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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Chronicle briefs for Sept. 25

Screenwriters Reach Deal With Studios to End Their Strike

The Writers Guild of America, which represents more than 11,000 screenwriters, reached a tentative deal on a new contract with entertainment companies Sunday night, all but ending a 146-day strike that has contributed to a shutdown of television and film production.

In the coming days, guild members will vote on whether to accept the deal, which has much of what they had demanded, including increases in compensation for streaming content, concessions from studios on minimum staffing for television shows, and guarantees that artificial intelligence technology will not encroach on writers’ credits and compensation.

“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the writers guild’s negotiating committee said in an email to members.

Menendez, Defiant, Says He Will Not Resign

Sen. Bob Menendez, of New Jersey, returned Monday to the familiar territory of Hudson County, New Jersey, a Democratic bastion where he rose to political prominence, to publicly address the corruption charges that now threaten his career and his freedom.

Standing alone at a lectern, accused of bribery for the second time in a decade, he indicated that he had no intention of bowing to the chorus of voices calling for his resignation.

The allegations, he said, were framed by prosecutors to “be as salacious as possible.”

“I recognize that this will be the biggest fight yet,” Menendez, a Democrat, said at a community college not far from where he grew up in Union City, the child of Cuban refugees.

But he said he expected that once the judicial process concluded, “not only will I be exonerated, I will still be New Jersey’s senior senator.”

Speaking first in English and then in Spanish, Menendez, 69, reiterated much of the message he offered immediately after the three-count indictment was announced Friday. He urged patience “to allow all the facts to be presented.”

Menendez left without answering questions shouted by reporters about the gifts, including gold bars and a Mercedes-Benz, that prosecutors say he received as bribe payments.

USS Bunker Hill decommissioned in San Diego

The cruiser USS Bunker Hill – one of the first American warships to attack Iraq with cruise missiles during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 – was decommissioned Friday at Naval Base San Diego, ending 37 years of service.

Bunker Hill also was a key player in Operation Southern Watch, helping maintain a United Nations-backed no-fly zone over southern Iraq that helped coalition forces contain and undermine Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The 567-foot ship shifted homeports in 1998, moving from Yokosuka, Japan, to San Diego, where Bunker Hill finished its long career. The highlights included providing disaster relief to Haiti in 2010 after the country suffered a catastrophic earthquake.

Bunker Hill was a “Tico,” the nickname given to the Ticonderoga-class cruisers that the U.S. built during the Cold War, largely to fend off Russian forces.

The U.S. built 27 of the ships, which are now rapidly being removed from the fleet. Earlier this month, two – the USS Mobile Bay and USS Lake Champlain – were decommissioned in San Diego.

The city is now home to only three Ticonderoga-class cruisers: USS Cowpens, USS Princeton and USS Chosin.

All of the Navy’s Tico cruisers are expected to be decommissioned by the end of 2027.

Hundreds Injured After Blast in Nagorno-Karabakh

GORIS, Armenia – More than 200 people were wounded Monday in a fuel depot explosion in Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, the human rights ombudsman for the region said.

The cause of the explosion could not immediately be determined, and it was not clear if there were any fatalities, but Armenian separatist officials said, “There are victims and wounded.”

“A strong explosion occurred in the gasoline warehouse near the Stepanakert-Askera highway,” authorities said in a statement. “At the moment, rescue and medical operative groups are working on the spot.” Stepanakert is the capital of the breakaway region.

The blast comes as thousands of ethnic Armenians have been fleeing the breakaway region since the weekend to cross the border into Armenia, days after a military offensive brought the enclave back under Azerbaijan’s control.

Heartthrob Spy of ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ Dies at 90

David McCallum, the Scottish-born actor who became a surprise sensation as the enigmatic Russian spy Illya Kuryakin on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” in the 1960s and found TV stardom again almost 40 years later on the hit series “N.C.I.S.,” died Monday in New York. He was 90.

“N.C.I.S.” announced his death on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. The post did not include more information.

Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Mr. McCallum was an experienced character actor who could use an accent or an odd piece of clothing to give depth to a role. He played a wide range of parts across theater, film and television, from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in Central Park in 2000 to the voice of Professor Paradox on the animated television series “Ben 10: Ultimate Alien,” a decade later.

He was hired in 1964 to play Illya Kuryakin, the Russian-accented sidekick of Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo, on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” a tongue-in-cheek series about secret agents working for the fictional United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.