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Tribune News Service

News Budget for papers of Sunday, September 22, 2019


Updated at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 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.


^'Do something': Active shooter trainings teach how to fight back against a gunman<

ACTIVE-SHOOTER-TRAINING:LA _ The gunman paced the hallways of the charter school, passing framed paintings of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson before stopping outside classroom 138. There, he took a deep breath, yanked open the door and began firing.

"Shooter!" shouted someone inside the classroom. "He has a gun!"

Two people seated at desks near the door jumped up and rushed the perpetrator, pinning his legs and arms against a wall, while everyone else sprinted out. It was over in 15 seconds and tiny yellow Nerf balls sprayed from the toy rifle littered the room. One of the men who rushed the gunman was struck in the thigh by a ball, a reminder of the personal danger involved in confronting an armed assailant.

The recent exercise was part of a two-day, $700 active shooter training course being offered at schools and churches across the country. The ALICE Training Institute, whose instructors have law enforcement or military backgrounds, provides courses for educators, church workers and small-business employees concerned about how to react in case catastrophe strikes.

1600 by Kurtis Lee in Golden, Colo. MOVED


^Missed phone calls, changing stories: How E. coli spread at the San Diego County Fair<

SANDIEGO-FAIR-ECOLI:SD _ More than 1.1 million people had already passed through the gates of the San Diego County Fair this summer by the time an E. coli outbreak forced the closure of all animal exhibits and rides.

News that a 2-year-old boy had died after picking up the particularly nasty infection, which was also contracted by three other children with animal contact at the fair, stirred alarm within the community. Many had already roamed the midway, stuffed themselves full of fair food and passed through the venue's cavernous livestock barns en route to pig races, pony rides and the petting zoo.

Hundreds of emails and other documents obtained through Public Records Act requests show that, while the public health team was able to move quickly, more frequent county case reviews, a more modern medical records system and more prompt and accurate responses from families with infected children might have gotten the investigation started days earlier.

2250 (with trims) by Paul Sisson in San Diego. MOVED


^Pepe Aguilar's rodeos mix Los Angeles, old Mexico<

LA-RODEO:LA _ In a city that loves rags-to-riches stories, few can match the saga of Pepe Aguilar and his family.

But only some Angelenos know about it.

His father, Antonio, slept on benches in Placita Olvera when he arrived in Los Angeles from Mexico in the 1940s with no papers but plenty of ambition. He triumphantly returned in the 1960s as a ranchera legend, with an espectaculo featuring his family that brought Mexico back to homesick immigrant L.A. audiences, if only for three hours.

These extravaganzas, which interspersed music with rodeo events, evoked the rural traditions of Jalisco and Zacatecas, from where hundreds of thousands of Mexican Americans in the Southland trace their roots; what might've seemed like a circus act to non-Latinos was really an authentic, if romanticized, portrayal of culture of these Mexican states.

1850 by Gustavo Arellano in Los Angeles. MOVED



^Americans' struggles with medical bills are a foreign concept in other countries<

MEDICALBILLS-GLOBAL:LA _ In France, a visit to the doctor typically costs the equivalent of $1.12.

A night in a German hospital costs a patient roughly $11.

And in the Netherlands _ one of the few wealthy nations other than the U.S. where patients face a deductible _ insurers usually must cover all medical care after the first 385 euros, roughly $431.

Health care in the U.S. has long been unique. But few things so starkly set the American system apart as how much patients pay out of pocket for medical care, even if they have insurance.

Nearly all of America's global competitors _ whether they have government health plans, such as Britain and Canada, or rely on private insurers, such as Germany and the Netherlands _ strictly limit out-of-pocket costs.

1850 by Noam N. Levey in Gorinchem, Netherlands. MOVED



^Ocean robots take the pulse of our planet by measuring microbes<


The vital signs? The health of the seas' smallest residents _ phytoplankton.

From diatoms encased in glass to dinoflagellates that can cause toxic algae blooms, phytoplankton are a diverse group of algae that live in the ocean. They serve as the base of the ocean food chain and are responsible for cycling nutrients in the water and producing oxygen through photosynthesis.

