Tribune News Service

News Budget for papers of Sunday, December 1, 2019


Updated at 12 p.m. EST (1700 UTC).


These stories are recommended for weekend release, except where embargoes are noted. Please make sure you are adhering to embargoes on our stories in both your print and online operations.

This budget is now available at TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.


^Far-right Washington state lawmaker faces backlash against white nationalism<

WASHSTATE-LAWMAKER:LA — The mayor of this Spokane suburb recently told an audience of fellow conservatives that police should have shot Rodney King. He heard no objections.

Nor was there dissent when a popular pastor urged his congregants during a recent Sunday sermon to gird for war with an anti-Christian government. They applauded.

So it's perhaps not surprising that Spokane Valley is at the heart of a district where voters keep reelecting Matt Shea, a state lawmaker who distributed a document last year telling Christians to "kill all males" if gay people and abortion advocates don't yield to fundamentalist religious law after the U.S. government collapses. The six-term Republican, who counts the unrepentant mayor and the doomsday pastor as close allies, wants eastern Washington to secede and form a 51st state called Liberty embodying his style of Christian values.

Shea commands more influence than his state legislative role would suggest, speaking nationally and attracting wide attention in far-right and white supremacist circles.

1350 by Richard Read in Spokane Valley, Wash. MOVED



^As members of Congress head for the exits, loosely regulated gravy train beckons<

EXCONGRESS-LOBBYING:WA — The road from Capitol Hill to K Street is designed to have a speed bump.

By law, members of Congress and their senior staffers are supposed to have a one- to two-year cooling-off period in which they refrain from lobbying their former colleagues.

But nearly 120 former members and senior staffers since 2015 have been the sole lobbyist or part of a lobbying team targeting their former chamber during their cooling-off periods, according to a McClatchy analysis of post-employment restriction data from the House and Senate as well as lobbying registration data.

That doesn't necessarily mean they broke the law.

Those rules are limited in terms of what they specifically prohibit former members and staffers from doing. They ban direct contact with current members or staffers, but do not ban providing behind-the-scenes advice to other lobbyists on who they should contact and what they should say — essentially using a cutout.

3000 (with trims) by Ben Wieder in Washington. MOVED



^Genealogical databases are a goldmine for police, but with few rules and little transparency<

^GENEALOGICAL-DATABASES:LA—<Orlando police detective Michael Fields was sure he had the break he needed right in front of him to close in on a serial rapist: a list of people whose DNA partially matched the man he hunted.

Then the list disappeared.

After a year of criticism from privacy advocates and genealogy experts, the owner of a popular DNA-sharing website had decided law enforcement had no right to consumer data unless those consumers agreed.

"It was devastating to know that there's information out there," Fields said. "It wasn't fair."

So he persuaded a judge to grant him access to the entire database, the genetic records of more than 1 million people who never agreed to a police search. It was the first court order in the nation for a blanket consumer DNA search, kept secret from those whose genetic code was involuntarily canvassed.

Genealogical databases are a potential gold mine for police detectives trying to solve difficult cases.

But law enforcement has plunged into this new world with little to no rules or oversight, intense secrecy and by forming unusual alliances with private companies that collect the DNA.

2850 by Paige St. John. MOVED



^Mexico's rise in violence starts sticking to 'Teflon president' after a year in office<

MEXICO-LOPEZOBRADOR:LAY — At 7 a.m. each weekday morning, as the sun is still rising over this sprawling mountain capital, Mexican President Andr s Manuel L pez Obrador steps in front of a gaggle of news cameras and begins to talk.

His news conferences, which can stretch as long as three hours, often meander among a wide range of topics. On any given day he may discuss policy, baseball, the impact of neo-liberal economic policies or the history of the Spanish conquest.

Increasingly, Mexico's loquacious commander in chief has had to face one subject he'd rather not address: Mexico's spiraling violence, and growing doubts about his strategy to fix it.

1300 (with trims) by Kate Linthicum and Steve Fisher in Mexico Cit. MOVED



^Not yesterday's cocaine: Death toll rising from tainted drug<

MED-COCAINE-OVERDOSES:KHN — A pain pill prescription for nerve damage revived Gwendolyn Barton's long-dormant addiction last year, awakening fears she would slip back into smoking crack cocaine.

