Tribune News Service

News Budget for Thursday, March 26, 2020


Updated at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 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 brags about his China travel ban; health experts say it's had little effect<

CORONAVIRUS-TRUMP-1ST-LEDE:LA — Confronted with criticism about the lagging federal response to the coronavirus crisis, President Donald Trump often boasts about his Jan. 31 decision to restrict travel from China, where the outbreak began, claiming he saved thousands of American lives.

But Trump has repeatedly overstated the effect of his decision, and the supposed opposition to it, even as he has misrepresented federal efforts to develop a vaccine and supply protective masks, ventilators and other critically needed gear.

1100 by Eli Stokols, Chris Megerian and Noah Bierman in Washington. MOVED


^Mass layoffs hit the economy. Can the government's $2 trillion stimulus plan stem the tide?<

CORONAVIRUS-JOBS-2ND-LEDE:LA — Even in the darkest hours of 2008, when the nation teetered on the edge of a second Great Depression, Congress never passed anything close to the economic stimulus plan scheduled for final approval Friday.

The Senate's roughly $2 trillion response to the devastating economic effects of the coronavirus stands out not only for its record amount — almost 10% of U.S. gross domestic product — but in giving employers unprecedented — and untested — financial incentives to keep people on their payrolls.

In addition to providing direct help to those who are losing their jobs and livelihoods due to a global pandemic, the bill includes novel ideas designed to encourage employers to avoid layoffs.

1250 (with trims) by Don Lee in Washington. MOVED


^Pelosi vows quick House approval of $2 trillion coronavirus relief plan, slams GOP for voting against 'workers'<

CORONAVIRUS-STIMULUS:NY — The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package approved by the Senate will breeze through the House in a "strong, bipartisan" vote on Friday, according to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meaning President Donald Trump will likely be able to sign the enormous bill into law by the weekend.

"We will have a victory tomorrow for America's workers," Pelosi, who was celebrating her 80th birthday, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. "We'll bring the bill to the floor. It will pass. It will pass with strong, bipartisan support."

500 by Dave Goldiner and Chris Sommerfeldt. MOVED


^US indicts Venezuelan President Maduro on drug trafficking charges<

USVENEZUELA-MADURO-1ST-LEDE:LA — The Trump administration announced sweeping indictments Thursday of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and some of his associates on federal drug-trafficking and related charges, in a major escalation of the U.S.-led campaign to topple Maduro and his socialist government.

The charges, described by Attorney General William Barr at a news conference in Washington, allege that Maduro and members of his inner circle conspired with rebels from neighboring Colombia to create a vast and lucrative criminal enterprise in Venezuela "flooding" the United States with cocaine and generating billions in illicit dollars. Maduro and his allies pocketed profits, and the rebels received weapons, prosecutors allege — all while Venezuela descended into poverty and social collapse.

1250 (with trims) by Del Quentin Wilber and Tracy Wilkinson in Washington. MOVED



Also moving as:

USVENEZUELA-MADURO:MI — 1950 (with trims) by Jay Weaver and Antonio Maria Delgado in Miami. (Moved as a Washington story.) MOVED




^US surpasses China, Italy in coronavirus cases<

CORONAVIRUS-US:LA — The United States has surpassed Italy and China in having the most confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a global case tracker run by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Thursday afternoon, the United States was reporting more than 82,400 cases, above China's tally of more than 81,700 and Italy's count of more than 80,500.

100 by Rong-Gong Lin II. MOVED


^Trump tells governors US should rank counties by virus risk<

CORONAVIRUS-TRUMP-GOVERNORS-1ST-LEDE:BLO — President Donald Trump told U.S. governors in a letter that the federal government will rank counties according to their risk of a coronavirus outbreak, as he seeks to return Americans to work by his aspirational Easter deadline.

"My administration is working to publish new guidelines for state and local policymakers to use in making decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures they have put in place," Trump said in the Thursday letter, which followed a video conference with governors from the White House.

850 by Justin Sink and Angelica LaVito in Washington. MOVED


^Stimulus plan includes long-sought boons for special interests<

CORONAVIRUS-STIMULUS-SPECIALINTERESTS:LA — In the days before the Senate unanimously passed a roughly $2 trillion bailout bill for the nation's nose-diving economy, lobbyists and special-interest groups flooded Congress with long-standing wishes and wants — though couched as urgent needs in a time of crisis.