1050 by Stephanie De Marco. MOVED




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

^Starving seniors: How America fails to feed its aging<

ELDERLY-HUNGRY:KHN _ Army veteran Eugene Milligan is 75 years old and blind. He uses a wheelchair since losing half his right leg to diabetes and gets dialysis for kidney failure.

And he has struggled to get enough to eat.

Earlier this year, he ended up in the hospital after burning himself while boiling water for oatmeal. The long stay caused the Memphis vet to fall off a charity's rolls for home-delivered Meals on Wheels.

Millions of seniors across the country quietly go hungry as the safety net designed to catch them frays. Nearly 8% of Americans 60 and older were "food insecure" in 2017, according to a recent study released by the anti-hunger group Feeding America. That's 5.5 million seniors who don't have consistent access to enough food for a healthy life, a number that has more than doubled since 2001 and is only expected to grow as America grays.

2250 (with trims) by Laura Ungar and Trudy Lieberman in Memphis, Tenn. MOVED


^Texas A&M researchers quietly bred sick dogs in hopes of finding human muscular dystrophy cure<

CMP-TEXAS-AM-DOGS-RESEARCH:DA _ A colony of golden retrievers and Labrador mixes lives in an unmarked building at Texas A&M. Few Aggies will ever see them, and many of the dogs will never know another home.

The building looks like a pristine dog pound, with aisles of bare metal kennels and slatted floors. The healthy dogs jump and bark loudly, pushing their cold, wet noses between the bars of their cages in sterile, white rooms. The sick dogs are quiet.

Their location is a secret. University officials say the strict confidentiality shields the dogs and their caretakers from overzealous activists.

But animal welfare groups say the dogs are the ones who need protection from the university.

The dogs live on campus because researchers at Texas A&M use them to study Duchenne muscular dystrophy _ a degenerative disease that's terminal for mostly young boys. University scientists are seeking a cure, or at least a meaningful treatment to lengthen lives.

2150 by Rebekah Allen in College Station, Texas. MOVED


^Her father was missing for 12 years. He was buried just miles from home<

MISSINGPERSONS-DATABASE:FT _ For 12 years, John Almendarez's unidentified body was buried in a Houston pauper's cemetery under a grave marked "ML02-2230."

He was a father who shared his love of baseball and the Astros with his five daughters. They didn't see him again after a Father's Day visit in 2002.

His middle child, Alice Almendarez, was a teenager at the time and took on the heavy load of trying to find her father. She said police offered little help and the search often felt hopeless, even once leaving her in the morgue shouting for help. It consumed her life for more than a decade.

Unbeknownst to her, the only clue to the biggest mystery of her life was buried inside the Harris County Cemetery, which she drove past nearly every day.

1900 (with trims) by Nichole Manna in Fort Worth, Texas. MOVED


^An Illinois man lost his life _ and his nephew lost his arms _ from an improperly installed electrical wire. It could happen again<

POWERLINE-ELECTROCUTION:TB _ In the final moments of his life, Robert Zulauf administered CPR to his nephew and ordered bystanders to move away from the deadly power line that arced and bowed just a few feet from a Circle K parking lot.

Flames danced around Jordan Zulauf as thick black smoke billowed and his uncle worked to save him. Above the men, a Commonwealth Edison line crackled and hummed.

Robert took a few steps toward his white utility truck, which he had parked along the road so he and Jordan could work on the telecommunication lines several feet below the ComEd wires. The bucket was extended about 6 feet off the ground and, according to one witness, a wire was touching its long metal arm.

Robert touched the truck. His body went rigid and he fell to the ground.

Robert, 32, was pronounced dead at the scene. His 23-year-old nephew, Jordan, was flown from the northern Illinois town of Sterling to Rockford, where doctors amputated his arms and he remained in a coma for several weeks.

3750 by Stacy St. Clair and Jeff Coen in Chicago. MOVED


^Smithsonian to rural regions: Your wealth is in your culture<

RURALAMERICA-EXHIBIT:SH _ The day's music included local favorites such as the Upson-Lee High School Marching Knights and color guard, a Southern gospel church choir and a barbershop quartet.

