Tribune News Service

News Budget for Saturday, February 9, 2019


Updated at 11 p.m. EST (0400 UTC).


Additional news stories appear on the MCT-NEWSFEATURES-BJT.

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


^Congress tries again for a deal on border barrier money<

CONGRESS-BORDER:BLO Congressional negotiators dug in for a weekend of talks on a security plan that includes some sort of barrier on the U.S.-Mexican border, hoping to complete a deal that's also acceptable to President Donald Trump and avoid another government shutdown.

350 by Erik Wasson and Jack Fitzpatrick in Washington. MOVED

^Maduro's demise in Venezuela would drag Cuba into an economic crisis, experts say<

^VENEZUELA-CUBA-OIL:MI—<Two weeks after Juan Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela, the Cuban government has shown no sign of diminishing its support for the Nicolas Maduro regime. Havana's bet on Maduro is risky because many other countries are increasingly supporting Guaido, but it has a good reason for sticking with him: If his regime collapses, the island could fall into a new economic crisis, economists said.

1050 (with trim) by Nora Gamez Torres. MOVED



^Sanders risks getting crowded out in 2020 field of progressives<

DEMOCRATS-2020-SANDERS:BLO Bernie Sanders' army of fervent progressives will be up for grabs in 2020 even if the Vermont independent again runs for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanders may be a victim of his own success in driving the party to the left with his 2016 run. The field of Democratic presidential candidates includes at least a half-dozen candidates who've adopted in whole or in part the platform that helped Sanders build a loyal following of young voters and liberals.

1100 (with trim) by Arit John in Washington. MOVED


^Democrats on House climate panel steeped in energy industry money<

DEMOCRATS-CONTRIBUTIONS:BLO Democrats named to a newly revived House committee on climate change received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from the oil, gas, and utility industries, campaign finance data show.

In all, the nine Democratic members of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, accepted more than $238,000 from sectors tied to the energy industry, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission 2018 campaign spending data by the Center for Responsive Politics.

600 by Ari Natter and Bill Allison in Washington. MOVED


^Texas councilman calls Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a 'bimbo' before apologizing and deleting account<

^OCASIOCORTEZ-COUNCILMAN:NY—<A city council member from a Dallas suburb took aim at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on his personal Twitter account before quickly backtracking and apologizing.

Richardson City Councilman Scott Dunn's tweet, which appears to be in response to a post from the newly elected congresswoman, was captured in a screenshot and re-shared online this week.

"The embarrassment is to have bimbos like you with nothing between your ears," the Texas politician wrote.

Ocasio-Cortez skyrocketed to political stardom after she beat out 10-term incumbent Congressman Joe Crowley in one the biggest upsets in the 2018 midterm-primaries. She has since become a lightning rod, particularly for the GOP, who have been vocally critical of her and her democratic socialist platform.

300 by Jessica Schladebeck. MOVED



^Virginia governor won't quit; lieutenant governor pressed to resign<

^VAGOV-BLACKFACE:BLO—<Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, in his first interview since a racist photo in his medical school yearbook emerged over a week ago, said he'll finish his four-year term and pursue an agenda of racial reconciliation and "equity."

Northam said he's asked his Cabinet secretaries to come up with specific proposals to begin addressing issues of inequality.

Separately, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, is under increasing pressure to resign over allegations of sexual assault.

350 by Hailey Waller. MOVED


Also moving as:

VAGOV-BLACKFACE:DPA — 200 by dpa correspondents in Washington. MOVED


^Bezos turns focus to tabloid's tactics<

^BEZOS-NATIONALENQUIRER-TACTICS:LA—<Supermarket tabloid National Enquirer has long employed hardball tactics in pursuit of salacious scoops about Hollywood celebrities and politicians, while simultaneously covering up embarrassing stories about its friends, including President Donald Trump and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But the tabloid may have underestimated the wrath of its latest target: the world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com and owner of The Washington Post.

1450 (with trim) by Meg James, Richard Winton and David Ng. MOVED


^The National Enquirer pushed the envelope with Bezos, but was it a crime?<

^BEZOS-NATIONALENQUIRER-QA:LA—<Legal experts say The National Enquirer has pushed the envelope far when it comes to its dealings with Jeff Bezos and his team, but proving a crime of extortion might be difficult. A Q&A.

650 by Richard Winton. MOVED


^How musicians get voters to take note<

^MUS-GRAMMYS-MARKETING-ADV10:LA—<Ally Maine is a fictional singer. But she's pushing for some very real awards above Sunset Boulevard.

The singer from "A Star Is Born," as played by Lady Gaga, is on a massive billboard in front of the Chateau Marmont. It's the exact spot where a similar advertisement appeared in the film.

Those who know the movie's breakthrough soundtrack single, "Shallow," will have the song stuck in their heads when they round Crescent Heights Boulevard. And if you're a voter for the Grammy Awards, which air live from the Staples Center at 5 p.m. on Sunday on CBS, you may also remember "Shallow's" nominations for song and record of the year, which could be the first tune from a soundtrack to win one of the top Grammy prizes in two decades.

