(TNS)

Tribune News Service

News Budget for Thursday, November 14, 2019

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

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Adds HALLOWEENPARTY-SHOOTING-AIRBNB:SJ, CONGRESS-ARMENIA:LA, GIULIANI:BLO, TRUMP-RESTITUTION:BLO, CALIF-SCHOOLSHOOTING-SUSPECT:LA, BUNDY-STANDOFF:LA, TV-SURVIVOR-METOO:LA, BIDEN:LA, TRUMP-LOUISIANA:CON, CONGRESS-ETHICS:CON, JAPAN-EMPEROR:DPA, IMPEACHMENT-BOLTONAIDE:BLO

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Updates CALIF-SCHOOLSHOOTING:LA, BART-EATING-ARREST:CC, CALIF-SCHOOLSHOOTING-STUDENT:LA, TRUMP-TAXRETURNS:LA

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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.

^TOP STORIES<

^Calif. high school shooter opens fire on crowded quad, killing 2 and injuring 3<

CALIF-SCHOOLSHOOTING-9TH-LEDE:LA — Authorities said the shooting at Saugus High School that left two students dead and three wounded Thursday occurred over a 16-second period in which a classmate pulled out a gun in the quad area and opened fire.

The gunfire broke out at 7:30 a.m., said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Paramedics swarmed the campus, treating the wounded, while law enforcement searched nearby neighborhoods for a 16-year-old boy they thought had fled after the shooting. Authorities later said the suspect was found on campus with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

1300 by Hannah Fry, Marisa Gerber, James Queally, Brittny Mejia, Richard Winton and Sarah Parvini in Santa Clarita, Calif. MOVED

PHOTOS, GRAPHICS

^Trump asks Supreme Court to shield his tax returns from investigators<

TRUMP-TAXRETURNS-1ST-LEDE:LA — President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to shield him from a New York grand jury's demand to see his tax returns and other financial records, setting the stage for a constitutional clash over whether the president has "absolute immunity" from being investigated or prosecuted.

It is the first of two appeals from Trump that seek to protect his tax returns from investigators. The House Oversight Committee has been seeking the same records.

1350 (with trims) by David G. Savage in Washington. MOVED

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^Cellphone call from Ukraine could compound Trump's troubles<

IMPEACHMENT-CALL:LA — When Donald Trump was constructing the opulent Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan four decades ago, he was infuriated when he saw a thin layer of golden-hued marble lining the walls and column in the lobby, and ordered aides to make it appear twice as thick.

Sure, he had architects and engineers to handle those decorating details so that he could focus on the building's multimillion-dollar budget and other big-picture concerns of a business empire that would teeter in and out of bankruptcy.

But when something bothers Trump, however small, he can obsess over it.

That tendency to become preoccupied by narrow interests is haunting him in the impeachment inquiry.

1150 (with trims) by Noah Bierman in Washington. MOVED

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^Matt Bevin concedes Kentucky governor's race<

KYGOV-1ST-LEDE:LX — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin conceded the race for governor Thursday, ending more than a week of speculation over whether he would contest the results of the Nov. 5 election, which he narrowly lost to Democrat Andy Beshear.

Bevin's announcement came after a statewide recanvass showed minimal changes in election totals. Beshear won by less than 0.5 percentage points.

400 by Daniel Desrochers in Frankfort, Ky. (Moved as a politics story.) MOVED

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^Deval Patrick enters Democratic presidential race<

PATRICK:LA — Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick launched a late-entry bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday morning, joining an already crowded field with a campaign that will aim to position him as a pragmatist well-positioned to take on President Trump.

"I admire and respect the candidates in the Democratic field. But if the character of the candidates is an issue in every election, this time is about the character of the country," he said in a video launching his candidacy.

1550 (with trims) by Evan Halper and Noah Bierman in Washington. MOVED

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^WASHINGTON<

^Trump faces NY demand to pay $2 million in restitution quickly<

TRUMP-RESTITUTION:BLO — New York wants President Donald Trump to quickly pay $2 million in court-ordered restitution after he admitted misusing his personal charitable foundation by raising money for political purposes during the 2016 campaign and other violations.

New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a judge to give Trump 10 days to make the payment and resolve New York's 2018 lawsuit over violations of state nonprofit rules.

