, entered the plea in federal court in Fresno. He also pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return.

Falaschi was accused in a case that alleged that more than $25 million in water was stolen over two decades when it was siphoned from a federal irrigation canal through a secret pipe and sold to farmers and other water districts. The Panoche Water District supplies irrigation for farmland in Fresno and Merced counties — much of it from the federal Delta-Mendota canal.

Authorities said in court documents that Falaschi wasn’t the only one taking water, but did not specify who else was involved. They estimated Falaschi stole less than $3.5 million in water, a small portion of what they initially alleged had been stolen.

The case comes as California has embarked on a yearslong effort to conserve water use by passing a groundbreaking law to regulate groundwater pumping, encouraging urban users to replace thirsty lawns with more drought-friendly landscaping and ramping up water storage efforts to help the state navigate expected dry years ahead.

The state moved to reduce groundwater use after overpumping led farmers to drill deeper for water and some rural wells to grow dry. The prospect of pumping limits has worried California farmers who grow much of the country’s fresh produce.

Falaschi, who has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in any additional investigations, is scheduled to be sentenced in September. He declined to speak with the newspaper after Tuesday’s hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Barton also declined to comment.

Prosecutors build their case at bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez with emails and texts Tue, 28 May 2024 22:28:20 +0000

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors were presenting their bribery case against New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez drip-by-drip on Tuesday, showing jurors a steady stream of documents, emails and phone records that they’ll explain more thoroughly later in the trial.

The evidence was being shown to Manhattan federal court jurors through the testimony of an FBI agent as the government slowly presents its case against the Democratic lawmaker.

Menendez, 70, is on trial with two New Jersey businessmen who prosecutors say paid him bribes, including gold bars and cash, over the last seven years so that he’d use his power as a senator to help them out.

All three have pleaded not guilty. The trial, in its third week, resumed for the first time in a week.

Some evidence being presented without commentary probably seemed familiar to jurors based on earlier testimony and opening statements.

For instance, prosecutors had asserted that the senator aided the Egyptian government by giving it sensitive information, including the number of Americans and Egyptians who worked at the U.S. embassy.

Jurors were shown a progression of text messages, emails and phone records that showed that Menendez requested that information in early May 2018 and then passed it along to his then-girlfriend, Nadine Arslanian.

She relayed that information to Wael Hana, a businessman who prosecutors said parlayed his connections to Egyptian officials and friendship with Arslanian and the senator into a deal that enabled his company to monopolize the certification of all meat exported from the U.S. to Egypt as adhering to Islamic dietary requirements.

Hana, one of two businessmen on trial with Menendez, then relayed the facts to an Egyptian official, according to the evidence shown to jurors.

Earlier in the trial, a U.S. diplomat formerly based in Egypt testified that the cost of certifying the meat rose dramatically after Hana’s company gained control of a certification process that had previously been handled by four companies.

Defense lawyers, though, say the details about the makeup of staff at the U.S. embassy already was in public documents and was not sensitive information.

Menendez, who began dating Arslanian in 2018, married her in 2020. Now known as Nadine Menendez, she is charged in the case as well, but her trial was postponed until at least July after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed immediate treatment. She too has pleaded not guilty.

The trial resumes Wednesday.

Authorities urge proper cooking of wild game after 6 relatives fall ill from parasite in bear meat Tue, 28 May 2024 22:04:54 +0000

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reaffirmed the importance of properly cooking wild game after six people became sick from a parasite traced to undercooked bear meat that was served at a family reunion in South Dakota.

The six — one in South Dakota, four in Minnesota and one in Arizona — became infected when bear meat that was served rare turned out to be contaminated with roundworms that cause trichinellosis, also known as trichinosis. Two of the people ate only the vegetables that were grilled with the meat. While the meat had been frozen for 45 days, the trichinella worms were from a freeze-resistant species.

“Persons who consume meat from wild game animals should be aware that that adequate cooking is the only reliable way to kill Trichinella parasites and that infected meat can cross-contaminate other food,” the CDC said in its report on the outbreak last week.

