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BC-AP Top Stories Digest

December 18, 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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NEW/DEVELOPING

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OBIT-PENNY-MARSHALL — Penny Marshall, actress who starred on “Laverne and Shirley” before stepping behind the camera for hits like “A League of Their Own,” has died.

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ONLY ON AP

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LIFE EXPECTANCY-THE WAY DOWN — If you want to understand why U.S. life expectancy is declining, there’s one state that offers clues about what’s happening: West Virginia. Public health problems such as drug overdoses, suicides and obesity became widespread in the state before the rest of the country. There are some signs of hope, but health problems abound. By Medical Writer Mike Stobbe. SENT: 2,300 words, photos.

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TOP STORIES

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TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE — A federal judge abruptly postponed the sentencing hearing for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, after a stunning hearing in which the judge accused Flynn of selling out his country. The delay allows Flynn to continue cooperating with the special counsel’s Russia probe and get credit for it in his punishment. Flynn pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts, just days after Trump was inaugurated. By Eric Tucker and Chad Day. SENT: 550 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 4 p.m.

TRUMP-BORDER WALL — White House appears to inch away from forcing a partial government shutdown over funding for a southern border wall. By Lisa Moscaro, Jill Colvin and Matthew Daly. SENT: 1110, photos.

TRUMP FOUNDATION-INVESTIGATION — President Trump’s charitable foundation reached a deal to dissolve while Trump fights allegations he misused assets for business and political purposes. New York’s attorney general and Trump Foundation lawyers filed a joint stipulation in a court laying out a process for shutting down the charity and distributing its remaining assets to other nonprofit groups. SENT: 450 words, photos, developing.

YEMEN — A cease-fire has halted months of heavy fighting in Yemen’s port city of Hodeida, raising hopes that the latest U.N.-led peace efforts can end the civil war and alleviate the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. But the local truce remains fragile, and it’s unclear if the Saudi-backed government and the Iran-aligned Houthis can reach a wider peace agreement despite mounting international pressure to end the war. By Ahmed al-Haj and Samy Magdy. SENT: 750 words. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 4 p.m. EST.

APOLLO 8 at 50 — Fifty years ago on Christmas Eve, a tumultuous year of assassinations, riots and war drew to a close in heroic and hopeful fashion with the three astronauts aboard Apollo 8 reading from the Book of Genesis on live TV as their spacecraft orbited the moon. To this day, that 1968 mission is considered to be NASAs boldest and perhaps most dangerous undertaking. SENT: 1,200 words, photos, video.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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TRUMP-BUMP STOCKS — Trump administration moves to officially ban bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like automatic firearms, making them illegal to possess beginning in late March. SENT: 500, photo.

TRUMP-SCHOOL SAFETY — President Trump’s school safety commission called for a rollback of an Obama-era policy that was meant to curb racial disparities in school discipline but that critics say left schools afraid to take action against potentially dangerous students. By Collin Binkley. UPCOMING: 630 words, photo. Will be updated after 2:15 event.

TRUMP-SPACE COMMAND — President Trump signs an executive order soon creating a U.S. Space Command that will better organize and advance the military’s vast operations in space. SENT: 770 words, photos.

CONGRESS-SENTENCING BILL — Critics of a criminal justice bill in the Senate are making a final push to amend the legislation in a way that could kill its prospects. By Kevin Freking. SENT: 130 words, photo.

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INTERNATIONAL

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VATICAN-SEX ABUSE — The Vatican releases the first details of Pope Francis’ high-stakes sex abuse prevention summit in February, making clear that bishops who attend must reach out to victims before they even get to Rome and that accountability within their ranks is very much on the agenda. Organizers warn participants in a letter that failure to address the scandal now threatens the very credibility of the Catholic Church. By Nicole Winfield. SENT: 700 words. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 4:30 p.m.

BREXIT — Britain’s government ramped up preparations for the possibility that the country could leave the European Union in 101 days without a divorce deal — putting soldiers on standby and warning thousands of businesses and millions of households to get ready for the worst. With the country’s departure set for March 29, it remains unclear whether British lawmakers will approve the divorce agreement that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government has negotiated with the EU. SENT: 900 words, photos.

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NATIONAL

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EL CHAPO-PROSECUTION-SPECTATORS — There was a time, after a spectacular prison escape, when Joaquin Guzman was the most wanted man in the world. The thrill of being able to see the man known as El Chapo up close — and live to tell the tale — has been drawing curious New Yorkers, fans of TV crime shows and even tourists to the Brooklyn courtroom where the infamous Mexican drug trafficker is being tried on charges that could put him in a U.S. prison for life. SENT: 775 words, photo.

ELON MUSK-TUNNEL — Elon Musk plans to unveil a tunnel built under a Los Angeles suburb that the tech entrepreneur envisions as part a new transportation system. SENT: 500 words, photo. Developing from event set for 11:30 p.m.

TRAIN STRIKES OFFICERS — Two Chicago police officers may not have seen or heard the commuter train that fatally struck them because they were focused on another train coming from the opposite direction, a department spokesman said. Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said “very limited” video from a body camera one of the officers was wearing helped investigators piece together how the tragedy might have happened. SENT: 560 words, photos.

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HEALTH/SCIENCE

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SURGEON GENERAL-TEEN VAPING — The government’s top doctor is taking aim at the best-selling electronic cigarette brand in the U.S., urging swift action to prevent Juul and similar vaping brands from addicting millions of teenagers. In an advisory, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said parents, teachers, health professionals and government officials must take “aggressive steps” to keep children from using e-cigarettes. Federal law bars the sale of e-cigarettes to those under 18. SENT: 550 words, photos.

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BUSINESS/TECH

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SOCIAL MEDIA-COMBATING MISINFORMATION from NEW YORK: Social media companies are waging an expensive and increasingly complicated battle against Russian trolls that are using catchy memes, bots and fake accounts to sow discord and influence elections in the U.S. It is a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole with no end in sight. By Barbara Ortutay. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos, by 4 p.m.

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ENTERTAINMENT

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YE--POP CULTURE MOMENTS — And the pop culture moments of 2018 are ... wait, WAS there any pop culture this year? Yes, of course, but you could be forgiven for forgetting much of it, because more than ever it was politics, politics, and more politics that permeated the zeitgeist. By AP National Writer Jocelyn Noveck. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

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