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Saturday, June 6, 2020

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Local News

Washington Completes Successful Peaceful Protest

Around 400 community members turned out for a peaceful protest in the City of Washington Saturday morning. The demonstration took place at the County Courthouse on Main Street, then proceeded down Beau Street to College Street past the campus of W&J. The crowd then turned up Wheeling and back on to main before gathering at the Courthouse once again. An 8 minute-46 second prayer was conducted representing the final minutes of George Floyd’s life as he was killed in custody at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis. Chief of the city police Bob Wilson was among the marchers, as was County Commissioner Larry Maggi and State Representative Tim O’Neal.  Speakers took the time to address the crowd in front of the Courthouse, including David Sadler, who gave the Washington High School Commencement speech Friday night. The protest was heavily protected by a mix of local and state law enforcement, who ensured the safety of all who attended.

DUI Leads To Crash In North Strabane

NORTH STRABANE, Pa. — No one was injured after a car crashed off the roadway in North Strabane Township Early Saturday morning. Police say a 23-year old male was the driver of a silver Ford sedan that left the road around 2:15 a.m. on the 400 block of Linden Road. According to reports, the male was accompanied by three other passengers. Police say the car clipped a tree stump as the vehicle went around a sharp bend in the roadway, then crossed both lanes of traffic before clipping a small tree and coming to a stop just feet away from the front door of a home. North Strabane police were accompanied by the North Strabane Fire Department, and officials confirmed to WJPA that the accident was DUI related. No other information was available on scene. Police are still investigating the incident.

Washington High School Graduates 119

WASHINGTON, Pa. — In what may have been a long awaited gift from nature, Washington High School conducted their 153 Annual Commencement ceremony.  The graduation was originally scheduled to be held at the parking lot of the Washington Wild Things Stadium. Washington County’s entrance into the economic green phase allowed the ceremony to be held at Washington High School Stadium. This year’s class will certainly be remembered for the difficulties students experienced because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This class is also unique because the two top students were also athletes. Valedictorian Zachary Swartz and Salutatorian Gerald Comedy both competed for the Prexies in football. In Swartz’s address to classmates, he remembered the challenges presented to them by the pandemic and spoke of how they had to “Power over the Pandemic”. Comedy, in his speech spoke of being “Unstoppable”. Comedy also gave tribute to George Floyd asking classmates to be the ones to bring about meaningful change.  Guest speaker David Sadler, a 1991 graduate told graduates to be themselves and not to let others decide who they should be. Over $1.9 million was earned by graduates in grants and scholarships. Ten students graduated with High Honors and 22 graduated with Honors.

Bartels Charged Federally For Inciting Pittsburgh Riot

SHALER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Brian Bartels turned himself in to Pittsburgh police around 5 p.m Monday. He was wanted in connection with protests that turned into rioting in downtown Pittsburgh over the weekend. Federal officials said Bartels is now facing more charges. He is now charged with obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder. That sparked an increase in violence during the protests. While serving a search warrant at Bartels home, police said Bartels was not inside, but investigators seized evidence linking him to the crime. Police searched his home on Sunday night. Our news partners at Channel 11 obtained a copy of the search warrant and found that police found several items inside the home including 2 firearms, books, gloves, cans of spray paint and a sweatshirt with white writing on the front was found on top of the dryer in the laundry room. Police got tipped off to Bartels after they got a call from someone who identified him from social media and watching the protest unfold on the news. According to police paperwork, Bartels works at Amazon. Undercover police officers witnessed Bartels who was dressed in black and wearing a bandanna, grab cans of spray paint from his backpack on the ground and start spray-painting the police car, according to police paperwork. As the crowd cheered and other man jumped on top of the police car, police say Bartels then threw something at the police car, breaking its window. Some people in the crowd tried to stop him, according to police, but Bartels continued until the crowd started throwing bricks at the mounted police unit. That is when police said Bartels walked away. Bartels faces charges of institutional vandalism, rioting, and reckless endangerment of another person.  The federal charges carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of probation and a fine of $250,000.

