More evacuations in Midwest as floodwaters head downstream

By JIM SALTER Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Residents in parts of southwestern Iowa were forced out of their homes Sunday as a torrent of Missouri River water flowed over and through levees, putting them in a situation similar to hundreds of people in neighboring Nebraska who have been displaced by the late-winter flood.
Heavy rainfall and snowmelt have led to dangerously high water in creeks and rivers across several Midwestern states, with the Missouri River hitting record-high levels in many areas. At least two deaths were blamed on flooding, and two other men have been missing for days.
While river depths were starting to level off in parts of Nebraska on Sunday, the water is so high in many places that serious flooding is expected to remain for several days. And downstream communities in Kansas and Missouri were bracing for likely flooding.
In Iowa, the Missouri River reached 30.2 feet (9.2 meters) Sunday in Fremont County in the state’s far southwestern corner, 2 feet (0.6 meter) above the record set in 2011. People in the towns of Bartlett and Thurman were being evacuated as levees were breached and overtopped.
County Emergency Management Director Mike Crecelius said it wasn’t just the amount of the water, it was the swiftness of the current that created a danger.
“This wasn’t a gradual rise,” Crecelius said. “It’s flowing fast and it’s open country — there’s nothing there to slow it down.”
Thurman has about 200 residents. About 50 people live in Bartlett.
Lucinda Parker of Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management said nearly 2,000 people have been evacuated at eight Iowa locations since flooding began late last week. Most were staying with friends or family. Seven shelters set up for flood victims held just a couple dozen people Saturday night.
In Nebraska, the Missouri River flooded Offutt Air Force Base, with about one-third of it under water on Sunday. Spokeswoman Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Blake told the Omaha World-Herald that 60 buildings, mostly on the south end of the base, have been damaged, including about 30 completely inundated with as much as 8 feet (2.4 meters) of water.
Hundreds of people remained out of their homes in Nebraska, where floodwaters reached record levels at 17 locations. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency highlighted some remarkably high crests. The Missouri River was expected to reach 41 feet (12.5 meters) in Plattsmouth on Sunday — 4 feet (1.22 meters) above the record set in 2011. The Elkhorn River got to 24.6 feet (7.5 meters) Saturday in Waterloo, breaking the 1962 record by 5 1/2 feet (1.68 meters).
In hard-hit Sarpy County, Nebraska, up to 500 homes have been damaged, including some cabins along a lake, said Greg London of the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office. The damage followed breaches of levees along the Platte River on Thursday and Saturday, and a Missouri River levee break on Thursday. The two rivers converge there.
London said many of the damaged homes are wet up to the roof line and likely ruined.
“This area’s had flooding before but not of this magnitude,” London said. “This is unprecedented.”
Nearly 300 people have been rescued from high water across the state.
At least two people have died in the floodwaters. Aleido Rojas Galan, 52, of Norfolk, Nebraska, was swept away Friday night in southwestern Iowa, when the vehicle he was in went around a barricade. Two others in the vehicle survived — one by clinging to a tree. On Thursday, Columbus, Nebraska, farmer James Wilke, 50, died when a bridge collapsed as he used a tractor to try and reach stranded motorists.
Two men remain missing. A Norfolk man was seen on top of his flooded car late Thursday before being swept away. Water also swept away a man after a dam collapse.
Downstream in St. Joseph, Missouri, home to 76,000 people, volunteers were helping to fill sandbags to help secure a levee protecting an industrial area. Calls were out for even more volunteers in hopes of filling 150,000 sandbags by Tuesday, when the Missouri River is expected to climb to 27 feet (8.2 meters) — 10 feet (3 meters) above technical flood stage.
Flooding was causing problems for passenger train service between Kansas City, Missouri, and St. Louis. Amtrak said Sunday that its Missouri River Runner service between the state’s two largest cities was experiencing delays up to five hours because of flooding and rail congestion. All Missouri River Runner trains will be canceled Monday. The service typically travels twice daily between the two metropolitan areas.
The rising Mississippi River also was creating concern. The Mississippi was already at major flood level along the Iowa-Illinois border, closing roads and highways and swamping thousands of acres of farmland. Moderate Mississippi River flooding was expected at several Missouri cities, including St. Louis.
Flooding has also been reported in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, officials said residents who evacuated their homes could return now that floodwaters have receded there.
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AP reporter Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

Beto O’Rourke says he raised $6.1M online in 1st 24 hours

By DINO HAZELL Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke raised more than $6 million online during the first 24 hours after he announced his White House bid, the highest first-day number reported by any candidate, his campaign said Monday.
The “record-breaking” $6.1 million came “without a dime” from political action committees, corporations or special interests, O’Rourke spokesman Chris Evans tweeted.
The $6.1 million is just above what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders reported for his first day as a candidate.
O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, jumped into the 2020 presidential race on Thursday after months of speculation, shaking up the already packed Democratic field and pledging to win over voters from across the political spectrum.
O’Rourke raised an eye-popping $80 million in grassroots donations last year in his failed U.S. Senate race in Texas against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz, all while largely avoiding money from PACs. His early fundraising numbers in the presidential contest will be seen as an initial signal of whether his popularity during the Senate campaign will carry over to his White House bid.
The new figures set O’Rourke and Sanders apart from the rest of the Democratic field in launch-day fundraising. California Sen. Kamala Harris reported raising $1.5 million in the 24 hours after she launched her campaign in January. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar reported raising $1 million in the 48 hours after launching her campaign in February.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said three days after starting his presidential campaign this month that he had raised more than $1 million, a notable haul for a governor less widely known than many of his competitors in a field dominated by senators.
Sanders has set the pace for 2020 grassroots donations. Aided by the $6 million he pulled in on his first day as a candidate, he took in more than $10 million in the first week, overwhelmingly from small donors.
O’Rourke, asked last week if he thought he would top Sanders, said only, “We’ll see.”