Children posed for photos in old tractors. Visitors to this Thomaston, Ga., event took home old peach labels. A local farm set up a stand selling shredded collard greens, peach preserves, pickled peaches and homemade cakes, according to Lori Showalter Smith, president of the Thomaston-Upson Chamber of Commerce.

Central Georgia's history and talent showed up for the opening of a traveling Smithsonian exhibit, and the hoopla around it, on a recent weekend, but the celebration did not gloss over local challenges.

Items on display from local archives highlighted industry, like the former Coca-Cola bottling company and the textile manufacturer Thomaston Mills, a century-old economic engine that reportedly laid off 1,400 after filing for bankruptcy 20 years ago. With the loss of industry came the loss of residents. Mom-and-pop shops shriveled up, Smith said.

1800 (with trims) by April Simpson in Washington. MOVED


^Troubled times at Ronald Reagan's boyhood home: 'We cannot keep bleeding money'<

REAGAN-BOYHOOD-HOME:TB _ One morning back in 1988, a fancier car than usual rolled up to Ronald Reagan's boyhood home in Dixon. It was Monday, and the home-turned-museum was closed, but a well-dressed man walked up and persuaded Kenny Wendland to take him through it.

The man fired question after question at Wendland. "What's Ronald Reagan's brother's name?"

"Neil," he answered.

After the tour, the man revealed himself to be an economic adviser to Reagan, then in his second term as U.S. president. Though Reagan had been at the museum when it was a fledgling operation, he had asked Sprinkel to check out how it was operating as his time in office was coming to a close. The museum was established as a tourist and educational destination during Reagan's first term and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

But 15 years after Reagan's death, the home's future is uncertain.

1900 (with trims) by Madeline Buckley in Dixon, Ill. MOVED


^Beset by lawsuits and criticism in US, opioid makers eye new market in India<

INDIA-OPIOIDS-1:KHN _ Pain, like death, is a universal phenomenon.

The sour grimace on the woman's face, registering her bodily complaints to Dr. G.P. Dureja in his East Delhi office, would be recognized anywhere. Slouched shoulders, pinched forehead. She wore a willowy black kurta and cast a disapproving glance at the five pain physicians-in-training huddled behind Dureja, founder of Delhi Pain Management Centre and one of India's pioneering pain physicians.

The five trainees, participants in the center's acclaimed pain fellowship program, recorded the woman's consultation on their smartphones, eager to see India's famous pain doctor do his work.

Storefront for-profit pain clinics like Delhi Pain Management Centre are opening by the score across Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and other cities in this teeming nation. After decades of stringent narcotics laws, borne of debilitating opium epidemics of centuries past, India is a country ready to salve its pain.

And American pharmaceutical companies _ architects of the opioid crisis in the United States and avid hunters of new markets _ stand at the ready to feed and fuel that demand.

2250 by Sarah Varney in New Delhi. MOVED


^In India's slums, 'painkillers are part of the daily routine'<

INDIA-OPIOIDS-2:KHN _ In the crowded waiting room of Dr. Sunil Sagar's clinic, in the working-class neighborhood of Bhagwanpur Khera, a toddler breathes from a nebulizer. Fever is widespread, and the air quality in Delhi has reached "severe-plus emergency." The patients sit, motionless, but there is somehow tremendous noise.

A father with a troubled look sits down next to the doctor, holding a baby. Sagar listens to the baby's chest with a stethoscope, pulls out scrap paper and writes a prescription. The father hands over a few rupees, and Sagar places the bills into a money drawer under his desk. The entire exchange takes perhaps two minutes.

Medicine in India is transactional. A well-liked doctor hands over a prescription at the end of every visit. Why else have I paid cash to see the doctor, if not for relief?

As the Indian government reluctantly loosens its prescription opioid laws after decades of lobbying by palliative care advocates desperate to ease their patients' acute pain, the nation's sprawling, cash-fed health care system is ripe for misuse.

2250 by Sarah Varney in New Delhi. MOVED




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