The first case turned up after the 2022 reunion in a 29-year-old Minnesota man who had been hospitalized twice with fever, muscle aches and pain and swelling around his eyes, among other abnormalities. A sample of the meat, from a black bear harvested in Saskatchewan, tested positive. Three of the victims were hospitalized in all. All six, ranging in age from 12 to 62, eventually recovered.

Trichinellosis has become rare in the U.S. While it was once commonly associated with undercooked pork, most U.S. cases nowadays are attributed to consumption of wild game. From 2016 to 2022, seven outbreaks, including 35 probable and confirmed cases, were reported to the CDC. Bear meat was the suspected or confirmed source in most of those outbreaks.

The larvae can settle into intestinal, muscle, heart and brain tissues, according to the National Institutes of Health. Most patients fully recover within two to six months.

The CDC recommends cooking wild game to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius), as verified with a meat thermometer. Meat color is not a good indicator. The family members ate some of the meat before realizing it was undercooked and recooking it, the report said. Raw and undercooked meat and their juices should be kept separate from other foods.

Hackers target Seattle Public Library system Tue, 28 May 2024 22:02:44 +0000 As the Seattle Public Library (SPL) was preparing to go offline for maintenance over the holiday weekend, it became aware of what it stated was a “ransomware event.”

“We’re dealing with some bad actors here, and it’s impacting the community. It’s impacting our system and our staff,” SPL spokesperson Laura Gentry told KIRO Newsradio.

She said they became aware of the attack Saturday morning and took all of their systems offline.

“Basically, any system that needs to connect to the internet is down, right now. That includes things like our online catalog, our staff and public computers, access to e-books and e-audio books, and even our website, at this time,” Gentry explained.

Gentry did not go into details about the ransomware attack, but typically cybercriminals use malware to block users from accessing their data until they pay a ransom to the hacker.

SPL stated in a news release that it quickly engaged third-party forensic specialists, contacted law enforcement and took systems fully offline to assess the impact.

“With our external partners, we continue to investigate the source of this disruption and are working as quickly and diligently as we can to confirm the extent of the impacts and restore full functionality to our systems. Privacy and security of patron and employee information are top priorities,” stated the news release.

Other news: Will the minimum wage for delivery drivers in Seattle be lowered?

SPL said the systems will remain offline until they can ensure security.

“Unfortunately we don’t have a timeline for resolution at this time. I don’t want to make any promises,” Gentry said. “We’re working as hard as we can to bring any and all systems back online securely.”

The library stated it will continue to release updates.

“We are an organization that prides itself on providing you answers, and we are sorry that the information we can share is limited. At this time, securing and restoring our systems is where we are focused. We will update you in this space as we make progress on that work,” the release continued. “We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this difficult situation.”

However, the library is still open to patrons. SPL said people are welcome to enjoy spaces; check out physical books, CDs and DVDs in paper forms and that staff will continue to answer referral and reference questions.

The library also said while patrons cannot currently place holds, they are welcome to pick up holds already on the shelf. Also, people are encouraged to hold onto their materials a bit longer as the library will not charge daily late fines until the system is back up.

SPL also asks people to bring their physical library card or card number. It also noted that library summer hours will start June 20 and several locations will be open longer.

Seattle Public Library faces budget cuts, staffing shortages

In April, SPL announced it was closing 22 or its 27 locations for at least one day per week until the beginning of June, amid increasingly problematic staffing shortages and safety concerns.

In March at a Seattle City Council meeting, librarians expressed their frustrations, reported KIRO 7.

More deficits: Seattle Public Schools’ budget in disarray, could close 20 elementary schools

“When libraries close, it means the whole community loses a place to turn for learning and joy and safety and connection with each other,” Jacob, a local librarian, said according to KIRO 7.

Council member Tammy Morales released a statement stating she is worried the City of Seattle budget deficit will affect the libraries.