150 by Erik Larson in New York. MOVED

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^Ivanka Trump is ramping up paid family leave push with White House summit<

IVANKATRUMP-FAMILYLEAVE:WA — The White House is inviting lawmakers to its first summit on paid family leave and childcare affordability next month in an effort to increase momentum for Ivanka Trump's signature issues.

Invitations to the half-day Dec. 12 event at the White House were expected to be sent this week to lawmakers and advocates for those policies, White House aides told McClatchy.

1050 (with trims) by Francesca Chambers in Washington. MOVED

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^Giuliani faces US probe on campaign finance, lobbying breaches<

GIULIANI:BLO — Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, is being investigated by federal prosecutors for possible campaign finance violations and a failure to register as a foreign agent as part of an active investigation into his financial dealings, according to three U.S. officials.

The probe of Giuliani, which one official said could also include possible charges on violating laws against bribing foreign officials or conspiracy, presents a serious threat to Trump's presidency from a man that former national security adviser John Bolton has called a "hand grenade."

1050 by Chris Strohm and Jordan Fabian in Washington. MOVED

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^Trump's Energy nominee bats away questions about Perry and Ukraine<

ENERGY-NOMINEE:CON — President Donald Trump's nominee to the Energy Department distanced himself Thursday from the House impeachment inquiry of the president, telling senators he does not have direct knowledge of efforts to overhaul the board of a Ukrainian government-owned energy firm.

Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Dan Brouillette, the No. 2 at DOE, said he was aware Secretary Rick Perry met with people interested in changing the corporate structure of Naftogaz, the Ukrainian company.

500 by Benjamin Hulac in Washington. MOVED

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^Democrats protest, but Senate confirms Steven Menashi to federal appeals court<

APPEALSCOURT-NOMINEE:CON — The man Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer described as a "bottom crawler" was confirmed Thursday to a lifetime appointment on the federal appeals court based in his home state of New York.

Schumer and other Democrats have opposed many of President Donald Trump's nominees to be federal judges that have been called up for votes by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. But the opposition to Steven J. Menashi has been more voracious than for most.

400 by Niels Lesniewski in Washington. MOVED

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^Ken Cuccinelli, an immigration hard-liner, tapped for No. 2 job at Homeland Security<

HOMELANDSECURITY-CUCCINELLI:CON — Shortly after being sworn in as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf — who the Senate confirmed as the agency's policy undersecretary just hours earlier — conducted his first order of business.

He moved Ken Cuccinelli, a favorite of immigration hard-liners, into the No. 2 position.

600 (with trims) by Tanvi Misra in Washington. MOVED

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^Sen. Kamala Harris introduces bill to boost towns' wildfire preparedness<

HARRIS-WILDFIRES:LA — California Sen. Kamala Harris introduced a bill Thursday that would set aside $1 billion each year to pay for better infrastructure, land-use and evacuation route planning in fire-prone communities.

The proposed legislation would benefit cities and towns throughout the country, but especially those in California, where many communities are vulnerable and residents are struggling to adapt to longer and more intense fire seasons.

550 by Anna M. Phillips in Washington. MOVED

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^Trump says former Bolton deputy has 'no business' in court<

IMPEACHMENT-BOLTONAIDE:BLO — President Donald Trump said his former deputy national security adviser has "no business" asking a federal judge whether he must comply with a congressional subpoena to testify at the impeachment hearings.

Trump asked the judge to throw out Charles Kupperman's lawsuit seeking direction from the court. The president claims to have absolute power to decide whether his advisers can testify.

200 by Edvard Pettersson. MOVED

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^Eric Trump dismisses impeachment hearing, but says it was a boon for fundraising<

IMPEACHMENT-ERICTRUMP:PM — Speaking during a press call on Thursday organized by a GOP fundraising committee, Eric Trump adopted the rhetoric approved by party officials and repeated by conservative pundits on social media, television and radio to denounce the first day of impeachment hearings against his father.

"I've seen this movie before, and it's never worked out," said Trump, President Donald Trump's middle son. "Every time they try using beltway tactics they fall on their face."

500 by Christine Stapleton in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Moved as a Washington story.) MOVED

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^Justice Department requests Ethics Committee deferral on Rep. Spano case<

CONGRESS-ETHICS:CON — The House Ethics Committee released on Thursday the Office of Congressional Ethics referral documents for cases regarding Reps. Bill Huizenga, Ross Spano and Rashida Tlaib, deferring consideration of the Spano case at the request of the Justice Department.

