Tribune News Service

News Budget for January 12, 2019


Updated at 4 p.m. EST (2100 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.


^Trump's demand that South Korea pay more for US troops leads to impasse<

TRUMP-SKOREA:LA — South Korea is resisting a Trump administration demand for sharply higher payments to defray the cost of basing U.S. forces on its territory, raising fears that President Donald Trump might threaten a troop drawdown at a time of sensitive diplomacy on the Korean peninsula.

U.S. negotiators have sought a 50 percent increase in Seoul's annual payment, which last year was about $830 million, or about half of the estimated cost of hosting 28,500 U.S. troops, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the discussions.

The U.S. stance reflects Trump's view that U.S. allies have taken advantage of American military protection for decades

1150 (with trim) by David S. Cloud and Victoria Kim in Washington. MOVED


^FBI investigated whether Trump, after firing Comey, was working for Russia, NY Times reports<

USRUSSIA-HACKING-COMEY:BLO President Donald Trump Saturday angrily rejected a New York Times report that said the FBI opened an investigation in 2017 to determine whether he worked, knowingly or unknowingly, on behalf of Russia.

The Times report said that in the days after Trump fired Comey as FBI director in May 2017, the agency began investigating whether the president had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.

200 by Hailey Waller and Ros Krasny in Washington. MOVED



^Hate groups are about to find lawmakers eager to scrutinize them<

CONGRESS-THOMPSON-HATEGROUPS:WA — For years, Republicans have watched white supremacists claim the Republican Party is on their side. And on Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers did little to crack down on race-based hate groups.

But now Democrats are in charge of the House.

And that means Bennie Thompson, a black Democratic congressman from Mississippi, is in charge of the House Homeland Security Committee.

He plans to act.

1300 (with trims) by William Douglas in Washington. MOVED



^Julian Castro joins Democratic field of 2020 presidential candidates<

^JULIANCASTRO:LA—<With a jab at President Donald Trump and a promise to rally the country behind a progressive agenda of universal health care and environmentalism, former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro said Saturday that he is running for the 2020 presidential nomination.

550 by Mark Z. Barabak. MOVED


Also moving as:

JULIANCASTRO:DA 500 by Gromer Jeffers Jr. and Robert T. Garrett in San Antonio. MOVED



^Immigration court backlog could grow by years after government shutdown<

SHUTDOWN-IMMIGRATION:BLO The shutdown of the federal government over the president's campaign promise to build a wall along the southern U.S. border is taking its toll on already backed-up immigration courts.

Hearings for non-detained immigrants -seekers are being taken off the calendar because of the lack of funding and will have to be rescheduled when the partial shutdown ends. The problem will be finding an opening for those cases on judges' calendars, which are already filled for the next three years or more.

200 by Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles. MOVED

^LA teachers' strike all but certain as union rejects district's latest offer<

EDU-LA-TEACHERS-STRIKE:LA Negotiations between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the union representing its teachers ended Friday with no deal in sight. All signs point to the first strike in 30 years in the nation's second-largest school system.

Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said that unless district officials make a significant new proposal, 31,000 teachers, librarians, nurses and counselors will strike Monday.

600 by Howard Blume, John Myers and Sonali Kohli in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Shutdown hurts farmers, but many stick with Trump<

FARM-SHUTDOWN:BLO Farmers are used to playing the long game. Bad weather comes and goes, prices rise and fall, but they are a patient lot. So it is with their support for Donald Trump.

That's the signal from farmers these days during the partial government shutdown that's keeping some growers from filing for payments to help them overcome crop tariffs resulting from Trump's trade war with China.

550 by Mario Parker, Jeremy Hill and Shruti Date Singh in Chicago. MOVED



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

^Russia investigation could spark battle to learn Robert Mueller's findings<

USRUSSIA-HACKING-REPORT:LA — Only a few blocks from the National Mall, amid a cluster of nondescript buildings, more than a dozen prosecutors working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III have followed an unusual routine as they toil away on the Russia investigation.

When they leave the office at night, they often wonder if it could be their last day on the job, according to an attorney familiar with their work. Fearful that President Donald Trump will try to shut down the sprawling criminal investigation, they've been compiling and writing their conclusions as they go, the attorney said.

Even if Trump doesn't try to fire Mueller and disband his team — something he's threatened several times — the president's lawyers have indicated they'll try to keep the public from learning whatever the special counsel's office has discovered.

1500 by Chris Megerian, Del Quentin Wilber and David Willman in Washington. MOVED


^Firefighters' fateful choices: How the Woolsey fire became an unstoppable monster<

CALIF-WILDFIRES-WOOLSEY:LA — It was clear from the beginning that the Woolsey fire had the potential to be a monster.