“This is a wake-up call for our city. Without urgent action, things will get so much worse than this. The City of Seattle is facing a more than $240 million budget deficit. There’s no way to cut that much from the budget without decimating essential services like our libraries, work on homelessness, and public safety programs for years to come,” Morales said.

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

Photo: Seattle Public Library...
Seattle Police Department faces staffing shortages causing slower response times Tue, 28 May 2024 21:49:43 +0000 Despite a very public push to recruit new officers, staffing challenges and response times have changed very little within the Seattle Police Department (SPD), according to an updated report presented to the Seattle City Council Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

After grappling with unexpected officer separations over the past three years, SPD is still not hiring enough officers to replace those who have left. While the rate of officer separations has become more predictable and is steadily decreasing, the department is now on track to hire even fewer recruits than last year.

The department had 1,002 fully trained officers at the end of 2023, but new estimates expect that number to drop by 10 officers to 992 by the end of 2024. SPD’s original 2024 staffing plan assumed 120 hires and 105 separations. SPD is now planning for 20 fewer hires and five fewer separations in 2024.

The new projections reflect changes realized in the first quarter. The projections are not adjusted for future months (April-Dec 2024), which are likely to produce fewer hires than previously planned.

‘Personally alarmed’: Seattle police chief presents ideas as officer numbers sink

SPD staffing woes have impact on public safety metrics

SPD’s staffing woes are having a noticeable impact on public safety metrics. Response times for emergency calls are worsening as the department struggles to maintain adequate staffing levels. SPD’s response time goal for a priority one call is a 7-minute median time, meaning half of the calls were over 7 minutes and the other half were less than 7 minutes.

A priority one call is when someone’s life could be in danger. Priority two is still an emergency but not life-threatening, potentially resulting in an injury. Priority three is a non-emergency incident like a noise complaint or illegal campfire, requiring an officer to respond to take a follow-up report.

From January to March 2024, the median response time citywide was 7.9 minutes, with an average response time of 11.4 minutes. For priority two calls, the median was 33.1 minutes, and the average was 75.7 minutes. For priority three calls, the median was 81.8 minutes, and the average was 154.5 minutes, more than 2.5 hours.

Comparing the first quarter of 2024 to the same period last year, all five precincts lagged behind their 2023 average and median response times for all priority calls, except in the Southwest Precinct, which improved priority two call times. The West Precinct, which is in downtown Seattle, had the best median response time at 6.3 minutes, while the Northwest Precinct, the largest geographically in the city, had the worst median time at 9.8 minutes.

Council President Sara Nelson expressed concern over reassigning detectives and beat cops to patrol due to staffing issues.

“If we have removed the investigators and put them into patrol, that means we can’t do proactive policing; we are just responding to emergency calls,” Nelson said.

‘SPD is dying’: What Seattle police officers are saying during exit interviews

SPD faces budget issues

Compounding these issues is SPD’s budget management. As of the first quarter of 2024, the department has already spent 24% of its annual overtime budget. Projections suggest that SPD may overspend its overtime budget by the end of the year. The current hiring shortfalls have inadvertently provided salary savings of $3 million that could be used to offset the potential overtime budget overspend. However, this balance is precarious and may shift if hiring improves and overtime spending continues to rise.

Council member Rob Saka questioned the need for executive protection for Chief Adrian Diaz, suggesting it could represent a cost-saving measure if reduced.

“We normally would expect to have executive protection for the mayor versus chiefs of police without a response to a specific threat,” Saka said.

The impact of the recently passed CB 120776, aimed at improving SPD’s recruitment and retention, has yet to be felt due to delays and the recent approval of a 23% retroactive pay raise for officers. SPD’s ability to manage its budget effectively in the coming months will largely depend on its success in recruiting new officers and controlling overtime expenditures. The department’s leadership is under pressure to address these challenges promptly to prevent further deterioration of response times and to maintain public safety.

Matt Markovich often covers the state legislature and public policy for KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of Matt’s stories here. Follow him on X, or email him here.

