Tribune News Service

News Budget for papers of Sunday, March 29, 2020


Updated at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 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.

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^He survived COVID-19. He's broke. But he thinks America is overreacting<

CORONAVIRUS-SURVIVOR-CORRECTION:LA — For three days, he was hooked up to an oxygen tube. For six days after that, he was cooped up in a 26-foot RV in a special quarantine camp run by the state of Georgia.

So when Joey Camp, a 30-year-old Waffle House line cook, learned he no longer had COVID-19 and could go home, he figured things were getting back to normal. Immediately, the former National Guardsman started making lunch and dinner plans: all-you-can-eat wings at Hooters? A super burrito from Los Arcos Mexican restaurant?

Soon, heavier concerns loomed. The divorced father of two made $10.65 an hour at Waffle House and has lived with friends since being evicted last year from his apartment. After leaving quarantine, he worked just one shift before his boss cut his hours because so few customers were coming in. His other part-time gig, as a party bus driver, went away.

Until now, COVID-19 has mostly been experienced through the lens of metropolitan areas: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York. But as the virus spreads into rural and small-town America, significant numbers of Americans continue to dismiss calls for more aggressive social distancing and shutdowns.

1600 by Jenny Jarvie in Cartersville, Ga. MOVED



^These Native American women came to Philadelphia to see their ancestral land. They found apartments and a parking garage<

PHILLY-TRIBAL-LAND:PH — Six women from the Iroquois Confederacy in upstate New York traveled to Philadelphia recently to reconnect with a patch of tribal land. They came to retrace the footsteps of ancestors, to feel under their feet the earth that was deeded to them by colonial leaders centuries ago.

Instead, they found themselves walking amid cracked marble and crumbling slate near 2nd and Walnut streets in Old City.

"I anticipated a park in a natural, pristine state. Like any other park, it would have trees, grass, water," said Louise McDonald (Native name Wa'kerak tste), a member of the Bear Clan from Akwesasne, N.Y.

Instead of the bucolic setting the women envisioned, they stood in an urban canyon enclosed on three sides by apartment buildings, the historic Thomas Bond House and a multilevel parking garage.

1200 by Charles Fox in Philadelphia. MOVED


^'Prisons are bacteria factories'; elderly inmates are at most at risk of illness<

^CORONAVIRUS-PRISONS:SH—< Here in the Estelle prison unit, most of the male inmates in the geriatric dormitory first ran afoul of the law years or even decades ago, convicted of crimes ranging from murder and sex offenses to forgery and repeat DWIs.

Today, any outward hint of menace has evaporated. White-haired, frail and often tethered to canes or wheelchairs, they live in small rectangular cubicles and while away the days in unwavering sameness.

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe, prisoner advocates are warning of the potential for a disastrous outbreak among inmates. The elderly are most vulnerable, and the U.S. inmate population is aging. Jails and prisons, crowded places where social distancing is nearly impossible, are breeding grounds for contagious disease.

1350 (with trims) by David Montgomery in Huntsville, Texas. MOVED


^Cities, legislatures learn to govern by conference call<

CORONAVIRUS-GOVERNING:SH — Elected officials are figuring out Zoom just like the rest of us.

Some of the most important legislation states and cities enact to fight the coronavirus pandemic will be passed on grainy video chats or glitchy conference calls, using processes that have never been tested.

Policymakers around the country are quickly learning how — or whether — they can cast votes remotely, a method that could prove crucial to responding to the pandemic while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

1850 (with trims) by Alex Brown in Seattle. MOVED



^Private prayers and empty funerals: The pandemic is hard on the Middle East faithful<

CORONAVIRUS-MIDEAST-RELIGION:LA — Paying no attention to the tenets of social distancing, the abaya-shrouded women — no masks or gloves among them — crowded into the Baghdad square surrounding the shrine to Imam Musa Kadhim.

"I invite China, Italy and Iran," one of the women said to a journalist from a satellite news station. "Those are the three biggest countries to be harmed. I invite them all to come to the Imam."

The woman's devotion was unwavering. But in a time of pandemic, religion, the sanctuary for so many in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, has been hit hard. Its houses of faith — mosques, churches, temples and shrines — have become a front line in the battle by governments to smother the spread of a deadly global virus. So have its rituals, which draw believers to pilgrimages or massive gatherings of communal worship.

All are now forbidden.

1200 by Nabih Bulos in Beirut. MOVED




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

^Las Vegas, devastated by the 2008 economic crash, struggles with coronavirus shutdown<

CORONAVIRUS-LASVEGAS:LA — It was just two weeks ago that Las Vegas native Carlos Rosales Jr. told his cousin that business at his new barbershop was doing so well that he was considering hiring a third apprentice.

After living through nearly a decade of financial uncertainty following the 2008 economic crash, the military veteran felt optimistic again. But that feeling evaporated last week when Rosales closed the barbershop following a statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses in an effort to contain the deadly coronavirus.

"I don't know how I'm going to pay my mortgage or car payments on my new truck," he said.