Toomey Visits Peters Twp. On First Day Of Green

PETERS TWP. — Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey held a press conference in Peters Twp celebrating the first day of the green phase in Washington County. Timothy Warne hosted Toomey at his Bartram House Bakery. Warne said he is happy to be able to further open his bakery here and to be able to reopen others that he had been forced to close because of restrictions. Toomey described the economic shut down as historic and needed until we had an understanding of what the Covid-19 virus was capable of doing. Toomey pointed to government bail out programs like the Paycheck Protection Program as vital to survival for small businesses. The conversation also turned to the topic of using the military as a police force to contain violent protests over the death of George Floyd. Toomey is not in favor of the use of the military as a civilian police force. He says that Pennsylvania has plenty of resources to protect citizens in the form of municipal and state police and the national guard. Republican Representative Guy Reschenthaler supported Toomey’s remarks and called for police funding for additional training and mental health support for officers that may suffer from depression or PTSD. Local republican representatives on hand included Commissioners Dianna Irey Vaughn and Nick Sherman, State Senator Carmera Bartolotta, and Representative Natalie Mihalek.

Coronavirus Cases In Pennsylvania Top 75,000

The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Saturday that there are 701 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 75,086.  There are 5,931 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 45 new deaths.  County-specific information and a statewide map are available here.  In nursing and personal care homes, there are 16,056 resident cases of COVID-19, and 2,793 cases among employees, for a total of 18,849 at 613 distinct facilities in 45 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,092 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.  A county breakdown can be found here.  Approximately 5,703 of our total cases are in health care workers.  Across the United States, more than one-point-nine million people have tested positive for the virus and over one-hundred and eleven thousand have died. On a positive note, more than 454,000 have recovered from COVID-19.

Allegheny:  1,989 (168 deaths)

Beaver:  598 (74 deaths)

Westmoreland:  457 (38 deaths)

Butler:  244 (12 deaths)

Washington: 146 (6 deaths) 

Mercer:  111 (6 deaths)

Fayette: 95 (4 deaths)

Indiana:  91 (5 deaths)

Lawrence: 84 (8 deaths)

Armstrong: 65 (5 deaths)

Clarion:  27 (2 deaths)

Greene:  27

Venango: 15

Forest:  7

Washington County is now in the “green phase” of Governor Tom Wolf’s reopening plan.  The stay at home order is lifted but groups are limited to no more than 250 people.  Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Levine are still asking people to wear cloth masks in public and when leaving home, and are suggesting anyone entering an essential business to wear a mask.  Employees of those businesses are required to wear a mask. Gov. Wolf and Secretary Levine said people do not need the N95 respirator masks or surgical masks. A simple cloth mask or even a bandana across your nose and mouth can work to help protect people from each other. The Department of Health posted guidance on masks on its website.

World News

Biden Clinches Presidential Nomination

WASHINGTON (AP) – Joe Biden has formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, setting him up for a bruising challenge to President Donald Trump that will play out against the unprecedented backdrop of a pandemic, economic collapse and civil unrest. The former vice president has effectively been his party’s leader since his last challenger in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, ended his campaign in April. But Biden pulled together the 1,991 delegates needed to become the nominee after seven states and the District of Columbia held presidential primaries Tuesday. Biden reached the threshold three days after the primaries because several states, overwhelmed by huge increases in mail ballots, took days to tabulate results.

Movements Continue To Target Injustices

Momentum for what many hope is a sustained movement aimed at tackling racial injustice and police reforms promised to grow Saturday as more protesters filled streets around the world. In the U.S., mourners prepared for a second memorial service for George Floyd, who died a dozen days ago at the hands of police in Minneapolis. Formal and impromptu memorials to Floyd have stretched from Minnesota to Paris, Rome and Johannesburg, South Africa. In his birthplace of North Carolina, a public viewing and private service for family was planned Saturday as authorities in Washington prepared for what was expected to be the largest demonstration against police brutality in the city so far.

