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BC-AP News Digest 5:30 am

March 31, 2019

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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TOP STORIES

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ELECTION 2020-BIDEN _ Former Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday he doesn’t believe he ever acted inappropriately toward women but will “listen respectfully” to suggestions he did. Biden, who is deciding whether to join the 2020 presidential race, released a new statement in response to allegations from a Nevada politician that he kissed her on the back of the head in 2014 and made her uncomfortable. By Julie Pace. SENT: 500 words, photos. UPCOMING: 900 words by 5 p.m.

AFGHANISTAN-SYRIAN VETERANS _ Afghan soldiers-for-hire, paid and trained by Iran to fight alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops, are returning to their homeland, where they are met with suspicion and possible prosecution as traitors and enemies of the state. As Afghanistan struggles to build a fragile peace, the induction of another armed group backed by intrusive neighbor Iran has Afghans worried. By Kathy Gannon. SENT: 1,700 words, photos. An abridged version of 980 words has also moved. This story is this week’s Monday Spotlight.

TRUMP-HEALTH CARE LAWSUITS _ After losing in Congress, President Donald Trump is counting on the courts to kill off “Obamacare.” But some cases are going against him, and time is not on his side as he tries to score a big win for his re-election campaign. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

AP ESSAY-THE POLITICS OF CERTAINTY _ In the course of a single week, there has been all of this: “I have been truthful and consistent on every level since day one,” actor Jussie Smollett told the world after prosecutors dropped 16 felony counts that accused him of making a false police report about being the target of a racist, anti-gay attack. By Ted Anthony. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

NO APRIL FOOLS-HUMORLESS ROBOTS _ A robot walks into a bar. It goes CLANG. Alexa and Siri can tell jokes mined from a humor database, but they don’t get them. By Seth Borenstein. SENT: 900 words, photos.

CANCER IMMUNOTHERAPY _ A treatment that helps the immune system fight deadly blood cancers is showing early signs of promise against some solid tumors, giving hope that this approach might be extended to more common cancers in the future. The treatment, called CAR-T therapy, involves genetically modifying some of a patient’s own cells to help them recognize and attack cancer. By Marilynn Marchione. SENT: 900 words, photos.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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FILM-BOX OFFICE _ Disney’s “Dumbo” isn’t exactly taking flight at the North American box office the way its other live-action remakes of animated classics have. SENT: 700 words, photos.

MEDIA-FOX-PIRRO _ Fox News host Jeanine Pirro is back on the air after a two-week absence following her comments questioning a Muslim congresswoman’s loyalties. SENT: 130 words, photos.

AUSCHWITZ TRAIN CAR _ On a Sunday morning, a crane lowered a rusty remnant of the Holocaust onto tracks outside Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage — a vintage German train car like those used to transport men, women and children to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps. SENT: 400 words, photos.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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ELECTION 2020-DEMOCRATS-MONEY _ The fiercest battle for campaign cash is playing out between the presidential candidates who might not be on your radar. Ahead of Sunday’s fundraising deadline for the first quarter, the underdogs of the Democratic primary were in a mad dash to coax as little as $2 from grassroots donors. It’s all part of their bid to clear a new threshold from the Democratic National Committee to earn one of 20 highly coveted spots in presidential debates that begin in June. By Bill Barrow, Hunter Woodall and Sara Burnett. SENT: 900 words, photos.

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NATIONAL

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STATE BUDGET-NY _ Drivers traveling into the busiest sections of Manhattan will be charged a toll starting in 2021 and single-use plastic bags will be banned across New York state in less than a year under a $175.5 billion state budget agreement announced early Sunday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders. SENT: 900 words, photos.

ALABAMA BICENTENNIAL _ In 1961, Alabama marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War with white women dressed in hoop skirts parading through a coliseum and a re-enactment of the inauguration of the Confederate president at the state Capitol. The state’s 2019 bicentennial celebration is very different, with a frank discussion of the horrors of slavery sharing space on a schedule with a Civil War re-enactment promoted by a Confederate heritage group and scores of other events, many focused on civil rights. SENT: 800 words, photo.

MISSING STUDENT-DEATH _ The man accused of killing a woman who got into his car thinking it was her Uber ride had turned on the child locks in his backseat so the doors could only be opened from the outside, police in South Carolina say. SENT: 500 words, photos.

