Tribune News Service

Newsfeatures Budget for Monday, December 30, 2019

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Updated at 4:30 a.m. EST (0930 UTC).


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

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


^This Catholic priest celebrates Mass in a casino. He calls prayer a 'sure bet'<

RELIG-PRIEST-CASINO:LA — Charlie Urnick stands in a backstage hallway at Don's Celebrity Theater, tucked inside the thrumming Riverside Resort Hotel and Casino. Smiling, shaking hands with well-wishers, he awaits the evening's events with the knowing calm of a veteran headliner.

But inside this brightly lit corridor, where musicians and magicians have signed autographs and greeted fans, Urnick offers something truly remarkable.

He hears confessions.

He's the administrator at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, which sits atop a treeless hill some five miles away.

After a deacon helps him slip into his flowing satin vestments, he quietly listens to the ways his fellow Catholics have gone astray.

One by one, the believers wait outside for their turn. There's no confessional booth, and priest and penitent face each other on folding chairs.

On this late-autumn Saturday afternoon, Father Charlie is continuing a 27-year tradition that's aptly suited to Laughlin.

He celebrates Mass inside a casino.

2100 by John M. Glionna in Laughlin, Nev. MOVED



^Students want climate change lessons. Schools aren't ready<

ENV-CLIMATE-SCHOOLS:LA — Not too long ago Coral Ben-Aharon, a 15-year-old sophomore at Granada Hills Charter High School, didn't bother to use her school's recycling bins — and didn't know how plastic waste contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

But then her friend Sarah Ali convinced Coral to join the science team. Now the two are trying to invent a creative way to recycle waste on campus by melting discarded plastic and making a bench with solar panels, where students would be able to charge their school-issued Chromebooks.

Their project exemplifies how California's science standards are taking hold in classrooms as educators seek to follow curriculum guidelines that call for more relevant, hands-on lessons and stronger instruction on climate change and the environment.

However, widespread science teacher shortages and the lack of training among many current teachers on climate change threatens the goals of the curriculum that aims in part to prepare students to be environmental problem-solvers as they enter adulthood.

1250 by Sonali Kohli in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Coping with loss of hospital, rural town realizes: We don't need a hospital<

RURALHOSPITAL-CLOSURE:KHN — Dr. Max Self grabbed a sanitary wipe and cleaned off the small flashlight in his hands. More than 20 years as a family doctor in rural Fort Scott, Kan., has taught him a few tricks: "I've got my flashlight. See? Look, you want to hold it?"

Two-year-old Taelyn's brown eyes grow round and her tiny hand reaches out. But, first, Self makes sure she opens her mouth wide and he peers down. Behind him sits another staff member — a medical scribe. Self's scribe gives him the ability to "focus on people," rather than toggling between a computer screen and the patient. It's a new perk he didn't have when he worked at Mercy Hospital.

That beloved hospital closed one year ago and, in the passing months, the small town's anger and fear evolved into grief, nervousness and — lately — pragmatic hope. Most of the handful of physicians in town stayed, taking jobs at a regional federally qualified health care center that took over much of the clinic work from Mercy. The emergency department, after closing for 18 days, was reopened temporarily — run by a hospital 30 miles south.

1850 by Sarah Jane Tribble in Fort Scott, Kan. MOVED


^Sudan child soldier becomes man of healing and Emory grad student<

CHILDSOLDIER:AT — The chasm separating Garang Buk Buk Piol from his dream of attending Emory University in 2018 was wide.

The former child soldier from the Republic of South Sudan would need proof before being allowed into the U.S. that he had money to support himself and pay tuition that his partial scholarship did not cover.

He had struggled eight years before to pay a dowry of cattle for the woman he loved, Awau. Her family had demanded 100 head.

In the years after the war's ending in 2005, he had worked as an electrician, then managed the compound of the Catholic school where he found a chance at education. After, he worked for Atlanta's Carter Center in South Sudan, helping eradicate Guinea worm disease, but his salary paid his living expenses and for his education at the Catholic University in Kenya, where he earned a degree in sustainable development.

In the end, with Awau cajoling her parents, Garang succeeded in winning her hand for 16 head.

But there was no bargaining with the U.S. for the visa. The projected cost of his education and living expenses at Emory was about $90,000.

1500 by Christopher Quinn in Atlanta. MOVED


^Immigrants with a criminal past may soon have a 'New Way Forward' to stay in the US<

IMMIGRANTS-CRIMINALRECORDS:SA — Cuong Nguyen, a Vietnamese refugee who arrived in the U.S. at age 11, agreed to deliver drugs after finding out that his father owed a large sum of money when he was in his early 20s.

He was charged in 2006 and served a 24-month sentence. But Nguyen was suddenly detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement on and off for two years, separating him from his wife and young son, who lived in fear uncertain when he'd return home.

Released from detainment last year, Nguyen still faces deportation for his criminal conviction 13 years ago and has to check in at ICE offices every few months.

Now a new bill might change that: It would restore due process protections for all immigrants, including those in deportation proceedings.

800 by Theodora Yu in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED




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