The 880-page bill that emerged — and that the House is expected to approve Friday — did not give everyone everything they sought.

But it does include provisions plucked from the wish lists of hotels, restaurants, retailers and over-the-counter drug manufacturers, among others. One of the biggest winners could be Boeing Co.

1200 by Anna M. Phillips, Kim Christensen and Adam Elmahrek in Washington. MOVED


^Trump says cruise lines should be US-based if they want loans<

CORONAVIRUS-TRUMP-CRUISELINES:BLO — President Donald Trump said cruise line companies should change their official homes to the U.S. if they want to get federal loans.

Trump has been saying for several days that cruise lines would likely be beneficiaries of the $2 trillion federal stimulus package working its way through Congress. But the version passed by the Senate excludes businesses that aren't domiciled in the U.S. or whose employees are mostly outside the country.

250 by Christopher Palmeri. MOVED


^100 in New York die in a single day from coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-NY:NY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a somber update on the coronavirus pandemic Thursday as 100 died in the state in the past 24 hours alone and the infection rate keeps soaring above 21,000 in New York City.

Vowing to keep giving New Yorkers straight talk, the Democratic governor said the city and state are still heading into the worst days or weeks of the crisis.

550 by Dave Goldiner in New York. MOVED


^NYC aims to triple hospital beds for coronavirus patients; medical supplies restocked 'day to day, hour to hour'<

CORONAVIRUS-NYC:NY — New York City wants to triple its number of hospital beds by May to address the surge of patients with coronavirus — even as Mayor Bill de Blasio said restocking the system with supplies may be done "hour to hour."

There are currently some 20,000 beds in public and private hospitals across the five boroughs and de Blasio said Thursday he hopes to add another 40,000 in the coming weeks amid a pandemic that has already overwhelmed the city's health care system.

400 by Anna Sanders and Shant Shahrigian in New York. MOVED


^USNS Comfort to arrive in NYC on Monday to relieve hospitals overrun with coronavirus patients<

CORONAVIRUS-SHIP:NY — Navy crews sped up the refitting of a hospital ship expected to arrive in New York Harbor on Monday.

The USNS Comfort is to set sail from Norfolk, Va., on Saturday on its mission to help the city's hospitals, which are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

250 by Clayton Guse and Chris Sommerfeldt in New York. MOVED


^First known coronavirus deaths from stricken Grand Princess cruise ship, 103 infected<

CORONAVIRUS-SHIP-1ST-LEDE:SJ — Two former passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship have died, as the number of positive coronavirus cases among those who were on board continues to rise. And a San Jose man said a close female relative, also from San Jose, received a positive test result Thursday after being released from quarantine at Travis Air Force Base.

The Department of Health and Human Services said two men infected on board died earlier this week "due to complications from the coronavirus." The victims had been taken, along with nearly 1,000 of the other 3,400 passengers and crew, to quarantine at the air base in Fairfield. Each man was transported to a nearby medical facility when he began to show COVID-19 symptoms.

850 by Evan Webeck and Ethan Baron in San Jose, Calif. MOVED


^Quarantines at Florida immigration detention centers rise as ICE arrests more migrants<

CORONAVIRUS-IMMIGRANTS-DETENTION:MI — Though federal immigration officials said it would curtail arrests of non-criminals amid the coronavirus pandemic, new non-criminal migrants are still being picked up and taken to South Florida detention centers without being tested for COVID-19, three federal sources confirmed to the Miami Herald.

1550 (with trims) by Monique O. Madan in Miami. MOVED


^Texas man threatened Pelosi's life over coronavirus aid plan, feds say<

CORONAVIRUS-PELOSI-THREAT:DA — A North Texas man faces a federal charge after authorities say he threatened the lives of Democrats, including U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, over their response to the nation's coronavirus outbreak.

Gavin Weslee Blake Perry, 27, of Wichita Falls faces one count of transmitting a threatening communication in interstate commerce. He was taken into custody Wednesday and made his initial court appearance Thursday.

According to federal prosecutors, someone notified Wichita Falls police that Perry had made threatening remarks on his Facebook page.

