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    A new quasi-independent oversight board will soon make decisions on some of the most difficult questions on what material belongs on the platform in a 'very public way,' an executive for the social-media company said Friday. The board will consider a small number of cases where all appeals of Facebook decisions have been exhausted, the company's director of governance and strategic initiatives, Andy Pergam, said in speech at the University of Utah. The board's decisions and the company's responses will be public, he said. Its rulings will be binding in individual cases, but broader policy findings will be advisory. 'They'll do all this in a very public way. This is the mechanism by which the board will have lasting policy influence over a company like Facebook,' he said. Board members who are experts in a range of disciplines from around the world will be named December and begin hearing cases in early 2020. The board will begin by weighing users' posts and is expected to take on ads later. The ads have recently come under scrutiny after Facebook refused demands to remove President Donald Trump campaign ads that make false claims. CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the refusal to take down content it considers newsworthy on Thursday, saying he stands for free expression. His speech at Georgetown University was maligned by critics who said the company has failed to curb the spread of disinformation. Zuckerberg announced plans to establish the oversight board last year during a firestorm over an inability to quickly and effectively misinformation as well as hate speech and malign influence campaigns on the platform. Critics have called the board a bid to forestall regulation or even an eventual breakup of the company as Facebook faces antitrust investigations. The board's establishment is 'one of the highest-priority projects' at the company, Pergam said. He called it an effort that many Facebook officials are 'losing a lot of sleep over, because it's that important to get right.
  • Newly formed Tropical Storm Nestor bore down on the northern Gulf Coast with high winds, surging seas and heavy rains Friday, threatening to hit an area of the Florida Panhandle devastated one year ago by Hurricane Michael. But unlike Michael, a powerful storm that left thousands of people homeless and nearly wiped the Panhandle city of Mexico Beach off the map, Florida wasn't bracing for a catastrophe. 'We've done very little preparation only because there's nothing really to prepare for,' said Mexico City Beach Mayor Al Cathey. 'We haven't seen any alarm at all.' The state didn't even bother activating its emergency operations center the afternoon before the storm was predicted to hit. In an area that's recently gone weeks without rain, the storm was seen more as a welcome sight. 'You have to keep it in perspective: 75 percent of our city was destroyed,' Cathey said. 'A little rain is welcome. Hopefully it won't be something crazy, but if that's all it is, I can deal with that. There's nothing in this system that I've seen that tells me Mexico Beach needs to be alarmed.' Nestor was forecast to hit the coast around Mexico Beach on Saturday morning without strengthening into a hurricane. Blasted by Michael in October 2018, the area is still trying to recover. The National Hurricane Center said high winds and dangerous storm surge were likely along parts of the northern Gulf Coast, plus heavy rain that could help a parched region dealing with a drought. Conditions were expected to deteriorate along the coast late Friday into early Saturday. Events including high school football games were canceled or postponed, but officials were trying to calm fears of a hard hit similar to Hurricane Michael last year. Forecasters said that as of 4 p.m. Friday, the storm was about 150 miles (240 kilometers) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River — or about 280 miles (450 kilometers southwest of Panama City, Florida. It had top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) and was moving to the northeast at 22 mph (35 kph). A tropical storm warning was in effect from Navarre, Florida, to Yankeetown, Florida. A storm surge warning is in effect for Indian Pass, Florida, to Clearwater Beach, Florida. Forecasters expect blustery winds and heavy rain in parts of Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, reaching the Carolinas and Virginia by Sunday. The Coast Guard said 20-foot (6-meter) seas were possible around Panama City, and dangerous rip currents were possible along beaches during what is still a busy tourism period. In New Orleans, winds hampered crews that were trying to place explosives to topple to damaged construction cranes towering over a partially collapse hotel project at the edge of the French Quarter. Officials delayed plans to bring down the structures before Nestor approached. 'We're working as fast as possible,' said Fire Chief Tim McConnell. High schools from Alabama to the eastern Florida Panhandle called off football games scheduled for Friday night, and officials in Panama City tried to assure residents that the storm wouldn't be a repeat of Category 5 Hurricane Michael last year. 