The Office of Congressional Ethics first referred the three cases to the House Ethics panel on Aug. 16.

950 by Katherine Tully-McManus in Washington. MOVED

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^POLITICS<

^Joe Biden rages over school shootings as he holds his first 2020 rally in California<

BIDEN:LA — Joe Biden, his voice raised, raged at the gun lobby, congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump as he spoke about the deadly school shooting that took place hours earlier Thursday in Santa Clarita.

"You parents and grandparents, you send off children — 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years old — and the first thing they learn is how to duck and cover," the former vice president said.

"We're now making sure that we provide children the ability to avoid being shot in school," he said, referring to campuses being designed with hiding places. "What does that say about our soul? I'm so tired about people talking about your prayers. Damn it, we have to protect these kids. We have to do it now."

1050 (with trims) by Seema Mehta in Los Angeles. MOVED

PHOTOS

^North Carolina Democrats could pick up seats in Congress under proposed map<

NC-REDISTRICTING:RA — Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly are advancing a new map for the 2020 U.S. House races that could cost their party seats in Congress.

The map isn't final yet, and could still be changed, but it won approval in a key legislative committee Thursday morning.

850 (with trims) by Will Doran and Brian Murphy in Raleigh, N.C. MOVED

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^UNITED STATES<

^Jeffrey Epstein wasn't trafficking women — and he didn't kill himself, brother says<

EPSTEIN:MI — Mark Epstein gets angry when he is asked probing questions about his brother. He curses, insists the questions aren't relevant and sometimes slams down the phone. Mostly, he defends his older brother, Jeffrey Epstein, insisting he wasn't a sex trafficker at all.

"He was innocent and, until proven guilty, you are entitled to bail in America," said Mark Epstein, Jeffrey Epstein's only sibling, next of kin and likely heir to his brother's estimated $500 million fortune.

Mark Epstein is talking, but only because he believes that his 66-year-old brother was killed.

2250 by Julie K. Brown. MOVED

PHOTOS

^Trump goes after Adam Schiff at Louisiana rally for GOP governor nominee<

TRUMP-LOUISIANA:CON — President Donald Trump on Thursday night used a political rally in Louisiana, billed as a late-race assist to the Republican candidate for governor, to blast the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, insulting House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff and citing a conservative website to show he has done nothing wrong.

"While we are creating jobs and killing terrorists, the radical left — Democrats — are ripping our country apart," Trump said to boos from the crowd inside the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City.

800 by John T. Bennett in Bossier City, La. MOVED

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^Drug trafficking through Venezuela has skyrocketed, US military chief says<

USVENEZUELA-DRUGS:MI — Drug trafficking through Venezuela has increased dramatically and constitutes a threat to the security of the region, said the admiral in charge of the U.S. Southern Command, Craig S. Faller, after opening remarks at a Caribbean Nations Security Conference in Miami on Thursday.

600 by Nora Gamez Torres in Miami. MOVED

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^Boat fire: Coast Guard to reconsider vessel safety improvements that were earlier rejected<

CALIF-BOATFIRE-RULES:LA — Days after the Los Angeles Times reported the U.S. Coast Guard had rejected federal recommendations that could help prevent boating tragedies, a Coast Guard leader said the agency will reconsider the measures in the aftermath of the Labor Day fire that killed 34 people on the Conception dive boat.

On Thursday, a House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation quizzed the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board about passenger safety on waterways.

950 by Mark Puente and Richard Winton in Washington. MOVED

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^Suspects arrested in San Francisco Bay Area Halloween shooting that killed 5<

HALLOWEENPARTY-SHOOTING-AIRBNB:SJ — Following a series of raids in Vallejo, Antioch, San Mateo and Marin City, authorities announced the arrest of five suspects Thursday in the Halloween shooting here that left five dead and several more injured.

In a news release announcing the arrests, the Contra Costa County sheriff's office also suggested that two of the five victims may have had a hand in the shooting. He did not say which ones.

500 by Nate Gartrell, David DeBolt and Jon Kawamoto in Orinda, Calif. MOVED

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^Baltimore hits 300 homicides for fifth year in a row<

BALTIMORE-VIOLENCE:BZ — Baltimore has lost 300 people to homicide for the fifth consecutive year.

On Thursday, police confirmed the staggering total, which has become an unofficial milestone for marking Baltimore's struggle to quell extreme violence.