Photo: SPD responds to a shooting amid staffing shortages....
Pilot injured after a military fighter jet crashes near international airport in Albuquerque Tue, 28 May 2024 21:34:33 +0000

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A military fighter jet on its way to an Air Force base in California crashed Tuesday near the international airport in New Mexico’s largest city, sending up a large plume of smoke and injuring the pilot.

The pilot, the only person on board, was able to escape after crashing around 2 p.m. on a hillside on the south side of Albuquerque’s airport and was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, according to the city’s fire department.

U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin identified the downed plane as an F-35 that left Fort Worth, Texas, earlier Tuesday and was headed to Edwards Air Force Base near Los Angeles. A spokesperson for Lockheed said in an email to The Associated Press that the fighter jet crashed after the pilot stopped to refuel at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Neither of the Air Force bases immediately responded to requests for more information.

Located on the southern edge of Albuquerque, Kirtland is home to the 377th Air Base Wing, which conducts nuclear operations and trains and equips expeditionary forces. It’s also home to the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Patrick White, who was driving in the area at the time of the crash, told AP that he saw the aircraft trailing low to the ground, kicking up a cloud of dirt and dust. He said it briefly disappeared from his line of sight, and then he saw “an enormous plume of black smoke.”

When he drove past the crash, he said he saw a piece of the fighter jet in the middle of the road.

It marks the second crash of a military plane in New Mexico in the past month. In April, an F-16 Fighting Falcon went down in a remote area near Holloman Air Force Base in the southern part of the state, leaving that pilot with minor injuries after he ejected from the aircraft.

Reno police officer who accidentally shot suspect pulled trigger when hit by another officer’s Taser Tue, 28 May 2024 21:20:58 +0000

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A Reno police officer accidentally shot an unarmed suspect in 2020 when he flinched and pulled the trigger on his service revolver in an inadvertent response to being stuck by a Taser fired by another officer, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks cleared Officer Richard Jager of any criminal wrongdoing with the release of a report on the investigation of the non-fatal, officer-involved shooting. The neighboring Sparks Police Department led the investigation.

The suspect, Christopher Sheahan, was treated at a hospital and survived the single gunshot wound to the shoulder. He was found guilty of one count of resisting a public officer in February 2022 and ultimately sentenced to one day in jail, Hicks said.

Jager, who was in his second week on the job after recently graduating from the law enforcement academy, was treated at a local hospital where the Taser probe was removed from his knee. No one else was hurt.

The shooting occurred on July 26, 2020, when several officers surrounded Sheahan, who was failing to comply with their commands in a parking lot following a traffic incident. Sheahan told the initial responding officer he had some mental issues, and he exhibited erratic behavior, including removing clothing during the confrontation, according to the investigative report.

Eventually, Washoe County sheriff’s deputy George Cholico, a 15-year veteran of the force, “reasonably” concluded the only way to gain Sheahan’s compliance was to utilize his Taser, Hicks wrote in the report.

“Unfortunately, Deputy Cholico’s Taser partially missed its target, with a single Taser probe striking Officer Jager in the right knee. The embedding of the Taser probe into Officer Jager’s knee caused him to flinch and inadvertently pull the trigger of his firearm resulting in a single bullet strike to Sheahan’s right shoulder,” Hicks said.

“The evidence from the entirety of the investigation demonstrates that Officer Jager’s discharge of his firearm was not willful, but accidental. In other words, Officer Jager lacked the willful intent to shoot Sheahan,” he wrote.

Hicks said the investigation of the shooting and subsequent evaluation of whether any criminal charges were warranted included the review of hundreds of pages of reports and documents, interviews with police and witnesses, as well as photographs, 911 calls, video recordings and an examination of the shooting scene.

Hicks said that Sheahan told investigators during an interview while he was recovering at the hospital that he failed to follow the officers’ commands multiple times. He said he was trying to let officers know he did not have any weapons by emptying his pockets.

