NATIONAL & STATE NEWS


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FILE - In this June 7, 2018 file photo, former Gov. Martin O'Malley, front left, endorses Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, right, for governor of Maryland, in Annapolis, Md. With two leading candidates who have a shot at becoming Maryland’s first black governor, the crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary reflects the state’s changing demographics and the party’s efforts to harness the energy of an increasingly diverse electorate around the country. Recent polls show former NAACP President Ben Jealous and Baker are leading in a close and crowded primary.  (AP Photo/Brian Witte, File)

FILE - In this June 7, 2018 file photo, former Gov. Martin O'Malley, front left, endorses Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, right, for governor of Maryland, in Annapolis, Md. With two leading candidates who have a shot at becoming Maryland’s first black governor, the crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary reflects the state’s changing demographics and the party’s efforts to harness the energy of an increasingly diverse electorate around the country. Recent polls show former NAACP President Ben Jealous and Baker are leading in a close and crowded primary. (AP Photo/Brian Witte, File)


FILE - In this May 21, 2018 file photo, Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, right, adjusts his tie as he prepares for a Maryland Democratic primary gubernatorial debate, in Baltimore. With two leading candidates who have a shot at becoming Maryland’s first black governor, the crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary reflects the state’s changing demographics and the party’s efforts to harness the energy of an increasingly diverse electorate around the country. Recent polls show former NAACP President Jealous and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker are leading in a close and crowded primary. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)


Maryland Democratic primary has 2 black candidates leading

By BRIAN WITTE

Associated Press

Monday, June 18

BALTIMORE (AP) — With two leading candidates who have a shot at becoming Maryland’s first black governor, the crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary reflects the state’s changing demographics and the party’s efforts to harness the energy of an increasingly diverse electorate around the country.

Whoever wins the June 26 Democratic contest will face a tough battle in the fall against the state’s popular incumbent, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. But already, voters say they’re encouraged by a field of minority, female and LGBT Democrats vying to lead a state where nearly a third of residents are black — the largest percentage outside the Deep South — and where racial tensions flared after the 2015 death of a black man in police custody.

The election also represents the latest test of whether Democratic efforts to appeal to minority voters in the age of President Donald Trump can be successful in state and federal elections nationwide.

On the first day of early voting on Thursday, Charla McKoy said she has never seen such a diverse group of candidates, and the field helped motivate her to vote.

“We need more voices from different backgrounds so everybody can be represented,” said McKoy, a 43-year-old veterinarian in Frederick who voted for Ben Jealous, former national president of the NAACP. “I think we need to broaden our landscape.”

Recent polls show Jealous and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, who are both black, leading the field of more than a half-dozen Democratic hopefuls in the state that has never elected a black or female governor. A large percentage of voters are also undecided in the final weeks before the primary.

There have only been two elected black governors in U.S. history: Douglas Wilder in Virginia and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts.

On the GOP side, Hogan faces no primary challenge as he attempts to become the first Republican governor to win re-election since the 1950s in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. A recent Hogan campaign ad touted his steady leadership during the 2015 Baltimore riots and protests over the death of Freddie Gray. Recent polls have shown Hogan is popular, even among Democrats.

Democratic primary candidates will need to draw on the minority vote, said Mileah Kromer, the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College in Towson. Montgomery County is the state’s most populous county and also majority-minority. To the northeast, Baltimore, the state’s largest city, is heavily Democratic and about 64 percent black.

“It’s clear to me if you look at not just the composition of the gubernatorial candidates, but the lieutenant gubernatorial candidates, that everybody recognizes that the road to this nomination definitely goes through the African-American vote,” Kromer said.

Jealous, who has the backing of labor unions and endorsements from progressive U.S. senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, said in an interview that such a diverse primary field was overdue. Sanders is scheduled to stump for him Monday in Maryland.

“The people of Maryland deserve a slate of candidates as diverse as our electorate,” said Jealous, who led the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, which is based in Baltimore, for five years. “We’re finally seeing that.”

Baker, the top elected official in one of the nation’s most affluent African-American-majority counties, said he’s confident the diverse field will bring out voters.

“It shows that throughout the spectrum of this great diverse state of ours, we get to participate in this great democracy, and I think that’s what’s going to pull people to come out and vote and to make a choice,” he said.

Another gubernatorial candidate, state Sen. Richard Madaleno, has added to the diversity of the field. LGBT activists say a television ad he released this month is the nation’s first-ever political ad showing a same-sex couple kissing. It showed the gay lawmaker from Montgomery County kissing his husband after highlighting his support for Planned Parenthood and gun control. The 30-second spot ended with Madaleno saying, “Take that, Trump!”