'We are optimistic this will be a slight wind and rain event,' said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford. The system could dump from 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain from the central Gulf Coast to the eastern Carolinas, where many areas are dried out from weeks without rain, and as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) in spots, forecasters said. Seawater pushed inland by the storm could rise as much as 5 feet (1.5 meters) as storm surge in Florida's Big Bend region, much of which is less-developed than the rest of the state's coast. ___ Associated Press writer Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on the situation in Catalonia (all times local): 11 p.m. Police in the regional capital of Catalonia are using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets to repel masked youths who are throwing cobblestones and flammable bottles, building barricades and setting dozens of bonfires in large garbage bins. The regional Mossos d'Esquadra police says protesters are causing 'violent acts and serious incidents' in Barcelona's center. Associated Press reporters at the scene have witnessed scenes of chaos when anti-riot police vans stormed a city center area to disperse the angry mob into groups and out of the city center. Around 400 people, roughly half of them police officers, have been injured in five days since separatist sentiment surged on Monday, when nine separatist leaders were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for leading a 2017 push for independence. ___ 9:30 p.m. Spain's interim interior minister says 128 people have been arrested so far during this week's protests in Barcelona and that 207 police officers have been injured. Fernando Grande-Marlaska also warned Catalan separatists resorting to violence that the law will be applied 'with all its force' and that they face prison terms up to six years for attacking police. Appearing before reporters in Madrid as police used tear gas and rubber bullets to repel protesters in Barcelona, he said the Spanish state will 'apply to violent separatism the criminal code with all its force.' Protests against Monday's conviction of 12 Catalan leaders who pushed for independence have been largely peaceful but have at times turned violent at night. A video quickly spreading online showed an unconscious policeman being carried by other officers into a police van. ___ 7 p.m. Police in riot gear are shooting rubber bullets, using batons and police vans to disperse a few hundred young protesters who have been surrounding the National Police headquarters in Barcelona. The protesters appeared to come from a calmer student protest that finished earlier in the day. Covering their faces and shielding themselves with skates and motorbike helmets, they hurled bottles, eggs and paint at police and set on fire large trash containers. Police responding charging against the protesters and driving five vans up and down a wide avenue to disperse the mob. Police said three people have been arrested. Meanwhile, blocks away from the rioting, Barcelona police estimated that 525,000 people joined a peaceful demonstration against the imprisonment of Catalan separatist leaders. ___ 6:30 p.m. A spokesman for Spain's National Court says that a judge has ordered the closure of websites linked to an online group behind some of this week's mass reactions to the imprisonment of Catalan separatist leaders. Tsunami Democratic has been the focus of Spanish authorities since thousands followed the group's call to disrupt operations of Barcelona's international airport on Monday, when the convictions of 12 separatist politicians and activists were announced. The spokesman, who wasn't authorized to be named in the media, confirmed that Friday's order to shut down the websites of Tsunami Democratic came from Investigating Judge Manuel García Castejón. He declined to elaborate because the case is sealed. The secretive group first surfaced on Sept. 2 and in just over six weeks has gained nearly 340,000 followers on its main channel in Telegram, an encrypted messaging app. ___ 4:25 p.m. Tens of thousands of flag-waving demonstrators demanding Catalonia's independence and the release from prison of separatist leaders have flooded downtown Barcelona. The protesters have poured into the city after some of them walked for three days in 'Freedom marches' from towns across the northeastern Spanish region. They have joined students and workers who have also taken to the streets during a general strike Friday. The separatists' show of strength has been overwhelmingly peaceful, capping five days of protests that have been unusually violent. Demonstrations began Monday, after the Supreme Court convicted 12 politicians and activists who tried to break the region away from Spain in 2017. Nine of them have been imprisoned for up to 13 years for sedition. ___ 3:10 p.m. Spain's interim prime minister says that mass protests in Catalonia over the imprisonment of Catalan separatists are proof that illegal actions are punished in Spain but not political ideas. Pedro Sánchez is facing a general election in less than one month amid mounting tensions in the northeastern Catalan region over the conviction of a dozen separatist leaders. Speaking to reporters in Brussels after a meeting of European leaders, the Socialist leader said Friday that Spain guarantees freedom to protest but vowed to prosecute radicals who rioted this week. 'The rule is clear,' Sánchez said. 