Tribune News Service
News Budget for Thursday, February 21, 2019
Updated at 6 p.m. EST (2300 UTC).
Adds WEA-LASVEGAS-SNOW:LA, CHICAGO-ZOO-ANTELOPE:TB, CONGRESS-GUNS-EXMILITARY:CON, ILL-SHOOTING:TB, SCI-TORTOISE-GALAPAGOS:NY, TRUMP-IMMIGRATION-COURT:LA
Updates USRUSSIA-HACKING-STONE:LA, NCCONGRESS-9THDISTRICT:CH, SMOLLETT:TB
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.
^Judge scolds Smollett over 'vile and despicable' allegations; actor released after posting bond
SMOLLETT-4TH-LEDE:TB — A Cook County judge scolded Jussie Smollett as he set bond Thursday at $100,000 on charges that the "Empire" actor staged an attack on himself, falsely claiming that two men called him slurs while placing a noose around his neck and beating him last month in Chicago.
"The most vile and despicable part of it, if it's true, is the noose," said Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., who is black. "That symbol conjures up such evil in this country's history."
Smollett, 36, was released from Cook County Jail about 3:45 p.m. after a friend posted the necessary $10,000 cash, court records show.
1600 (with trims) by Megan Crepeau, Jason Meisner and Jeremy Gorner in Chicago. MOVED
^NC state board votes for new election in 9th District after GOP candidate calls for new race
NCCONGRESS-9THDISTRICT-1ST-LEDE:CH — Republican Mark Harris, in a stunning reversal, called Thursday for a new election in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, giving up hopes of being certified as the winner in a race marked by voting irregularities in Bladen and Robeson counties.
The five-member board of elections voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to call for a new election.
1150 (with trims) by Brian Murphy, Jim Morrill and Ely Portillo in Raleigh, N.C. MOVED
^Pope presents 21-point reform road map at Vatican anti-abuse summit
RELIG-VATICAN-SEXABUSE-1ST-LEDE:DPA — Pope Francis has presented a 21-point plan to combat child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church that includes simplifying reporting procedures for victims and involving non-religious experts in internal church investigations.
Speaking at a crisis summit with bishops summoned to the Vatican from all over the world, the pope said victims wanted "concrete and effective measures" in the wake of the scandal, which has included tens of thousands of abuse allegations and claims of a cover-up.
700 by Alvise Armellini in Vatican City. MOVED
^Federal prosecutors broke law in Jeffrey Epstein case, judge rules
EPSTEIN-SEXABUSE:MI — A judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors — among them, U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta — broke federal law when they signed a plea agreement with a wealthy, politically connected sex trafficker and concealed it from more than 30 of his underage victims.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra, in a 33-page opinion, said the evidence he reviewed showed that Jeffrey Epstein had been operating an international sex operation in which he and others recruited underage girls — not only in Florida — but from overseas, in violation of federal law.
700 by Julie K. Brown in Miami. MOVED
^Judge tightens gag order on Roger Stone after controversial Instagram post
USRUSSIA-HACKING-STONE-1ST-LEDE:LA — A federal judge issued a tighter gag order on Roger Stone, the former political adviser to President Donald Trump, after he posted an image on social media showing what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gunsight next to her head.
"I want to be clear today. I gave you a second chance. But this is not baseball. There will not be a third chance," U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone, saying that further violations could bring jail time.
450 by Chris Megerian in Washington. MOVED
^Trump plan fails to cut immigration court backlog; caseload soars 26 percent
TRUMP-IMMIGRATION-COURT:LA — The Trump administration's controversial plan to shrink the ballooning backlog of immigration cases by pushing judges to hear more cases has failed, according to the latest data, with the average wait for an immigration hearing now more than two years.
Since October 2017, when the Justice Department approved a plan aimed at reducing the backlog in immigration court, the pending caseload has grown by more than 26 percent, from 655,932 cases to just shy of 830,000, according to Syracuse University's Transactional Access Records Clearinghouse, which tracks data from immigration courts.
