GENEVA (AP) — Like other countries after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, Switzerland pledged to abandon nuclear power in coming years. But anti-nuclear advocacy groups say the Swiss government’s timetable isn’t fast enough, and have pushed for a referendum this weekend that would hasten the planned exit.

Swiss voters cast ballots on Sunday on an initiative championed by environmentalists and nuclear foes that would, if passed, shutter by 2029 the last of Switzerland’s five nuclear power plants that now generate 40 percent of the country’s electricity.

Polls suggest a tight race on an issue that could put Switzerland on a similar track to one in neighboring Germany. The Germans have been aggressively ramping up transition to renewables like solar energy in time to be done with nuclear energy by 2022, a deadline also set after a tsunami ravaged Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power facility five years ago.

As part of an energy plan that runs through 2050, the Swiss government has already agreed not to replace its existing nuclear plants, which can operate as long as they’re deemed safe. The plants are to be closed progressively as their life spans expire, and the government says it needs time to switch to other sources such as wind, solar and biomass energy.

Switzerland regularly holds referendums as part of its particular form of direct democracy, which allows voters in the country of about 8.2 million to set policy on major issues — at times causing hassles for officials to carry out the public’s will.

The two chambers of the Swiss legislature and the executive Federal Council have variously argued that the initiative, “for an orderly withdrawal from the nuclear energy program,” would force Switzerland to import more electricity, such as from carbon-spewing coal-fired plants in Germany. Plus, early shutdowns could make the government — and thus taxpayers — liable to pay penalties to the nuclear plant operators.

“The initiative will compromise the security of our energy supply,” Federal Councilor Didier Burkhalter said in a government video.

But Ilias Panchard, secretary-general of a group whose French name translates as “Get Out of Nuclear,” says Switzerland’s nuclear power complex is dangerous, aging and beset by problems — with two of the five Swiss plants not operating at the moment for safety or technical reasons. His group insists now is the time to set a fixed timetable, before it’s too late to move to a proper replacement.

“If we just wait until an accident or a problem with the plants, then we do not have the time, the energy to replace it. So the idea of the initiative, the referendum, is to say: in 2029 we will have no more nuclear energy in Switzerland,” he said in an interview in Geneva overlooking the Alps.

The initiative would the limit the life span of nuclear plants to 45 years, and force the closure next year of three of the plants, Beznau 1 — which Panchard called the world’s oldest operating nuclear plant, built in 1969 — as well as Beznau 2 and Muhleberg.

“Concretely, that means that in 2017, about one-third of the electricity generated by nuclear energy will be lacking. That amounts to the average annual electricity consumption of close to half of Swiss households,” Burkhalter said, adding that renewables won’t be able to make up the difference right away.

Two other plants would shut over the next 13 years: Goesgen would close in 2024 and Leibstadt in 2029.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve Kerr and Luke Walton remained close friends and daily confidantes after their coaching careers sent them to opposite ends of California this summer.

Although they’ve enjoyed the chance to spend time together while the Warriors and the Lakers played each other five times in the past 43 days, they’ll both be grateful for a little space in this rivalry.

Particularly after a game that neither coach enjoyed at all.

Kevin Durant had 29 points, nine assists and six rebounds, and Golden State beat injury-depleted Los Angeles for the second time in three days, 109-85 on Friday night.

“It looked like a Thanksgiving food hangover,” Walton said.

Stephen Curry scored 24 points and Klay Thompson had 18 in the Warriors’ 10th consecutive victory. Golden State followed up its 43-point win in Oakland on Wednesday with another comfortable victory in these clubs’ third regular-season game in three weeks, although Kerr and Walton didn’t see much to like about a sloppy post-holiday contest.

“It was one of the worst basketball games I’ve seen in my life,” Kerr said. “We were awful, and they were awful. The people who bought tickets should get their money back, honestly.”