It broke out mid-afternoon Nov. 8 on Boeing property near the Santa Susana Pass, fueled by strengthening winds and burning toward populated areas.

But during the critical first hours, the Woolsey fire took second priority.

Ventura County firefighters were already engaged in a pitched battle with another blaze, called the Hill fire, about 15 miles to the west that had jumped the 101 Freeway and was threatening hundreds of homes and businesses.

The Woolsey fire was growing but still far enough from subdivisions that it got fewer resources from Ventura County. Neighboring fire agencies sent some help, but it would take hours before they launched an all-out attack at the fire lines.

These turned out to be fateful choices in what would become the most destructive fire in Los Angeles and Ventura county history.

3800 (with trims) by Jaclyn Cosgrove in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Killing of California officer stirs a familiar refrain<

CALIF-OFFICERSLAIN-IMMIGRANTS:LA — The procession of police cars worked its way through the Central Valley, escorting the body of Ronil Singh for his final watch in this small town.

The silver hearse swept past ads for farm equipment, campaign signs for a Republican congressman who narrowly lost his re-election bid and cows grazing on vast dairy farms.

Word of the death of Newman Police Cpl. Singh had spread quickly through Newman, population about 11,000. Many in town personally knew and grieved for the officer who, like a large number of the people he protected, was an immigrant.

His death also came at the hands of an immigrant, a Latino man living in the country illegally.

1500 by Brittny Mejia in Newman, Calif. MOVED


^In our post-truth era, how we view reality is more important than ever<

POSTTRUTH-REALITY:SE — Last year, the president's defender Rudy Giuliani went full Orwell when he declared on national television that "Truth isn't truth," and objective facts are "in the eye of the beholder."

Such language epitomizes the era of President Donald Trump, who has told thousands of lies in office as regularly as a normal person says "hello," and has demonized inconvenient facts as "fake news."

Politicians frequently spin or shade issues or events to their advantage. But the wholesale denial of objective reality is something new, especially from the highest elected official in the land.

2150 (with trims) by Jon Talton in Seattle. MOVED


^When medicine makes patients sicker<

MED-TAINTEDDRUGS:KHN — Despite the jackhammer-like rhythm of a mechanical ventilator, Alicia Moreno had dozed off in a chair by her 1-year-old's hospital bed, when a doctor woke her with some bad news: The common stool softener her son, Anderson, was given months earlier had been contaminated with the bacterium Burkholderia cepacia.

Suddenly, Anderson's rocky course made medical sense. B. cepacia was the same unusual bacterium mysteriously found in the boy's respiratory tract, temporarily taking him off the list for a heart transplant. The same bacterium resurfaced after his transplant and combined with a flu-like illness to infect his lungs. He's been on a ventilator ever since.

The tainted over-the-counter medicine, docusate sodium, routinely prescribed to nearly every hospitalized patient to avert constipation, caused Anderson to suffer "serious and dangerous life-threatening injuries," a lawsuit filed by his family alleges. The drug was eventually recalled.

Since the start of 2013, pharmaceutical companies based in the U.S. or abroad have recalled about 8,000 medicines, comprising billions of tablets, bottles and vials that have entered the U.S. drug supply.

3400 by Sydney Lupkin in Ann Arbor, Mich. MOVED


^The orca and the orca catcher: How a generation of killer whales was taken from Puget Sound<

ENV-ORCAS-CATCH:SE — He saw the orca looming, so close, in the sea pen hastily welded together for the more-than 400-mile tow to Seattle.

"I dive down and oh God, there is this shadow 4 feet away, looking at me," said Ted Griffin, remembering his first moments with Namu, soon to become the world's first performing captive killer whale.

Word of Namu — named for the remote B.C. village where he was accidentally caught in a fishermen's net — quickly spread. Thousands of onlookers backed up for miles on and near Deception Pass Bridge hoping to catch a glimpse when Namu's Navy, as the orca's entourage of onlookers, press and promoters was called, passed beneath.

Arriving in Seattle on July 28, 1965, Griffin was given a hero's welcome and a key to the city.

In the weeks to come, thousands flocked and paid to see the whale at Griffin's Seattle Marine Aquarium at Pier 56. Namu fever stoked an international craze for killer whales to put on exhibit all over the nation and the world.

2850 by Lynda V. Mapes in Seattle. MOVED


^Desolate, forbidding terrain at a remote border crossing<

BORDER-CROSSING:LA — Antelope Wells is 170 miles southwest of El Paso, a three-hour drive through forbidding terrain, where stray dogs and deadly snakes roam and where even the water in wells can prove poisonous. It's at the southernmost tip of New Mexico.

