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BC-AP Top Stories Digest

March 2, 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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TRUMP — President Donald Trump confidently tells an audience of conservatives that he will win re-election in 2020 and by a bigger margin than his 2016 victory. He mocks Democrats for their framework to combat climate change and says House lawmakers pushing to expand their investigations of him are “sick.” By Kevin Freking. SENT: 480 words, photos. UPCOMING: 650 words by 3 p.m.

ELECTION 2020-NEW PHASE — Here come the governors. The Democratic race for president is expanding expanded beyond Capitol Hill and the diverse group of senators who have grabbed the attention in the early going. One state leader has joined the crowded field and more are expected to follow soon. By Bill Barrow. SENT: 1,060 words, photos.

SANCTUARY CITIES-GRANTS — About 18 months after the Trump administration threatened to withhold law enforcement grants from nearly 30 places around the country it felt weren’t doing enough to work with federal immigration agents, all but one have received or been cleared to get the money, the Justice Department said. By Wilson Ring. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

HURRICANE MICHAEL-EVERYDAY STRUGGLES — Paulina “Bela” Sebastiao would give almost anything to be able to do a load of laundry without having to drive miles from her Mexico Beach home. Anthony Campbell would appreciate having a gas station closer than an hour away from his house in Parker. And Patrick Muth just hopes it doesn’t rain when it’s time to go to work: His “office” in Panama City consists of a desk surrounded by rubble under an open sky. Life is still a struggle in the county hardest hit by Hurricane Michael, which carved a wide swath of destruction through the Florida Panhandle when it roared ashore on Oct. 10 with winds of 155 mph (250 kph). By Mike Schneider. SENT: 900 words, photos.

SPACEX-CREW CAPSULE — America’s newest capsule for astronauts rocketed toward the International Space Station on a high-stakes test flight by SpaceX. The only passenger was a life-size test dummy, named Ripley after the lead character in the “Alien” movies. SpaceX needs to nail the debut of its crew Dragon capsule before putting people on board later this year. This latest, flashiest Dragon is on a fast track to reach the space station Sunday morning, just 27 hours after liftoff. By Aerospace Writer Marcia Dunn. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, video.

SPORTS BETTING-ON THE SIDELINES — By year’s end, it’s possible that roughly 20 states will have taken advantage of a recent Supreme Court ruling and legalized sports betting. The nation’s three most populous states are not likely to be among them. California, Florida and Texas, with more than a quarter of the total U.S. population, are attractive markets for nearly any industry. That includes sports betting, given that these states are home to one-fourth of the franchises in the four major professional sports leagues. By Geoff Mulvihill. SENT: 900 words, photos. Eds: This story has moved as the Sunday Spotlight.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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ELECTION 2020-BERNIE SANDERS — A second-time White House candidate but no longer the outlier, Bernie Sanders kicks off his campaign with an unsparing indictment of Donald Trump as “the most dangerous president in modern American history.” The Vermont senator says his working-class background makes him able to understand the plight of struggling Americans in a way that the wealthy Trump cannot. By Juana Summers. SENT: 550 words, photos. UPCOMING: 800 words by 4 p.m.

REDISTRICTING-OHIO — Voting rights groups that charge that Ohio’s congressional map was unfairly manipulated by state Republicans will have their say in federal court. The trial for a lawsuit filed last year against state officials is scheduled to open Monday in Cincinnati, with a panel of three U.S. district judges presiding. The suit challenges the district maps that are in effect through 2020, alleging “an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander” that violates voters’ rights to democratically select their representatives. SENT: 450 words, photo.

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NATIONAL

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CHURCHES IN CRISIS — It has been a wrenching season for three of America’s largest religious denominations, as sex-abuse scandals and a schism over LGBT inclusion fuel anguish and anger within the Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist and United Methodist churches. There’s rising concern that the crises will boost the ranks of young people disillusioned by organized religion. By National Writer David Crary. SENT: 1,175 words, photos.

TEACHER STRIKES-AFFORDABLE HOUSING — Oakland, California, teachers who went on strike for a week won an 11 percent pay raise with the argument that their salaries weren’t nearly keeping up with the soaring cost of living in a region flush with technology industry money. Educators’ struggles to afford housing have been at the heart of union strife in other high-priced cities including Seattle and Los Angeles. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

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INTERNATIONAL

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INDIA-PAKISTAN — Indian and Pakistani soldiers have again targeted each other’s posts and villages along their volatile frontier in disputed Kashmir, killing at least six civilians and two Pakistani troops, officials said. But in a sign that tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals could soon ease, a Pakistani Cabinet minister said a key train service between Pakistan and neighboring India would resume on Monday. SENT: 965 words, photos.

VIETNAM-KIM JONG UN — Smiling and holding up his clasped hands in a victorious pose, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday boarded his private train at the Vietnam-China border for a 60-plus-hour ride home, ending a trip to Vietnam that saw a summit breakdown with President Trump. SENT: 930 words, photos.

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SPORTS

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BBN--PHILLIES-HARPER — The Philadelphia Phillies announced Bryce Harper’s 13-year contract, the largest deal in baseball history at $330 million. Philadelphia scheduled a news conference for Saturday to introduce Harper. He will wear No. 3 rather than the No. 34 he used with the Washington Nationals, where he spent his previous major league seasons. SENT: 300 words, developing.