“Sheahan acknowledged that `I should have just listened to the officer’s orders and not gotten out of my car and freaked out like I did,'” Hicks wrote. He also apologized and expressed “his gratitude to the officers administering first aid and `saving my life.’”

Michigan State Police trooper charged with second-degree murder in death of Kentwood man Tue, 28 May 2024 20:54:05 +0000

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan State Police trooper who drove his unmarked SUV into a 25-year-old Kentwood man that was fleeing from police has been charged with second-degree murder.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the charges against Detective Sergeant Brian Keely on Tuesday after Michigan State Police earlier this month concluded their investigation into the April 17 death of Samuel Sterling and released body camera footage showing the collision.

“Detective Sergeant Keely’s actions that day were legally, grossly negligent and created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm, which could have otherwise been prevented,” Nessel said in a video statement announcing the charges.

The death of Sterling, a Black man, has reignited anger in a community still recovering from the death of Patrick Lyoya just over two years ago. Lyoya, also Black, died after a Grand Rapids police officer shot him in the back of the head during a traffic stop. The shooting, captured on a bystander’s phone, sparked protests. The former Officer Christopher Schurr has been charged with second-degree murder in that case and has pleaded not guilty

In Sterling’s case, police say he fled from officers on foot on April 17 after they approached him at a Kentwood gas station — located just outside Grand Rapids — and attempted to take him into custody on multiple outstanding warrants.

A 15-minute video of the incident released May 10, which includes body and dash camera footage from three separate police agencies, shows police chasing Sterling as they instruct him to stop and put his hands in the air. As Sterling runs past a Burger King, he is struck by an unmarked car and pinned against the building’s wall.

Sterling can be heard moaning in pain as police call for an ambulance. He died later that day in the hospital.

Nessel filed a second-degree murder charge with an alternative involuntary manslaughter charge. No arraignment date has been set, Nessel said.

Marc Curtis, an attorney representing Keely, said in a statement that Nessel “has chosen to ignore the facts of this incident and rely on political pressure.” He said that while the loss of Sterling’s life “is tragic and can never be replaced,” it could have been avoided if Sterling had “simply complied with the commands of the detectives.”

Ven Johnson, an attorney for Sterling’s family, said they support Nessel’s decision.

Keely — who was not identified until charges were announced — “was not wearing a body-worn camera due to his assignment on a federal task force, and the unmarked vehicle he was driving was not equipped with an in-car camera,” according to a May 10 statement. Keely was suspended, said Col. James F. Grady II, director of the Michigan State Police, in an April 18 statement.

Police have said Sterling was “wanted on multiple warrants” but have not expanded on what the warrants were.

Michigan Department of Correction records show Sterling had violated the terms of his probation in June 2022 after he was convicted off carrying a concealed weapon, being a felon in possession of a firearm and stealing a financial transaction device.

Top state lawmakers swiftly denounced the officer’s actions after the footage was released. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Sterling’s death “unacceptable” and a “departure” from normal protocols. She has said she expects the state to “take steps to terminate the trooper’s employment if criminal charges are issued.”

Federal investigation of former Ohio House speaker ends with no charges filed Tue, 28 May 2024 20:22:33 +0000

COLYUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Federal officials have notified Ohio’s former House speaker that they have closed their investigation of him and he will not face any charges.

Cliff Rosenberger, a Republican from Wilmington, had resigned the post in 2018 after it went public that he was the target of a federal probe into his travel and spending practices in public office. He has long maintained that he did not commit any wrongdoing.

Kenneth Parker, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, sent a letter to Rosenberg’s lawyers last week stating that “extremely unique facts and circumstances” led him to determine that Rosenberger is no longer the subject or target of an investigation. Parker did not elaborate on the decision.

“I cannot express my gratitude to all of my family and friends that stood by me over the last six years,” Rosenberger said in a statement. “It feels so good to finally be vindicated of all charges.”

Rosenberger was elected Ohio House speaker in 2015. He resigned three years later after federal investigators seized state records documenting his out-of-state travel.