350 by Tom Steele in Dallas. MOVED


^EPA backs off enforcing pollution rules as virus strains work<

ENV-CORONAVIRUS-EPA:BLO — The Trump administration will temporarily relax civil enforcement of various environmental regulations, a move it says is necessary given worker shortages and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a memo issued Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency said it wouldn't go after companies that fail to satisfy many "routine monitoring and reporting obligations" because of the coronavirus, as long as they documented why they couldn't fulfill the mandates, worked to resolve the issues and sought to minimize the effects.

450 by Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington. MOVED


^Which patient gets the ventilator? Doctors may have tough choices ahead<

CORONAVIRUS-VENTILATORS-TOUGHCHOICES:LA — It's a choice most doctors never thought they would have to make: Who lives and who dies.

But in coming weeks, if COVID-19 continues to surge, such decisions will be inevitable.

The coronavirus will attack so many people's lungs that thousands could show up at hospitals gasping for air and will need to be hooked up to machines that breathe for them. But there won't be enough ventilators for everyone, forcing doctors to make impossible calls about which lives to save.

1650 (with trims) by Soumya Karlamangla, Harriet Ryan, Matt Stiles and Emily Baumgaertner in Los Angeles. MOVED


^LA County reports 9 new coronavirus-related deaths as cases explode to more than 1,200<

CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-1ST-LEDE:LA — As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County rose by more than half on Friday, public health officials said that nine more people had died after contracting the virus.

The county's death toll now stands at 21. Health officials reported 421 more confirmed cases of the virus Thursday, for a total of 1,229, an increase of 52% over Wednesday.

Of those who tested positive, 253 people — or roughly one in five — was hospitalized at some point, said Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

1350 (with trims) by Alex Wigglesworth, Priscella Vega, Chris Megerian, Anita Chabria and Laura J. Nelson in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Deborah Birx, AIDS researcher, takes a prominent role in coronavirus messaging for Trump administration<

CORONAVIRUS-BIRX:LA — When the urgent phone call came last month, respected HIV researcher Deborah Birx was meeting with African officials and activists from around the world at a Johannesburg conference to help determine how U.S. AIDS relief funding would be doled out.

It was the White House calling.

Birx was on the next flight out, headed home to Washington to become coordinator of the Trump administration's new corornavirus task force.

1500 (with trims) by Tracy Wilkinson in Washington. MOVED


^Trump resists using war powers to ramp up virus supplies after lobbying<

CORONAVIRUS-TRUMP-SUPPLIES:BLO — As hospitals, health care staff and governors clamor for ventilators, intensive care beds and protective gear, President Donald Trump and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are opposing the one thing many say would do the most good in the fight against the runaway coronavirus pandemic: activate the Defense Production Act to coordinate a warlike effort to ramp up the manufacture and distribution of critical supplies.

More than 100 former national security officials urged Trump in a letter Wednesday to use the act's authority, saying it was necessary that government coordinate the effort and assign priorities to confront the crisis. Trade groups, governors, attorneys general and Democratic senators are lodging similar calls.

1450 (with trims) by Ben Brody in Washington. MOVED


^Chicago mayor closes some city trails, parks and beaches, and bans contact sports<

CORONAVIRUS-CHICAGO-CLOSEDSPACES-1ST-LEDE:TB — Mayor Lori Lightfoot has ordered Chicago's entire Lakefront Trail, adjacent parks, The 606 trail and Riverwalk closed, the latest sweeping measure taken by the city to curb the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

The closures were effective immediately and applied to trails, bike paths, green spaces, facilities and parks adjacent to the lakefront, Lightfoot said. Chicago police would aggressively be ramping up patrols in these areas and violators would be subject to a warning, ticket and possible arrest if they don't listen, the mayor said.

1150 (with trims) by Gregory Pratt, John Byrne and Madeline Buckley in Chicago. MOVED


^Texas orders 14-day quarantine of air travelers arriving from NY-NJ-CT, New Orleans<

CORONAVIRUS-AIRTRAVEL-QUARANTINE:DA — Texas is ordering air travelers from the tri-state area around New York City and from New Orleans to self-quarantine for 14 days after they arrive—to reduce spread of the novel coronavirus.

On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that requires air travelers to isolate themselves at hotels or designated residences, avoiding public spaces, shunning visitors and having direct contact only with physicians or other healthcare providers.

An air traveler's required self-quarantine must last 14 days — or for the person's entire stay, whichever is shorter, he said.

The edict takes effect at noon on Saturday.