Warren embraces underdog role as she faces 2020 challenges

By STEVE PEOPLES, ELANA SCHOR and HUNTER WOODALL Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — Elizabeth Warren has spent much of the last decade as a leader of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing.
But three and a half months into her presidential campaign, the Massachusetts senator is facing tough questions about fundraising and electability, along with lingering skepticism about her past claim to Native American identity. The longtime liberal superstar is embracing an uncomfortable role in the crowded 2020 contest: the underdog.
“This is the race I want to run,” Warren insisted in an interview with The Associated Press.
With the 69-year-old Democrat in the middle of the pack in early polling, her Boston-based senior advisers are implementing an aggressive — if risky — strategy that calls on Warren to forgo traditional high-dollar fundraising events and devote the saved time to interactions with rank-and-file voters. Advisers say she’ll also focus on seizing opportunities to stake bold new policy positions in real time, as she did recently by calling for the breakup of big technology companies like Amazon, which allow her to shape the debate and showcase her policy bona fides.
Her success or failure will help determine the direction of the Democratic Party in 2020 and, more specifically, whether Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders can maintain his early place at the head of the presidential primary pack. While Warren has sometimes sought to distinguish herself from Sanders, describing herself as a capitalist while Sanders runs as a democratic socialist, the New England senators appeal to the same progressive, populist wing of their party that is an increasingly dominant force in the age of President Donald Trump.
So far, Sanders has bested Warren in the few objective measures that exist: fundraising and polling. And while the first votes won’t be cast for another 10 months or so, former Warren allies in her neighboring state of New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first primary, see cause for concern.
“I just don’t know if she would go over nationally,” said former New Hampshire state Rep. Daniel Hansberry, who was among 27 current and former state lawmakers who signed a 2015 letter urging Warren to seek the presidency. “In the Northeast and on the West Coast I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she got a huge vote. But I don’t know if she’s too progressive for other parts of the country.”
Another signatory, former New Hampshire state Rep. Frank Heffron, said he’d be satisfied if Warren ultimately won the election, but said “it’s very unlikely” he’ll support her in the primary.
New Hampshire voter Kerry Query, a 54-year-old administrative assistant who voted for Hillary Clinton over Sanders in the 2016 primary, said she’s undecided this year but prefers Sanders over Warren so far.
“I don’t think she could get enough people behind her,” Query said. “If she got elected in the primary, there’s no way she could win.”
No one has an easy path to the Democratic presidential nomination, but few who expected to be in the top tier opened their campaigns with the same kind of stumbles as Warren.
Laying the groundwork for her 2020 run, Warren released the results of a DNA test in October that showed “strong evidence” of Native American ancestry, albeit at least six generations back. The move backfired, emboldening her critics — especially Trump, who regularly calls Warren “Pocahontas” — who have long charged that Warren exaggerated her ethnic heritage for personal gain.
Warren privately apologized to the head of the Cherokee Nation in early February. But just a few days later, reports surfaced that Warren had claimed Native American heritage on a 1986 Texas State Bar registration form.
“A large swath of the American people were introduced to her through what I like to call the DNA debacle,” said Democratic strategist Symone Sanders, who worked for Bernie Sanders during part of his 2016 campaign. She lauded Warren’s early campaign for having “meat on the bones” that rivals lack but warned that the Native American issue would continue to be a challenge.
Warren allies also acknowledge her early fundraising, a strength in her Senate campaigns, has been lackluster as a presidential candidate.
A federal filing reveals that she raised at least $300,000 on the day she launched her campaign. While not a complete picture, Sanders raised nearly $6 million the first day he was in the race and California Sen. Kamala Harris raised $1.5 million.
In the AP interview, Warren cast her fundraising challenges, including her move to eschew all high-dollar fundraising events, as a positive.
“I know that the way I’ve decided to run my campaign means that I’m leaving millions of dollars on the table,” she said.
“This is a chance to help repair our democracy. It shouldn’t just be about going out and raising a bunch of money and coming back and doing a bunch of TV ads,” she continued. “This is about meeting people in person. Talking with them about the things that touch their lives every day, about their hopes to make this country work not just for the rich and the powerful, but to make it work for them.”
Warren is plowing ahead with an energetic approach designed to win over primary voters one event at a time.
She has made a significant time and organizational investment in the first four states on the presidential primary calendar — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. She has hired 65 campaign staffers for the first four states already, a number expected to grow in the coming weeks.
She’s also courting voters in other regions, launching a Southern tour on Sunday with stops in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. In all, she held 33 events across 11 states and Puerto Rico since launching on Dec. 31. Twenty-six of those events were in the early voting states, including 11 separate town halls or house parties in Iowa and 10 in New Hampshire, according to her campaign.
“There used to be an old adage back in the days when I was managing New Hampshire. It was ‘organize, organize, organize’ and get hot at the end,” said Democratic operative Mark Longabaugh, who previously worked for Sanders. “So I think they’re pursuing a version of that strategy with the modern communications techniques that we have now.”
Warren is hardly the only 2020 contender showering time and attention on key states.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has strong teams on the ground in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Others, such as Harris, are in the process of strengthening their early-state presence. And both Sanders and newcomer Beto O’Rourke are expected to aggressively court early-state voters.
Warren backers like Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III argue that she has proven doubters wrong since she first challenged Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown in 2012.
“It’s a matter, candidly, of the fact that we’re almost a year away from the election,” Kennedy said, “much like in Sen. Warren’s first race where there was a bunch of hand-wringing and bunch of concerns about whether she was going to be up for the task of taking on a very popular Republican incumbent.”
Kennedy continued: “I kept telling people: ‘Just wait. Wait and watch.'”