The 300 figure for homicides is a symbolic benchmark set during the 1990s, when the city, which had about 100,000 more residents, averaged upwards of 320 murders each year.

Last year, there were 309 homicides in Baltimore, or 51 per 100,000 people who live in the city — the highest rate of any American city with more than 500,000 people, according to FBI data. The city's homicide rate reached a record high in 2017.

600 by Christine Zhang in Baltimore. MOVED

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^What we know about the Saugus High School shooting suspect<

CALIF-SCHOOLSHOOTING-SUSPECT:LA — The Saugus High School student suspected of shooting five people on campus — killing two — on his 16th birthday was described by neighbors and classmates as a quiet kid.

The suspect, identified by neighbors and law enforcement sources as Nathaniel Berhow, is in the hospital in "grave condition," according to Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who said a school security camera on the quad shows the boy pulling a .45-caliber handgun from his backpack and shooting the students before putting the gun to his own head.

900 by Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Brittny Mejia, Ruben Vives and Richard Winton in Santa Clarita, Calif. MOVED

PHOTOS

^California students heard shots and ran. 'When I go home, I'm going to cry'<

CALIF-SCHOOLSHOOTING-STUDENT-2ND-LEDE:LA — The message flashed across the screen on Joy Songcuan's phone just after 8 a.m., prompting confusion, and then fear.

"I'm OK," the text from his son read, "don't worry."

At first, Songcuan didn't know what his son, Karl, a freshman at Saugus High School, was talking about. Then another text came through.

"There's a shooting."

1000 by Marisa Gerber, James Queally, Ruben Vives, Leila Miller and Brittny Mejia in Santa Clarita, Calif. MOVED

PHOTOS

^Drug overdoses probed in USC student deaths, pointing to 'twin epidemics'<

^CMP-USC-DEATHS:LA—< Some of the nine recent deaths of USC students are potentially linked to drug overdoses, reflecting a growing concern among educators and health officials about rising drug use by college-age adults and the need for greater mental health services at universities.

Particularly worrisome is that investigators are probing whether any of the USC deaths are connected to tainted drugs — drugs touted as one thing but which actually contain more potent narcotics.

"We all know that people that get drugs on the street have no idea what is in those drugs," USC President Carol Folt said Wednesday.

Three of the USC deaths were by suicide, according to campus officials.

1150 (with trims) by Colleen Shalby, Soumya Karlamangla, Teresa Watanabe and Richard Winton in Los Angeles. MOVED

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^Jeffery Epstein victims' compensation fund run by lawyer who handled 9/11 family cases, priest abuse survivors<

EPSTEIN-FUND:NY — A famed lawyer who distributed money to the families of Sept. 11 victims and survivors of priest abuse will now do the same for those abused by sex fiend financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Ken Feinberg will help oversee a "voluntary claims resolution program" to distribute portions of Epstein's $577 million estate to women victimized by his international sex trafficking scheme. The proposal requires the approval of a judge in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein's will is filed.

550 by Stephen Rex Brown. MOVED

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^Far-right activist Ammon Bundy's rush to save an Idaho ranch ends without standoff<

BUNDY-STANDOFF:LA — Ammon Bundy, the far-right activist who led an armed takeover of federal land in Oregon, urgently warned followers this week to gear up for another big property rights standoff in Idaho.

Bundy, whose compatriots occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, rushed with allies to a northern Idaho ranch, telling his large social media following to get ready to join them.

In Orofino, Idaho, Bundy prepared to rally to the cause of Donna and Charles "Nick" Nickerson and their family, who said sheriff's deputies with AR-15s had evicted them. But after arriving Wednesday and spending a day poring over court documents and talking to the couple and the sheriff, Bundy abandoned the cause.

600 by Richard Read in Seattle. MOVED

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^US House committee leaders call for more action to prevent airline mishandling of wheelchairs<

^HOUSE-AIRLINES-WHEELCHAIRS:AT—<U.S. House committee leaders this week called for airlines to do more to prevent mishandling of wheelchairs and scooters of passengers with disabilities, and sought more information on airlines' policies and procedures.

In a letter to industry group Airlines for America CEO Nicholas Calio, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian and National Air Carriers Association president George Novak, the members of Congress wrote that "the U.S. airline industry must do more to prevent mishandling of mobility aids for passengers with disabilities."