1050 (with trims) by Robert T. Garrett in Austin, Texas. MOVED


^NYC nurse dies as medical staff overwhelmed with coronavirus cases<

CORONAVIRUS-NY-NURSE-DEATH:NY — A nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital who had treated coronavirus patients has died from the rapidly spreading disease, officials said Thursday.

Kious Jordan Kelly, a nursing manager at Mount Sinai West on 10th Ave. near 58th St., was hospitalized on March 17 and died Tuesday, NBC reported.

200 by Thomas Tracy in New York. MOVED


^Army lab fights coronavirus and its own demons<

CORONAVIRUS-ARMY-LAB:CON — The Army's Fort Detrick, home to a leading biological research facility, has gained newfound attention because the Trump administration has tapped the lab to help develop a vaccine, treatments and testing equipment for the novel coronavirus.

But the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, is under a cloud.

Some of its work was shut down last year over safety lapses, and those projects are only slowly restarting. Meanwhile, most of its Pentagon funding has been frozen because of what the Defense Department acquisition chief Ellen Lord, in a Feb. 29 letter to lawmakers, called "potential financial mismanagement."

1300 (with trims) by John M. Donnelly in Washington. MOVED


^Sen. Amy Klobuchar's husband checks out of hospital<

CORONAVIRUS-KLOBUCHAR-HUSBAND:MS — Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Thursday that her husband John Bessler, who was recently diagnosed with coronavirus, was able to check out of the hospital and is now recovering at home.

"He took a good turn, was just released and is now recovering at home," Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a statement. "Thanks to those who cared for him and all front line healthcare workers."

Klobuchar said that Bessler, 52, had to be hospitalized for pneumonia and low oxygen. She had announced his diagnosis on Monday.

200 by Patrick Condon in Minneapolis. MOVED


^San Diego-based Navy ship confines crew amid soaring COVID-19 cases<

CORONAVIRUS-NAVYSHIP:SD — The crew of the San Diego-based amphibious transport dock Somerset have been ordered to remain on board the ship as the Navy announced Wednesday that six more San Diego-based sailors have tested positive for COVID-19.

450 by Andrew Dyer in San Diego. MOVED


^Woman who claimed she had coronavirus and coughed on food at Pa. grocery store is charged<

CORONAVIRUS-GROCERY-COUGHER:PH — A woman who intentionally coughed on more than $35,000 worth of groceries at a Northeast Pennsylvania supermarket and claimed she had the coronavirus has been arrested.

On Wednesday afternoon, the woman, identified by police as Margaret Chirko, went into Gerrity's Supermarket in Hanover Township, near Wilkes-Barre, and coughed on the store's entire selection of fresh produce as well as some bakery items, meat and other food, co-owner Joe Fasula said in a statement.

350 by Erin McCarthy. MOVED


^States seek food-stamp flexibility as pandemic limits options<

CORONAVIRUS-FOODSTAMPS:CON — Most food stamp users can't buy restaurant meals or hot or prepared foods with their benefits, but state officials have begun asking the Agriculture Department for authority to waive some federal restrictions on purchases as they try to provide more options to low-income people grappling with COVID-19.

Anti-hunger advocates say most requests are in line with past requests states make in times of disaster.

900 by Ellyn Ferguson in Washington. MOVED


^California lawmakers struggle to conduct business amid COVID-19 lockdown<

CORONAVIRUS-CALIF-LAWMAKER-QA:KHN — The weekend before California shuttered its Capitol building, Senate leader Toni Atkins spent hours on the phone — taking the roles of a student learning from epidemiologists and a legislator discussing with colleagues how the country's most populous state should respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Like many lawmakers from New York to Washington state, Atkins and her fellow Sacramento legislators find themselves in uncharted territory.

950 by Samantha Young in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED


^Duke says it has found a way to safely reuse masks worn when treating COVID-19 patients<

CORONAVIRUS-REUSE-MASKS:RA — Duke Health says it will stretch its supply of specialized masks used by health care workers treating coronavirus patients by decontaminating and reusing them.

Duke will use aerosolized hydrogen peroxide to treat N95 masks at its three hospitals in Durham and Raleigh. The gas permeates the masks to kill germs, including viruses, without harming the material, Duke says.