Be Kind, Please Rewind: Oregon Blockbuster is last on Earth

By GILLIAN FLACCUS Associated Press
BEND, Ore. (AP) — There are challenges that come with running the last Blockbuster Video on the planet.
The computer system must be rebooted using floppy disks that only the general manager — a solid member of Gen X — knows how to use. The dot-matrix printer broke, so employees write out membership cards by hand. And the store’s business transactions are backed up on a reel-to-reel tape that can’t be replaced because Radio Shack went out of business.
Yet none of that has kept this humble franchise in an Oregon strip mall from thriving as the advent of on-demand movie streaming laid waste all around it. When a Blockbuster in Australia shuts its doors for the last time on March 31, the Bend store will be the only one left on Earth.
“It’s pure stubbornness, for one. We didn’t want to give in,” said general manager Sandi Harding, who has worked at the franchise for 15 years and receives a lot of the credit for keeping it alive well past its expiration date. “We did everything we could to cut costs and keep ourselves relevant.”
The store was once one of five Blockbusters owned by the same couple, Ken and Debbie Tisher, in three central Oregon towns. But by last year, the Bend franchise was the last local Blockbuster standing.
A tight budget meant no money to update the surviving store. That’s paying off now with a nostalgia factor that stops first-time visitors of a certain age in their tracks: the popcorn ceilings, low fluorescent lighting, wire metal video racks and the ubiquitous yellow-and-blue ticket stub logo that was a cultural touchstone for a generation.
“Most people, I think, when they think about renting videos — if they’re the right age — they don’t remember the movie that they went to pick, but they remember who they went with and that freedom of walking the aisles,” said Zeke Kamm, a local resident who is making a documentary about the store called “The Last Blockbuster” with a friend.
“In a lot of towns, the Blockbuster was the only place that was open past nine o’clock, and a lot of them stayed open until midnight, so kids who weren’t hoodlums would come here and look at movies and fall in love with movies.”
The Bend store had eight years under its belt as a local video store before it converted to a Blockbuster in 2000, a time when this high desert city was still a sleepy community with a small-town feel to match.
Customers kept coming back, drawn by special touches like staff recommendations, a “wish list” for videos to add to the rental selection and even home delivery for a few special customers who couldn’t drive in. Dozens of local teens have worked there over the years.
Then, in 2010, Blockbuster declared bankruptcy, and by 2014, all corporate-owned stores had shuttered. That left locally owned franchises to fend for themselves, and one by one, they closed.
When stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, shut down last summer — barely outlasting a Redmond, Oregon, store — Bend’s Blockbuster was the only U.S. location left.
Tourists started stopping by to snap selfies, and business picked up. Harding ordered up blue-and-yellow sweat shirts, T-shirts, cups, magnets, bumper stickers, hats and stocking caps from local vendors emblazoned with the words “The Last Blockbuster in America,” and they flew off the shelves.
Then, this month, she got a phone call: The world’s only other Blockbuster, in Perth, Australia, would soon close its doors. A new T-shirt order went out — this time with the slogan “The Last Blockbuster on the Planet” — and the store is already getting a new wave of selfie-snapping visitors from as far away as Europe and Asia.
On a recent weekday, Michael Trovato of Melbourne, Australia, stopped by while visiting his twin sister in Bend.
After posing for a photo, Trovato said he misses a time when choosing a movie meant browsing hundreds of titles and asking a video clerk for insight instead of letting a movie-streaming service recommend one for him based on a computer algorithim.
“I miss quite a bit being able to walk into a Blockbuster or CD store and have that social experience and see people looking at stuff and talking to people,” Trovato said. “It’s something you don’t get from the slick presentation of a music service or, you know, from the Internet.”
The Bend store doesn’t seem to be in danger of closing anytime soon.
Its newfound fame has been a shot in the arm, and customers stream in to buy $40 sweat shirts, $20 T-shirts and even $15 yellow-and-blue beanies hand-knit by Harding herself. The store pays Dish Network for the right to use the Blockbuster logo and has several years left on its lease.
People regularly send the store boxes of old VHS tapes and DVDs. They also donate Blockbuster memorabilia: a corporate jean jacket, key chains and old membership cards.
Employees always send a thank-you note, store manager Dan Montgomery said.
Recently, Harding has noticed another type of customer that’s giving her hope: a new generation of kids dragged in by their nostalgic parents who later leave happy, holding stacks of rented movies and piles of candy.
Jerry Gilless and his wife, Elizabeth, brought their two kids, John, 3, and Ellen, 5, and watched with a smile as the siblings bounced from row to row, grabbing “Peter Pan” and “The Lion King” and surveying dinosaur cartoons.
“How could we not stop? It’s the last one,” said Gilless, of their detour to the store while on vacation from Memphis, Tennessee. “They need to see that not everything’s on the iPad.”
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Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus

R. Kelly case spotlights abuse of girls in the era of #MeToo

BY MARYCLAIRE DALE and JOCELYN NOVECK Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The girls, a dozen of them 15 to 18 years old, file into a conference room in a downtown Brooklyn office building, taking seats in chairs carefully arranged in a circle. On the floor in front of them is a makeshift altar of comforting objects: A string of Christmas lights, plastic toys and dolls, oils and crystals, a glitter-filled wand.
They arrive at the end of a school day in their usual hoodies and jeans, their smiles and easy banter masking the painful experiences that bring them together: This group is called “Sisters in Strength,” and its members are survivors of sexual violence, or their allies and supporters.
There’s a high school senior who describes being raped at 14, by a family friend she considered a big brother. She endured years of anger and isolation before seeking help. Writing poems is part of her healing process. Soon after the assault, she scrawled in a notebook: “Did you not hear my screams? The screams I vocalized at the top of my lungs, burying my voice ten feet under.”
Another young woman, now 18, seeks peace through daily meditation. She too was assaulted by someone she knew, just days after her 18th birthday, but says she never reported it because she feared she wouldn’t be believed. “Most people will say, ‘What were you wearing or what were you doing? Why were you out so late?’ And all those things,” says this survivor. She found refuge in two trusted teachers, who sent her to “Sisters in Strength,” run by a nonprofit called Girls for Gender Equity.
“I’m still in my way of healing,” she says, “and I think it’s better for me to focus on myself and move on.”
The arrest of R&B singer R. Kelly on charges of sexually abusing girls as young as 13 has focused the lens of the #MeToo movement on underage victims like these, especially girls of color. The charges, which Kelly denies, follow a string of sexual misconduct accusations against Hollywood power brokers, media titans and Donald Trump during his run for president. But in those instances, as with the Harvey Weinstein scandal that launched the #MeToo era in October 2017, the accusers have been older, mostly white women.
“What happened with the media explosion of ‘MeToo’ is that it left out (a) population of people,” says Michelle Grier, director of social work at Girls for Gender Equity, where Tarana Burke, who originated the phrase “me too” with her own work more than a decade ago, is a senior director. Part of the group’s work, says Grier, is to empower girls to recognize: “Oh, this movement is about ME, too.”
Various studies have found that 7 in 10 girls endure some form of sexual harassment by age 18, and 1 in 4 will be sexually abused. Experts believe the rates are higher for girls of color. One government survey found that some 43 percent of rapes and attempted rapes against women happened before they’d turned 18. That means that for millions of women in the U.S., their first sexual victimization occurs when they are 17 or younger, sometimes even younger than 10.
Groups like Girls for Gender Equity and Girls Inc., a nonprofit with 81 chapters in 30 states, are working to help young women discuss sexual harassment, dating violence and other types of abuse. Girls Inc. last year launched a #GirlsToo campaign to ensure that the voices of young survivors become part of the narrative on sexual misconduct.
“With young people it’s extra challenging, either because of who may be abusing them or the power differential,” says Lara Kaufmann, public policy director of Girls Inc. Often, they fear being punished by their parents if the abuse involves a boyfriend, ostracized if it is perpetrated by a relative, or stigmatized by peers if it occurs at school. Even more than older women, experts say, girls tend to fear they won’t be believed.
In Memphis, Tennessee, 16-year-old Maya Morris says an alleged sexual assault outside her school last month has sparked intense debate among her classmates. The parties involved were students at White Station High School, and some say the alleged victim broke a rule to leave school grounds at dismissal.
“People are saying that because she was at school after-hours … it was her own fault,” says Morris, a member of Girls Inc.’s national teen advisory council. School officials declined to say if the case was referred to police, and Memphis police did not return messages.
Such victim-blaming is not uncommon and adds to children’s innate belief that they are at fault when things go wrong, Kaufmann says.
“Unfortunately, some schools are punishing girls who come forward, particularly girls of color,” she says. “They report a sexual assault at school, and rather than figure out who’s responsible, they will be punished for engaging in sexual activity on school grounds.”
Burke, the #MeToo founder, says black girls are especially susceptible to being blamed because society “hypersexualizes” them, and thus they’re seen as more mature than they actually are and more responsible for what happens to them. “So the blame gets shifted,” she says, “like … ‘This happened to you because you haven’t figured out how to take care of yourself. And so this was your fault.'”
The National Women’s Law Center represents three girls who have sued their school districts over their handling of complaints they were sexually harassed at school or sexually assaulted by fellow students. The group says too many victims are being forced to transfer while the offenders remain at school.
“Girls … fear that reporting will make things worse instead of better,” says Emily Martin, the organization’s policy director. “And there are really rational reasons to think that might be the case. Schools don’t have the best track record at responding appropriately.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed new Title IX rules that would limit when schools can intervene, especially if the abuse happens off-campus or online. The public has filed more than 100,000 comments in response. Critics include the School Superintendents Association, which says the changes would undermine the ability of its 13,000 superintendents “to ensure each and every child in our school has a safe and healthy learning environment.”
Girls Inc. helps young people push school officials to do more to teach sex education and address sexual harassment and abuse. The group also has online resources about how to report abuse or help friends who come forward.
In Memphis, Morris recently participated in a Girls Inc. workshop, the first in a series across the U.S., where girls gathered to discuss healthy relationships and dating violence. Confronting a friend one-on-one about abuse might bring an end to the friendship, she says, “because they’re convinced that this is what love looks like.”
“Talking about it in a teen talk situation is a lot different,” says Morris, who does see a domino effect of #MeToo and hopes girls will speak more freely with their parents and at school.
White Station Vice Principal Carrye Holland sees a need for more honest talk about the situations teens face, be it the pressure to have sex, mistaken assumptions about which kids at school “want” sex, or fears of being ostracized if they report wrongdoing.
“They’re concerned about living in a world where they have to explain why they may not want to be intimate, to apologize for maybe not wanting to do things they’re expected to do,” Holland says. “How do you change that climate?”
Her district, like many around the country, teaches basic sex ed but lacks a forum for free-ranging discussion about consent, dating violence and other topics. Still, she thinks adults can do more to help girls — and boys — “see themselves in a respectful light … teaching things that you think maybe shouldn’t have to be taught.”
Unlike colleges and universities, U.S. elementary and secondary schools are not subject to national requirements for tracking student sexual assaults. But a 2017 Associated Press investigation uncovered about 17,000 official reports of student sex assault over the period from fall 2011 to spring 2015.
Federal data that is available shows that most sex assaults involving teens occur at someone’s home. About a quarter of the time, girls are abused by family members. Nearly 30 percent of the time, the abuser is a current or former dating partner. Ten percent of the time, the perpetrator is a stranger, and in other instances, an acquaintance. Nearly 5 percent are authority figures.
Boys also face such violence; studies have found that 1 in 6 are sexually abused before they reach 18, although experts believe the figure could be far higher. Boys often stay silent about abuse given the cultural bravado about men and sex and fears that being identified as a victim will make them appear weak. Two men who now say they were sexually abused throughout their childhoods by Michael Jackson denied it until their 30s. The late superstar was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005 and always maintained his innocence.
Psychologist Julia Curcio Alexander, who works with victims and offenders in Philadelphia, says it can be “extraordinarily distressing” for young victims to come forward — and that hasn’t changed in this era of #MeToo. Abusers often have tremendous power over their victims, be it financial or emotional. If the offender is a parent, the other parent often supports a spouse over a child, she says, and if it’s a relative, the child has to worry about the family coming apart over the disclosure.
“Perhaps there’s more support for adults who are disclosing now,” Curcio Alexander says. “Will the child going to school … be in a (better) position to disclose? That remains to be seen.”
For the two young women in Brooklyn, disclosing — even to family — was a fraught process. For one of them, it was much easier to tell her friends than her parents. The other was able to confide in her parents but shut down around friends.
Both young women struggled, at times, with the temptation to blame themselves.
“The hardest thing for me to believe was that I didn’t do this to myself,” says the 18-year-old who meditates to help heal. “But I didn’t plan or go out of my way to make this happen to me. There’s bad people in the world, and you can’t really protect yourself, especially if they’re close to you.”
She declines to describe the details of her assault.
For the young poet, her assault at the hands of a trusted family friend came as a total shock. Along with a girlfriend, she had brought the man a birthday gift. When the girlfriend left, she says, the assault happened. After telling her parents, she retreated into a period of anger and depression.
After a second assault a year later, she says, she kept quiet, consumed with guilt at finding herself in a home where she went willingly.
“I just shoved it to the back of my mind,” she says of those memories. “And so when I finally took it out, it felt like I was just telling another story, because I felt like I buried it so deep that I wasn’t feeling the emotions a survivor would usually feel. It felt like I was just telling another story.”
The twice-weekly sessions at Sisters in Strength have helped. She’s focused on excelling at her studies and plans to attend college.
Each group meeting begins with a check-in: One by one, the girls report how they’re doing, what they’re thinking about, what they need to keep healing. This might involve discussing the trauma they endured, but often not. The seven-month curriculum includes education on everything from issues of gender bias and racism to how to have a healthy relationship and methods of recovering, both emotionally and physically.
One big takeaway: These girls want to be called survivors, not victims.
“At first you feel like a victim,” says one of the young women, “because you’re in the mentality of this HAPPENED to me. But then you transition and you’re healing … and then you become a survivor, because you don’t let the thoughts you had control you or consume you.”
It’s a very conscious word choice in the group sessions, because the word “victim,” says Grier, “doesn’t express the fact that you’re still in the world, and there’s so much more to experience.”
“This is one part of the narrative, but this is not the end,” she says. “They are powerful, because they have survived something. They are powerful because they exist, and because they matter to us.”
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Dale reported from Philadelphia, and Noveck from New York. Both write about gender issues and #MeToo for The Associated Press. Follow them at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale and https://twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAP

