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San Jose faces grim record after traffic fatality

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – Another person has died from a car crash on San Jose streets: this crash has San Jose breaking a grim record of now 61 deadly traffic fatalities. 

A pedestrian was hit and killed last night in south San Jose at the intersection of Perrymont Avenue and Little Orchard near the Plant Shopping Center around 7:30 p.m.

Police said the pedestrian died at the scene and the driver cooperated with the investigation.

On Monday, KRON4 News reported last year there was a total of 60 people who died from a car crash in San Jose, and we now with three weeks left in the year, the city has surpassed that.

Police confirmed that of the 61 people who have died this year, 31 were pedestrians. 

So what are San Jose officials doing about it? Police are enforcing speeding, the No. 1 reason for crashes. 

The transportation department is spending nearly a million dollars on a marketing campaign to change driver behavior and completing quick build projects to prevent more accidents from occurring.

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A transportation official advised people to really pay attention to the speed limit, weather conditions and make sure you put your phone down while driving.

People are driving too fast, distracted and under the influence at times as well.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/san-jose-faces-grim-record-after-traffic-fatality/

On-ramp closed after fatal collision in East Bay: CHP

DUBLIN (BCN) – The California Highway Patrol reported a fatal collision in Dublin early Thursday on northbound Interstate Highway 680 has closed the connecting on-ramp from westbound Interstate Highway 580.

Officers responded to a 3:08 a.m. report of a vehicle collision with a guard rail.

A SigAlert was issued at 3:48 a.m. closing the connection from westbound I-580 to northbound I-680. The CHP had no estimate when the connection will reopen.

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This is a developing story and more details will be shared when they become available.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/on-ramp-closed-after-fatal-collision-in-east-bay-chp/

Santa Clara supes vote to let newly elected sheriff start early in wake of predecessor’s resignation

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (BCN)– Santa Clara County Sheriff-elect Bob Jonsen will assume his duties one month early after his embattled predecessor abruptly resigned in October. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Jonsen as sheriff before officially taking office in January.

Jonsen will start on an interim basis Thursday after the election is certified by the county Registrar of Voters. He’ll officially be sworn in as sheriff on Jan. 2.

Jonsen said he’s ready to take on his new job, adding he’s already set up meetings to connect with the force. “I’m very excited about this and the organization is excited about moving forward,” Jonsen told San Jose Spotlight.

“This is an opportunity to really engage with the workforce and hopefully ease any anxiety (when) there’s a transition.” Supervisor Otto Lee said the appointment is necessary to fill the vacancy.

“There’s a lot of healing to repair the distractions that need to happen in the sheriff’s office, and the sheriff-elect should be given the opportunity to start the healing now,” Lee said at the meeting. “This is just the first step in getting back that trust (that) has been lost over the years.”

Jonsen, former Palo Alto police chief, emerged victorious after a hard-fought election last month. He beat out four other candidates, including retired sheriff Capt. Kevin Jensen in the November election.

Jonsen will be the 29th sheriff of Santa Clara County and the first new sheriff since 1998. Jonsen served as chief with Palo Alto Police Department starting in 2018, following five years as police chief in Menlo Park. Before that, he worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for roughly three decades.

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The county’s decision to appoint Jonsen one month ahead of his start date comes after his predecessor, former Sheriff Laurie Smith, resigned Oct. 31 ahead of the verdict of her civil trial for corruption charges. Smith, who announced in March she would not seek reelection, has faced a saga of scrutiny over a pay-to-play scheme including formal corruption charges from a grand jury.

A jury found Smith guilty of corruption and willful misconduct last month for failing to report gifts and awarding concealed carry permits to friends and campaign donors. Undersheriff Ken Binder has served as acting head at the sheriff’s office since November.

Smith was also at the center of another controversy involving a spate of inmate injuries and one death at county jails resulting in supervisors voting no confidence in her leadership and the California attorney general opening an investigation into the injuries. Some residents expressed concerns with the appointment, citing allegations that Jonsen was a member of a deputy gang known as the Grim Reapers when he worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

But Bob Nunez, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP, said the organization looked into the claims and found them unfounded. “I see no reason not to appoint Bob Jonsen as the interim (sheriff) until he is sworn in,” Nunez said. “We are supporting this (appointment).”