1100 (with trims) by Molly O'Toole in Washington. MOVED
^Congress to subpoena full Mueller report if Barr withholds parts, Blumenthal says
USRUSSIA-HACKING-CONGRESS:CON — Democrats in Congress will subpoena the full report of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III if the Justice Department only discloses certain parts of it, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Thursday.
The Connecticut Democrat is a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is the committee's chairman, and has subpoena power over the Justice Department.
450 by Griffin Connolly in Washington. MOVED
^White House, North Korea still don't define 'denuclearization' the same way
USNKOREA:CON — Just days before President Donald Trump will be face-to-face again with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the two sides remain divided on one of the biggest issues at the heart of their second summit.
Among the many unresolved issues as Trump and Kim prepare for another meeting next Wednesday and Thursday in Hanoi, Vietnam, is a common definition of what "denuclearization" would mean for the reclusive Asian country. A senior Trump administration official told reporters on a call Thursday morning that one of the top agenda items for the leaders' second meeting is trying to agree to a "shared understanding of what denuclearization is."
600 by John T. Bennett in Washington. MOVED
^Vice President Mike Pence will go to Colombia to demand Maduro step down
USVENEZUELA:WA — Vice President Mike Pence will go to Colombia on Monday to speak with the Colombian president and regional leaders about the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela and rally the international community behind opposition leader Juan Guaido.
The White House said Pence will deliver remarks to the 14 nations that are part of the "Lima Group" in Bogota about addressing the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and ongoing U.S. efforts to deliver aid to the country.
250 by Franco Ordonez in Washington. MOVED
^Jared Kushner is privately working on reshaping legal immigration
IMMIGRATION-KUSHNER:WA — As debate in public rages about illegal immigration and a border wall, Jared Kushner has been holding private meetings in the West Wing on ways to overhaul the legal immigration system, according to six people familiar with the conversations and documents obtained by McClatchy.
President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law is operating on at least two tracks — the first is working with a small group studying specific ways to redistribute employment visas and the second is helping lead a series of "listening sessions" with about three dozen interest groups important to Trump to see if there is a position that Republicans can rally around before the 2020 elections.
1650 (with trims) by Franco Ordonez in Washington. MOVED
^Former top military advisers urge Congress to pass gun background checks bill
CONGRESS-GUNS-EXMILITARY:CON — More than a dozen retired top military commanders, leaders and advisers, whose careers spanned both Republican and Democratic administrations, are throwing their weight behind a bill in the House and Senate that would require universal background checks for all U.S. gun sales.
In a letter Thursday, 13 former top military advisers and combat leaders urged congressional leaders in both parties to pass the bill, known in the House as HR 8, which targets private gun sales that don't require background checks under current federal law.
600 by Griffin Connolly in Washington. MOVED
^Trump administration confirms it has ended fuel-economy talks with California
AUTO-EMISSIONS-CALIF-END:LA — Already-faltering negotiations between the Trump administration and California aimed at resolving a dispute over fuel-economy standards have broken down completely, the White House said Thursday.
The California Air Resources Board had been meeting sporadically with officials from the White House, EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in hopes of persuading them not to roll back the Obama-era regulations.
750 by Anna M. Phillips in Washington. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED
^Mike Pompeo says he is not running for Senate in Kansas in 2020
POMPEO:CON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that he was ruling out running for Senate in Kansas in 2020 — at least as long as he is still the top diplomat.
"I love Kansas. I'm going to be the secretary of state as long as President Trump gives me the opportunity to serve as America's senior diplomat," Pompeo told NBC's "Today" show when asked about a possible race for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Pat Roberts.
250 by Niels Lesniewski in Washington. MOVED
^Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim fatally strikes pedestrian in interstate accident
The hoops Hall of Famer was headed east on Interstate 690 at 11:22 p.m. when his car fatally struck Jorge Jiminez on the side of the highway, cops said.
