Tribune News Service

News Budget for papers of Sunday, November 24, 2019


Updated at 8:30 p.m. EST (0130 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.


^Andrew Yang has exceeded expectations. Now he wants to be taken seriously<

YANG:WA — Andrew Yang was having lunch with eight recipients of his $1,000 monthly "Freedom Dividend" in a private poolside room inside the Bellagio hotel when one lucky winner offered up how he was pitching this unconventional presidential candidacy to friends.

"He wants to be your sugar daddy!" said Chad Sziszak, a 30-year-old from Ponchatoula, La., who planned to put his stipend toward car repairs and reconciling old debt.

"Wow I hadn't thought of that one," Yang replied, before adding his own characteristic deadpan: "I prefer the Asian Oprah."

The room burst into laughter.

It was another amusing moment in his quixotic, yet entertaining quest for the White House that has managed to outlast governors and members of Congress.

With just over two months before voting begins, Yang is confronting a crossroads that any outsider candidate comes to once they prove momentum and staying power: How to successfully convert a largely improvised and highly unorthodox internet-fueled movement into a credible option for the most important office in the country.

1600 (with trims) by David Catanese in Las Vegas. 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


^California ditched coal; is gas next?<

ENV-CALIF-ENERGY:LA — Every day, millions of Californians burn a planet-warming fossil fuel to cook dinner, stay warm or take a hot shower.

Persuading people to stop using that fuel, natural gas, is shaping up to be the next act in California's war on climate change.

And unlike the state's successful push to ditch coal — which mostly affected out-of-state mines and power plants, and was relatively painless for California residents and businesses — early efforts to phase out gas are already facing pushback from a powerful homegrown company.

4350 (with trims) by Sammy Roth in Los Angeles. MOVED



^Oaks instead of palm trees? Florida's iconic palms don't cut it with climate change<

ENV-FLA-PALMTREES:PM — South Florida's palm trees are postcard promises of sighing sea breezes and sandy beaches, but the icon of the tropics may be an impractical adornment in an era of climate change.

From the regal royal palm to the sometimes shabby cabbage, the perennial symbol of the Sunshine State offers little shade to baking urban heat islands and captures minimal amounts of carbon — a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming.

As city officials look for more ways to cool concrete jungles and balance carbon emissions, the priority for new plantings is often broadleaf hardwood trees, not the idyllic palm.

1350 (with trims) by Kimberly Miller in West Palm Beach, Fla. MOVED




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


^How the US betrayed the Marshall Islands, kindling the next nuclear disaster<

ENV-MARSHALLISLANDS-RADIATION:LA — Five thousand miles west of Los Angeles and 500 miles north of the equator, on a far-flung spit of white coral sand in the central Pacific, a massive, aging and weathered concrete dome bobs up and down with the tide.

Here in the Marshall Islands, Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, including lethal amounts of plutonium. Nowhere else has the United States saddled another country with so much of its nuclear waste, a product of its Cold War atomic testing program.

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 67 nuclear bombs on, in and above the Marshall Islands — vaporizing whole islands, carving craters into its shallow lagoons and exiling hundreds of people from their homes.

Now the dome, which locals call "the Tomb," is at risk of collapsing from rising seas and other effects of climate change.

5400 (with trims) by Susanne Rust in Majuro, Marshall Islands. MOVED


^He saw a Marshall Islands nuclear bomb test up close. It's haunted him since 1952<

ENV-MARSHALLISLANDS-WITNESS:LA — In the summer of 1952, Alan Jones, an industrious redhead with an impish smile, yearned for excitement and adventure. He drove down the California coast from Berkeley to La Jolla, hoping to join an oceanographic expedition heading to the South Pacific.

It wasn't until he was preparing to board the Scripps Institution of Oceanography's research vessel, a rusty old tuna hauler called the Horizon, that he discovered the mission involved more than mapping the ocean floor: The crew of Ph.D.s and handy guys like Jones, who "could fix things," was going to the Marshall Islands to record waves generated by the world's first hydrogen bomb.

Six months later, on Nov. 1, after watching an island get vaporized, Jones and the crew on the Horizon were doused in a shower of radioactive fallout.