400 by Richard Stradling in Durham, N.C. MOVED


^As virus spreads, this college wants students to return and clean their dorm rooms<

CORONAVIRUS-COLLEGE-CLEANROOMS:LA — As colleges across California shuttered their campuses and sent most students home last week, one campus in the Bay Area is requiring its students to return — amid a pandemic — and clean out their dorm rooms.

700 by Susanne Rust in Menlo Park, Calif. MOVED


^Peeps cease production two weeks before Easter due to the coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-PEEPS:PH — Two weeks before Easter, the production lines for Peeps have stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak. But don't expect a shortage on store shelves if you're looking to celebrate the holiday at home.

A hefty supply of the popular marshmallow candies has already shipped to retailers from their factories in Bethlehem, Pa., and Philadelphia, according to Just Born, the family-owned confectionery company that makes Peeps, as well as Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, Teenee Beanee jelly beans, and Goldenberg's Peanut Chews.

300 by Erin McCarthy in Philadelphia. MOVED



^For many Indians in lockdown, the biggest concern isn't coronavirus; it's hunger<

CORONAVIRUS-INDIA:LA — The biggest lockdown in human history — 1.3 billion Indians ordered to stay home to curb the spread of the coronavirus — has unleashed chaos across the country as stranded migrant workers sleep in city streets, police beat curfew-breakers, fruits and vegetables rot in markets, and masses of informal laborers find their livelihoods wiped out.

The first two days of the lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have thrown the lives of some of India's poorest people into disarray. A total shutdown of trains and buses has prevented countless migrant workers from returning to their villages, forcing them into makeshift shelters or open fields where they are subsisting on food handouts, and hand-washing and social distancing are impossible.

1150 (with trims) by Shashank Bengali and Parth M.N. in Mumbai, India. MOVED


^China bans entry of foreigners in move to curb the spread of virus<

CORONAVIRUS-CHINA-1ST-LEDE:DPA — China said it will suspend the entry of foreign nationals holding valid visas and resident permits in a move to curb the number of imported cases of the coronavirus.

The ban becomes effective on Saturday, according to a statement posted late Thursday on the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website.

300 by Simina Mistreanu in Beijing. MOVED


^As criticism mounts, Mexican government rejects more aggressive fight against coronavirus<

CORONAVIRUS-MEXICO:LA — Resisting calls to amp up the fight against the coronavirus, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his top aides continued to defend a strategy they say balances public health needs with potential damage to the country's faltering economy.

"We don't want to have a cure that is costlier in social terms than the actual illness," Hugo Lopez-Gatell, the country's sub-secretary of health, told reporters Thursday. "We have said many times that there are some measures that don't have a technical basis, such as closing borders and airports."

Mexico has taken some measures, such as extending schools' Holy Week break, urging people to work from home and encouraging social distancing — widely disseminating a cartoon character called Susana Distancia, which means "your safe distance."

900 by Patrick J. McDonnell and Kate Linthicum in Mexico City. MOVED


^G-20 leaders commit to 'whatever it takes' to overcome coronavirus pandemic<

^CORONAVIRUS-G20:BLO—<Leaders from the Group of 20 nations on Thursday said they were injecting more than $5 trillion into the global economy and committed to do "whatever it takes" to overcome the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout.

"The virus respects no borders," they said in a joint statement after an extraordinary G-20 leaders' summit convened virtually amid the outbreak. "We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat."

650 by Jihye Lee and Vivian Nereim. MOVED


^IOC reportedly hopes to reschedule Olympics in midsummer 2021<

^OLY-CORONAVIRUS-POSTPONEMENT:LA—<Though the head of the International Olympic Committee has preached the need for flexibility in rescheduling the 2020 Tokyo Games, one of his top aides is pointing at a conventional date in the summer of 2021.

John Coates told the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri on Thursday that his IOC coordination commission, working closely with Tokyo organizers, hopes to create an opening in July-August.

250 by David Wharton. (Moved as a sports story.) MOVED


^In Mexico, coronavirus 'will go from the rich to the poor and the poor will pay'<

CORONAVIRUS-MEXICO:DA — Fears are strong in Mexican border cities that the poor will pay the price for wealthier Mexicans who brought the coronavirus home after foreign travel.

Initial cases in the big border states of Chihuahua and Tamaulipas show that the majority of those infected traveled back to Mexico from venues like Spain and New York, coronavirus hot spots.