It almost got worse for the Warriors: Draymond Green had 12 points and eight rebounds before leaving in the third quarter with a bruised left ankle from a collision with teammate Ian Clark. Green is cautiously confident his injury isn’t serious.

Jordan Clarkson scored 20 points for the Lakers, who played without injured starters Julius Randle, Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers gave up 149 points to Golden State on Wednesday, and they never made it close Friday with three of their top five scorers sidelined.

“They’re the best team in the league,” Clarkson said. “I don’t think we see them for a little while, so (we can) get that game out of our head and get our swag back.”


Warriors: After all of this early season exposure, these teams don’t finish their series until April 12 in Oakland. … Curry missed a breakaway dunk in the second quarter, drawing laughter throughout the arena. Staples Center’s video board replayed the miss after the next timeout and then cut to Curry, who was grinning broadly. “I’ve missed dunks before,” the two-time MVP said.

Lakers: Clarkson moved back into LA’s starting lineup with Young sidelined. Jose Calderon had seven points in his fourth start in Russell’s place. … Walton said he didn’t review tape of Wednesday’s loss: “I told our film guy I would throw him out of our room if he put that game on my laptop.”


The Lakers were the last team to beat the Warriors, notching a 20-point blowout on Nov. 4. Since then, Golden State has found the rhythm necessary to become the powerhouse expected when Durant abandoned Oklahoma City to join up with the two-time defending Western Conference champions in July.

“It’s nice learning lessons in wins, but I think we’re a better team since the last time we stepped foot in this building,” Curry said. “We’re still trending in the right direction. You don’t take anything for granted, but it’s nice we put together consecutive good performances.”


Brandon Ingram had eight points on 3-for-18 shooting in his second NBA start, getting valuable experience as the Lakers’ offensive focus in the absence of Russell and Randle, his fellow blue chip youngsters. Ingram, the No. 2 pick in last summer’s draft, went 1 for 10 in the first half, but kept firing while grabbing nine rebounds.


Russell is out for at least two weeks after missing three of the previous four games with a sore left knee, while Randle missed his second straight game with a hip pointer. Young missed his first game all season after spraining his toe earlier in the week during a game against Oklahoma City in which he hit the game-winning 3-pointer.


Clark was prone under the basket when Green fell and tripped over his head. Clark was hit in the throat, but showed no sign of a concussion, the Warriors said. Green rolled his ankle and didn’t realize he had stepped on his teammate. After skipping the fourth quarter and putting ice on his leg, he hopes to play Saturday back home in Oakland.


Warriors: Host Timberwolves on Saturday.

Lakers: Host Hawks on Sunday.

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on Black Friday Holiday shopping (all times Eastern):

3 p.m.

Adobe Digital Insights says Thanksgiving Day sales online totaled $1.93 billion, up 11.5 percent from the day last year, as more people opted to stay home and shop online instead of hitting the stores. Still, that fell short of the $2 billion Adobe predicted.

Adobe attributed the shortfall to heavy discounting in the early hours of the holiday and-higher than-expected online revenue the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

For Black Friday, online sales are expected to rise 11.3 percent to $3.05 billion, surpassing $3 billion for the first time.

Adobe data is based on aggregated and anonymous data from 22 billion visits to retail websites. The data measures about 80 percent of all online transactions from the top 100 U.S. retailers.


2:30 p.m.

Big chains may be offering rock-bottom deals to entice shoppers on Black Friday but some small stores were also slashing prices ahead of Small Business Saturday.

The early jump on deals at locally owned businesses drew in Carl Wright, who was shopping at local stores in San Diego, saying he preferred to support the local economy.

Wright was visiting from Long Beach, outside Los Angeles, and wanted to buy something for his friends that had a story behind it. He bought locally made candles at Pigment, a home goods store owned by a San Diego couple.

Wright said he and his wife would likely return for the deeper discounts at local shops on Saturday.


2:15 p.m.

Shoppers were traveling across state lines and over roads and rails to experience Black Friday shopping in Rhode Island.