250 by Ella Torres. MOVED
^Oakland teachers strike for better pay, resources across city schools
EDU-OAKLAND-TEACHERS-STRIKE:SJ — Teachers carrying picket signs and demanding better pay began descending on Oakland public schools Thursday morning, while students were expected to either cross picket lines to go to class, stay home or spend the day at city recreation centers, libraries or even churches.
Chants of "That's why we're on strike today public education is our right," and "Oakland is a union town get up, get down" broke the early morning chill around the city as drivers honked their horns in approval.
1150 by Ali Tadayon, Jon Kawamoto, Joseph Geha and Annie Sciacca in Oakland, Calif. MOVED
^Aurora, Ill., shooter in 1995: 'I acted out of rage and fear' in beating ex-girlfriend
ILL-SHOOTING:TB — A day after Illinois State Police inquired about Gary Martin's criminal history in 2014, two court clerks in Mississippi discussed whether to send authorities a chilling psychiatric evaluation in which the future mass killer described himself as "an abuser."
Martin, then 22, underwent the court-ordered psychiatric examination in 1995 after he was sentenced to five years in prison for beating his then-girlfriend and then stabbing her.
Last week, Martin killed five co-workers and injured five police officers in Aurora.
1150 (with trims) by Annie Sweeney and Stacy St. Clair in Chicago. MOVED
^Can Trump take back California's high-speed rail money? A look at the political and legal battle ahead
TRUMP-CALIF-RAIL-LEGAL:LA — The Trump administration's decision to cancel a $927 million grant to California's troubled high speed rail project and claw back $2.5 billion in funds already spent has thrust the federal government into uncharted legal territory and posed an existential threat to the state's largest investment ever.
Never before, experts say, has the federal government attempted to take back such a large sum of money from California, particularly after it was spent under federal supervision.
"I have never seen anything this large," said Ron Flavin, a San Francisco consultant who advises state agencies and local governments on grants. "I have never seen anything where they said we are going to cancel a grant because of issues in the administrative or bureaucratic process."
1100 (with trims) by Ralph Vartabedian in Los Angeles. MOVED
^California attorney general says police transparency law should apply to older incidents
CALIF-POLICERECORDS:LA — A landmark police transparency law should apply to internal investigations of officer shootings and misconduct cases that occurred before this year, California Attorney General. Xavier Becerra argues in a new court document.
In a legal briefing for a pending state Supreme Court case, Becerra says state legislators intended for the public to know about all investigations of shootings or confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying while on duty by officers within a department's possession when they passed Senate Bill 1421 last year.
450 by Liam Dillon in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED
^Las Vegas gets hit with second snowstorm in a week. What are the odds?
WEA-LASVEGAS-SNOW:LA — They started arriving at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign as the first big snowflakes began to fall Wednesday night — landing softly and slowly turning the green artificial turf around it to white.
Debbie Dixon was so excited, she laughed and clapped and tried to take selfies with her friends to capture the moment of pure, unadulterated joy of feeling the snow hit her face and collect on her jacket.
Around her, people posed in front of the sign, its bright lights illuminating the falling flakes.
The National Weather Service in Las Vegas reported Thursday morning that the official snowfall for Feb. 20 in Las Vegas was 0.5 inches — breaking a daily snowfall record for the date.
1050 (with trims) by David Montero in Las Vegas. MOVED
^LA could see snow for the first time since 1962
WEA-LA-SNOW:LA — Southern California is having a snow day.
An unusually chilly storm system that originated in Alberta, Canada, was lingering over Nevada and had already blanketed Las Vegas with snow early Thursday. In addition to light rain, some areas in the Southland will see a fresh dusting of powder as the storm makes its way across the region, said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
500 by Hannah Fry in Los Angeles. MOVED
^Food from Atlanta-area middle school where kids got sick had THC
GA-SCHOOL-CANDY:AT — A Georgia Bureau of Investigation lab test found THC in a food sample from Sandtown Middle School, where 28 students were sent to local hospitals last week after eating Valentine's Day treats.