1750 by Susanne Rust in Menlo Park, Calif. MOVED


^Okies disappearing from Dust Bowl Festival, replaced by Latino migrants tending California's fields<

DUSTBOWL-FESTIVAL:LA — The girl was afraid to speak in class because of her accent.

The clothes sewn by her farmworker mother made her self-conscious. She lived in a field laborers' camp outside the dusty town of Lamont, and many Californians despised people like her. Go back to where you came from, they said.

In the 1940s, Pat Rush's family was part of the wave of migrants who fled their farms in the drought-ravaged South and Midwest after the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, traveling west on Route 66 in search of work, and hope.

They were hated newcomers lumped together — people from places such as Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Kansas — under a single pejorative: Okies.

Rush is 84 now. It's a hot autumn day at the Dust Bowl Festival, the last one after 30 years because its organizers have grown too old, too tired.

2300 (with trims) by Hailey Branson-Potts in Weedpatch, Calif. MOVED


^More vapers are making their own juice, but not without risks<

MED-VAPING-JUICE:KHN — Danielle Jones sits at her dining room table, studying the recipe for Nerd Lyfe (v2) vape juice. The supplies she's ordered online are arrayed before her: a plastic jug of unflavored liquid nicotine, a baking scale and bottles of artificial flavors that, combined, promise to re-create the fruity taste of Nerds Rope candy in vapor form.

This is Jones' first attempt to make her own e-liquid after buying it for the past five years. Jones, 32, wants to be prepared for the worst-case scenario: a ban on the sale of the e-liquids she depends on to avoid cigarettes.

As more states, cities and even the federal government consider banning flavored nicotine, thousands of do-it-yourself vapers like Jones are flocking to social media groups and websites to learn how to make e-liquids at home.

1300 (with trims) by Jenny Gold in Menlo Park, Calif. MOVED


^This scientist has been counting butterflies for 47 years and has no plans to stop<

ENV-SCIENTIST-BUTTERFLIES:LA — Art Shapiro stands on the edge of a Chevron gas station in the north-central Sierra, sipping a large Pepsi and scanning the landscape for butterflies.

So far he's spotted six species — a loping Western tiger swallowtail, two fluttering California tortoiseshells, a copper-colored Common checkered-skipper, a powdery Echo blue, a rusty-looking Nelson's hairstreak and a brown Propertius duskywing.

And that was while waiting for his ride to finish up in the restroom.

Shapiro jots the names of each species on a white note card.

Shapiro, 73, is a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis

For nearly half a century he has meticulously tracked butterfly populations at 10 sites in north-central California, visiting each location every two weeks as long as the weather permits.

In that time he has single-handedly created the longest-running butterfly monitoring project in North America.

2050 (with trims) by Deborah Netburn in Donner Pass, Calif. MOVED


^Can the long-lost abalone make a comeback in California?<

ENV-ABALONE:LA — Hunched over a tank inside the Bodega Marine Laboratory, alongside bubbling vats of seaweed and greenhouses filled with algae, Kristin Aquilino coaxed a baby white abalone onto her hand.

She held out the endangered sea snail — no larger than a bottle cap — like a delicate jewel.

To the untrained eye, they appear pretty drab. But in this humming lab, home to more white abalone than in the wild, these invertebrates have captured minds and even hearts. They're the unsung canary in the coal mine — their vanishing numbers sounding the alarm of human greed and the perils we face as the land and oceans burn.

The white abalone — one of seven species along the California coast — once numbered in the millions, but in 2001 it became the first marine invertebrate to be listed as a federal endangered species.

How to save the white abalone has become a scientific puzzle.

2700 (with trims) by Rosanna Xia in Bodega Bay, Calif. MOVED


^At Nic's sandwich shop, Paradise residents can have a beer, bump into friends and feel OK<

PARADISE-CAFE:LA — At 74 years old, Nicki Jones has worn many hats. She's been an accountant and a stepmother, a caretaker for her late husband and the owner of a women's clothing store.

But what did she know about running a restaurant? Close to nothing, she is the first to admit.

What she was certain of is food's ability to bring people together. And God knows that's what Paradise needs.

The Camp fire laid waste to Jones' pine-cloaked home in the Feather River Canyon and her store, Bobbi's Boutique. But she's not one to dwell on that dark November day.