North Kingstown friends Sokeara Sanford and Nora Ong, both 15, say their families don’t like to spend the day after Thanksgiving shopping. So the girls did it on their own, waking up at 5 a.m. and taking a commuter train from Wickford Junction to Providence so they could go to the Providence Place mall.

Dennis Miller, of Youngstown, Ohio, also came to Providence Place with his wife and son during a Thanksgiving week trip to visit his brother’s family in Rhode Island.

Miller says he also went electronics shopping in Connecticut late on Thanksgiving night. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine don’t allow retailers to open on Thanksgiving Day, but Connecticut does.


1:55 p.m.

Macy’s wrestled with some technical issues on its website during one of the most crucial shopping days of the year.

Through early afternoon, many visitors to the site saw “Temporary shopping jam.”

Macy’s had a 10-second countdown to get to the site, though the delay often ran longer than that.

“We are still taking a high volume of online orders, and we are working quickly to alleviate the delay issue which we hope to have resolved shortly,” the company said.


1:30 p.m.

After the bruising presidential race, Jeanne Bradford-Odorico says she did not want to fight crowds at the malls and instead wanted to do something healthy on Black Friday.

The 65-year-old financial analyst of San Diego spent part of the day Friday hiking under sunny skies in Mission Trails park, a picturesque 5,800 square mountain park in the city where coyotes and bobcats live.

Bradford-Odorico says she believes the election that divided the country is also inspiring many to do something healthy like getting out in nature to heal.

She says she has shopped in the past but was inspired to heed the message by REI calling on people to get outside on Black Friday instead of bargain-hunting at malls.


12:35 p.m.

Several hundred protesters have gathered in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile shopping district to demand an elected civilian police review board.

An engaged crowd listened to speakers Friday morning near the city’s historic Old Water Tower. One speaker criticized Republican President-elect Donald Trump in the same breath as Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Others expressed shock over two fatal shootings by Chicago police that occurred Wednesday night and Friday morning.

Activists have called for a shopping boycott in Chicago’s downtown on the busiest shopping day of the year. They have pressed for an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council since a video was released last year showing a white police officer fatally shooting black teen Laquan McDonald.

City officials have said they plan to create a non-elected citizen oversight board next year.



Some shoppers are declaring victory after heading out early for Black Friday deals in Colorado but, for the others, the hunt continues.

Yesenia Rivera and her family emerged from a Denver Wal-Mart with their lone shopping success of the morning — a 50-inch Emerson flat screen TV on sale for $225. She said they didn’t find the toys they were looking for but are pleased with their purchase. After loading the TV into the car, they headed out to pursue more deals elsewhere.

A little earlier, Michelle Smith emerged with a cart loaded with a sewing machine for her mom and a small TV for the family. She said she’d gotten everything she wanted for the day.

The balloon artist said she’s cutting down on spending this year and focusing on gifts that last for her six kids. She told the adults in the family not to expect gifts, saying she doesn’t want to participate in “the great gift card exchange.”


12:30 p.m.

Gisela (GEE’-suh-la) Pursel, president of the organization Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City, was unloading bags from a shopping cart into her vehicle at a Kohl’s store shortly before 9 a.m. Friday.

The Kansas City resident began shopping around 7 a.m. after combing through newspaper ads and online aps looking for the best sales. With five children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild on her list, Pursel said she expects to drop $3,000 to $4,000 on Christmas this year — about what she usually spends.

“I like really nice, well-made toys,” Pursel said. “I like nice quality products. When I see those on sale I go for those kinds of things.”

While she was likely to hit four or five stores on Friday, a Thanksgiving shopping trip was strictly off-limits.

“People don’t need to shop until Friday,” she said.


12:30 p.m.

The Black Friday mentality and marketing approach has leapt across the Atlantic to shape the spending habits in much of Britain.

Many big box stores opened early Friday morning while others focused on cutting online prices or combining the two.