According to county rules, supervisors must find a replacement for Smith through an appointment process or an election. Because Jonsen won the November election, county officials said it makes sense to let him take the helm of the department early.

“Public trust in the sheriff’s office must be restored, and I commend Bob Jonsen’s expressed commitment toward that goal,” Supervisor Susan Ellenberg told San Jose Spotlight. “Our community expects transparency and accountability, and I look forward to Bob’s leadership.”

The Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Santa Clara County, which has 500 members in the sheriff’s office, said the union is ready to work with Jonsen. “It is imperative that the transition to new leadership be as seamless as possible,” President Ryan Elder told San Jose Spotlight.

“We have already had a productive conversation with the new sheriff and pledge to work together to improve the safety of Santa Clara County residents.” Jonsen, who has roughly 40 years of combined experience with three law enforcement agencies, promises to address the mental health crisis in county jails.

In Palo Alto, he oversaw the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) launch, which operates under Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Services, pairing mental health clinicians with officers to respond to mental health distress calls. The sheriff-elect also vows to bring transparency to a law enforcement agency mired with yearslong controversy.

“The department wants leadership that’s engaged in the organization, setting the expectations, making the modifications that need to be made so that we can continue to serve the community,” Jonsen said. “One of the biggest issues that we’re gonna be working on is obviously enhancing the transparency and accountability measures. That’s gonna require a lot of collaboration with the unions and community stakeholders.”

Copyright © 2022 Bay City News, Inc.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/santa-clara-supes-vote-to-let-newly-elected-sheriff-start-early-in-wake-of-predecessors-resignation/

Iowa parents allegedly drowned baby in bathtub just after birth, affidavit says

FORT DODGE, Iowa (WHO) – New details about the death of an Iowa newborn and the investigation that resulted in murder charges against her parents have been revealed in court documents.

Brandon Thoma, 31, and Taylor Blaha, 24, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of their newborn daughter. Thoma is also charged with abuse of a corpse. Fort Dodge Police Department announced the arrests Wednesday.

According to an affidavit in the case, law enforcement received a call from an Iowa Department of Human Services employee on Nov. 22 informing them that Blaha allegedly admitted to giving birth to a baby at her residence and the body had been buried at an undisclosed location.

During a detective’s interview with Blaha, the affidavit claims she became aware in April that she was pregnant with Thoma’s child. The pair already share a 2-year-old son.

Blaha allegedly told the detective she gave birth to a baby girl on November 16, 2022, in the bathroom of the couple’s apartment. She said Thoma was in the bedroom while she gave birth, but once the child was born he went into the bathroom.

The court document said the child was born alive and was crying and moving her arms and legs. Blaha told the detective she and Thoma named the child Kayleen Lee Blaha.

According to the affidavit, after the birth, Blaha asked for and was given methamphetamine by Thoma to help with the pain of birth.

Blaha allegedly told the detective she and Thoma had no plans to keep the baby and were going to allow Blaha’s sister to adopt her.

The crying of the baby caused the pair to worry their neighbors would hear and contact law enforcement. That’s when, according to the affidavit, they both placed the newborn in the half-filled bathtub and pushed her underwater by placing their hands on the baby’s chest, resulting in her death.

During a statement on Dec. 7, the charging document said Thoma told police he and Blaha were afraid their 2-year-old son would be taken away if law enforcement got involved and learned the newborn baby had methamphetamine in her system.

After the baby had died, Blaha told the detective Thoma removed the child’s body and placed it in a plastic storage container, wrapped her in multiple plastic bags, and then into a black backpack. Thoma said he left their apartment with the backpack and returned later.

Text messages between Blaha and Thoma showed Thoma initially disposed of the baby’s body in a wooded area near the Kenyon Road Bridge. A search of that area by law enforcement did not reveal the child’s remains.

On Dec. 5, the affidavit said Thoma told law enforcement he would take them to where he discarded the child’s body, a rural area north of the North Central Iowa Regional Landfill. A full excavation of the area was completed between December 5-6 but investigators still did not find the baby’s body.

Examination of Blaha and Thoma’s electronic devices showed they made searches about how to force a miscarriage. Blaha allegedly admitted to the detective that the two had tried to cause a miscarriage but attempts were unsuccessful.

The affidavit also revealed the couple kept sections of the baby’s umbilical cord in order to remember the baby. A search warrant turned up “an object consistent with an umbilical cord or remains of a human placenta” located in the top drawer of a dresser at the couple’s apartment.