1400 by Laura Newberry in Paradise, Calif. MOVED


^Troll armies, a growth industry in the Philippines, may soon be coming to an election near you<

PHILIPPINES-TROLLFARMS:LA — As public anger mounted last year over delayed plans to shake up the Philippines' outage-plagued telecommunications sector, angry comments and one-star ratings flooded a government-run Facebook page.

When employees suspected online trolls, President Rodrigo Duterte's digital mastermind offered a solution.

"I'll handle this," said Nic Gabunada, the architect of the social media strategy that powered Duterte's 2016 election victory, according to a government employee who managed the Facebook page.

Pro-Duterte comments soon poured onto the page, with users defending the president's handling of the situation or blaming the problems on the previous administration.

In the Philippines, candidates and government officials routinely pay vast cyber-troll armies that create multiple fake social media accounts to smear opponents and prop themselves up.

It's all part of the online propaganda wars shaking politics in the country.

And it could soon be coming to the U.S.

1400 (with trims) by Shashank Bengali and Evan Halper in Manila, Philippines. MOVED



^The shallowest Great Lake provides drinking water for more people than any other. Algae blooms are making it toxic<

ENV-GREATLAKES-ALGAE:TB — Every year, an explosion of microscopic life reigns over western Lake Erie, forming a green slick of algae and bacteria so massive and vibrant that it can be seen from space.

The harmful algae bloom slimes fishing boats, paints beaches in toxins and engulfs water intake cribs. In 2014, it left 400,000 people without drinking water for three days after toxins infiltrated Toledo's water system. Then-Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard to distribute bottled water in an incident that served notice that drinking water from Lake Erie was in peril.

This year, the bloom was among the most severe and toxic since scientists began keeping track in the early 2000s. At its peak, it coated around 620 square miles of Lake Erie's surface waters.

Climate change is jeopardizing two of the most precious resources the Midwest possesses: food and water, according to federal studies. Greater rainfall and more powerful storms are eroding some of the richest soils in the United States and, in doing so, washing bloom-inducing fertilizers from farm fields into Lake Erie.

4800 (with trims) by Tony Briscoe in Toledo, Ohio. MOVED


^In the Great Lakes' most productive fishing grounds, dead zones are eroding livelihoods<

ENV-GREATLAKES-FISHINGGROUNDS:TB — From his lakefront dock in Crystal Rock, 70 miles west of Cleveland, Dean Koch still gleefully reminisces on his career as a commercial fisherman in the heyday.

At his first industry meeting in Sandusky in the late 1960s, fishing moguls booked the entire Holiday Inn and filled all the rooms. Back then, fishermen set hundreds of miles of gill nets and thousands of trap nets in Lake Erie. The amount of fish in one of his trap nets could easily fill an entire boat. He would sell those bountiful catches to one of the roughly 30 fish markets along the Ohio coastline.

Now, Koch, 70, says, the number of fishermen who hold commercial licenses could sit around the small round table in his garage. Some days, his crew, led by his son Drew, is lucky if the fish inside all 12 of their trap nets fill the boat. And there are only two fishhouses that buy their catches.

The woes of the commercial fishermen are part environment, part regulation, according to the elder Koch.

1800 by Tony Briscoe in Crystal Rock, Ohio. MOVED


^Cleveland residents are used to their water being brown, even if they don't know why. The answer lies at the bottom of Lake Erie<

ENV-GREATLAKES-MANGANESE:TB — Since moving to the Cleveland area seven years ago, Malina Cano Rauschenfels has become accustomed to discolored water flowing from her faucet, although she has never fully understood the reason behind the yellow or brownish tinge.

Cano Rauschenfels, 41, who tutors schoolchildren in music from her Cleveland Heights home, occasionally sees the city of Cleveland's Division of Water notifications advising residents to avoid washing laundry because the sullied tap water may stain clothes — but that the water is still safe to drink.

For the past two decades, these outbreaks of tainted tap water have occurred periodically in late summer. They have stained plumbing fixtures, ruined loads of laundry, and produced odd smells and a metallic taste.

By all accounts, it has been a nuisance to many customers of Cleveland's water department, the nation's 10th largest water system that serves 1.4 million people. But it may be representative of a more serious issue tied to Lake Erie's "dead zone," a sprawling layer of deep water with so little oxygen that many fish can't survive.

2350 (with trims) by Tony Briscoe in Cleveland. MOVED




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