Trump reviving his border wall fight with new budget request

By LISA MASCARO AP Congressional Correspondent
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is reviving his border wall fight, preparing a new budget that will seek $8.6 billion for his signature project, impose steep spending cuts to other domestic programs and set the stage for another fiscal battle.
Budget documents like the one Trump is releasing Monday are often seen as just a starting point of negotiation. Fresh off the longest government shutdown in history, Trump’s 2020 proposal shows he is eager to confront Congress again to boost defense spending and cut $2.7 trillion in nondefense spending over a decade.
Titled “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First,” Trump’s proposal “embodies fiscal responsibility,” said Russ Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Vought said the administration has “prioritized reining in reckless Washington spending” and shows “we can return to fiscal sanity.”
Two administration officials confirmed that the border wall request was part of Trump’s spending blueprint for the 2020 budget year, which begins Oct. 1. It would pay for hundreds of miles of new barriers along the border.
Trump’s budget proposes increasing defense spending to $750 billion — and standing up the new Space Force as a military branch — while reducing nondefense accounts by 5 percent, with cuts recommended to safety-net programs used by many Americans.
The plan sticks to budget caps that both parties have routinely broken in recent years and promises to come into balance in 15 years, relying in part on economic growth that may be uncertain.
The officials were not authorized to discuss budget details publicly before Monday’s release of the plan and spoke on condition of anonymity.
While pushing down spending in some areas, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the proposal will seek to increase funding in others to align with the president’s priorities, according to one official.
The administration will invest more than $80 billion for veterans services, a nearly 10 percent increase from current levels, including “significant” investments in rehabilitation, employment assistance and suicide prevention.
It will also increase resources to fight the opioid epidemic with money for prevention, treatment, research and recovery, the administration said. And it seeks to shift some federal student loan costs to colleges and universities.
By adhering to strict budget caps, Trump is signaling a fight ahead. The president has resisted big, bipartisan budget deals that break the caps — threatening to veto one last year — but Congress will need to find agreement on spending levels to avoid another federal shutdown in fall. To stay within the caps, the budget shifts a portion of the defense spending to an overseas contingency fund, which some fiscal hawks will view as an accounting gimmick.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Trump’s budget “points a steady glide path” toward lower spending and borrowing as a share of the nation’s economy. He also told “Fox News Sunday” that there was no reason to “obsess” about deficits, and expressed confidence that economic growth would top 3 percent in 2019 and beyond. Others have predicted lower growth.
But the Democratic chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, called the proposed cuts to essential services “dangerous.” He said Trump added nearly $2 trillion to deficits with the GOP’s “tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations, and now it appears his budget asks the American people to pay the price.”
The border wall, though, remains a signature issue for the president and is poised to stay at the forefront of his agenda, even though Congress has resisted giving him more money for it.
Leading Democrats immediately rejected the proposal.
“Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. They said the money “would be better spent on rebuilding America.”
In seeking $8.6 billion for more than 300 miles of new border wall, the budget request would more than double the $8.1 billion already potentially available to the president for the wall after he declared a national emergency at the border last month in order to circumvent Congress — although there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to use that money if he faces a legal challenge, as is expected. The standoff over the wall led to a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.
Along with border wall money, the proposed budget will also increase funding to increase the “manpower” of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and Customs and Border Patrol at a time when many Democrats are calling for cuts — or even the elimination — of those areas. The budget also proposes policy changes to end sanctuary cities, the administration said.
The budget would arrive as the Senate readies to vote this week to terminate Trump’s national emergency declaration. The Democratic-led House already did so, and a handful of Republican senators, uneasy over what they see as an overreach of executive power, are expected to join Senate Democrats in following suit. Congress appears to have enough votes to reject Trump’s declaration but not enough to overturn a veto.
Trump invoked the emergency declaration after Congress approved nearly $1.4 billion for border barriers, far less than the $5.7 billion he wanted. In doing so, he can potentially tap an additional $3.6 billion from military accounts and shift it to building the wall. That’s causing discomfort on Capitol Hill, where even the president’s Republican allies are protective of their power to decide how to allocate federal dollars. Lawmakers are trying to guard money that’s already been approved for military projects in their states — for base housing or other improvements — for the wall. The administration is promising to backfill those funds, senators said.
The wall with Mexico punctuated Trump’s campaign for the White House, and it’s expected to again be featured in his 2020 re-election effort. He used to say Mexico would pay for it, but Mexico has refused to do so.
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Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Palm Beach, Florida, and Andrew Taylor in Washington contributed to this report.