But "Shallow" is not all that the Grammys and the Oscars have in common this year.

1300 (with trims) by August Brown and Andrea Domanick in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Trump administration waives environmental review to replace more San Diego border fencing<

SANDIEGO-BORDER-FENCE:SD — Describing San Diego's border with Mexico as "an area of high illegal entry," the Trump administration announced this week it is waiving environmental reviews to speed up replacement of 12.4 miles of the secondary border fence.

700 by Peter Rowe in San Diego. MOVED


^Monica Potter claims she was denied movie role after rejecting Harvey Weinstein — and says she hit him 'where it hurt'<

^WEINSTEIN-POTTER:NY—<Another actress has emerged to accuse disgraced filmmaker Harvey Weinstein of unwanted advances — and says she belted him "where it hurt."

Monica Potter says she was denied a job in "The Cider House Rules" after rejecting Weinstein, who is accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women.

"I lost out on that role because of that hairy pig," Potter said Friday during an interview with Cleveland news station WKYC.

The actress, 47, previously hadn't shared her allegation against Weinstein.

"I didn't do something, so therefore I missed out on it," Potter said of the role. "I'm not saying the person who got it did, I'm just saying I didn't."

She said Weinstein "tried three times" with her.

350 by Peter Sblendorio. MOVED


^New storm brings more snow to Southern California mountains; I-5 corridor in jeopardy<

^WEA-CALIF-STORM:LA—<A new storm moved into Southern California on Saturday, bringing light rain and concerns over snow in mountain passes.

Snow was beginning to stick along the Interstate 5 corridor in the Tejon Pass, the National Weather Service said Saturday morning.

Snow level were predicted to drop to 3,500-to-4,000 feet Saturday. Higher mountains could see 2 to 4 inches of snow. Snow levels could drop to 2,500 feet Sunday, when a second storm moves through.

Officials have warned of possible closures of mountain passes because of snow.

300 by Javier Panzar and Kim Christensen. MOVED


^Explorer-scientist Walter Munk, 'Einstein of the Oceans,' dies at 101<

MUNK-OBIT:SD — Walter Munk, the high-spirited scientist-explorer whose insights on the nature of winds, waves and currents earned him the nickname the "Einstein of the Oceans," died Friday. He was 101.

Munk died at his home near the University of California, San Diego, a campus he helped make famous through decades of work at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

1000 (with trims) by Gary Robbins in San Diego. MOVED



^Ex-princess bows to Thai king's command and won't run for prime minister<

THAILAND-PRINCESS:LA — Barely 24 hours after she shocked the country by announcing she was running for prime minister, Thailand's former Princess Ubolratana Mahidol dropped out of the race Saturday after her brother, the king, objected.

A statement from Ubolratana's party, Thai Raksa Chart, said it had accepted King Maha Vajiralongkorn's royal command prohibiting his elder sister from running.

400 by Shashank Bengali and Poypiti Amatatham in Bangkok. MOVED

^72 die from tainted liquor in India<

^INDIA-TAINTED-LIQUOR:DPA—<NEW DELHI The number of people who died after drinking illegally brewed alcohol in northern India rose to 72 Saturday as authorities began a crackdown and suspended police and officials.

250 by Siddhartha Kumar. MOVED


These stories moved earlier in the week and remain suitable for weekend use.

^Thieves stole architectural gems from USC in a heist that remained hidden for years<

CMP-USC-ARCHITECTURE-THEFTS:LA — The thieves seemed to know exactly what they were looking for.

They entered an unmarked warehouse on a South Los Angeles side street, moved through a warren of file cabinets, yellowing papers and jettisoned desks, and breached a small storage room.

Inside was a cache of furniture designed by two of the most celebrated American architects of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolph Schindler.

The thieves made off with two of Wright's striking floor lamps and a cushioned chair believed to have been designed by Schindler — a haul with a potential value of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Six years after the heist at the USC warehouse, the identities of the perpetrators remain a mystery.

There is a second puzzle: Why didn't the university report the theft to police at the time or seek the public's help in recovering the irreplaceable pieces?

1700 by Harriet Ryan and Matt Hamilton in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Democrats go bold on economic plans, a deliberate contrast to 2016<

DEMOCRATS-2020-ECONOMICPLANS:LA — Asked what her very first act as president would be, Sen. Kamala Harris had a quick answer at a recent televised town hall: enact a tax cut that would boost incomes for working families by as much as $6,000 a year.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren followed the launch of her campaign by unveiling a tax on the super-rich that backers say could raise as much as $275 billion a year.

Sen. Cory touts his plan for government-paid trust funds for every American baby, which supporters say could dramatically shrink the racial wealth gap.

Candidates in primaries battle with their personalities and life stories. Campaigns, however, also serve as contests of ideas.

But many of the ideas gaining the most traction share a common theme: How can the U.S. combat growing inequality of wealth and stagnation of wages for low- and middle-income workers, problems that have dominated the economic landscape for much of the last two decades?