With women’s issues also at the forefront this election cycle, gubernatorial candidate Krish Vignarajah was encouraged by the overwhelming victory of Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams in that state’s gubernatorial primary. Abrams said she is working to appeal to young people and nonwhites who have been less likely to vote, instead of courting older, white voters who have come to favor Republicans.

Vignarajah, a lawyer and former policy director for Michelle Obama, said she is campaigning to reach across demographics and galvanize Democratic voters.

“We are focused on the fact that in 2014 we had nearly 300,000 Democrats fail to show up, and the majority of them were women, minorities, immigrants and younger voters 18 to 29,” said Vignarajah, a Sri Lankan immigrant. “And so, my focus has been speaking to the policies, ideas and vision that resonate regionally, demographically, but also align with where most Marylanders are. I think a lot of folks felt left behind.”

Peace convoy arrives in Afghan capital after 40-day march

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Dozens of Afghans arrived in the capital on Monday after trekking across the country on foot calling for an end to the 17-year war.

The Helmand Peace Convoy reached Kabul after traveling more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) over nearly 40 days. The march began in the southern city of Lashkar Gah, in the Helmand province, an area largely under Taliban control.

The protest march began with a group of nine men and picked up supporters during the long journey. They arrived in Kabul after a three-day holiday cease-fire brought rare calm to most of the country.

The government had offered to extend the cease-fire for another ten days, but the Taliban announced Sunday that they would resume their attacks.

In the eastern Nangarhar province, gunmen shot and killed a district governor and his bodyguard, according to Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor. No one claimed the attack.

Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar province, was hit by two suicide bombings in as many days over the weekend that targeted Afghans, including Taliban fighters, who were celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday and the cease-fire. The bombings are believed to have been carried out by the Islamic State group’s local affiliate, which was not included in the cease-fire.

Washington Looks to Ohio as model for clearing rape kit backlog

King 5 News in Seattle, Washington last week reported that their state is looking to Ohio as a model for clearing the backlog in untested rape kits. In February of this year, Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that his special initiative to process untested rape kits from across Ohio had completed it’s work, testing nearly 14,000 kits from 294 law enforcement agencies. Because of Mike DeWine’s work, justice has been served in cases where victims thought hope was lost, and Ohio is now a national leader on this issue.

Lawmakers in Washington are now looking to other states for ideas to speed up the process to test backlogged rape kits.

Natalie Brand | June 14, 2018

The Ohio State Attorney General’s Office made headlines earlier this year for clearing its rape kit backlog, testing more than 13,000 sexual assault kits, resulting in charges being filed against hundreds of suspects.

“Our conviction rate is 90 percent, so we’re bringing just cases,” said Cuyahoga County Special Investigations Chief Rick Bell, testifying before Washington state lawmakers in 2015.

“(Ohio) has done a remarkable job,” said Representative Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, one of the lead lawmakers working on Washington’s ongoing backlog. “They started a number of years ago, and I think they’re a leader in the nation that we really need to learn from.”

Rep. Orwall wants Washington to learn from Ohio’s success, specifically the setup and technology used in their crime lab to more efficiently test the kits.

“They found a way to kind of divide the labor up on a sexual assault kit and do a more expedited testing. And I think we’re committed to saying, ‘Can we do a similar model and what would it take to get the right equipment and resources to move forward?’” said Orwall.

Representatives Orwall and Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, visited the state’s crime lab on Wednesday to get a progress report on the continued sexual assault kit backlog, estimated at around 10,000 older kits.

Washington State Patrol (WSP), which runs the lab, says only 3,025 have been sent for testing. Nearly 1,500 have completed testing. WSP says the older kits are sent out to a private lab for testing, a process that takes an average of about one year.

Newer kits take even longer, according to WSP, an estimated 539 days. If a kit is deemed high priority, the average turnaround time is around four months, according to a spokesperson.

Law enforcement and lawmakers have raised concern about the possibility of new crimes being committed during the period of time it takes to test the DNA, especially if the perpetrator is a serial rapist.

Of the older backlog, 500 cases were uploaded to the federal DNA database known as CODIS, resulting in 160 “hits,” meaning around 35 percent of the cases were linked to other crimes.

“That’s concerning. It reminds us why it’s so urgent to get them tested and in a timely manner,” said Orwall.

Orwall says next legislative session she will ask for more resources, potentially new equipment, and several more lab staff. She estimates the cost at more than $6 million, but Ohio prosecutors say their system has saved them money in the long run and likely prevented new crimes.