Modern policing: Algorithm helps NYPD spot crime patterns

By MICHAEL R. SISAK Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — When a syringe-wielding drill thief tried sticking up a Home Depot near Yankee Stadium, police figured out quickly that it wasn’t a one-off. A man had also used a syringe a few weeks earlier while stealing a drill at another Home Depot 7 miles (11 kilometers) south in Manhattan.
The match, though, wasn’t made by an officer looking through files. It was done by pattern-recognition computer software developed by the New York Police Department.
The software, dubbed Patternizr, allows crime analysts stationed in each of the department’s 77 precincts to compare robberies, larcenies and thefts to hundreds of thousands of crimes logged in the NYPD’s database, transforming their hunt for crime patterns with the click of a button.
It’s much faster than the old method, which involved analysts sifting through reports, racking their brains for key details about various crimes and deciding whether they fit into a pattern. It’s more comprehensive, too, with analysts able to spot patterns across the city instead of just in their precinct.
“Because Patternizr picked up those key details in the algorithm, it brought back complaints from other precincts that I wouldn’t have known,” said Bronx crime analyst Rebecca Shutt, who worked on the Home Depot case. “That was incredibly helpful. That could have been a pattern that wasn’t made.”
The software also found two other thefts committed with a syringe by the same suspect, who was eventually arrested and pleaded guilty to larceny and assault.
Evan Levine, the NYPD’s assistant commissioner of data analytics, and Alex Chohlas-Wood, the department’s former director of analytics, spent two years developing the software before rolling it out in December 2016.
The department disclosed its use of the technology only this month, with Levine and Chohlas-Wood detailing their work in the INFORMS Journal on Applied Analytics in an article alerting other departments how they could create similar software. Speaking about it with the news media for the first time, they told The Associated Press recently that theirs is the first police department in the country to use a pattern-recognition tool like this.
“The goal of Patternizr is, of course, to improve public safety,” said Levine, an astrophysicist by academic training. “The more easily that we can identify patterns in those crimes, the more quickly we can identify and apprehend perpetrators.”
Levine and Chohlas-Wood were inspired by the work of a New York University team that studied a similar approach to pattern recognition but never produced a workable version.
The two trained the program on 10 years of patterns that the department had manually identified. In testing, it accurately re-created old crime patterns one-third of the time and returned parts of patterns 80 percent of the time. The NYPD says the cost was minimal because the two developers were already on staff.
Like human crime analysts, the software compares factors such as method of entry, type of goods taken and the distance between crimes. Levin and Chohlas-Wood sought out the uniformed officers who had decades of experience identifying patterns using traditional methods.
“The real advantage of the tool is that we minimize the amount of leg work and busy work that analysts or detectives have to do and really allow them to leverage their expertise and their experience in going through a much smaller list of results,” said Chohlas-Wood, now the deputy director of the Stanford Computational Policy Lab at Stanford University.
In the past, analysts worked only with crimes in their precinct, making it difficult or even impossible for them to spot patterns in other parts of the city.
“Truthfully, it was inefficient,” Levine said. “It wasn’t a modern way to do these things.”
Even with crime rates falling sharply, there were still more than 68,000 robberies, burglaries and larcenies in New York City last year. Traditional techniques are still being used to identify other crime patterns, such as rapes and homicides.
To reduce possible racial biases, the Patternizr software doesn’t examine the race of crime suspects when it is looking for crime patterns.
The New York Civil Liberties Union said it had not reviewed Patternizr but urged caution as technology is increasingly incorporated into law enforcement.
“To ensure fairness the NYPD should be transparent about the technologies it deploys and allows independent researchers to audit these systems before they are tested on New Yorkers,” NYCLU legal director Christopher Dunn said in email.
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Follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak
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This story has been corrected to show the name of the NYPD’s former assistant commissioner of data analytics is Alex Chohlas-Wood, not Alex Cholas-Wood.