"It seems like it will go from the rich to the poor and the poor will pay," said Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a Mexican-born political scientist at George Mason University who lived in Brownsville for several years. "They have less ability to get medical attention"

1000 (with trims) by Dianne Solis and Alfredo Corchado. MOVED



^Pregnant women with coronavirus infection can pass it to their babies, study finds<

^CORONAVIRUS-PREGNANCY:LA—<A study of 33 pregnant women in China who were infected with the new coronavirus found that three of them gave birth to babies with COVID-19.

All three infants survived after receiving treatment for their symptoms, doctors reported Thursday in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics.

200 by Karen Kaplan. MOVED



^Trump campaign threatens loss of licenses for TV stations that air ad criticizing president's coronavirus actions<

TRUMP-CAMPAIGN-ADS:BLO — The Trump reelection campaign told TV stations they could lose their operating licenses for airing an ad criticizing the president's actions in the coronavirus crisis — a challenge that may be more bluster than actual threat.

President Donald Trump's campaign, in a letter Wednesday, told stations in five battleground states to stop showing the ad from Priorities USA, a political action committee that supports Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

700 by Todd Shields, Jennifer Epstein and Mario Parker in Washington. MOVED


^US indictment of Venezuela's Maduro carries echoes of Noriega. Will it end the same way?<

USVENEZUELA-MADURO-NORIEGA:MI — In January of 1990, a once powerful Latin American leader stood before a Miami judge to face charges that he'd taken $4.6 million in bribes in exchange for allowing his nation to become a hub for Colombian cocaine cartels.

The man was Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, the one-time military ruler of Panama. And that hearing marked the first time a U.S. court had ever indicted a head of state.

On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department made history again, charging Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and some of his closest allies with working with Colombian guerrillas to turn his country into a safe haven for narcotics exports.

1100 (with trims) by Jim Wyss and Nora Gamez Torres in Miami. MOVED



^Lori Loughlin, co-defendants ask judge to toss charges in college admissions scandal<

CMP-ADMISSIONS-FRAUD:LA — Lori Loughlin and 13 other parents charged in the college admissions scandal asked a judge on Wednesday to dismiss the fraud, bribery and money laundering charges lodged against them, arguing that federal prosecutors in Boston violated their rights and broke judicial rules by withholding for 16 months notes taken by the scam's ringleader, William "Rick" Singer.

The motion marked the first time Loughlin and her co-defendants have asked a judge to toss the charges, the first round of which were unsealed a year ago.

1100 (with trims) by Matthew Ormseth. MOVED


^California needs nurses. So why is the state about to give up 10,000 prospects?<

CALIF-NURSING-STUDENTS:LA — Amid a frantic scramble to open hospitals and increase the number of health care workers, California nursing schools are warning state officials that an estimated 10,000 nursing students are in jeopardy of not graduating, meaning they will be unable help evaluate and treat patients amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Under state rules, nursing students must spend a substantial part of their clinical education in hospitals, but they are barred from doing so now because of hospital lockdown orders. Unless the state loosens its rules, students set to graduate in coming months will find it impossible to become a licensed nurse.

1250 (with trims) by Melody Gutierrez and Nina Agrawal in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED


^Alex Jones must pay legal fees for 'frivolous' Sandy Hook appeal<

ALEXJONES-SANDYHOOK:AU — The 3rd Court of Appeals Wednesday denied Alex Jones' motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by a Sandy Hook parent and ordered Jones to pay $22,500 in attorney fees for what they found to be a frivolous appeal.

That means that Jones has now been assessed nearly $150,000 in legal fees in two cases — one for defamation and another for intentional infliction of emotional distress — brought by Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was one of the 20 first-graders killed along with six school staffers in the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which Jones and others on his InfoWars conspiracy news site portrayed as a hoax.

300 by Jonathan Tilove in Austin, Texas. MOVED


^Baltimore population drops below 600,000, the lowest total in a century, census estimates show<

BALTIMORE-POPULATION:BZ — Baltimore's population has dipped below 600,000 for the first time in more than a century, according to U.S. Census estimates released Thursday.

The city's estimated population was 593,490 as of July 1, 2019, the new data shows.

That's a decline of 8,953 people, or 1.5% of the city's population, from the previous year.

500 (with trims) by Alison Knezevich in Baltimore. MOVED


^Space Force's first-ever launch took off with a next generation of military spacecraft Thursday<

SPACEFORECE-LAUNCH:OS — The last in a new generation of military satellites launched from the Space Coast on Thursday afternoon, as national security missions continue to move forward despite coronavirus concerns.