Thoma and Blaha are being held in the Webster County Jail on cash-only bonds. Thoma’s is $1,050,000 and Blaha’s is $1,000,000. Both are expected to make their first jail court appearances Thursday morning.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/iowa-parents-allegedly-drowned-baby-in-bathtub-just-after-birth-affidavit-says/

New York Times writers ask you not to read it today

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Writers for The New York Times are asking loyal readers to find their news somewhere else today.

One even suggested reading local news (like KRON4.com?)

Amanda Hess, a critic-at-large for the paper, tweeted “We’re asking readers to not engage in any @nytimes platforms tomorrow.”

The reason is a walk-out. The union that represents writers for the Grey Lady say the owners are not negotiating in good faith.

“Stand with us on the digital picket line,” Hess continued. “Read local news. Listen to public radio. Make something from a cookbook. Break your Wordle streak.”

New York Times correspondent Dana Goldstein shared some of her reasons for walking out via Twitter.

“Today I walked off a job I love,” Goldstein wrote. “I want NYT to be successful, & it is! With operating profit over $300 million, we’re asking for an additional $30-40 million in wage increases during a housing crisis in the world’s most expensive city. We have members who earn less than $50,000.”

The New York Times Guild, which represents over 1,300 media workers, stated in a letter to readers that they are asking people to hold off on reading the times from midnight Thursday to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time “while New York Times workers have walked off their jobs.”

“This is not a decision we take lightly,” the letter stated. “We know you count on us for vital news and information. Our fight to ensure a living wage for the most vulnerable of us and fair pay for everyone, for evaluations free of racial bias and to protect our health care is really about the future of journalism at The New York Times.”

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The letter takes issues with the fact the company approved $150 million in stock buybacks to investors while workers are asking for more.

Joe Kahn, the Times’ executive editor, stated in the paper that he’s disappointed in the walk-out.

“Strikes typically happen when talks deadlock. That is not where we are today,” Kahn stated. “While the company and the NewsGuild remain apart on a number of issues, we continue to trade proposals and make progress toward an agreement.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/national/new-york-times-writers-ask-you-not-to-read-it-today/

House sends marriage equality bill to Biden’s desk

The House on Thursday passed a bill to safeguard marriage equality, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk and marking the first time Congress has provided federal protections for same-sex marriage.

The legislation, titled the Respect for Marriage Act, passed in a 258-169-1 vote. Thirty-nine Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the measure.

The Senate approved the measure in a bipartisan 61-36 vote last week, notching a significant win for negotiators after months of talks that followed Justice Clarence Thomas floating the idea of overturning the Supreme Court decision protecting same-sex marriage.

Twelve Senate Republicans joined all voting Democrats to pass the bill.

Following the bill’s passage in the Senate, Biden said he would “promptly and proudly” sign it into law once it arrived on his desk.

The measure enshrines federal protections for same-sex couples, requiring that the federal government and all states recognize marriages if the pair was wed in a state where the union was legal. It also cements protections for interracial couples, ordering states to recognize marriages regardless of “the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals.”

Additionally, the measure repeals of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that recognizes marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,” and refers to the word spouse as “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.”

The legislation approved by both chambers also includes an amendment outlining protections for religious liberties — an 11th-hour addition that was central to securing enough Republican support for the bill’s passage in the Senate.

The House had passed the Respect for Marriage Act in a bipartisan 267-157 vote in July, with 47 Republicans joining all Democrats.

But Senate Republicans raised concerns about the lack of religious freedom protections in the measure, which led to bipartisan talks within the chamber to break the impasse and, last month, a deal on an amendment. The addition shields religious organizations from having to provide services supporting same-sex marriage, ensures that the federal government does not acknowledge polygamous marriage and includes conscience protections under the Constitution and federal law.

The addition of the amendment required the House to take up the measure again on Thursday.

The push for a bill protecting marriage equality on the federal level began in earnest over the summer after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, the almost-50-year-old abortion rights decision. In a concurring opinion to that ruling, Thomas called on the court to reconsider Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision that enshrined same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

Thomas’ statement — and seeing a landmark case overturned — set off alarm bells among Democrats, sparking fears that LGBTQ rights were in danger.