1600 by David Lauter in Washington. MOVED


^ 'A bullet in your pocket': Lawyers target battery makers in exploding e-cigarette cases<

ECIGARETTES-SAFETY:FT — What some people thought was a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes has left at numerous people across the nation disfigured and burned after their electronic cigarettes exploded.

Now, their attorneys have filed lawsuits targeting the manufacturers of e-cigarette batteries and the vape stores that sell them.

The issue of e-cigarette safety resurfaced after 24-year-old William Brown of Fort Worth was killed last month when his e-cig exploded in his face, causing an artery in his neck to be severed. It's not known what type of device he was using, if it was modified or what company manufactured the battery.

1650 (with trims) by Nichole Manna in Fort Worth, Texas. MOVED


^To save the Earth someday, team builds spacecraft to crash into an asteroid and shove it off course<

SCI-ASTEROID-DEFENSE:BZ — A team of scientists, astronomers and engineers meets weekly in a conference room on a Howard County, Md., research campus and plans to save the world.

"Keep calm and carry DART," reads a poster on the wall.

DART — the Double Asteroid Redirection Test — is their plan to avert catastrophe. It's also NASA's first mission not to explore space, but to defend against it.

The research team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel plans to launch a spacecraft, speed it up really fast and smash it into an asteroid. BOOM!

The impact, they hope, will bump the big space rock off course — actually more like nudge it slightly. Someday, the thinking goes, this method may save humans from the fate of the dinosaurs.

1050 by Tim Prudente in Baltimore. MOVED


^Even cancer can't get some patients to quit smoking. What could help them kick their habit? <

^MED-SMOKING-QUITTING:PHI—<After Mary Moore was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2016, she kept smoking, defying her doctors' advice and her sons' pleas.

"I liked smoking," recalled the Northeast Philadelphia resident, who is now 61. "I tried quitting before. I just didn't think I could quit."

Fortunately, she joined a clinical trial that proved her wrong. The study, run by the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University, gave 207 smokers with various cancers either 24 weeks of the smoking cessation drug Chantix, or 12 weeks of the drug, which was then standard. Both groups also received counseling sessions.

Moore, who was in the 24-week treatment group, has not smoked for more than two years.

Unfortunately, Moore's success was unusual. Contrary to the researchers' hypothesis, extended treatment with Chantix, or varenicline, did not improve overall quit rates at six months or a year — providing yet more evidence of the deadly grip of nicotine addiction.

750 Marie McCullough. MOVED


^Meth and murder: A new kind of drug war has made Tijuana one of the deadliest cities on Earth<

TIJUANA-METH:LA — It seemed like everyone in Christian Castillo's life was getting killed or running from death.

Two neighbors on his block were gunned down, along with the taco vendor at the end of the street. Then came a childhood friend of Castillo's mother who had started selling drugs and was shot dead with her husband. Soon their son was executed, too.

Castillo, who until a few years ago held a good job at a Tijuana insurance company, didn't attend any of the funerals. He was too busy getting high and trying not to be killed next.

Tijuana, a city of 1.8 million that not long ago was celebrating a major reduction in violence, is in the grip of an unprecedented homicide crisis.

A record 2,518 people were killed here in 2018 — nearly seven times the total in 2012. With 140 killings per 100,000 people, Tijuana is now one of the deadliest cities in the world.

3000 by Kate Linthicum in Tijuana, Mexico. MOVED


^United Methodists face vote on LGBTQ issues. Will it rip the church apart?<

RELIG-METHODISTS-LGBTQ:FT — On a Tuesday in January, pastor Katie Lewis was surprised to have even 26 members of the United Methodist Church of Colleyville attend her study group on human sexuality and same-sex marriage.

In a group of mostly middle-aged white congregants, opinions ranged widely. One man said he felt pressure to accept LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage from "more liberal" members from the East and West coasts. Others quickly disputed that idea, saying the issue is a concern in Colleyville as well.

Lewis said she felt the conversation was necessary ahead of the United Methodist General Conference this month. The conference meets every four years, but a special session was called to vote on a plan regarding same-sex marriage and the acceptance of LGBTQ clergy in the church.

The United Methodist Church faces the possibility of a schism because of the vote.

1700 (with trims) by Hanaa' Tameez in Colleyville, Texas. MOVED


^The dark web puts a new twist on the age-old practice of counterfeiting<

DARKWEB-COUNTERFEITERS:LA — When Secret Service Agent Matthew Britsch began trawling for major counterfeiters in the shadowy marketplaces of the dark web, he acted like any smart consumer on eBay — he studied the reviews.

Britsch knew he had struck gold when he found Billmaker, the online moniker of an anonymous counterfeiter who promised a high-quality $100 bill and a money-back guarantee. He even had a loyal fan base who praised his work and customer service with scores of positive reviews.

The agent clicked "buy" and in September 2017 purchased four fake $100 bills for $120 in bitcoin, the online cryptocurrency. The counterfeits arrived on time and were as good as promised.

An analysis by Secret Service experts linked the fraudulent bills to thousands of others that had been passed with a total face value of $4.1 million. That made Billmaker the nation's most prolific domestic counterfeiter.

1550 by Del Quentin Wilber in Savannah, Ga. MOVED




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