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BC-AP News Digest 2:20 pm

December 21, 2018

Here are the AP’s latest coverage plans, top stories and promotable content. All times EST. For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org .

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ONLY ON AP

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UNITED STATES-SYRIA-TRUMP — President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria was made hastily, without consulting his national security team or allies, and over the strong objections of virtually everyone involved in the fight against the Islamic State group, according to U.S. and Turkish officials. By Matthew Lee and Susannah George. SENT: 960 words, photos.

AP POLL-TRUMP-RUSSIA — A majority of Americans say they believe President Donald Trump has tried to obstruct the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia, though the public is divided on whether he should be removed from office if he’s found to have stymied the probe, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. By Eric Tucker and Emily Swanson. SENT: 930 words, photo, graphic.

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TOP STORIES

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TRUMP-BORDER WALL — The government shutdown that President Donald Trump last week professed pride in causing is hours away, and he now asserts that Democrats are the reason hundreds of thousands of federal workers are facing holiday furloughs or work without pay. The fight is over billions of dollars he is demanding for his long-promised border wall with Mexico. By Lisa Mascaro, Matthew Daly and Zeke Miller. SENT: 680 words, photos. WITH: TRUMP-REPUBLICANS — President Donald Trump’s relationship with the Republican Party he now leads has always been more a marriage of convenience than a union of principles. Now after a whirlwind week in Washington, Trump and the GOP appear to be flirting with a trial separation. By Zeke Miller. UPCOMING: 750 words by 5 p.m.; AP EXPLAINS-SENATE-NUCLEAR OPTION — President Trump urges the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority, to go “nuclear” over funding for the border wall with Mexico. But what does that mean? SENT: 410 words, photo; GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWNS-LOOK BACK — Closed parks, furloughs and ‘Green Eggs and Ham’: A look at government shutdowns over the years. SENT: 750 words, photos.

SUPREME COURT-GINSBURG — The Supreme Court says Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had surgery to remove two malignant growths from her left lung. It’s the 85-year-old’s third bout with cancer since she joined the court in 1993. The court says doctors found “no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body” and that no additional treatment is planned currently. By Mark Sherman. SENT: 400 words, photo. UPCOMING: 750 words by 4 p.m.

AFGHANISTAN-US — The Taliban are welcoming the news of the U.S. plan to withdraw half its troops in Afghanistan by the summer. But Afghan generals are warning it would be a blow to the morale of the country’s security forces, who come under daily attacks from the insurgent fighters. The announcement is also expected to complicate peace talks, weakening the Kabul government and putting the Taliban in the driver’s seat. By Kathy Gannon. SENT: 900 words, photos.

ECONOMY-GDP — U.S. economy expands at a solid 3.4 percent annual rate in the third quarter, slightly slower than the previous estimate as consumer spending and exports are revised lower. The economy is expected to slow further in the current quarter. By AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 400 words. WITH: DURABLE GOODS — Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting goods rise at a modest pace in November, but the gain is driven entirely by demand for military aircraft. SENT: 400 words, photos.

BORDER-ASYLUM — The Trump administration’s decision to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases slowly wind through clogged U.S. courts caught many by surprise and was made without crucial details being worked out. That could create chaos along the border, including inviting a rush of illegal crossings before the changes get implemented. By Elliot Spagat. UPCOMING: 800 words with photos by 4 p.m. With YE--IMMIGRATION — Children torn from their parents, refugees turned away, tear gas fired on asylum-seekers, and a president who says he’s making good on promises to protect the nation’s borders. In a breathless 2018, they were just a handful of headlines on immigration, one of the year’s most dominant issues. By Matt Sedensky and Julie Watson. SENT: 1,980 words, photos.

ELECTION 2018-NORTH CAROLINA — A letter obtained by The Associated Press shows that North Carolina’s top elections official issued an urgent plea nearly two years ago for the Justice Department to file criminal charges against those now at the center of 2018 ballot fraud allegations. By Michael Biesecker and Gary D. Robertson. SENT: 710 words, photos.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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OBIT-AUDREY GEISEL — Audrey Geisel, widow of children’s author Dr. Seuss, has died at age 97. SENT: 270 words, photos.

INDONESIA-ALBINO ORANGUTAN — The world’s only known albino orangutan climbed trees, foraged for food and began building a nest after being released into a remote Borneo jungle more than a year after conservation officials found her starving and dehydrated in an Indonesian village. SENT: 470 words, photos.

MEXICO-KATE DEL CASTILLO — Actress Kate del Castillo says she is suing former Mexican officials for $60 million in “moral and material damages” because of what she calls “political persecution” against her. SENT: 300 words.

TOYS FOR TOTS-TOYS R US — When Toys R Us closed, Toys for Tots felt the loss. The toy giant’s decision to shutter its stores this year left some huge holes for the annual charity drive to fill. Toys R Us shoppers donated more than 250,000 toys last year and the company gave $5 million in corporate contributions — 40 percent of all corporate giving to the Marine Corps community effort. SENT: 770 words, photos.

UTAH MAYOR DEAD-AFGHANISTAN — The family of a Utah mayor killed while serving in the National Guard in Afghanistan will have one less financial worry this holiday season after a charity pays off their mortgage. SENT: 130 words, photos.

MUSIC-BARACK OBAMA — Barack Obama appears on a reworked song by Lin-Manuel Miranda originally from the Broadway hit “Hamilton.” SENT: 140 words, photo.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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MATTIS — The extraordinary resignation letter that Pentagon chief Jim Mattis handed to a surprised President Donald Trump was not just the product of two years of accumulating frustration with an impulsive boss but an outline of the strategic hazards facing the next defense secretary. By National Security Writer Robert Burns. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 4 p.m.

TRUMP-ANALYSIS — The resignation of defense chief James Mattis marks end of ‘contain and control’ phase of Trump’s administration, when generals, business leaders and establishment Republicans struggled to guide Trump, curb his most disruptive impulses. A News Analysis by Julie Pace and Zeke Miller. SENT: 840 words, photos.

MEDICARE LOBBYING — A group gaining influence in Washington as a champion for Medicare beneficiaries is bankrolled by major health insurance companies that are trying to cash in on private coverage offered through the federal health insurance program. SENT: 920 words.

ELECTION 2020-WOMEN — A year defined by the political power of women is ending with men enjoying much of the attention, especially the Democrats’ potential presidential field for 2020. But that focus might seem to miss the message of the midterm elections, in which a record number of women were elected to public office across the country. By Elana Schor, Juana Summers and Holly Ramer. SENT: 1,040 words, photos.

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INTERNATIONAL

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VATICAN-SEX ABUSE — Pope Francis demands that priests who have raped and molested children turn themselves in and vows that the Catholic Church will “never again” cover up clergy sex abuse. SENT: 980 words, photos.

BRITAIN-GATWICK AIRPORT-DRONES — Flights resume, are suspended again, then resume again at London’s Gatwick Airport. Drones spotted over the airfield have sparked two days of travel chaos, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded or delayed during the busy holiday season. SENT: 500 words, photos.

PERSIAN GULF-US CARRIER — A U.S. aircraft carrier sails into the Persian Gulf, becoming the first since America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and breaking the longest carrier absence in the volatile region since at least the Sept. 11 terror attacks. SENT: 910 words, photos.

GERMANY-COAL — Germany closes the last of its black coal mines, ending an industry that fueled the country’s industrial revolution and its post-war economic recovery. SENT: 610 words, photos.

YEMEN — Yemen’s internationally recognized government says Shiite rebels violate a U.N.-brokered cease-fire in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida with a barrage of artillery and rockets. SENT: 130 words. WITH: UNITED NATIONS-YEMEN — UN Security Council calls a vote a resolution to authorize the deployment of UN monitors to observe the implementation of a cease-fire in Yemen’s key port of Hodeida and the withdrawal of rival forces from that area. SENT: 750 words, photos.

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NATIONAL

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CLERGY ABUSE-CHICAGO CARDINAL — The Catholic archbishop of Chicago, who was hand-picked by the pope to help organize an upcoming Vatican summit on clergy sex abuse, will have a leading role in the church’s effort to seek reforms. SENT: 750 words, photos, video.

DOCTOR-SEXUAL ASSAULT — An independent special counsel accuses Michigan State University of stonewalling his investigation into the school’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal involving disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar. SENT: 260 words.

HIDDEN GULF SPILL — The company that has failed to end a 14-year-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is suing to challenge a Coast Guard official’s order to design and install a new containment system to capture and remove the crude before it reaches the surface. SENT: 750 words, photo.

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BUSINESS/TECHNOLOGY

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NO CELL HOTELS — Can you take a vacation from your cell phone? A growing number of hotels will help you find out. Some resorts are offering perks, like snorkeling tours and s’mores, to guests who manage to give up their phones for a few hours. Some have phone-free hours at their pools; others are banning distracting devices from public places altogether. By Business Writer Dee-Ann Durbin. SENT: 840 words, photos.

BLOWOUT-WORKER HAZARDS — On-the-job risks for oil and gas workers grow as production pressures intensify during boom times. SENT: 4,160 words. This story was produced in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity. With BLOWOUT-US NATURAL GAS SALES — When it comes to natural gas, US ‘open for business.’ SENT: 1,980 words, photo.

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HEALTH/SCIENCE

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SCIENCE SAYS-LOPSIDED PLANET — Scientists now think they know how Uranus got to be an oddball planet that spins on its side: It was pushed over by a rock at least twice as big as Earth. By AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein. SENT: 600 words, photo.

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ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT

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YE-ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR — The Associated Press names its entertainer of the year winner. Some candidates include Donald Glover, Ariana Grande, Bradley Cooper and Netflix. By Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m., photos.

FILM-VICE-CHRISTIAN BALE-AMY ADAMS — Christian Bale and Amy Adams do the impossible and become the enigmatic Dick and Lynne Cheney for Adam McKay’s “Vice,” which opens in theaters nationwide on Christmas day. The charged polemic follows the Cheneys from their inauspicious origins to Washington D.C., where Dick Cheney would become one of the most powerful and influential figures in the country. “Vice” is generating awards season buzz and is the leading nominee at the Golden Globe Awards. The film opens Christmas Day. By Film Writer Lindsey Bahr. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.

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SPORTS

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YE--PLAYS OF THE YEAR — Andrew Benintendi’s diving catch to put Boston in command of the ALCS. Tua Tagovailoa’s pass in overtime to give Alabama the national title. Arike Ogunbowale coming up big in the Final Four — twice! — to lead Notre Dame to the NCAA women’s crown. Those spectacular moments are among AP’s plays of the year. AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

OLY--GYM’S PARKOUR GRAB — Gymnastics is fighting a custody battle for parkour, the funky street sport that has spread globally from the suburbs of Paris. The gymnastics federation has declared parkour to be its newest discipline and intends to lobby for its inclusion in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. This despite howls of complaint from parkour groups and a #WeAreNOTGymnastics protest movement by parkour lovers on social media. By Sports Columnist John Leicester. SENT: 1,040 words, photos.

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HOW TO REACH US

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At the Nerve Center, Rob Jagodzinski and Richard Somma can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, ext. 1900. For graphics and interactives, ext. 7636. Expanded AP content can be obtained from http://newsroom.ap.org. For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact apcustomersupport@ap.org or call 877-836-9477.

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