Barr Claims He Did Not Place Order To Clear Protesters

WASHINGTON (AP) – Attorney General William Barr says law enforcement officers were already moving to push back protesters from a park in front of the White House when he arrived there Monday evening, and he says he did not give a command to disperse the crowd. Barr’s comments in an interview Friday with The Associated Press were his most detailed explanation yet of what unfolded outside the White House earlier this week. They come after the White House and others said repeatedly that the attorney general ordered officers to clear the park. Shortly after officers aggressively pushed back demonstrators, President Donald Trump and others walked through Lafayette Park to pose for a photo at a nearby church damaged during the protests.

Facebook Removes 200 ‘Hate Groups’ From Site

Facebook says it has removed nearly 200 social media accounts linked to white supremacy groups planning to rally members to show up at protests over police killings of black people – in some cases with weapons. The Facebook and Instagram users were associated with the Proud Boys and American Guard, two racist groups already banned on Facebook. Facebook officials said Friday the platform was already planning to remove the accounts for violating its ban on hate groups but decided to act when the groups attempted to exploit the protests prompted by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Paris Police Ban Floyd Protest Over Virus Fears

Paris police have banned a third protest that had been planned for Saturday to condemn alleged police abuses in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Police cited a risk of spreading COVID-19 and fears of public unrest. The police decree noted that social distancing regulations ban gatherings of more than 10 people. Online posts called for people to gather Saturday afternoon in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Paris police had previously also banned two other planned gatherings Saturday outside the US Embassy.

Tropical Storm Off U.S. Gulf Coast

MEXICO CITY (AP) – A re-energized Tropical Storm Cristobal is swirling in the southern Gulf of Mexico on a path expected to take it to the U.S. Gulf Coast along with the heavy rains that already caused flooding and mudslides in Mexico and Central America. After weakening to a tropical depression while moving over land in Mexico, Cristobal headed back into the Gulf on Friday and powered back up into a tropical storm. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Cristobal’s maximum sustained winds strengthened to 45 mph (75 kph) by late Friday. The storm is forecast to áclose in on the U.S. coast by Sunday night, gaining some more strength but not growing into a hurricane. It could cause heavy rains from East Texas to Florida this weekend and into early next week.

Lonely D-Day Remembrance Due To Pandemic

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France (AP) – Saturday’s D-Day remembrance in Normandy has turned out to be one of the loneliest remembrances ever. The coronavirus pandemic and its lockdown restrictions made sure the famous Omaha Beach landing strip was largely deserted. Lone U.S. veteran Charles Shay mourned not only the deaths of his comrades 76 years ago but also the fact than he could not see any of the dwindling number of veterans who fought in the historic battle.

New S. Korea COVID Cases Linked To Door Sales

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea has reported 51 new cases of COVID-19, mostly in the densely populated capital region as authorities scramble to stem transmissions among low-income workers who can’t afford to stay home. The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought national totals to 11,719 workers and 273 deaths. At least 42 cases have been linked to door-to-door sellers hired by Richway, a Seoul-based health product provider. The vice health minister says the spread of the virus among Richway sellers was particularly alarming as most of them are in their 60s and 70s. India meanwhile surpassed Italy as the sixth worst-hit by the pandemic after another biggest single-day spike of 9,887 new cases.

China, India Attempt To End Standoff

SRINAGAR, India (AP) – Indian and Chinese military commanders are meeting at a Himalayan border post to try to resolve a bitter standoff along their disputed frontier where thousands of troops on both sides are facing off. The meeting is the highest-level so far attended by senior commanders. Local border commanders held a series of meetings in the past four weeks but failed to break the impasse. Indian officials say the standoff began in early May when large contingents of Chinese soldiers entered deep inside Indian-controlled territory at three places in Ladakh, erecting tents and posts. áChina has sought to downplay the confrontation.