Powell says Trump’s attacks played no role in rate pause

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says political attacks by President Donald Trump played no role in the Fed’s decision in January to signal that it planned to take a pause in hiking interest rates. He also said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he can’t be fired by the president and that he intends to serve out his full four-year term.
In a wide-ranging interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Powell said that the Fed decided to pause its rate hikes in January, after increasing rates four times in 2018, because the global economy was slowing and other risks to the U.S. economy were rising. The Fed said it planned to be “patient” in deciding when to change rates again.
Asked to define patient, Powell said, “Patient means that we don’t feel in any hurry to change our interest rate policy.”
At another point, Powell said the Fed felt its interest rate policy “is in a very good place right now” with the benchmark rate in a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent, which Powell said was “roughly neutral,” meaning the Fed’s policy rate was not stimulating growth or holding it back.
“We think that’s an appropriate place for an economy that has the lowest unemployment in 50 years, that has inflation right about at our 2 percent objective, that has returned significantly to good health,” Powell said.
Powell said in the last three months, the Fed has seen increasing evidence of a global growth slowdown with slower activity in China and Europe and potential threats from such events as Brexit, Britain’s planned exit from the European Union.
“We’ve said that we’re going to wait and see how those conditions evolve before we make any changes to our interest rate policy and that means patient,” Powell said in the interview with Scott Pelley.
Powell said that despite outside criticism, the Fed will always “make decisions based on what we think is right for the American people. … We will never, ever take political considerations into effect.”
Asked if Trump could fire him, Powell said: “The law is clear that I have a four-year term. And I fully intend to serve it.”
Powell’s appearance on “60 Minutes” continued a tradition begun by then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who appeared on the program in March 2009, breaking a long tradition of Fed leaders not giving television interviews.
Bernanke’s appearance came during the depths of the Great Recession when the country was losing millions of jobs and the country struggled to get out of the deepest downturn since the 1930s.
Bernanke and Powell’s immediate predecessor, Janet Yellen, both appeared with Powell during the Sunday broadcast. Powell was picked for the top Fed job by Trump after the president decided not to offer a second term to Yellen. Both Bernanke and Yellen were asked what advice they had given Powell on withstanding outside criticism.
Bernanke said he kept a quotation from Abraham Lincoln on his desk saying that if your decisions turn out to be correct, the criticism will not matter. Yellen said that she and Powell had worked together closely on the Fed and that Powell was doing a good job of being “inclusive” in his decision-making.
Trump has been highly critical of the Fed’s rate hikes, calling the increases his biggest threat. Trump’s attacks were frequent last fall when the stock market was plunging in value, a drop that the president blamed in part on the Fed’s rate hikes.
Trump has not been as vocal about the Fed since the Fed announced it would be “patient” about future rate hikes, but in a March 2 speech he referred to Powell, without using his name, as a “gentleman” who likes raising rates and who likes tightening credit.
In his 2009 appearance, Bernanke talked about “green shoots” and said he felt the recession would “probably” be over by the end of 2009 if the efforts by the Fed and other government agencies were successful in stabilizing the banking system following the 2008 financial crisis.
The country did emerge from the recession in mid-June of 2009 and is currently in the tenth year of an expansion that will become the longest in U.S. history if it lasts past this June.
In the Sunday broadcast, Powell said while he felt U.S. growth would slow this year, he did not feel the country was headed for a recession.
“The outlook for our economy, in my view, is a favorable one,” Powell said. “This year, I expect growth will continue to be positive and continue to be at a healthy rate.”
The Fed in January signaled that due to a slowing global economy and other economic risks, it had decided to be “patient” in deciding when to raise interest rates again. Powell also delivered that message last month in testimony before Congress.
While the Fed in December had signaled it expected to raise rates two more times in 2019, many economists believe the central bank will now keep rates unchanged for a prolonged period and may not hike rates at all this year.
The economy grew at a solid 2.9 percent rate in 2018, helped by Trump’s tax cuts and billions of dollars of increased government spending. But economists believe that support will wane this year and with the global economy slowing, the U.S. economy is likely to slow to growth of just above 2 percent.
On other topics, Powell:
__Said he did not see much evidence that financial markets had gotten “irrationally exuberant” but he did say that there were some areas that were “hotter than others” such as leveraged lending being extended to corporations.
__Said that while the economy might achieve annual growth of 4 percent in some years it would be difficult to have an extended period with growth that high because growth in the labor market and productivity, the two factors that determine overall growth, had both slowed.
__Described the federal government’s growing debt burden as an “unsustainable path but said at the moment the country was “not on the verge of a debt crisis or anything like that.” He said the government will ultimately find a way to deal with the debt problem.
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This version of the story corrects reference from Powell to Yellen in 10th paragraph.

Neighbors open another front in Colorado oil and gas battle

By DAN ELLIOTT Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Frustrated residents of a Denver suburb say state law is forcing them to participate in a major oil and gas drilling project against their wishes, so they launched legal challenges with potentially significant consequences for the industry.
Backed by a federal judge, they have a chance this week to ask state regulators to block multiple wells planned within about 1,300 feet (400 meters) of homes in the city of Broomfield.
The dispute is a microcosm of a broader battle in Colorado, where burgeoning subdivisions overlap with rich oil and gas fields, bringing drilling rigs and homes uncomfortably close.
The battle is playing out on multiple fronts. Broomfield residents are taking their case both to state regulators and federal court. In the Legislature, majority Democrats are pushing legislation that would give the Broomfield residents and others like them powerful new weapons to keep drilling rigs away from their homes.
In Broomfield, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of downtown Denver, Extraction Oil and Gas wants to drill in open areas amid the Wildgrass neighborhood of roomy new homes.
A group called the Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee says the wells are dangerously close to their homes, although they would be beyond the 500-foot (150-meter) setback required by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the industry.
They also argue that state laws is forcing residents who own the mineral rights under their property to lease or sell them to Extraction through a process called forced pooling. It allows the oil and gas commissioners to require all the owners of nearby minerals to sell or lease them to an energy company in exchange for a share of the profits.
Created a century ago, forced pooling was designed to prevent the proliferation of oil derricks. Landowners were scrambling to drill their own wells to keep a neighbor’s well from grabbing their oil. Forced pooling allowed a single well to gather the oil, and the income was distributed among the owners.
In Broomfield, some mineral owners are resisting.
“We did not have any interest in going into business with an oil and gas company,” said Lizzie Lario, a member of the Wildgrass group, who along with her husband owns the mineral rights under their home that would be included in the project. She said she did not want to participate in something that could result in spills, fires and explosions so close to homes.
Many states have forced pooling laws, though some require a certain percentage of owners to consent before a pooled well can proceed. Colorado allows forced pooling with the approval of a single party, provided they have the means to get the minerals out.
The Wildgrass committee said the oil and gas commission repeatedly delayed a hearing on their objections, so they filed suit, asking a federal judge to rule the forced pooling law unconstitutional.
The judge hasn’t ruled on the lawsuit, but he ordered the commission to hold the long-delayed hearing. It’s expected to take place Tuesday.
Kate Merlin, the Wildgrass committee’s attorney, said residents want the commission to deny the forced pooling application on the grounds that Extraction has not shown it’s capable of developing the project in a way that’s economically sustainable and that protects public safety.
Extraction spokesman Brian Cain said the company met with Broomfield officials and a citizens task force more than 28 times over two years and adopted 95 percent of the task force’s recommendations. The buffer zone around the well site is four times the state requirement, he said,
He called Extraction’s operating agreement with Broomfield “the gold standard in Colorado.”
Forced pooling is critical to the oil and gas industry in Colorado, said Scott Prestidge, a spokesman for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. Without it, some wells would not be financially viable.
Forced pooling combined with horizontal drilling — well bores that penetrate straight down, then bend outward laterally for thousands of feet — make it economical to drill in the oil field north of Denver, he said.
A single site with horizontal wells extending two miles (3.2 kilometers) can replace as many as 18 vertical wells, he said. That makes it cheaper to operate and control pollution, and it reduces the amount of land and roads required.
Prestidge declined to comment on the forced pooling lawsuit or the specifics of the oil and gas bill making its way through the Legislature. Among other changes, the bill would require the consent of at least 50 percent of the mineral owners affected before forced pooling could proceed.
Democratic lawmakers said they consulted with oil and gas companies on the bill, but Prestidge said they never got to review the language or fully grasp the intent before it was introduced.
“Right now there are significant concerns with the piece of legislation that is being rushed through the process and has several elements within it that could use some constructive conversation,” he said.
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Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP.