500 by Kelly Yamanouchi. MOVED

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^Politics foils Armenians' hopes of genocide recognition — again<

CONGRESS-ARMENIA:LA — It seemed like the moment Paul Jamushian had been waiting for his whole life.

On Oct. 29, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 405 to 11 in favor of a resolution to recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians more than a century ago as a genocide. Quick approval by the Senate appeared possible.

But the 80-year-old Jamushian, whose parents survived the slaughter by Ottoman Turks, will have to keep waiting.

Politics had once again intervened — this time the incursion by Turkey into northeastern Syria last month and a White House visit Wednesday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"I feel like I got played," said Jamushian, who lives in Fresno, Calif. "It makes me angry."

1000 (with trims) by Melissa Etehad. MOVED

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^AWOL Marine accused of murder is still on the run<

AWOL-MARINE:CH — A U.S. Marine Corps deserter accused of killing his mom's boyfriend is still on the run after a search that reached into the Carolinas, officials say.

Michael Alexander Brown, 22, is wanted in connection with a weekend shooting death in Virginia, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

250 by Simone Jasper in Charlotte, N.C. MOVED

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^Ex-Missouri police chief indicted, accused of beating man after rescuing baby in pond<

MO-EXCHIEF-CHARGED:KC — The former police chief of Greenwood, Missouri, who resigned earlier this year, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday, accused of violating the civil rights of a man he allegedly assaulted while handcuffed, according to prosecutors.

Greg Hallgrimson, 50, of Kansas City, was charged in a one-count indictment, prosecutors in the Western District of Missouri said. The indictment alleges he deprived a person identified as "J.Z." of his rights to be free from unreasonable seizure.

650 by Luke Nozicka in Kansas City, Mo. MOVED

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^Michelle Troconis' lawyer fears homicide charge may be coming in disappearance or death of missing mother Jennifer Farber Dulos<

MISSINGMOTHER:HC — The attorney representing Michelle Troconis advised her to plead the Fifth Amendment to every question during a recent deposition in a civil lawsuit because he fears she could be charged with conspiracy or homicide in the disappearance or death of missing New Canaan mother Jennifer Farber Dulos.

1500 (with trims) by Dave Altimari in Hartford, Conn. MOVED

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^Man freed in 'doppelganger' innocence case is now indicted on drug and gun charges<

WRONGFUL-CONVICTION-CHARGES:KC — A Kansas City man released from prison in a matter of mistaken identity that became known as the "doppelganger case" has been indicted by a federal grand jury on illegal weapons and drug charges, according to prosecutors.

Richard Anthony Jones, 43, is charged in a five-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury Wednesday. Jones is accused of being in possession of cocaine and methamphetamine along with firearms he legally could not have, according to the federal indictment.

350 by Glenn E. Rice in Kansas City, Mo. MOVED

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^Baltimore police commissioner says detective's death investigation remains open, a week after he called it closed<

BALTIMORE-DETECTIVE:BZ — Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison on Thursday said more "investigative steps" are needed into detective Sean Suiter's 2017 shooting death, saying the case remains open a week after pronouncing it closed.

"I should have chosen a better word last week when I said the investigation into the death of Detective Sean Suiter was 'closed,'" Harrison said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun. "There are still investigative steps that need to be taken and the case is continuing."

450 by Jessica Anderson in Baltimore. MOVED

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^Black man handcuffed for eating sandwich on train platform sues transit agency, alleging racial profiling<

BART-EATING-ARREST-1ST-LEDE:CC — The man detained for eating a sandwich on a BART station platform last week has filed a civil rights claim against the transit agency, alleging that its officers engaged in racial profiling and selective law enforcement.

A video of the man, Steve Foster, eating a sandwich while being questioned by BART police at the Pleasant Hill station went viral over the weekend, angering riders and prompting an "eat in" protest at BART stations on Saturday.

650 by Angela Ruggiero in Oakland, Calif. MOVED

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^Penn's women's volleyball season canceled over 'vulgar, offensive' signs in locker room<

CMP-PENN-VOLLEYBALL:PH — Penn's athletic department has canceled the remainder of the women's volleyball team's season after announcing the discovery of "vulgar, offensive and disrespectful" signs in the team's locker room.

The announcement, made Wednesday evening, said the signs were found "earlier this week." It gave no details about what was on the signs or how they were displayed.