The Respect for Marriage Act would require that states recognize same-sex marriages if the court were to overturn Obergefell, which would return the issue to the states. It does not, however, go as far as to mandate that states perform those marriages, which is required in the Supreme Court ruling.

Lawmakers referenced that concern during debate on the House floor Thursday.

“Today we will vote for equality and against discrimination by finally overturning the exclusionary, homophobic Defense of Marriage Act and guaranteeing crucial protections for same-sex and interracial marriages,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), a co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, said.

“By passing the Respect for Marriage Act we will ensure that all Americans continue to be afforded the same rights by the government, no matter what the Supreme Court may decide in the future,” he added.

Some members spoke about how the measure would affect them personally.

“Thanks to bipartisan work in the Senate, the Respect for Marriage Act comes back to the House with added language that should allay anyone’s fears or misunderstandings, yet still ensure we can legally recognize marriage as it is currently recognized in this country,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), another co-chair of the group, said on the House floor. “It would be wrong to say my husband Phil and I have a marriage that is any different than anyone else’s marriage here in this body.”

Not all Republicans, however, were won over with the religious liberty amendment.

“I rise today in strong opposition to the so-called Respect for Marriage Act — honestly the bill should be called the disrespect for marriage act,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) said on the House floor during debate. “This bill certainly disregards God’s definition of marriage, a definition that has served his creation well for more than 5,000 years of recorded history.”

“And his definition is the only one that really matters,” he added.

Good, who was first elected to the House in 2020, beat former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) in a GOP primary that year after Riggleman became the target of criticism for officiating a same-sex wedding.

 Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) called the addition a “flimsy” and “hollow” amendment.

Other Republicans disagreed with the argument that LGBTQ rights were in danger.

“Democrats have conjured up this nonexistent threat based on one line in Justice Thomas’ concurrence in Dobbs. And they are misunderstanding, or they are deliberately misrepresenting, what Justice Thomas wrote,” Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said during debate.

“Justice Thomas made the same point that he’s made for years: that the collection of rights secured by the doctrine of substantive due process is better understood as being a function of the constitution’s privileges and immunities clause. That’s it,” he added.

House and Senate passage of the bill came shortly after five people were killed in a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/top-stories/house-sends-marriage-equality-bill-to-bidens-desk/

San Jose police take kids out to breakfast, for shopping

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – KRON4’s Camila Barco spoke with San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata this morning at a holiday breakfast being held for children.

“We’re excited to give back, especially during these times,” Mata said.

After the breakfast the children will partner with officers to “go on a shopping spree,” Mata said, where they can purchase things not only for themselves but for their whole families.

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“The students here are from impacted communities,” Mata said.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/san-jose-police-take-kids-out-to-breakfast-for-shopping/

Are California’s parklets here to stay?

Temporary parklet seating areas became a necessity for many businesses amid the peak pandemic-era, as they adapted to new restrictions and safety measures. But now, as restrictions have all but fallen to the wayside, the question remains as to whether the sidewalk seating will remain a staple in California.

If you live on the West Coast or have visited any of California’s major cities, you have most likely seen parklets in abundance the past few years.

Parklets are curbside seating areas that have been created by utilizing sidewalks and parking spaces. This extension creates added space for outdoor dining and recreation.

From sipping cups of coffee in the fresh morning air to socializing around a table in the starlight, parklets provide people more opportunities to spend time and money at an establishment that might have otherwise been at capacity. This was especially true during the period of mandated social distancing and closed indoor dining.

But parklets are not just for businesses. These spaces can also be designated for greenery, bike racks and open public seating. In fact, these platforms came way before the pandemic, dating back to 2005 as part of a tactical urbanism project in San Francisco that later became more concrete.

“The San Francisco Parklet Program has been in place for over a decade and will continue to accept applications from new operators who wish to create a parklet,” said Robin Abad Ocubillo, Director of San Francisco’s Shared Spaces Program.

This photos shows people utilizing a parklet in San Francisco, Calif.
This photos shows people utilizing a parklet in San Francisco, Calif. (Photo: San Francisco Planning Department)

Ocubillo said the positive impact of parklets go beyond just the individual sponsor by benefiting the entire neighborhood. Parklets have made the streets of San Francisco livelier and its neighborhoods more resilient, while also drawing foot traffic to surrounding shops and restaurants, explained the program director.

