Midwest floods, Democrats and 2019's last supermoon: The Morning Rundown

"My big concern is the environment," said one woman in eastern Iowa where historic floods are devastating farming communities.
Image: After Heavy Snows, Midwest Rivers Flood Their Banks
Voters in the Midwest facing epic floods are calling for action on climate change. Scott Olson / Getty Images

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

In positive news, today is the Spring Equinox. We've got tips on how you can catch a glimpse of the last supermoon of 2019 that coincides with the equinox.

Here's everything else we're covering today.


Democratic candidates use their campaigns to prove their progressive bona fides

Did you drive your mini-van to this campaign stop? Was your travel climate-sensitive? Do you pay your campaign interns a fair wage? Are you a nice boss?

In a crowded field and a cynical age, even White House hopefuls with detailed policy platforms are highlighting the way they manage their own campaign operations to stand out from the pack and offer proof of their values.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Beto O'Rourke and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are altering how they run their campaigns to dodge hypocrisy claims.AP / Wisconsin State Journal via AP

Former DEA official is now working for OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma

Demetra Ashley spent three decades at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

As the former acting assistant administrator of the DEA, she told a Senate committee in 2017 about the need for a "robust regulatory program" to stop diversion of opioids and other controlled prescription drugs.

She is now paid to advise one of the largest opioid manufacturers in the country, Purdue Pharma, according to people familiar with the matter.

"Ms. Ashley is following in the footsteps of many former federal regulators who take blood money from Purdue after leaving their job. This should not be allowed," said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University. Kolodny has been a paid consultant for plaintiffs suing Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sacklers.


Midwest voters standing in flood waters are demanding action on climate change

In two states that flipped from blue to red in the 2016 presidential race, the devastating floods are focusing voter's attention on climate change — and both parties' response to it.

Farm groups say the flooding this year is worse than ever and that's allowing environmental activists to make their case for action.

See images of the floods devastating the Midwest.

The Missouri River floods across the K-7 highway near White Cloud, Kansas, on Monday. Orlin Wagner / AP

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She had insurance and still got smacked with a huge bill. She's not alone.

When Nicole Briggs rushed to a hospital to get an emergency appendectomy, she checked if the hospital took her insurance. They did. Phew.

But two months after the surgery, she got a whopping bill for almost $5,000 from the surgeon. Unbeknownst to her, he practiced independently and did not take her insurance.

She declined to pay the bill. Two years later, a collection agency slapped a lien on her home.

"It's really scary," Briggs said. "This is all we have, and to think that it could all be taken away, because some doctor doesn't feel like taking anyone's insurance is — it's just so wrong."

She's not alone. NBC News found hundreds of examples of surprise medical bills leading to liens on homes and crippling debt.


Officially, the notebook does not exist. But it’s the key for migrants to get into the U.S.

Tijuana was once the end of a long, perilous journey for migrants who were trying to reach the U.S. to claim asylum.

But now, under Trump administration policies designed to limit the number of people who can enter the country, migrants arriving in Tijuana must find the keepers of a worn, gray notebook and add their names to an unofficial list. Then they wait weeks or months for their number to be called.

Migrants wait their turn to be called and seek asylum in the United States at El Chaparral crossing on the U.S.-Mexico border.Alejandro Cossio / for NBC News

Plus


THINK about it

"Temptation Island" is a gratuitously humiliating reality TV show. No wonder it's a hit in Trump's America, writes TV critic Ani Bundel.


Science + Tech = MACH

Get ready, skywatchers. The last supermoon of 2019 will be visible in the night sky tonight, coinciding with the spring equinox that heralds the start of a new season. Here are tips on how to check it out.

A total lunar eclipse accompanied the first in a trio of back-to-back supermoons in 2019.Joe Matus / NASA/MSFC

One curious thing

Consumers see wellness apps as a way to meditate and improve sleep. Investors see profits.

"They’re phenomenal businesses if you look at the margins," one venture capitalist said about meditation apps. "It doesn’t cost these mediation companies anything to serve this content. It’s really inexpensive to create and ... these concepts have been around forever."

Careful what you wish for... Glenn Harvey / for NBC News

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra

CLARIFICATION (Oct. 28, 2019, 9:05 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article should have disclosed that Dr. Andrew Kolodny is a paid consultant for plaintiffs against Purdue and the Sacklers.