'Those who break the law have to answer for their deeds sooner or later.' He also urged Catalonia's pro-independence government to stop ignoring the roughly half of the region's 5.5 million voters who, according to polls and recent election results, want to remain in Spain. ___ 12:05 p.m. The Spanish soccer federation has postponed next week's marquee game between Barcelona and Real Madrid due to a fear of more street violence in Catalonia. Barcelona is the capital of Spain's northeastern Catalonia region, which has recently seen clashes between police and protesters angered by a Supreme Court decision to sentence nine separatist leaders to prison. Separatist groups have called for supporters to rally in Barcelona on Oct. 26, the planned date of the match. The federation, in consultation with government officials, says it isn't safe to play on the same day as the rally. The federation's competitions committee said Barcelona and Madrid have until Monday to decide on another date for the game. If the clubs cannot agree, then the committee will choose. ___ 11.00 a.m. Spain's Supreme Court says that an investigating judge is telling Belgian judicial authorities that former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont possesses no parliamentary immunity that might prevent his extradition to Spain. A court statement says Belgian authorities asked for clarification on the matter early Friday. Puigdemont is sought by Spain on possible charges of sedition and misuse of public funds. He has so far avoided extradition from Germany and Belgium, where he fled at the end of 2017, following a failed attempt to declare independence in the wealthy region. The separatist leader was elected as a European lawmaker in May. But the court says Judge Pablo Llarena is telling Belgium that Puigdemont didn't take office because he didn't swear on the Spanish Constitution — a pre-requisite under Spain's electoral rules. ___ 10:50 a.m. Fugitive former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has handed himself in to Belgian justice authorities after Spain issued a new warrant for his arrest following the sentencing of 12 of his former colleagues. Puigdemont's office said Friday that he, 'in the company of his lawyers, voluntarily appeared before Belgian authorities' in relation to the arrest warrant. It said that Puigdemont rejects the warrant and opposes any attempt to send him back to Spain. It was not immediately clear whether he is still being questioned or held. Puigdemont and a number of his associates fled to Belgium in October 2017 after they were summoned to court over the secessionist push he led and the holding of an independence referendum that the Spanish government said was illegal. ___ 9:00 a.m. The Catalan regional capital is bracing for a fifth day of protests over the conviction of a dozen independence leaders. Clashes with police broke out in Barcelona late on Thursday when a mob of far-right anti-independence activists tried to storm a big separatist protest. Health authorities in the region say 18 people were injured and the regional police arrested 11 protesters. Spain's central authorities say that 46 flights into and out of the region are canceled Friday due to a general strike called by pro-independence unions. Picketers have also blocked the border with France at the major crossing point of La Jonquera. Five marches of tens of thousands of people from inland towns are expected to converge in Barcelona's center on Friday afternoon for a mass protest with striking students and workers.
  • A Los Angeles jury recommended the death penalty Friday for a man dubbed 'The Boy Next Door Killer' after he was found guilty of two murders and an attempted murder. The victims of 43-year-old Michael Gargiulo included 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who was killed on a night in 2001 when she had plans with actor Ashton Kutcher. He testified during the trial that he arrived late for his date with Ellerin, looked into her house when there was no answer at the door, and saw what he thought were wine stains before leaving. Authorities called Gargiulo 'The Boy Next Door Killer' because he lived near all the victims. Gargiulo also was convicted of the 2005 murder of 32-year-old Maria Bruno and the 2008 attempted murder of Michelle Murphy, who testified during the trial's penalty phase that she lived in fear for years after the attack. Murphy fought when she was attacked in bed in her Santa Monica apartment. Authorities said Gargiulo cut himself and left a trail of blood that allowed prosecutors to tie him to the other cases, including a 1997 killing in Illinois for which he is still awaiting trial. Murphy was also a key witness during the first phase of the trial. 'In the days, weeks and months after it happened, I barely even slept,' Murphy testified. 'I feared the nighttime and going to bed. I still slept with the lights on for a long time.' All three women were attacked in their Southern California homes when Gargiulo lived nearby and watched his victims. Ellerin become an acquaintance before the attacks. Ellerin's mother and other victims' family members also testified during the penalty phase. When she learned about the death of her daughter, Cynthia Ellerin said, 'I fell to my knees on the floor and started crawling around the bedroom on my hands and knees like an animal, screaming.' 'I ache for her,' Cynthia Ellerin said. 'I ache to hold her. I ache to hear her voice, to hug her. But that's not going to happen.' Gargiulo's 16-year-old son also took the stand, asking jurors for mercy and telling them he needs a father who is alive. After the jury's decision was read in court, Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler ordered Gargiulo to return for formal sentencing on Feb. 28. California has not executed anyone since 2006, and Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this year halted executions for as long as he is in office. Courts have been proceeding on the assumption that executions may one day resume. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton.