200 by Vanessa McCray in Atlanta. MOVED
^You kill it, you grill it? California bill would let drivers legally eat roadkill
CALIF-ROADKILL:TC — You're driving down the road at night when, out of nowhere, a deer jumps in front of your car. It doesn't survive. It'd be a shame to let all that meat go to waste, right?
That's the thinking behind California Senate Bill 395, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Bob J. Archuleta of Montebello.
250 by Andrew Sheeler. MOVED
^ 'No Drama Obama' is in a legal box of his own making, but his planned Jackson Park presidential center remains alive
OBAMA-LIBRARY-PERSPECTIVE:TB — Those who seek to build grand edifices in Chicago's lakefront parks do so at their own risk.
That's one takeaway from a federal judge's surprising Tuesday decision not to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the location of the Obama Presidential Center in historic Jackson Park. But the setback doesn't doom the promising plans for the center.
The judge set a relatively fast timetable for the next stages of the case, meaning the project could be slowed by months, not years.
900 by Blair Kamin in Chicago. MOVED
^Chicago zoo euthanizes baby antelope born with birth defect
CHICAGO-ZOO-ANTELOPE:TB — Brookfield Zoo medical staff on Wednesday had to put down a tiny African antelope born on Valentine's Day due to a severe birth defect that meant it would not have survived, the zoo announced on its Facebook page.
150 by Steve Johnson in Chicago. MOVED
^SCIENCE, MEDICINE, ENVIRONMENT
^Tortoise species believed to be extinct for over 100 years found on island in Galapagos
A species of tortoise thought to be extinct was found on an island in the Galapagos.
Wacho Tapia, Director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative, found the female tortoise during an expedition on Fernandina Island, the Galapagos Conservancy announced Wednesday.
550 by Kassidy Vavra. MOVED
NEWSBRIEFS:MCT — Nation and world news briefs.
^TODAY'S TOP NEWSFEATURES
^LA has great weather. So why do more homeless people freeze to death here than in New York?
LA-HOMELESS-HYPOTHERMIA:LA — John D. Brider was found passed out near a homeless shelter and taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he later died.
Brider, 63, had gone into cardiac arrest and oxygen had been cut off to his brain. But another, seemingly improbable, factor contributed to his death last winter: hypothermia, or loss of body heat, from being out in the cold.
One of the abiding myths about Los Angeles is that homeless people come here from the East Coast or Midwest because at least they won't freeze to death.
But despite L.A.'s typical sunshine and mild temperatures, five homeless people died of causes that included or were complicated by hypothermia in the county last year, surpassing San Francisco and New York City, which each reported two deaths.
1200 (with trims) by Gale Holland in Los Angeles. MOVED
^3D printer helps surgeons rebuild deformed jaws in Haiti
MED-PRINTED-JAWS:PHI — For five years, Jefferson University Hospital surgeons have been traveling to Haiti to rebuild the jaws of patients whose faces are disfigured by benign, yet massive tumors. These are delicate operations, made all the more challenging because the doctors cannot see what they are dealing with until they arrive in a sparsely equipped operating room in Port-au-Prince and meet their patients.
This year they tried a new tactic: making models of the patients' jaws in advance, with 3D printers in Philadelphia.
The idea was to use the plastic models as a guide, allowing the physicians to bend titanium surgical plates in the exact shape of each patient's jawbone — a task normally done during surgery. Shaping the plates in advance would save up to an hour in the operating room, reducing time under anesthesia, the risk of infection and other complications, and it also would help the surgeons achieve a more faithful reconstruction of each patient's original anatomy.
1250 by Tom Avril in Philadelphia. MOVED
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