Last month, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl, crossed the border here with her father and a group of migrants after a bus dropped them on a similarly isolated stretch of north Mexican highway. After they turned themselves in to seek asylum, Border Patrol agents were driving them to the closest station eight hours later when Jakelin fell ill. Shortly after being flown from there to an El Paso hospital, about 27 hours after the crossing, Jakelin had a heart attack and died.

A drive down the desolate road Jakelin traveled from this desert crossing makes clear both how harsh the landscape can be and how fear of a border crisis continues to spread.

1350 by Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Antelope Wells, N.M. MOVED


^Up to a third of knee replacements pack pain and regret<

MED-KNEE-REPLACEMENTS:KHN — Danette Lake thought surgery would relieve the pain in her knees.

The arthritis pain began as a dull ache in her early 40s, brought on largely by the pressure of unwanted weight.

A sexual assault two years ago left Lake with physical and psychological trauma. She damaged her knees while fighting off her attacker, who had broken into her home. Although she managed to escape, her knees never recovered. At times, the sharp pain drove her to the emergency room. Lake's job, which involved loading luggage onto airplanes, often left her in misery.

When a doctor said that knee replacement would reduce her arthritis pain by 75 percent, Lake was overjoyed.

But one year after surgery on her right knee, Lake said she's still suffering.

Most knee replacements are considered successful, and the procedure is known for being safe and cost-effective.

But doctors are increasingly concerned that the procedure is overused and that its benefits have been oversold.

1500 by Liz Szabo. MOVED


^If Democrats are looking for fresh, new faces, why are these septuagenarian white guys so popular?<

DEMOCRATS-2020:LA — After congressional elections in which Democrats in record numbers chose to elevate women, minority and gay candidates, casting ballots for diversity and youth in district after district, the list of presidential hopefuls most exciting to Democratic voters is a bit curious.

At the top, several polls indicate, is a septuagenarian white guy synonymous with the party establishment — Joe Biden.

Next is another 70-plus white man whose trouble connecting with black voters hurt his last presidential run — Bernie Sanders.

And just behind them in the early polls is yet another white elected official, albeit a younger one — Beto O'Rourke.

Even if early voter surveys are a limited indicator of where the race is going — measuring the familiarity of candidate names as much as anything — the sustained popularity of these straight white men is hard to overlook.

1450 by Evan Halper in Washington. (Moved as a politics story.) MOVED


^Scraping to survive: Cubans forced to defy government to eke out existence<

CUBA-WORKERS:NY — This is definitely not what Fidel pictured.

Sixty years after Castro overthrew Cuba's notoriously corrupt dictator Fulgencio Batista, one of the world's last remaining Communist strongholds has become a hotbed of capitalism.

In Havana, where crumbling Colonial-era buildings stand in near-ruin alongside shiny new hotels and restaurants owned by private citizens — and where American cars from the 1950s are now tourist taxis that use the Plaza de la Revolucion as a parking lot — long-suffering Cubans have been forced to become crafty capitalists in order to survive under the Socialist state's eternally ineffective economy.

1650 by Robert Dominguez in Havana. MOVED


^How solitary confinement drove a young inmate to the brink of insanity<

SOLITARY-CONFINEMENT:TB — With his mental state deteriorating as he sat in the crushing isolation of solitary confinement, a desperate inmate named Anthony Gay saw a temporary way out.

Sometimes it came in the form of a contraband razor blade. Occasionally it was a staple from a legal document or a small shard of something he had broken.

He would mutilate himself in his Illinois prison cell, slicing open his neck, forearms, legs and genitals hundreds of times over two decades in solitary confinement.

Each time he harmed himself, he knew that, at least for a little while, the extreme step would bring contact with other human beings. Therapists would rush to calm him. Nurses would offer kind words as they took his pulse and stitched him up.

3800 (with trims) by Jeff Coen and Stacy St. Clair in Chicago. MOVED


^Whether good news or bad, northern Sierra readers can always blame the Messenger<

CALIF-NEWSPAPER:LA — The editor-publisher of California's oldest weekly newspaper has rules for his publication: No children on the front page ("I loathe children"). No beauty pageants. No online presence. "As long as I'm running it, it's on pulp, period," Don Russell said.

The Mountain Messenger publishes Thursdays, so on a Wednesday, Russell, 67, sat down to write the front page. Thirty years ago this terrified him.

"But now I'm like, 'Watch what I can do,'" he said — with the chortle of a melodrama villain and a voice as deep as the color of his favorite bourbon.

Russell covers school board meetings, federal land use and everything else in Sierra and Plumas counties — some of the most rural areas of California.

1350 (with trims) by Diana Marcum in Downieville, Calif. MOVED




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