“When you think about public safety and making sure we’re protecting victims and anyone vulnerable in the community, you really can’t put a price tag on that,” said Orwall.

Heat Wave Spells Danger for Children and Pets

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 18, 2018) – On average, one child dies every 10 days from heatstroke in a vehicle, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. This year alone, at least 13 children have died in hot cars. Pets left in hot cars can die within minutes, or suffer from severe dehydration. During this summer heat wave, AAA urges caregivers and pet owners to take steps to prevent children and pets from dying in hot cars.

Children:

More than half of hot car deaths occur when a caregiver forgets about a quiet child. Others think they’ll just be gone a few minutes, or if they leave the car in the shad and the windows down then it will be alright. But, cars heat up quickly, even on a relatively cool summer day.

In just 10 minutes the temperature in a car can rise 20 degrees

With outside temperatures in the 60s, the temperature inside a car can rise well above 110 degrees. On a 90 degree day like today, the inside of your car can heat up to around 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes!

Cracking the windows or parking in the shade doesn’t do a whole lot to keep the car cool.

Young children are especially susceptible to heat stroke because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults’ bodies.

Pets:

Dogs love riding in the car, and it is very tempting to let your dog ride to the store with you. However, you should never leave a pet along in the car; especially during hot weather.

Dogs don’t sweat the same way humans do, so it’s harder for them to cool themselves – A dog’s fur will hold in heat and once their temperature rises, a dog will try to cool itself by panting.

Excessive panting can also be a sign of heat stroke.

Experts say that animals can actually suffer brain damage or even die of heatstroke within just 15 minutes of being trapped inside a hot car!

Prevent Hot Car Deaths:

AAA recommends using the acronym ACT to help prevent hot car tragedies:

A – Avoid heat stroke by never leaving a child alone in a vehicle – even for a minute.

C – Create a system to help remember that the child is in the vehicle. For example, keep a stuffed toy in the car seat when the child is not seated there, and move it to the front seat when the child is in the vehicle, or keep the diaper bag in the front seat when transporting the child.

T – Take action. On Aug. 29, 2017 a new law took effect enabling Ohioans to take action if they see a child or pet trapped in a hot car. If the door is locked and the police have been called, a passerby can break a car window without fear of being sued for the damage or charged criminally.

In addition, parents should never let their children play around the car. Make sure to lock the vehicle, including the trunk, and close the windows when the car is not in use. Also, keep the keys and remote out of reach.

Additional information on kids and heat stroke is available at SafeSeats4Kids.aaa.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.

FILE – In this June 7, 2018 file photo, former Gov. Martin O’Malley, front left, endorses Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, right, for governor of Maryland, in Annapolis, Md. With two leading candidates who have a shot at becoming Maryland’s first black governor, the crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary reflects the state’s changing demographics and the party’s efforts to harness the energy of an increasingly diverse electorate around the country. Recent polls show former NAACP President Ben Jealous and Baker are leading in a close and crowded primary. (AP Photo/Brian Witte, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/06/web1_120771434-68997ef044cc441580434ad6312fca5f.jpgFILE – In this June 7, 2018 file photo, former Gov. Martin O’Malley, front left, endorses Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, right, for governor of Maryland, in Annapolis, Md. With two leading candidates who have a shot at becoming Maryland’s first black governor, the crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary reflects the state’s changing demographics and the party’s efforts to harness the energy of an increasingly diverse electorate around the country. Recent polls show former NAACP President Ben Jealous and Baker are leading in a close and crowded primary. (AP Photo/Brian Witte, File)

FILE – In this May 21, 2018 file photo, Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, right, adjusts his tie as he prepares for a Maryland Democratic primary gubernatorial debate, in Baltimore. With two leading candidates who have a shot at becoming Maryland’s first black governor, the crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary reflects the state’s changing demographics and the party’s efforts to harness the energy of an increasingly diverse electorate around the country. Recent polls show former NAACP President Jealous and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker are leading in a close and crowded primary. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/06/web1_120771434-7461b07aed3d4149a6cd80979f5eea2e.jpgFILE – In this May 21, 2018 file photo, Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, right, adjusts his tie as he prepares for a Maryland Democratic primary gubernatorial debate, in Baltimore. With two leading candidates who have a shot at becoming Maryland’s first black governor, the crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary reflects the state’s changing demographics and the party’s efforts to harness the energy of an increasingly diverse electorate around the country. Recent polls show former NAACP President Jealous and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker are leading in a close and crowded primary. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

STAFF & WIRE REPORTS