“The city and county of San Francisco is working to ensure as many parklets as possible continue operate next year, and years to come,” said Ocubillo. “This means that sites which went up quickly during the pandemic may need to be modified to ensure they are meeting the most up-to-date guidelines for universal (ADA) and emergency access.”

San Diego also has a program in place for parklets. Spaces as Places allows establishments to apply for permits to create outdoor areas for dining, walking, biking, public art, education, entertainment and other activities.

This program was approved by the San Diego City Council in 2021. Temporary pandemic-response outdoor spaces now have an opportunity to transfer to permanent spaces, the city noted on its information page.

Parklets with umbrellas are seen in San Diego's Little Italy area
Parklets with umbrellas are seen in San Diego, Calif.’s Little Italy area. (Adobe Stock Photo)

“Spaces as Places is an innovative program that creatively transforms our public right-of-way while expanding economic opportunities,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “In addition to creating promenades, widening sidewalks and building new parklets, it also provides financial assistance to businesses in historically underserved communities to ensure that the economic and civic benefits of outdoor dining will be enjoyed across all our communities. I’m looking forward to this program creating more dynamic public places throughout San Diego.”

In Los Angeles, the city’s People St program aims to convert small areas of street space into more usable space.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Community Benefit Districts (CBDs), nonprofits, community organizations and other eligible organizations can apply any time to get approval for new projects, according to the program’s information page.

“It is fitting that such an innovative program will be taking root here in Los Angeles, where
we are experiencing a fundamental shift in how we make our city streets safer and more
enjoyable,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a letter about the program. “I look forward to the many new plazas, parklets and bicycle corrals that will be created by People St, and am excited to continue working with all of our departments to spearhead other creative initiatives.”

Not only does it look like parklets are set to stick around in California, but it also appears they will continue to expand with more being created in communities around the state. As described by Ocubillo, “These facilities have been lifelines for small business owners and the communities they serve.”

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/are-californias-parklets-here-to-stay/

Russia frees WNBA star Brittney Griner in prisoner swap, US officials say

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the U.S. releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, the White House said. The swap, at a time of heightened tensions over Ukraine, achieved a top goal for President Joe Biden, but carried a heavy price — and left behind an American jailed for nearly four years in Russia.

“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” Biden said from the White House, where he was accompanied by Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and administration officials.

The deal, the second such exchange in eight months with Russia, procured the release of the most prominent American detained abroad. Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist whose monthslong imprisonment on drug charges brought unprecedented attention to the population of wrongful detainees.

Biden’s authorization to release a Russian felon once nicknamed “the Merchant of Death” underscored the escalating pressure that his administration faced to get Griner home, particularly after the recent resolution of her criminal case and her subsequent transfer to a penal colony.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also confirmed the swap, saying in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that the exchange took place in Abu-Dhabi and that Bout has been flown home

Russian and U.S. officials had conveyed cautious optimism in recent weeks after months of strained negotiations, with Biden saying in November that he was hopeful that Russia would engage in a deal now that the midterm elections were completed. A top Russian official said last week that a deal was possible before year’s end.

Even so, the fact that the deal was a one-for-one swap was a surprise given that U.S. officials had for months expressed their determination to bring home both Griner and Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive jailed in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that his family and the U.S. government has said are baseless.

“We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan,” Biden said. “We will keep negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release.”

Whelan’s brother David said in a statement he was “so glad” for Griner’s release but also disappointed for his family. He credited the White House with giving the Whelan family advance notice and said he did not fault officials for making the deal.

“The Biden Administration made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen,” he said.

In releasing Bout, the U.S. freed a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel whom the Justice Department once described as one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers. Bout, whose exploits inspired a Hollywood movie, was serving a 25-year sentence on charges that he conspired to sell tens of millions of dollars in weapons that U.S officials said were to be used against Americans.

The Biden administration was ultimately willing to exchange Bout if it meant Griner’s freedom. The detention of one of the greatest players in WNBA history contributed to a swirl of unprecedented public attention for an individual detainee case — not to mention intense pressure on the White House.

Griner’s arrest in February made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad. Her status as an openly gay Black woman, locked up in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LBGTQ community, infused racial, gender and social dynamics into her legal saga and made each development a matter of international importance.