She'd done that drug and others for about 20 years before getting sober in 2008. But things were different back then. This time, the 62-year-old knew she needed to seek treatment before it was too late.

"If I used today," she said, "I'd be dead."

The powerful opioid fentanyl is often mixed into cocaine, turning the stimulant into a much bigger killer than the drug of the past. Cocaine-related overdoses took the lives of nearly 14,000 Americans in 2017, up 34% in just a year, the latest federal figures show. And they're expected to soar even higher as cocaine's popularity resurges.

1400 (with trims) by Laura Ungar in Cincinnati. MOVED




These stories moved earlier in the week and are suitable for weekend publication.


^Inside the bloody cartel war for Mexico's multibillion-dollar avocado industry<

MEXICO-CARTELS-AVOCADOS:LA — The cartel members showed up in this verdant stretch of western Mexico armed with automatic weapons and chainsaws.

Soon they were cutting timber day and night, the crash of falling trees echoing throughout the virgin forest. When locals protested, explaining that the area was protected from logging, they were held at gunpoint and ordered to keep quiet.

The newcomers were almost certainly clearing the forest to set up a grow operation. They wouldn't be planting marijuana or other crops long favored by Mexican cartels, but something potentially even more profitable: avocados.

More than a dozen criminal groups are battling for control of the avocado trade in and around the city of Uruapan, preying on wealthy orchard owners, the laborers who pick the fruit and the drivers who truck it north to the United States.

2050 by Kate Linthicum in Uruapan, Mexico. MOVED


^Seattle-based Planned Parenthood affiliate ventures into Indiana and Kentucky, giving a blue-state boost to red-state clinics<

PLANNEDPARENTHOOD-REDSTATES:SE — In mid-September, Chris Charbonneau flew — triumphantly — to Fort Wayne, Ind. The CEO of the Seattle-based Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands had just pulled off a stealth operation.

Last year, Fort Wayne's only Planned Parenthood clinic closed. The landlord didn't renew the lease.

"We need to go buy a building in Fort Wayne," Charbonneau resolved.

"We," because Charbonneau, whose affiliate already covered Alaska and most of Idaho as well as Western Washington and Hawaii, was in the process of adding two states: Indiana and Kentucky.

The merger with an affiliate 2,000-plus miles away takes the Seattle-based Planned Parenthood affiliate into some of the most hostile territory for abortion rights.

1850 (with trims) by Nina Shapiro in Seattle. MOVED


^From pimples to politics: A Hong Kong boy band takes on China<

HONGKONG-BAND:LA — It was Eddie Ho's worst nightmare: calling one of the boys' parents to say that they'd been arrested.

Ho, 31, had managed Boyz Reborn, a teenage boy band in Hong Kong, since the boys were elementary school kids during his social worker days at a community center in a suburban public housing estate.

They'd grown up together, the nine members flipping their hair, strumming guitars and belting out songs about the trials of growing up. Schools and local TV stations gushed over how cute and socially conscious they were.

That was before their songs took a political turn, shifting from grades and girls to tear gas, freedom of thought and self-determination.

1800 (with trims) by Alice Su in Hong Kong. MOVED


^In his hometown, Jimmy Carter unites Trump supporters and Democrats. To a point<

CARTER-HOMETOWN:LA — As mayor of the tiny Georgia town of Plains, L.E. "Boze" Godwin III is a Republican who presides over a living shrine to one of the South's most famed Democrats.

Just behind City Hall, the old train depot that operated as Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign headquarters is a museum festooned with a large 1970s banner proclaiming "Jimmy Carter! for president."

In the shadow of Carter's old peanut processing plant, tourists stroll the one-block retail downtown strip and pick up peanut butter ice cream and peanut-shaped earrings, vintage Carter campaign buttons and bobblehead dolls. They visit Jimmy Carter's high school and the Jimmy Carter Boyhood Farm.