350 by Jonathan Tannenwald and Joseph A. Gambardello in Philadelphia. (Moved as a sports story.) MOVED

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^#MeToo came to 'Survivor.' Now come the apologies<

TV-SURVIVOR-METOO:LA — A #MeToo moment struck "Survivor" Wednesday night when multiple female contestants accused Hollywood talent manager and fellow castaway Dan Spilo of touching them inappropriately on the island.

Over the course of a two-hour broadcast, the women reported several instances of unwanted contact initiated by Spilo, backed by video evidence, forcing an unprecedented response from the network. The incident sparked a controversial chain of events, causing producers to break the fourth wall and issue a statement addressing the situation.

1250 by Christi Carras. MOVED

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^THE WORLD<

^Did Russia meddle in 2016 Brexit vote? In election season, dismay over delayed report<

BRITAIN-ELECTIONS-RUSSIA:LA — As a historic impeachment drama plays out in Washington, a political saga with some odd parallels is taking place across the Atlantic.

Britain is in the midst of a divisive national election campaign that is roiled by questions about Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum, with potentially inflammatory implications for the upcoming balloting Dec. 12.

A cross-party British parliamentary committee spent months investigating purported malign actions by Moscow in connection with the June 2016 referendum in which Britons narrowly voted to leave the European Union.

With Brexit again the key issue in December's parliamentary elections, the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson triggered an outcry this month when it put off the release of the committee's wide-ranging Russia report, citing the need for further security vetting.

1050 (with trims) by Laura King in London. MOVED

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^Japan's emperor completes nocturnal ceremony to take the throne<

JAPAN-EMPEROR:DPA — Japan's Emperor Naruhito completed the final ritual for his succession to the throne overnight from Thursday to Friday, with the mythical nocturnal ceremony shrouded in secrecy and stirring controversy in secular Japanese society for its religious overtones.

After the ceremony ended shortly before dawn on Friday, the 59-year-old Naruhito — who succeeded his 85-year-old father Akihito to the throne on May 1 — officially entered Japan's line of emperors.

250 by Lars Nicolaysen in Tokyo. MOVED

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^Australian leader's bushfire plea: Don't mention climate change<

AUSTRALIA-FIRES-CLIMATECHANGE:BLO — Australia's record on tackling climate change is getting tougher to defend for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as bushfires ravage the country's east coast.

His government is refusing to discuss whether global warming has contributed to a longer dry season that's fueling ferocious blazes even before summer has begun. One government lawmaker even questioned whether environmentalists had increased the threat of the fires that have so far claimed four lives and destroyed more than 2.5 million acres of farmland and bush.

It's emblematic of the government downplaying climate concerns amid criticism of its support for coal mining and perceived lack of action on reducing carbon emissions.

1000 by Jason Scott in Canberra, Australia. MOVED

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^Italy declares state of emergency for flooded Venice<

VENICE-FLOODING:DPA — Italy's Cabinet declared a state of emergency for the city of Venice on Thursday after the worst flooding in more than half a century devastated shops, churches, monuments and other areas of the historic tourist destination.

The Cabinet approved 20 million euros ($22 million) in emergency aid for the UNESCO World Heritage city.

400 by Annette Reuther and Klaus Blume in Rome. MOVED

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^Bolivian factions fight for control as Morales snipes from afar<

BOLIVIA:BLO — Bolivia's interim president, Jeanine Anez, is struggling to consolidate control as lawmakers and former ministers loyal to ousted socialist leader Evo Morales try to reclaim the levers of power.

Three days after Morales fled for Mexican exile after accusations of fraud as he sought a fourth term, his opponents and supporters continue to agitate on his behalf. Support from the army, the constitutional court and some foreign governments, including the U.S., means that Anez has the upper hand for now.

550 by Matthew Bristow and John Quigley in Bogota, Colombia. MOVED

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^Trump visit to Moscow for military parade would be 'right step,' Putin says<

^TRUMP-PUTIN-PARADE:BLO—<Russian President Vladimir Putin said it would be a "right step" if U.S. counterpart Donald Trump accepts his invitation to attend the upcoming May 9 military parade in Red Square commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

"The presence of the leader of a country which made a major contribution to the fight against Nazism at a ceremony marking the end of World War II, even amid a pre-election campaign, would be a right step," Putin told reporters.