The response was immediate: at Dixons Carphone chain, commercial marketing director Jonathan Earle said there had been a 40 percent increase in orders on Friday morning compared to Black Friday last year.

“I think this Black Friday will be bigger and better than ever before,” he said.

Earle said the store was selling five orders per second and 30 large screen TVs each minute.

Other chains reported similar bullish reports on sales.


11:45 a.m.

Matt Welters, 30, snuck outside a Kansas City Toys R Us store to stash a couple bags in his family’s vehicle as his wife and three children walked around inside the store.

The toy store was the first stop for Welters, his wife and their three children, ages 2, 5 and 7, after the couple decided to skip the hectic Thanksgiving night rush. He said they planned to shop for the children until mid-afternoon.

“They love the Shopkins things, “Welters said. “I don’t understand it, but they love it. And trolls. They love the movie so they’re excited about that stuff.”

Welters said he was scaling back a little on his Christmas spending this year, mainly because he needs to save for a new vehicle.


10 a.m.

Shamika Malloy of Albany, New York, missed out on the $100 doorbusters offer and was shopping Friday for her four teenage children. Her must-have item is a laptop for a daughter in college.

Malloy said she had not yet shopped online but will and usually does so each year. “It’s better than coming in the store. If you do it online, you save and you can get it delivered right to the house for free. Can’t beat that.”

She said she wouldn’t shop at as many places as last year. “Whoever’s got the best deals, that’s where I go.”


10 a.m.

Ryan Bartlett came to the Crossgates Mall in suburban Albany, New York, without any certain thing in mind to buy. He says when he gets burned out it’s time to go, and he’ll try not to make a full day of it.

He says his wife has done quite a bit of shopping online this year, and although he’s not much of a technology guy the must-have for him is batteries. He says they go through so many on Christmas Day.

Bartlett, of Sharon Springs, New York, says he thinks it’s completely ridiculous to shop on Thanksgiving.


10 a.m.

Debra Ude, a 61-year-old Kansas City teacher, visited a Toys R Us looking for a 20-inch girl’s bike with hand brakes. She started shopping at 7 a.m. and was heading into her third store by 9:30.

Shopping was much easier this year because she waited until the day after Thanksgiving to get started, Ude (you-dee) said. She acknowledges going out on Thanksgiving night a few times in the past when she was looking for TVs or similar big-ticket items, but she’s not a fan of the early start.

“It’s taken the tradition away from the holidays,” she said. “But money’s tight and a good deal is a good deal.”

Ude said she plans to spend about $500 on Christmas gifts this year, which is on par with past years.


10:40 a.m.

Michelle Smith, a balloon artist in Denver, emerged happy from a south Denver Wal-Mart early Friday. Her cart was loaded — a sewing machine for her mom, a small TV for the family. She’d gotten everything she wanted for the day.

“I tried to come here last night, Thanksgiving night, and it was too busy,” Smith said in the early morning cold. “So I came back at six today.”

Smith says she’s cutting down on spending this year, and wants gifts that last for her six kids.

“I told the adults in my family I wasn’t buying for them. I didn’t want to get involved in the great gift card exchange,” she said. “As for the kids, I’m looking for electronic games that will last. I try not to buy into the one-hit wonders of the year, the ones that they play with for one day and then drop.”

That includes this year’s hits such as Star Wars Lego sets.


10:15 a.m.

Dana Sari has finished all of her holiday shopping online. But she and her mother kept to their decades-old tradition of spending Black Friday together.

They arrived at the relatively quiet MacArthur Center mall in downtown Norfolk, Virginia, shortly after 8 a.m. where each bought a coffee and sat near a Nordstrom.

Sari, 43, a neuropsychologist who lives in Norfolk, says it’s not so much about the consumerism as it is the quality time with her mother during the holiday season.

Sari said she prefers buying gifts from online catalogues and boutique retailers rather than larger corporations, which she says value her less as a customer.


10:05 a.m.

Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren tells The Associated Press that store traffic has been encouraging. He says shopper numbers have been strong at its flagship store Friday morning.

Lundgren said clothing sales have been good, with sportswear, dresses and even social occasion fashions doing well. But he’s hoping for some cold weather to help fuel more sales of winter items.

Lundgren believes that the rising stock market will help shoppers’ mood. Jeff Gennette, president of Macy’s who will become CEO early next year, believes there was pent-up demand after the contentious presidential election was over. He says consumers can now focus on other things.


9:15 a.m.

Black Friday? Try Green Friday in Massachusetts.

Gov. Charlie Baker has declared the day Green Friday, and his administration is encouraging people across the state to buy their Christmas trees, holiday plants and wreaths at local farms.

Baker says Massachusetts’ nursery industry helps drive the economy. He says residents can make a difference by shopping for garland and other seasonal decorations at farms, farmers’ markets, roadside stands and nurseries instead of big box stores.

The state Department of Agriculture says the holidays create hundreds of seasonal jobs at the state’s nearly 400 Christmas tree farms.

It says the sector generates $1.4 million each year.

State officials also are urging people to have their used Christmas trees chipped so they can be burned as fuel or used as mulch or compost.


9 a.m.

In Rhode Island, one of only three states that ban Thanksgiving Day retail sales, Victoria Davis got her holiday shopping started shortly after midnight Friday. She went from one mall to another looking for sales, finding few to her liking.

She and other shoppers who arrived after sunrise at the Garden City outdoor shopping mall in Cranston, Rhode Island, said they were glad their state — along with Massachusetts and Maine — doesn’t let retailers open on Thanksgiving Day.

“I don’t like the idea of it,” said Lauren Glynn. “I feel bad for the people who have to work.”

She and her husband, who are restaurateurs, came to the Cranston mall for fun, to soak up the experience and maybe find a few deals, but they said they plan to do most of their gift shopping online and at locally owned shops where they live in Bristol, Rhode Island.


8:45 a.m.

The Swiss don’t do Thanksgiving, but some Swiss stores that have started offering American-style “Black Friday” discounts online have seen their sites freeze, slow down or crash under a surge in traffic.

The lure of the shopping-spree bandwagon caused snags at electronics and computer vendors in particular.

Microspot’s home page said its online shop was unavailable Friday due to “maintenance,” and a customer service representative said by phone the site was overloaded. Interdiscount’s site featured an “Access Denied” message.

Department store Manor, which started Black Friday deals last year, opted to look on the bright side.

“Victim of our success, we’ve run into lags on our site due to exceptionally high traffic,” spokeswoman Elle Steinbrecher said in an email.


8 a.m.

Leah Olson says she’s planning to stick to her annual Christmas shopping budget of $300 to $400. Her stop at the Mall of America Friday morning followed some Thanksgiving night shopping trips to Target and a local mall.

Olson, who is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, said she had done some online shopping but preferred making in-person stops, saying she felt better deals were to be had that way — free shipping for online purchases aside.

She said she always likes to walk and go to the mall.


7:30 a.m.

Brian Motzko is making his usual trip to the Mall of America in Minnesota early Friday while visiting relatives for Thanksgiving.

The Cedar Falls, Iowa resident says he’s doing all his Christmas shopping on Black Friday, buying gifts for himself, his wife and family “until my card blows up.” He says, “I’ve got two teenage girls. It’s whatever.”

Motzko says he scored 70 percent off cookware at Williams-Sonoma and was on the hunt for a Bluetooth speaker. He said the nation’s largest shopping center seemed less packed than in years past.


1:15 a.m.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which started its Black Friday sales in stores on Thursday at 6 p.m., says shoppers were embracing different types of tech products.

Steve Bratspies, who is chief merchandising officer at Wal-Mart’s U.S. division, says in addition to picking up Black Friday favorites like televisions and toys, shoppers were looking for drones, virtual reality products and hoverboards.

