Emerald City Comic Con is coming back this winter: On the heels of Seattle Pride's fall event announcement, it looks like ECCC organizers have set new dates for their convention: Dec. 2-5 at the Washington Convention Center. No headliners or vendors have been announced just yet, but it will be interesting to see the city really start to come back to life during a season when we all normally hibernate. If you spot me at ECCC come winter dressed up as Anthy Himemiya, come say hi!
New York attorney general investigation of the Trump Organization is now a criminal probe: In an email to Politico, a representative for New York AG Letitia James confirmed the news: "We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan D.A." The office is looking into whether Trump and his family allegedly misstated their property values to get tax benefits. The two seperate criminal probes—the other being conducted by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance—"appears to expand the potential liability for Trump."
The Israeli military continues to pound Gaza with rockets: With the conflict entering its 10th consecutive day, 52 Israeli jets destroyed "40 underground targets," leaving four Palestinians (including one local journalist) dead and 10 others wounded today, reports CNN. In total, 219 Palestinians have been killed, 1,500 injured, and more than 58,000 are internally displaced, their homes turned into rubble by Israeli rockets. At least 12 Israelis have been killed in the violence.
Today, President Biden told Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he expects a "significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire," said the White House in a statement. This comes after mounting pressure from his own party and a confrontation with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who told him he "must do more to protect Palestinian lives and human rights," reports the New York Times.
Hamas is willing to agree to a ceasefire: Under the conditions that Israel stops "incursions into the Al-Asqa compound and respect the site" and halts "forced evacuation of the Palestinian residents in the Sheikh Jarah neighborhood." Israel, apparently, isn't interested.
Billy Porter comes out as HIV-positive: The Pose actor was diagnosed in 2007 but has told "next to no one" out of fear of marginalization and discrimination, he tells The Hollywood Reporter. Though no one on the show knew about his status, playing Pray Tell on Pose—who is also HIV-positive—helped him "say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate." Read his as-told-to essay about coming out here.
COVID continues to ravage India: The country has now set the global record for coronavirus deaths in a single day, reporting 4,529 deaths in the past 24 hours, reports AP. This brings their total confirmed COVID deaths to 283,248, as they reported 267,334 new infections (AP says these numbers are "almost certainly undercounts").
Texas takes it too far: Yesterday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned local governments and public schools from having mask mandates, reports Politico. His reasoning? "Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices," he said in a statement. Starting Friday, any governments or officials that are trying to establish a mask mandate could face fines up to $1,000. What's so scary about a mask?
Amazon will extend ban on police use of their facial recognition technology: Last June, the company had issued a year-long pause on selling their software to cops under pressure from civil rights activists and their own employees during the George Floyd protests. There are legitimate concerns that the technology has problems with gender and racial bias, incorrectly identifying people with darker skin and women, leading to their unjust arrest. Amazon did not say why it was extending the ban or for how long it'd last, reports KING 5.
Ok, more Amazon news: The e-commerce behemoth is ditching its Amazon Go Grocery brand, renaming it Amazon Fresh, reports Geekwire. The Amazon Go Grocery in Redmond will close while the one on Capitol Hill will remain open as Amazon Fresh. So, for those of you keeping track, the company has Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh (grocery store), Amazon Fresh (delivery), Whole Foods, and Prime Now delivery—they are balls-deep in the grocery industry. This brand reshuffle isn't slowing their roll, as an Amazon Fresh is expected to open in the Central District soon and possibly Ballard.
A mix of showers and sunbreaks early. Increasing showers again this afternoon with a chance of an isolated thunderstorm. Small hail in some showers. Cool. Highs in the upper 50s to low 60s. #k5weather pic.twitter.com/OmrcIrtEt1
— Rich Marriott (@rtmarriott) May 19, 2021
And here comes an Inslee recall: Earlier this week, a bunch of good ol' Washington conservatives filed an application to recall our governor on the basis of going "too far" with COVID restrictions. They called his actions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus an "unprecedented grab of tyrannical power." It's now up to a judge to determine whether their claims are valid enough to precede, but, as the Seattle Times' Danny Westneat observes, it's unlikely.
The European Union will reopen its border to fully-vaccinated tourists: Just in time for the summer season, the EU approved a "European Commission proposal from May 3 to loosen the criteria to determine 'safe' countries and to let in fully vaccinated tourists from elsewhere," reports CNBC. The body is expected to draft and release a new list of "safe" countries soon, but the U.S. will likely not be on it. However, if you're fully vaxxed you will no longer have to quarantine or get tested for COVID to enter the EU.
Hiker rescued in Palouse Falls after a heavy rock hits them on the head: A Walla Walla man was hiking with his wife when a football-sized rock fell and struck him in the noggin, reports KOMO. Officials were able to stabilize and carry him out of a ravine, and he was reported to be conscious when he left the park.
Demi Lovato, enbie icon: Today, the pop star came out as non-binary and changed their pronouns to they/them. "I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression, and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and still am discovering," they said in their coming out video. You can watch it here.
For your listening pleasure: "Some" by Steve Lacy. Too quick!