  • New York Jets guard Kelechi Osemele says he needs season-ending shoulder surgery and is waiting for the team to authorize the procedure, but the team wants him on the field. Osemele said Friday the team doctor and an outside doctor have both recommended the surgery. But a person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press both doctors determined it is actually a pre-existing injury and cleared Osemele to play through the injury. Osemele is expected to practice Saturday or face a fine and/or suspension for conduct detrimental to the team, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team has not publicly commented on the situation. The Jets acquired Osemele from Oakland in March. He says he was initially hurt in August and re-injured his shoulder at New England on Sept. 22. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Get on board, world. That's the message from the White House as it starts shaping plans for next year's Group of Seven summit in Florida. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney this week outlined the priorities the administration would like America's strongest allies to consider — and adopt — when the U.S. plays host to three days of meetings next June. As the host nation, the U.S. gets to dictate the summit's focus. Rolling back government regulation is in. So is energy production. Russian President Vladimir Putin could be as well. Climate change is most definitely out. Mulvaney said Thursday that the U.S. plan for the summit would involve 'taking a lot of what we have been doing here domestically with such success and trying to encourage the rest of the world to get on board.' He said flatly, 'Climate change will not be on the agenda.' Mulvaney spoke about the administration's priorities while announcing next year's location for the G-7 — Trump's golf resort near Miami. The choice of a Trump property caused a stir with government watchdog groups and some Democratic lawmakers. Leaders from France, Italy, Japan, Canada, Great Britain and Germany are already raising concerns that climate change will be left out at the meeting of the alliance, which was formed in 1975 to provide a venue for the world's noncommunist economic powers. 'I really think that the responsibility of the most powerful states around the world is to address the issues that are a matter of concern for our population,' French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said. 'First matter of concern for our population, be it the U.S. or Europe, is climate change. 'What would be the relevance of the G-7 that would not address one of the most important topics of the day?' Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have been in the past 15 years, with records going back to 1880. Trump has announced plans to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord because he views it as putting the United States at an economic disadvantage to the rest of the world. He has focused instead on increasing energy production from all sources to boost the economy and jobs, with a focus on the fossil fuels that drive global warming. Trump skipped a discussion on climate with other world leaders at the G-7 summit in France earlier this year. Differences over Russia did not stay hidden, either. Trump would like to see Russia re-admitted to the Group of Seven club. The former G-8 kicked Russia out after Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. 'We go to the G-7 and what dominates so much of the discussion? Russia,' Mulvaney said. 'Russian energy. Russian military policy. The Russian economy. It dominates a lot of the discussion. Wouldn't it be better to have them inside as part of those conversations?' The summit will also take place in the heat of a presidential election, adding yet another combustible wrinkle to deliberations. At the most recent summit, Trump sought to deliver a message about how the G-7 leaders get along great and enjoy tremendous unity, papering over fundamental differences in policy. It won't be easy maintaining that message with the strains of a presidential election shaping most every comment that comes from the event. 'At this point, the summit has all the hallmarks of a train wreck,' said Derek Chollet, executive vice president and senior adviser for security and defense policy at the German Marshall Fund think tank in Washington. 'From the venue, to the agenda, to the possibility of Putin coming, to the timing — happening right in the middle of what will be one of the most divisive and ugly presidential campaigns in American history.' The most one can hope, Chollet said, 'is this G-7 won't do irreparable harm. But perhaps even that may be too optimistic.' ___ Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Bani Sapra contributed to this report.