Her case not only brought unprecedented publicity to the dozens of Americans wrongfully detained by foreign governments, but it also emerged as a major inflection point in U.S.-Russia diplomacy at a time of deteriorating relations prompted by Moscow’s war against Ukraine.

The exchange was carried out despite deteriorating relations between the powers. But the imprisonment of Americans produced a rare diplomatic opening, yielding the highest-level known contact between Washington and Moscow — a phone call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — in more than five months.

In an extraordinary move during otherwise secret negotiations, Blinken revealed publicly in July that the U.S. had made a “substantial proposal” to Russia for Griner and Whelan. Though he did not specify the terms, people familiar with it said the U.S. had offered Bout.

Such a public overture drew a chiding rebuke from the Russians, who said they preferred to resolve such cases in private, and carried the risk of weakening the U.S. government’s negotiating hand for this and future deals by making the administration appear too desperate. But the announcement was also meant to communicate to the public that Biden was doing what he could and to ensure pressure on the Russians.

Besides the efforts of U.S. officials, the release also followed months of back-channel negotiations involving Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a frequent emissary in hostage talks, and his top deputy, Mickey Bergman.

Griner was arrested at the Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February when customs officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage. She pleaded guilty in July, though still faced trial because admitting guilt in Russia’s judicial system does not automatically end a case.

She acknowledged in court that she possessed the canisters, but said she had no criminal intent and said their presence in her luggage was due to hasty packing.

Before being sentenced on Aug. 4 and receiving a punishment her lawyers said was out of line for the offense, an emotional Griner apologized “for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them.” She added: “I hope in your ruling it does not end my life.”

Her supporters had largely stayed quiet for weeks after her arrest, but that approach changed in May once the State Department designated her as unlawfully detained. A separate trade, Marine veteran Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted in the U.S. in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy, spurred hope that additional such exchanges could be in the works.

Whelan has been held in Russia since December 2018. The U.S. government also classified him as wrongfully detained. He was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison.

Whelan was not included in the Reed prisoner swap, escalating pressure on the Biden administration to ensure that any deal that brought home Griner also included him.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/russia-frees-brittney-griner-in-prisoner-swap-us-officials-say/

Ohio couple who turned 100, celebrated 79 years of marriage die within hours of each other

CINCINNATI, Oh. (WFLA) – This Ohio couple’s love story is one you only see in the movies.

Earlier this year, Hubert and June Malicote reached a milestone that many dream of – living to 100 years old. On top of their milestone birthday, the two also celebrated 79 years of marriage this year.

Being born in rural Kentucky in 1922, the two moved to Hamilton, Ohio, to look for jobs. However, it wasn’t until an invite to church led the couple to one another.

According to NBC Affiliate WLWT5, Hubert said that when he went to church, he stood in an empty pew behind a group of girls. One of the girls ended up being his future wife, June.

“She looked around at me and smiled,” Malicote told WLWT5.

After becoming friends, the two wed on June 8, 1943, shortly before Herbert was set to serve in the Navy during World War II.

Two years later when Hubert returned home from being stationed in Honolulu, June was there to greet him at the train station. Hubert told WLWT, that he called June his “Honolulu girl” after she sent him a picture of her in a grass skirt while he was stationed in Hawaii.

The two found their forever home in Hamilton, where they had three children, seven grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.

Hubert emphasized the importance of family and added that the two never fought as they agreed to work through difficult times together.

“‘Til death do us part,” he told WLWT. “We meant it. It meant something.”

On Tuesday, the couple’s daughter, Jo, told the outlet that her parents had passed within hours of each other.

Back in August, June was diagnosed with a heart condition and was told she probably wouldn’t make it to the end of the year. A few months later in October, she became ill with a UTI and never fully recovered.

Jo told WLWT that her father was the “picture of health at his age,” but said he died of a broken heart.

“He literally, I think, just willed himself to go on ahead of her and he went 20 hours ahead of her,” she told the local news station.

The two had a love like no other as Hubert held his wife’s hand on his deathbed. Their daughter said that the family comforted their mother in her final hours by singing to her, reading her scriptures, and giving her permission to go on.

“We gave her permission to go on, to be with daddy,” she said.

The Malicote’s visitation and funeral will be held on Thursday in Hamilton, where their love first began.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/ohio-couple-who-turned-100-celebrated-79-years-of-marriage-die-within-hours-of-each-other/