Political fault lines in this formerly Democratic Southern town may have changed — Godwin and many other Plains residents are firm supporters of Donald Trump — but knock on pretty much any door, a turn-of-the-century mansion or tumbledown shack, and there is a stream of goodwill for Carter.

1550 (with trims) by Jenny Jarvie in Plains, Ga. MOVED


^The tumultuous life of an independent redistricting commissioner<

REDISTRICTING-COMMISSIONERS:SH — A warm breeze blew past Colleen Coyle Mathis and her husband, Christopher, as they lounged on the back porch of their Spanish Colonial Revival-style house one evening earlier this month, drinking bottles of Pacifico. Marigold, their 2-year-old Bernese mountain dog, lay at their feet, and the music of Linda Ronstadt hummed in the background.

Life in the Mathis house wasn't always so idyllic. Eight years ago, the couple had boarded up their bedroom windows with plywood and secured their front doors with floor bolts. Colleen traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with FBI agents about public threats to her life.

What made Mathis so fearful? Her volunteer state job. As the independent chairwoman of the state's citizen-led redistricting commission, she became the target of intense organized opposition from tea party-inspired residents and Republican lawmakers to her leadership and the new maps she supported.

2300 (with trims) by Matt Vasilogambros in Tucson, Ariz. MOVED


^Drug deals and food gone bad plague corner stores. How neighbors are fighting back<

CORNERSTORES:KHN — The parking lot was dark when Marie Franklin and her husband, Sam, last stopped at a corner store near their home. The couple didn't want much from the market that night. But they still strategized before Sam, 49, went inside.

"My husband wouldn't let me go in," Marie Franklin, 57, recalled. "About four or five guys were hanging around the door."

For her, the scene felt all too familiar in a city where it's getting harder to find a safe place to buy milk. In some neighborhoods across the country, such corner stores often stock more alcohol than food — and poor-quality groceries at that — amid a minefield of violence just outside their doors. Yet especially for many of the country's poorest residents, the shops are among the few options for buying groceries using the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food benefit.

1950 (with trims) by Cara Anthony in East St. Louis, Ill. MOVED


^More people want a green burial, but cemetery law hasn't caught up<

ENV-GREENBURIALS-CEMETERIES:SH — Visitors to the White Eagle Memorial Preserve in southern Washington won't find rows of headstones, manicured lawns or pathways to a loved one's final resting place. Instead, they stroll through an oak and ponderosa forest set within more than a thousand acres of wilderness.

Twenty acres of the wilderness is set aside as a cemetery. Bodies are placed in shallow graves among the trees, often wrapped in biodegradable shrouds, surrounded with leaves and pine needle mulch, and allowed to decompose naturally, returning nutrients to the soil.

Conservation cemeteries like White Eagle, which was founded in 2008, are still few and far between — only seven have been officially recognized by the Green Burial Council, the industry's certification body — but they're part of a growing movement to handle the dead in eco-friendly ways.

Green burial, the catchall term for these efforts, takes many forms, from no-frills burials in conventional cemeteries to sprawling wilderness conservation operations. Cemetery operators say they're seeing increasing interest in these less conventional end-of-life options.

1950 (with trims) by Alex Brown in Washington. MOVED


^Colonias to immigrants: We need you at census time<

COLONIAS-IMMIGRANTS-CENSUS:SH — In this colonia near the Mexico border, an area of sometimes makeshift housing south of Edinburg, neighborhood residents are learning when to, and when not to, speak up to authorities when you're living in the country illegally.

Caught driving without a license? "What do you do? We've told you! Don't say anything, don't sign anything," said Cristela Rocha, a community organizer for the immigrant advocacy group LUPE, La Union del Pueblo Entero, at a recent gathering with residents.

But when it comes to next year's census? That's the time to be as forthcoming as possible: Fill out forms on the age and race of everyone who lives with you, even distant relatives or a friend sleeping in your shed or garage.

The community meeting, organized by LUPE, highlights the problem communities face in high-immigrant areas seeking to avoid an undercount in the 2020 census, a problem that can sap both political representation and federal funding.

1800 (with trims) by Tim Henderson in Hidalgo County, Texas. MOVED




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