300 by Henry Meyer and Stepan Kravchenko. MOVED

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^SCIENCE, MEDICINE, ENVIRONMENT<

^When pregnant women who abuse opioids are treated like criminals, their babies suffer<

MED-OPIOIDS-PREGNANCY:LA — Laws that punish women who abuse drugs during a pregnancy are often billed as a way to protect unborn babies from addiction. But new research finds they have the opposite effect: After states enact laws treating pregnant drug users as unfit mothers or criminals, the number of newborns who contend with drug withdrawal jumps significantly.

The new findings suggest that laws that criminalize a mother's drug use during pregnancy or threaten to remove newborns from their mothers' care discourage women from seeking addiction treatment and put their babies at greater risk of health problems from the moment they are born.

1200 (with trims) by Melissa Healy in Los Angeles. MOVED

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^Medicaid tweak might offer means to improve US maternal health<

^MED-MEDICAID-PREGNANCY:KHN—<When Madavia Johnson gave birth to Donald Ray Dowless III last year, she was hit by a case of severe postpartum anxiety.

She was scared to carry her son downstairs or drive him in a car. She couldn't manage to continue law school — and could hardly leave the house — because she didn't trust anyone to watch him. Her weight dropped from 140 to 115 pounds.

"It was very stressful for me mentally," said Johnson, now 29, who lives in Clayton, N.C. And she found it hard to secure medical assistance because her Medicaid coverage ran out just two months after her son's birth. Public health advocates are pushing to change that.

The difficulties Johnson faced contribute to the United States' dismal record on maternal and child health.

850 by Rachel Bluth. MOVED

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^Melanoma rates are falling among young people, study finds<

^MED-MELANOMA:PH—<If you've wondered whether crusades promoting sun protection are making any difference, consider Rostraver Middle School, 25 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

In hopes of winning a $5,000 grant offered by the Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology, pupils submitted essays about why sun safety matters. Sixth grader Maclaine Povlish's winning entry earned her school a playground "shade structure" so kids could get away from damaging UV rays.

"Even though most of us would agree that the sun has many benefits, including helping the body produce vitamin D," Maclaine wrote in her essay, "it is just as important to understand the risks."

Rostraver is anecdotal evidence of an encouraging trend tracked by Seattle researchers: a nine-year-long decline in melanoma rates among adolescents and young adults.

700 by Marie McCullough. MOVED

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^NEWS BRIEFS<

^<

NEWSBRIEFS:MCT — Nation and world news briefs.

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^TODAY'S TOP NEWSFEATURES<

^Farmers struggle as hemp harvest winds down<

FARM-HEMP-HARVEST:SH — Ajit Singh strode across his 16-acre hemp field toward a broken-down harvester. He'd been hoping all day that the mechanic now crouched beside the machine could get it back up and running.

It was late October and Singh still had thousands of stinky green and purple cannabis plants across 425 acres to pick, dry and sell before winter. Like many hemp growers here in Jackson County, Ore., he was harvesting slowly, facing a mold problem and unhappy with prices offered by potential buyers.

"We want a better price," said Singh, a soil scientist and former garden store owner — and, he said, he was prepared to hold out for one.

Hemp growers nationwide scaled up this year after Congress legalized the non-psychoactive cannabis. They hoped to cash in on the booming market for cannabinoids such as wellness darling CBD, an ingredient in oils, tinctures and salves. But as harvest winds down, it's likely that many growers will go bust.

2100 (with trims) by Sophie Quinton and April Simpson in Phoenix, Ore. MOVED

PHOTOS

^Crisis of spirit: An Army chaplain's journey with PTSD<

RELIG-ARMY-CHAPLAIN:SD — With a name like Robert Blessing, he seemed destined to become a preacher.

But the decision to join the U.S. Army as a chaplain? That was all his doing.

And his undoing.

Like thousands of others, the 61-year-old San Diegan struggles with memories of what he saw while he was away at war, struggles with what was lost.

Eighteen men and women he served alongside during a year-long deployment to Iraq were killed. Dozens of others were injured.

It was his time-honored job — Army chaplains have been around since the Revolutionary War — to lead memorial services for the slain, offer encouragement to the wounded, counsel those who doubted the presence of a holy spirit in a place filled with hatred and violence.

But who comforts the comforters?

1750 (with trims) by John Wilkens in San Diego. MOVED

PHOTOS

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