At 4:18 p.m. Eastern time, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the sixth and final Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite.

The mission also carried a new blue logo on the payload fairing atop the Atlas V rocket: the symbol of the newly formed U.S. Space Force. The launch was the first for the branch's Space and Missile Systems Center.

300 by Chabeli Carrazana in Orlando, Fla. MOVED


^PG&E wants to pay its $4 million fine for involuntary manslaughter out of fire victims fund<

CALIF-WILDFIRES-UTILITY:LA — Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility that has pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the 2018 Camp fire in Northern California, wants to pay its $4 million fine from a fund set aside for victims of the blaze.

The utility is on the hook for $3.5 million in fines and penalties and an additional $500,000 that will go to the Butte County District Attorney's Environmental and Consumer Protection Fund as part of a plea agreement the utility recently reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The utility plans to pay that $4 million out of a $13.5 billion Fire Victim Trust that was set up during its bankruptcy following the wildfire that killed 85 people and destroyed more than 18,000 buildings in the rural mountain town of Paradise in Northern California.

750 by Joseph Serna. MOVED


^R. Kelly seeking to exit federal custody in Chicago due to coronavirus fears<

RKELLY:TB — Embattled singer R. Kelly is once again asking a federal judge to release him on bond pending trial on sexual abuse allegations, this time alleging unsanitary conditions at the federal jail in Chicago leave him at risk to contract COVID-19.

In a motion filed Thursday, Kelly, who has been held without bond since his arrest on federal charges in July, said "social distancing" practices recommended by U.S. health officials "are simply impossible" in the close quarters of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago's high-rise federal jail in the Loop.

500 by Jason Meisner in Chicago. MOVED


^Aryan Brotherhood inmates claim jailers 'harassing' them, not providing COVID-19 protection<

ARYAN-BROTHERHOOD-JAIL:SA — While the Sacramento sheriff's office is releasing hundreds of non-violent inmates because of the coronavirus crisis, some of the harder cases inside are complaining about their treatment and exposure to the disease.

In a filing in federal court this week, attorneys for 11 defendants arrested last year in an alleged Aryan Brotherhood murder and drug-smuggling conspiracy say their clients are bei

650 by Sam Stanton in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED


^In surprise move, Netanyahu rival Benny Gantz picked as parliamentary speaker<

ISRAEL:DPA — Centrist Blue and White alliance leader Benny Gantz was elected as speaker of the Israeli parliament Thursday, in a surprise move seen as opening the way toward a unity government.

Gantz would reportedly serve as foreign minister in a grand coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders would rotate as prime minister, with Netanyahu remaining prime minister for a year and a half before being replaced by Gantz in September 2021.

300 by Miranda Lee Murray and Sara Lemel in Tel Aviv, Israel. MOVED




NEWSBRIEFS:MCT — Nation and world news briefs.



^In times of housing crises, Washington's old squatters' rights law is put to the test<

WASHSTATE-SQUATTERS-LAW:SE — Police entered the Kent home with their guns drawn. Angela Simmons panicked and held up her hands.

Crisis and opportunity had collided to bring Simmons into the Kent home in 2013. In the aftermath of the recession, when foreclosed houses around King County sat empty, Simmons was introduced to an ancient legal principle called adverse possession that resulted in her living in one such abandoned home that she hoped one day would be hers.

Some may think of it as "squatter's rights," but adverse possession, enshrined in 19th-century Washington law and common law going back centuries, theoretically can provide a path to property ownership through moving into an abandoned home without permission, paying taxes on the property and maintaining the place as an owner would. The challenge is to avoid getting caught.

1650 by Sydney Brownstone in Seattle. MOVED


^States begin preparations for mail-in voting in presidential election<

VOTEBYMAIL:SH — States have begun reshaping election policies to expand access to mail-in voting.

Election officials in states with restrictive absentee requirements are looking for ways to allow as many voters as possible to use absentee ballots, a safer alternative to in-person voting in a global pandemic. If this crisis continues into November, however, some experts warn that a pivot to voting by mail could strain state resources and disenfranchise certain voters if not handled properly.

U.S. elections have been in flux since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

1650 by Matt Vasilogambros in Washington. MOVED




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