  • The top prosecutor in Baltimore knew exactly where to go for guidance after she made the decision to file charges in an explosive case involving the death of a black man in police custody. She called Rep. Elijah Cummings, her trusted adviser and friend. After that call in May 2015, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges ranging from assault to murder against six officers in the case of Freddie Gray, whose death from a neck injury suffered during a jolting ride in the back of a police van had set off some of the worst riots in decades in Baltimore. Cummings 'said he was there with me. He said he believed in me,' Mosby said Friday, recalling the telephone conversation. Later, when Mosby came under public attack over her handling of the case, 'he would say 'No, I stand with Marilyn Mosby. I stand with her decision.'' Mosby is not the only Baltimore resident who relied on Cummings for advice. The congressman and civil rights advocate, who died Thursday at 68, mentored countless young people, faith leaders, activists, politicians and others over the years. Through meetings, speeches, texts, phone calls and even grocery store encounters, the Baltimore Democrat and sharecroppers' son shared his political wisdom and life experience with his booming voice and gift for oratory, inspiring many to become active in their communities and pursue careers in public service. 'We grew up idolizing him. Before there was Barack Obama, here, we had Elijah Cummings,' lifelong Baltimore resident and City Council President Brandon Scott said. Scott, 35, recalled how Cummings pulled him aside once when he was a 20-something city employee and asked him about his aspirations. They developed a relationship as he moved up in City Hall, and when he was chosen to lead the council in May, he called the congressman first. One of the main lessons Cummings taught him was to 'never lose your cool.' 'Even when people are attacking you, even when people are saying things that are not true, even when they are dragging your name in the mud, never respond with emotion. Always respond calmly and with dignity, with respect for yourself and for others, including those who are disparaging you,' Scott said. 'And then the whole world saw him do that this summer with the president of United States attacking him.' Trump in July called Cummings' district a 'disgusting, rat- and rodent-infested mess' where 'no human being would want to live.' In response, Cummings invited Trump to tour the district, which includes neighborhoods that have struggled with poverty and violence and more affluent areas and landmarks such as Johns Hopkins University and its hospital. Trump didn't take him up on the offer. The Rev. Jamal Bryant recalled Cummings speaking at his church in Baltimore multiple times and always refusing the honorarium he was offered, instead asking that it be donated to youth programs. He said Cummings showed the same 'love and respect' to everybody, whether they 'were in the ivory tower or street corner.' 'There is no success without a successor, and Rep. Cummings groomed and mentored a whole lot of people publicly and a whole lot of people privately,' said Bryant, who now has a pulpit in Stonecrest, Georgia, following 18 years as a pastor in Baltimore. Mosby's gamble in the Gray case ultimately failed to yield a single conviction. Three officers were acquitted, and she dropped the three other cases. Cummings stayed by her side, endorsing her in the 2018 election. This past summer, as she was getting ready to testify for the first time before Congress — she would speak in support of legalization of marijuana possession — he counseled her again. 'One of the things that he said was 'This is easy for you. You've faced this kind of scrutiny many times. You always come out on top,'' she recalled. 'And he wrote, 'I'm proud of you.' I looked up to him.' ___ Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO
  • The Los Angeles Rams expect cornerback Jalen Ramsey to play on Sunday in Atlanta. Ramsey went through a second full practice with the Rams on Friday, three days after Los Angeles acquired the former All-Pro cornerback in a trade with Jacksonville. Coach Sean McVay says he is optimistic Ramsey will be able to contribute when the Rams (3-3) visit the Falcons (1-5) at the site of Los Angeles' Super Bowl loss last season. Ramsey missed the Jaguars' past three games with a back injury shortly after making a trade request. He had returned to practice with Jacksonville shortly before the trade. The Rams could use help from Ramsey after losing both of their starting cornerbacks and a starting safety in the past week. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Students at a Wisconsin high school skipped class Friday and marched through the streets of the state capital to protest the firing of a black security guard who was terminated for repeating a racial slur while telling a student not to call him that word. Scores of Madison West High School students walked out of class around 10 a.m. to protest the firing. Madison Police Department officials didn't respond to The Associated Press' request for a crowd count but told the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper that about 1,500 people participated. A WISC-TV livestream of the walkout showed what appeared to be scores of students marching through the streets. They walked to the Madison school district offices and marched laps around the building, chanting 'Hey-hey, hey-ho, zero tolerance has got to go!' and 'Do Better!' Security guard Marlon Anderson, 48, said he was responding to a call Oct. 9 about a disruptive student at West. He said the student, who is black, called him obscenities, including the N-word. Anderson said he told the student multiple times not to call him that, repeating the slur during the confrontation. Madison schools have a zero-tolerance policy on employees saying racial slurs. Anderson was fired Wednesday. Anderson said he was just trying to defend himself and that context matters. The Madison teachers union has filed a grievance with the district on his behalf. During his time at East and West high schools, Anderson said students have used that slur against him 'many times,' and that it has resulted in 'restorative conversations' in which he explains the history, context and meaning of the word. Last school year, at least seven Madison School District staff members resigned or were fired after using a racial slur in front of students. West Principal Karen Boran said the zero-tolerance approach has been applied consistently. The district school board president, Gloria Reyes, said in a statement Friday that she wants the board to review its policy on racial slurs as soon as possible. She said she also has directed district staff to handle Anderson's grievance quickly. 