The company started its online sale at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and noted that more than 70 percent of traffic to during the Thursday event came from mobile devices.


12:01 a.m.

Stephanie Sullivan says she’s searching for deals this holiday season on items for her son’s upcoming wedding. She said she planned to hit the Columbia Mall in Missouri on Friday after some shopping the night before.

Sullivan, her two adult sons and future daughter-in-law had driven from Kirksville, Missouri to Columbia for the shopping on Thanksgiving. She and her entourage toted luggage and bulging bags as they headed to their truck, driven by one of her sons, waiting in front of Kohl’s.

The 49-year-old said she saved $580 and spent a little under $200 on a four-piece luggage set, sweaters, pillows, boots and other things. She said she was buying for herself, but did purchase one sweater as a gift.

Sullivan said the family was trying to stay busy after the death of her husband in October. “and not focus on what we lost.”


12:01 a.m.

Stores open their doors Friday for what is still one of the busiest days of the year, even as the start of the holiday season edges ever earlier.

Many stores are offering the same deals as in previous years, like $19.99 boots that remain a big attraction, cashmere sweaters, and sheets. For some shoppers, big discounts on electronics are the draw.

Stores like Macy’s, Walmart, Target and more were open Thursday evening in what they hope will be a new holiday tradition. Several shoppers were out looking for bargains on TVs. Other items that drew crowds were cellphones and Hatchimals — eggs with a small, animated animal inside that hatch when given attention.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, vies with the Saturday before Christmas as the biggest sales day.


AP reporters James Anderson in Denver, Greg Katz in London and Bill Draper in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.

BERLIN (AP) — A fire has broken out in a 600-year-old town hall in the Bavarian city of Straubing.

Videos posted online show flames shooting 50 feet into the air from the top of the historic building.

Police are urging residents to avoid the city center as firefighters battle the blaze. It wasn’t immediately clear whether anyone had been injured in the fire.

The fire erupted inside the gothic building Friday afternoon.

Firefighters are drenching the wooden stalls at a nearby Christmas market to prevent them catching fire due to flying sparks. The Christmas market was due to officially open Friday evening.

Straubing is located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Munich.

CHICAGO (AP) — Lissie Maurus takes the stage and the members of the standing-room crowd immediately begin to sway like old friends when they hear her raspy, bluesy voice.

“I could’ve been a hero, I could’ve been a zero,

“Could’ve been all these things.”

This concert in Chicago is a homecoming of sorts for the singer-songwriter, a native of Rock Island, Illinois. Many family members are in the audience, and she’s glad to see them after months on the road.

Still, though the energy that is high, the lyrics of many of her songs tell of loves lost and a career that hasn’t quite turned out the way she’d expected or hoped.

“I could’ve been nothing, I could’ve been something,

“Could’ve been all these things.”

Lissie, as she is known to her fans, was well on her way to making it a decade ago, when she was in her early 20s. She had a deal with Columbia Records UK and a first album that went gold in the United Kingdom and Norway. Tens of thousands of people bought that album. Critics raved. But after her second album didn’t sell as well, she found herself without that record deal and at a crossroads.

What kind of artist did she want to be? Was her pursuit of fame really worth it? What would it now mean to “make it”?

She opted for uncharted territory: She left Los Angeles, bought a farm in Iowa and set herself up as an independent artist. It can be a more viable model in this time when singers can reach potential fans more easily via music streaming services and online sales. But there certainly are no guarantees for her or anyone else who takes this route.

“Underneath the table,

“Hope for gold,

Where it stops, nobody knows.”


Even as a child, the sassy towhead with freckles had some pipes — and Lissie liked the notion that her talent could lead to fame.

In third grade, she landed the lead in the musical “Annie” at the dinner theater in her hometown. “My mom would say that my eyes would light up as soon as I got on the stage,” she says.

The daughter of an obstetrician and an interior designer, she had plenty of opportunity, but she was rebellious, cutting off her hair, piercing her nose and becoming more of a loner. After a run-in with a teacher that landed her in jail briefly, she finished high school in an alternative program.

But she never gave up on her music.

She spent a couple years in college in Colorado, then ended up at a performing arts program in LA. There, she honed her skills and material on Wednesday nights at a bar with a group of performers who dubbed themselves the Beachwood Rockers’ Society. And gigs started coming. It was at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, that a big break came when Mike Smith, then an executive with Columbia Records UK, happened upon Lissie.

Pouring rain had prompted him to duck for cover inside a dive bar and he heard her voice from a back room. Her talent was still raw then, he says. But he heard something her voice. He watched her stamp her foot to keep the beat, her tousled hair waving back and forth. He liked her rocker vibe and blues edge. “I was just really taken with her,” he now says.

Columbia signed her in 2006, and four years later, she finally released her first album, “Catching a Tiger.” It solidified her fan base in Europe and also in her native Midwest after Fat Possum Records released the album in this country.

But then Smith and another of Lissie’s champions left the label, before her second album came out — unfortunate timing, he now concedes. Already, the lyrics on her second album were hinting at disillusionment:

“I don’t want to be famous

“If I got to be shameless.

“If you don’t know what my name is,

“So what?”

The new regime dropped her. And Lissie, who was then living in Ojai, California, outside LA, let the news sink in. “I was a little bit afraid, and I felt like I’d failed a little bit,” she said.

Mostly, she says she felt relieved. Yes, she’d learned at the label, with its exposure and resources. But she also was frustrated by a process — demands to write more, delays in getting a finished record out, being told her songs weren’t good enough. That became “soul-destroying,” she says.

Her longtime manager, Peter Leak, who’s represented such artists as Dido and 10,000 Maniacs, said Lissie thought he would “freak out” when she decided to leave LA behind. “But actually, I thought it was a great idea,” he says, noting that going independent suited her somewhat rebellious nature.

In mid-2015, she took her savings and bought that farm in northeastern Iowa.


The farm, surrounded by fields of withered cornstalks, is slowly becoming home. Lissie has put her personal touches on the house, including funky wallpaper with birds in the kitchen. She’s also started a mural with a big red heart on one of the smaller buildings, and talks about turning the barn into a recording studio.

She rolls up for the interview in her pickup truck with her dog, Byron, in tow. Her companion at home, he stays with her parents when she’s away.

When she first arrived in Iowa last year, she had already written some new songs. So she called producer and bass player Curt Schneider, with whom she’d developed a good chemistry. Together, they wrote the title track on her latest album, “My Wild West.”

“I think she tried or a long time to be how the establishment wanted her to be,” Schneider says. “What’s not common is for someone to be brave enough to say, ‘I’m done trying to satisfy other people.'”

The album came out in February, with more good reviews. (Lissie also recently released a live acoustic album, recorded at Union Chapel in North London.)

Smith, the former Columbia exec, says Lissie’s new work is, in many ways, “melodically, the strongest record she’s put out.”

She’s been touring in the United States and Europe much of this year, and she acknowledges the traveling can be brutal. But because her overhead is low, most of what she makes in ticket and merchandise sales is hers. Financially, she says, this could be her best year yet.

A recent show in Minneapolis, for instance, was sold out at a venue that holds about 625 people. In this case, it was just Lissie, her acoustic guitar and a microphone — not unlike those early days.

Her work has been getting radio airplay there, and many members of the crowd sang along:

“Don’t you give up on me

“As I dive into the dark

“Slip into the endless sea.

“Don’t you give up on me.”

Back in Iowa, she walks down to the pond at her farm and stands on an old bench to survey what is now hers. She’d love to have a couple of bigger hits to sustain her career over the long run, she says. But fame is no longer the end game; her version of success is different and she says that’s fine.

Here, she envisions writing some of her best work. “It’s been freeing,” she says. “It’s been fun again.”