The virus has shaken Las Vegas' economy in an unprecedented way, ushering in a new reality for thousands of locals who only recently emerged — some still battered — from the last recession. Those who lost jobs and houses during the early 2010s carry those memories onto a precarious landscape of new economic challenges.

1500 (with trims) by Melissa Etehad and Lucas Kwan Peterson in Las Vegas. MOVED


^Survivalists have been prepping for a disaster scenario like coronavirus. Now, many feel vindicated<

SURVIVALISTS:PH — When Dan Wowak went to live alone in the wilds of Patagonia in 2016 for a chance to win a half-million dollars on reality television, he was allowed to bring 10 items. Toilet paper wasn't one of them.

Wowak did bring an ax and saw, a sleeping bag and a ferro rod, which you can strike to make sparks in just about any condition. He also chose fishing line and hooks, which proved invaluable. Over 51 days, he ate nothing but fish he caught in a lake: nine of them.

Wowak, who worked in the juvenile justice system before becoming a full-time woodsman, left the reality show "Alone" early, choosing sanity, food and his family over the big prize. Today, he teaches survival and outdoors classes through his company, Coal Cracker Bushcraft, giving crash courses in how to stay alive in the woods or when goods are scarce.

1150 by Jason Nark in Ringtown, Pa. MOVED


^'100% present for me': The case for midwives and rethinking childbirth in the US<

MIDWIVES:SE — Deep in the throes of labor, Amie-June Brumble is still able to crack a joke.

"I forgot why this was a good idea," the Seattle woman gasps between contractions. Brumble is curled on a hospital bed where she will soon give birth to her second son without benefit of painkillers and with minimal medical intervention. There's no doctor, either.

The health care professional in charge is a midwife — who responds in kind to her patient's wry comment.

"Because babies are so cute and cuddly," says Mary Lou Kopas, holding a cold washcloth on Brumble's neck. "And when they come, labor is over."

If Kopas and other women's health advocates had their way, midwives would oversee all low-risk pregnancies, like Brumble's. Obstetricians would handle only the complicated cases.

It sounds revolutionary in a country where physicians preside over 90% of births. But that's the division of labor in many other developed countries — where women and babies fare much better.

2550 by Sandi Doughton in Seattle. MOVED


^A fight over fracking at a Pennsylvania steel mill is forcing a reckoning among Democrats<

PA-FRACKING:PH — About a year ago, Charda Jones finally had enough money to pay off some student loans and move out of her parents' house into a third-floor apartment across the street from a steel mill that helped build America.

Jones, 31, grew up in Braddock, a town of 2,114 people about 11 miles southeast of Pittsburgh on the Monongahela River, and last year became mayor. She was used to the pollution. What she found more troubling was U.S. Steel's plan, in the works now for more than two years, to lease 10 acres to a New Mexico-based oil and gas company to extract natural gas a mile beneath the surface using a controversial drilling technique known as fracking.

As word spread, others grew suspicious of what the proposal might mean for public health. Some of them got elected to local and state office. And in January, a neighboring town revoked the gas company's permit to build part of a well site on its land.

More than a decade into a natural gas boom that has driven down energy costs for consumers and literally reshaped the landscape with thousands of wells and pipelines carrying gas across the state, this pocket of southwestern Pennsylvania is facing a reckoning over the issue.

2600 by Andrew Seidman in Braddock, Pa. MOVED


^Alt-weeklies thought they'd been through the worst economically. Then came coronavirus<

ALTWEEKLIES:LA — In the world of alternative weeklies, the foul-mouthed journalism genre that saw its heyday during the 1990s but which has struggled to adapt to the Internet age, the Stranger is the gold standard.

The Seattle paper long ago diversified its revenue stream with innovations — a ticketing service, film festivals, reader events, even the creation of a content management system — that helped the publication pivot away from relying solely on ads.

Profitability, a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing and a national audience soon followed.

Then came the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 13, editor Christopher Frizzelle announced in a blog post that he had to suspend the print edition and lay off 18 staffers "due to the hellscape of unforeseen economic events brought on" by the pandemic.

The same story is playing out at alt-weeklies across the country.

800 by Gustavo Arellano. MOVED


^Trump-appointed judge playing defense on presidential powers<

TRUMP-JUDGE:CON — Democrats saw warning signs long before President Donald Trump nominated Neomi Rao to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

At the time, she was a White House lawyer who zealously defended Trump's agenda. She'd clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. But she had no experience as a judge and little trial experience. Her legal writings promoted broad powers for the presidency. And as a college student she'd taken positions on social issues that were anathema to many liberals and even some conservatives.

That same background made her an ideal candidate for Trump and many conservatives. They see the appointment of federal judges who can pass their litmus test on social issues — and champion deregulation — as a way to circumvent legislative gridlock in Congress and counter the influence of liberal jurists. Loyalty to Trump seals the deal.

2350 by Ilana Marcus, Joshua Eaton and Ed Timms in Washington. MOVED


^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




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