2020 Democrats aim to make inroads in rural America

By BILL BARROW Associated Press
DENMARK, S.C. (AP) — Deanna Miller Berry doesn’t often see presidential candidates. So when New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker recently came to Bamberg County, South Carolina, she was primed to unload about a contaminated water system.
“What is your plan to fix it?” Berry asked, her eyes narrowed.
Booker, former mayor of Newark, the largest city in the most densely populated state, assured Berry he cares about the 3,000 residents of Denmark, South Carolina. “This is a time in America where too many people are feeling left out, left behind, not included,” he said, promising “a massive infrastructure investment” targeting “forgotten” places.
The exchange highlights the effort by Democratic presidential candidates to make inroads in rural America. With the first contests unfolding next year in South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire, small-town voters will play a critical role in choosing the next Democratic nominee. And the early attention could help the eventual nominee be more conversant on rural issues and compete for votes in places that gave President Donald Trump his most intense support in 2016.
“Organizing in every precinct is the key to winning both the caucus and the general election in Iowa,” Iowa Democratic Chairman Troy Price said.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders lamented rural decline during an Iowa swing this weekend.
“All over America, we have tragically seen more and more young people leave the small towns they grew up in, the small towns they love, because there are no decent-paying jobs in those towns — we intend to change that,” Sanders said, drawing cheers at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
At the same time, California Sen. Kamala Harris was in small-town South Carolina advocating more spending on telemedicine, broadband internet and infrastructure. Booker used his two-day rural swing last month to talk health care, housing, infrastructure and criminal justice, among other issues. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was the first candidate who ventured to rural northern New Hampshire. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has already visited a tiny town in Wisconsin, which will be a general election battleground.
Several candidates plan to attend a March 30 rural issues forum at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa — population 10,600.
The approach matters most immediately because the delegates necessary to become the nominee are awarded in part from primary and caucus results in individual congressional districts, even the most rural and Republican-leaning. But investing there also could narrow Republicans’ general election margins, by increasing turnout among Democratic-friendly constituencies like rural black and Latino voters or peeling off white voters or both.
That could flip states like Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina — even Florida — that propelled Trump to an Electoral College majority. Besides helping win the presidency, rural gains would be necessary for Democrats to have the muscle on Capitol Hill to enact the kinds of sweeping policy changes they are advocating on many fronts.
“So much of this is about the margins,” Iowa’s Price said.
Beyond the politics, candidates say rural outreach is required of anyone who wants to govern a diverse nation.
“Folks want to be seen,” Harris said. “They want their issues to be heard. … They could care less about half the stuff that gets covered on cable news networks.”
In Wisconsin, Klobuchar said, it’s “about knowing the issues that matter to people whether they’re Democrats, Republicans and independents — and in rural areas it’s not just about the farm bill.”
The 2018 midterms demonstrated Democrats’ tough realities beyond metro areas, but still offered some bright spots.
AP VoteCast, a national survey of more than 115,000 voters, found rural and small-town residents cast 35 percent of midterm ballots; 56 percent of those voted for Republican House candidates, compared to 41 percent for Democrats. The advantage was wider among small-town and rural whites: 30 percent of the electorate, tilting 63-35 for Republicans. Correspondingly, Democrats’ net 40-seat gain in the House was driven mostly by previously GOP-leaning suburban districts, while Democratic nominees fell short in more rural areas.
There’s no consensus on whether rural success for Democrats is about policy or personality or some combination. Some winners establish a personal brand at odds with the national party — West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin defending the coal industry, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown opposing much of U.S. trade policy, Montana Sen. Jon Tester playing up his rancher credentials.
But that won’t necessarily work for a presidential candidate looking to become the face of a party with a decidedly liberal base. None of the declared candidates deviates from Democratic orthodoxy supporting abortion rights and LGBTQ civil rights and opposing Trump’s hard line on immigration — all positions that run afoul of rural and small-town voters who collectively are more culturally conservative than urban dwellers.
Sanders struggled with that balance in 2016 when Hillary Clinton hammered him for some Senate votes against gun measures that most Democrats backed. Sanders noted that many Vermonters, as in the rest of rural America, view guns differently than most big-city residents, but Clinton successfully used the issue against Sanders, particularly with black women.
Would-be Democratic presidents are left to mix economic arguments with biography.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee grew up in Seattle, but he often mentions that he spent his early adult years in central Washington. He touts his signature issue — combating climate change — as a boon for the “heartland” economy by growing the clean-energy industry.
Klobuchar, a Twin Cities-area native, points to her work on the Senate Agriculture Committee and notes she’s won every congressional district in Minnesota during her Senate career. Sanders, who still speaks with his native Brooklyn inflection, drew roars in Iowa when mentioned using antitrust law to limit corporate power.
Harris notes that California — caricatured in Middle America as a bastion of coastal liberalism — has the nation’s biggest agricultural output. And in South Carolina, she said she heard a lot about jobs and state Republicans’ refusal to expand Medicaid insurance.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren notes that long before her Harvard law career, she was a child in Norman, Oklahoma, where her family’s working-class struggles shaped her liberal approach to consumer, labor and finance law.
After hearing Booker, Kenneth Belton, a 63-year-old resident of struggling Fairfield County, South Carolina, said a president doesn’t have to come from his walk of life. Belton just wants the person in the Oval Office to understand him — and then to help.
“It just feels like they’ve been ignoring us,” he said.
Berry, the clean water activist, agreed, crediting Booker and others for what she describes as first steps.
“I’ve heard enough to be inspired,” she said, pausing before adding, “enough to want to hear more.”
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Associated Press writers Sara Burnett in Chicago, Alexandra Jaffe in Des Moines, Iowa, Meg Kinnard in North Charleston, South Carolina, and Hannah Fingerhut in Washington contributed to this report.
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Follow Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP.