World and Nation

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Woman said she felt hostility after alleged Cain encounter

WASHINGTON — One of the women who accused Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment while working for him at the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s said that the workplace turned hostile after she complained about advances he made toward her, several people familiar with her account at the time said in interviews.

The advances were said to have taken place during a festive night in which Cain and several younger staff members imbibed until late in the evening, and his flirty banter with the woman crossed over into propositions that she leave with him, these people said, speaking in separate interviews and on the condition of anonymity.

Cain has repeatedly denied that he did anything inappropriate, although he has acknowledged that at least one severance payment was made to an accuser. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the new accounts of the incident Thursday evening.

—Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

Petition drive challenges medical marijuana ban

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Kern County is not exactly the kind of place where you would expect a voter rebellion, what with its conservative rural residents, its live-off-the-land values and its almost unshakable devotion to the Republican Party.

But over the last several months, Kern County — about 100 miles north of Los Angeles in the Central Valley and as far as it can get from San Francisco — has become the scene of a civil war of sorts over an issue, medical marijuana, whose supporters are often of a more liberal stripe. At stake is a controversial new law — passed unanimously in August by the county’s all-Republican Board of Supervisors — which would have effectively shut many of the three dozen or so medical marijuana dispensaries in the county.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the ban: A group of medical marijuana advocates started a petition drive to challenge it, calling for a referendum on the law, something that could happen as soon as next year. In the meantime, the law is in limbo.

—Jesse McKinley, The New York Times

Experts say bleak account of poverty missed the mark

WASHINGTON — When the Census Bureau said in September that the number of poor Americans had soared by 10 million to rates rarely seen in four decades, commentators called the report “shocking” and “bleak.” Most poverty experts would add another description: “flawed.”

Concocted on the fly a half-century ago, the official poverty measure ignores ever more of what is happening to the poor person’s wallet — good and bad.

On Monday, that may start to change when the Census Bureau releases a long-promised alternate measure meant to do a better job of counting the resources the needy have and the bills they have to pay. Similar measures, quietly published in the past, suggest that safety-net programs have played a large role in restraining hardship: As much as half of the reported rise in poverty since 2006 disappears.

The fuller measures have also shown less poverty among children but more among older Americans; less among blacks but more among Asians; less in rural areas and more in cities and suburbs. And they have found fewer people in abject destitution, but a great many more crowding the hard-luck ranks of the near poor, who do not qualify for many benefit programs and lose income to taxes, child care, and medical costs.

—Jason Deparle, Robert Gebeloff and Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times