Lissie’s site:


Martha Irvine, an AP national writer and video journalist, can be reached at or at

BEIRUT (AP) — The last public beach on Beirut’s heavily developed seaside could soon be squeezed out by yet another luxury resort, raising fears that residents could find themselves living in a coastal city without much of a coast.

The fight for Ramlet al-Baida beach has emerged as a new flashpoint between civil society activists and the entrenched political establishment over land management and public services in Lebanon’s capital. It follows last year’s trash crisis, in which mountains of garbage piled up for months, and a conflict over a local park that until recently was only open one day a week.

Activists say the Eden Rock Resort development, greenlighted by the city’s governor in September, is the first step to transforming the city’s last public beach into yet another exclusive resort.

“If this is how Beirut is going to be, then tomorrow, we’re going to be sitting in a cage,” said Nazih al-Raess, the custodian of the beach’s public swimming zone. “The people who have money will be able to go out to smell the breeze and the people who don’t … will be buried at home.”

The project has rekindled debate in this intensely stratified city over who has the right to its shrinking green spaces and shores. Many of Beirut’s well-to-do have turned up their noses at Ramlet al-Baida — or pinched them, as the case may be — as municipal authorities have allowed sewage to pollute its once azure waters and white sands.

The new project would feature chalets on a terraced, green slope that opens onto a narrowed strip of the remaining beach, according to illustrations by the developer. A crescent-shaped marina would be anchored off the coast.

Older residents recall a time when they could slip into the sea from Karantina, Normandy, and Rouche, before the onset of the 1975 Civil War. Those outlets have long since been devoured by an expanded port, a marina, resorts and pricey restaurants.

“Where are we supposed to unwind?” said Samer Ballout, a stocky 35-year-old civil servant who was meditating on the beach. “I’ve been swimming and running here since I was young.”

Most beach clubs now charge at least $20 for day access. Some have been caught on camera turning away African or Asian visitors, while others openly bar low-income Lebanese patrons.

In May, a grassroots movement that campaigned on a platform of protecting the city’s public amenities surprised the political establishment by capturing 40 percent of the vote at the municipal polls.

Beirut Madinati — which translates to Beirut, My City — did not win any seats on the municipal council owing to the election’s winner-take-all formula, but they carried their momentum into meetings with officials. Shortly after the election, it and affiliated groups convinced Beirut Gov. Ziad Chebib to open the city’s only park, a pine tree reserve, on a daily basis. It was previously only open on Saturdays.

A similar public campaign compelled Chebib to order the Eden Rock Resort project be put on hold in June. He demanded an explanation for how restrictions on the property deeds prohibiting construction on some of the plots had been scrubbed. But in September, he allowed the project to go ahead.

Earlier this month, a local resident posted a video on Facebook of heavy equipment pouring concrete into a basin dug into the Ramlet al-Baida shore. Civic groups mobilized a small crowd to march to the site, where the demonstrators twice scuffled with hired help working for the developer, Achour Development.

The demonstrators included many of the standouts from last year’s You Stink campaign, which brought thousands of Lebanese into the streets to protest endemic corruption and the trash crisis. The crisis remains unresolved, with untreated garbage filling landfills on the edge of the city, occasionally sending a suffocating stench into some neighborhoods.

Achour Development declined to comment on the protests, saying only that it has the required permits. Chebib maintains that the plots marked for Eden Rock are privately owned and the developer has the right to build on them. He also declined a request for comment.

Lawyers are meanwhile building a case against the permit, citing a host of irregularities they say the governor overlooked.

“We have aerial photos showing this area used to be below the shore line, so it’s not possible for it to be private property,” said Wasef Harakeh, a lawyer and activist who helped organize the protests, citing a French Mandate-era law that protects the coast.

Ballout, the civil servant who has been enjoying the beach as long as he can remember, said he couldn’t support the project.

“I’m not opposing this for my own good, I’m opposing this for the good of my children. And the people without money, where are they going to go?” he said.