'This is an incredibly difficult situation, and we acknowledge the emotion, harm and complexity involved,' she said. 'Many people in our community and our district are grappling with that complexity, and we will continue to do so as we go forward.' Superintendent Jane Belmore issued her own statement saying the zero-tolerance policy is designed to protect students from harm, no matter what the circumstances or intent. But she added that 'different viewpoints' from the community are emerging and the district will review the policy in light of Anderson's grievance. The singer Cher weighed on the dispute Friday, tweeting in response to a news story about Anderson that if he decides to sue the Madison school district, she would cover his expenses. A message left at the Madison teachers union for Anderson wasn't immediately returned. ___ Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/trichmond1
  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot swept into office this spring declaring it 'a new day' for the nation's third-largest city. She pledged to change the way City Hall operated under Rahm Emanuel and for decades before him, invest in poor neighborhoods, improve schools and address the city's deeply troubled finances. But with teachers in Chicago Public Schools hitting the picket lines this week, Lightfoot finds herself facing many of the same challenges as her predecessor, the former White House chief of staff whose years of conflict with the Chicago Teachers Union included a seven-day strike in 2012. About 25,000 teachers and staff were on strike for the second day Friday, after months of negotiations ended without a new contract between the union and CPS. The walkout has canceled classes for more than 300,000 students as the two sides wrangle over class sizes, pay and staffing for nurses and school social workers. Union officials said progress was being made at the bargaining table, but the strike could continue into next week. It is the biggest test yet for Lightfoot, who had never been elected to public office before she defeated more than a dozen candidates and won an April runoff in a landslide over a longtime political insider. It's also her opportunity to show how she is different from or better than Emanuel, whose City Hall she criticized heavily during the campaign. But to get there, she may have to choose her own path: Does she ultimately acquiesce to teachers, whose demands she estimates may cost up to $2.5 billion per year? Or will she hold the line financially and risk alienating an influential force in Chicago politics? Along with the strike, Lightfoot is dealing with other longstanding city problems, including how to close a budget shortfall of nearly $1 billion and address $30 billion in public-pension debt. 'If she cannot land a deal with teachers for public schools in Chicago, then you have to question her ability to get work done in this city,' said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates. Lightfoot rejects the suggestion that a prolonged strike might hurt her politically, saying 'I don't look at it that way.' 'This isn't about politics for me,' the former federal prosecutor said. The CTU backed Lightfoot's rival, a former teacher who now leads the Cook County Democratic Party and the county board, during the mayoral election. They note Lightfoot, also a Democrat, promised during the campaign to transform a district that has seen declining enrollment and where more than three-quarters of students are low-income. The union has argued for years that class sizes are too large — many classrooms have more than 30 students — and that they and their students don't have the support they need. Animosity also remains over Emanuel's decision to close dozens of schools , most in minority neighborhoods. Yakirah Robinson, who teaches 4th and 5th grades, said she was optimistic when Lightfoot got elected because she thought she understood what teachers are up against. Robinson said she has 33 kids in her classroom, and many need extra help. She's disappointed but hopeful Lightfoot will come around. Charlie Koltak, a music teacher at Orozco Community Academy, and who also has a 10-year-old child attending public school, does not put all the blame for the impasse on Lightfoot. 'This is still Rahm's team,' he said of the CPS negotiating team and hierarchy, many of which are holdovers from when Emanuel was mayor. 'It's just like (former President Barack) Obama said he would do all this progressive stuff and when he gets in there his hands are tied.' Jaime Dominguez, a Northwestern University political science professor, said Lightfoot is well-positioned to hold her ground against a union that's trying to take control of 'every possible decision-making power they can have.' 'She has the political currency right now to take a stand,' he said. 'She was elected by the whole city to usher in reform, and part of that reform is being financially cognizant of what's at stake in terms of resources.' Lightfoot insists she has made good on her campaign promises. She said the union had been signaling their intent to strike 'for a long time' and that they had not shown an urgency to get a deal. She also said she has to balance the needs of schools and students with her responsibility to taxpayers, and that she has been hearing from parents, teachers and other Chicago residents who say she has their support. 'This isn't about me,' Lightfoot said. 'This isn't about my power or not. This is about our children.' ___ Associated Press reporter Don Babwin contributed.