BAIT CRISIS _ The boom times for the U.S. lobster industry are imperiled this year because of a shortage of a little fish that has been luring the crustaceans into traps for hundreds of years. SENT: 700 words, photo.

POLICE SHOOTING-MINNEAPOLIS _ A Minneapolis police officer is set to stand trial for the fatal shooting of an unarmed Australian woman who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault happening in the alley behind her home. SENT: 700 words, photos.

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INTERNATIONAL

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GERMANY-PLANE CRASH _ German police say a pilot and two passengers are believed to have died in the crash of a small airplane near Frankfurt and two more people died in a collision with a police vehicle responding to the scene. SENT: 200 words, photos. Developing.

BREXIT-POWER VACUUM _ Britain’s Parliament is deadlocked over plans to leave the European Union. The country’s ruling Conservative Party is fractured by an undeclared leadership contest. Opposition parties are baying for an early general election. A power vacuum has paralyzed the heart of Britain’s government, dismaying both the European Union and the British public. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

UKRAINE-ELECTION _ A comedian with no political experience was the top vote-getter in Ukraine’s presidential election on Sunday, an exit poll predicted, but said he fell well short of the absolute majority needed to win outright in the first round. The poll said incumbent President Petro Poroshenko was in a distant second place, closely followed by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Results are expected Monday morning. SENT: 900 words, photos.

ARAB LEAGUE-SUMMIT _ The Arab League rejected the U.S. recognition of Israeli control over the Golan Heights and other Trump administration policies seen as unfairly biased toward Israel at an annual summit on Sunday, showcasing unity on one of the few issues that unites the regional bloc. SENT: 700 words, photos.

MOROCCO POPE _ Pope Francis sought Sunday to encourage greater fraternity between Christians and Muslims in Morocco, telling his flock that showing the country’s Muslim majority they are part of the same human family will help stamp out extremism. SENT: 900 words, photos.

MOZAMBIQUE-CYCLONE _ As Mozambique battles to control a fast-spreading cholera outbreak in the cyclone-hit central city of Beira, international assistance is arriving. The number of cholera cases jumped to 271 over the weekend although no deaths from the disease had been reported. SENT: 500 words, photos.

TURKEY-LOCAL ELECTIONS _ President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party is leading in Sunday’s municipal elections that he has depicted as a fight for Turkey’s survival, but may lose control of the capital in the vote that is seen as a test of his support amid a sharp economic downturn. SENT: 800 words, photos. With TURKEY-LOCAL ELECTIONS-THE LATEST.

JAPAN-END OF AN ERA _ What’s in a name? Quite a lot if you’re a Japanese citizen awaiting the official announcement Monday of what the soon-to-be-installed new emperor’s next era will be called. By Foster Klug. SENT: 800 words, photos.

ITALY-BERLUSCONI _ Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said he is running for the European Parliament in May’s election because he wants to fight for a more united European Union faithful to the vision of the bloc’s founders. SENT: 400 words, photos.

NKOREA-SPAIN-EMBASSY ATTACK _ North Korea says it wants an investigation into an attack on its embassy in Spain last month, calling it a “grave terrorist attack” and an act of extortion that violates international law. SENT: 300 words, photos.

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SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY

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ENTERTAINMENT

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TV-TRE MAISON DASAN _ Filmmaker Denali Tiller started capturing footage of a former inmate’s life four years ago. On Monday, Tiller’s project, “Tre Maison Dasan,” is scheduled to air on most PBS stations as part of the series “Independent Lens.” SENT: 800 words, photos.

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SPORTS

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BKC--NCAA-MICHIGAN ST-DUKE _ Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and No. 1 overall seed Duke try to get to the Final Four by beating coach Tom Izzo’s Michigan State in the East Region final Sunday. By Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 5:05 p.m.

BKC--NCAA-AUBURN-KENTUCKY _ Auburn looks to topple SEC nemesis Kentucky as the Tigers take on the second-seeded Wildcats for spot in the Final Four. By Dave Skretta. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 2:20 p.m.

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HOW TO REACH US

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At the Nerve Center, Rob Jagodzinski 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(at)ap.org or call 877-836-9477.