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BC-AP Top Stories Digest

May 21, 2019

Here are the AP’s latest coverage plans, top stories and promotable content. All times EDT. 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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REMOVING REACTORS — Federal regulators are reviewing plans to sell retiring nuclear reactors to a nuclear waste management company for accelerated decommissioning. Holtec International says it can complete decommissioning in a matter of years, rather than decades. But questions have been raised about whether the company has the experience and financial means. The plants include Pilgrim, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, which is scheduled to close next week after 47 years. By Bob Salsberg. SENT: 1,290 words, photos, video.

WASHINGTON-THREE STRIKES — Dozens of inmates are set to stay in Washington state prisons for life because they were left out of the latest reform targeting “three strikes” laws. Washington lawmakers this year removed second-degree robbery from the state’s list of three-strike crimes. But an amendment pushed by a prosecutors’ group made it non-retroactive. About 62 inmates with “strikes” for the crime will be left serving life sentences even after judges stop “striking out” offenders for it. By Tom James. SENT: 1,190 words, photo.

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TOP STORIES

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CONGRESS-RUSSIA PROBE — President Donald Trump’s open defiance of Congress — by blocking former White House Counsel Don McGahn from testifying before the Judiciary Committee — is sparking unrest among some Democrats who say it’s time to start impeachment proceedings. A growing number of rank-and-file House Democrats, incensed by McGahn’s empty chair in the hearing room, have confronted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pushing leadership to act. Pelosi, who is slow-walking impeachment in favor of a more methodical approach, has scheduled an emergency meeting Wednesday. By Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

CONGRESS-IRAN — As questions mount over President Donald Trump’s tough talk on Iran, top national security officials were on Capitol Hill Tuesday to brief Congress. But skeptical Democrats sought out a second opinion, holding their own briefing with former Obama administration officials. The competing closed-door sessions, unusual and potentially polarizing, come after weeks of escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf that have raised alarms over a possible military confrontation with Iran. By Lisa Mascaro, Robert Burns and Susannah George. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, developing.

ABORTION-CLINICS — Abortion clinics are facing protesters emboldened by a flurry of restrictive new state laws as they reassure confused patients that the laws have yet to take effect, abortion providers said. “We have actually had many people calling and say, ‘Are you open. Are you still seeing patients? Is abortion now illegal? Will something happen to me if I come for care?’” said Dr. Willie Parker, one of two doctors providing abortions at the Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville recently. By Kim Chandler and Sudhin Thanawala. SENT: 800 words, photos.

PRISONS-BOOK BAN — Arizona has banned prisoners from reading a book that discusses the impact of the criminal justice system on black men, drawing outcry from First Amendment advocates who say the move is censorship. The American Civil Liberties Union called on the Arizona Department of Corrections this week to rescind the ban on “Chokehold: Policing Black Men.” The book by Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor, examines law enforcement and mass incarceration through its treatment of African American men. SENT: 850 words, photo.

MEXICO-DECOY PHONES — Armed robberies have gotten so common aboard buses in Mexico City that commuters have come up with a clever if disheartening solution: Many are buying fake cellphones, to hand over to thieves instead of their real smartphones. Costing 300 to 500 pesos apiece — the equivalent of $15 to $25 — the “dummies” are sophisticated fakes: They have a startup screen and bodies that are dead ringers for the originals, and inside there is a piece of metal to give the phone the heft of the real article. By Mark Stevenson. SENT: 900 words, photos.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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EPA-CHILDREN’S HEALTH — Two decades of children’s research projects credited with pivotal discoveries about the harm that pesticides, air pollution and other contaminants do to children are in jeopardy or shutting down amid Trump administration efforts to yank their funding, researchers say. By Ellen Knickmeyer. UPCOMING: 800 words by 3 p.m.

IMMIGRATION-CZAR — Ken Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia, will join the Trump administration, taking a post at the Department of Homeland Security, focusing on immigration. By Jill Colvin. SENT: 135.

MEDICARE FOR ALL — The “Medicare for All” plan embraced by leading 2020 Democrats appears more lavish than what other advanced countries offer, compounding the cost but also potentially broadening its popular appeal. SENT: 800 words, photos.

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NATIONAL

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HOUSE SPEAKER-TENNESSEE — Tennessee’s embattled House Speaker Glen Casada announced he plans to resign following a vote of no confidence by his Republican caucus amid a scandal over explicit text messages. The move is unprecedented in Tennessee’s modern political era. The last Senate speaker resignation came in 1931. And in 1893, a House speaker declined to resign and his office was declared vacant, according to legislative librarian Eddie Weeks. SENT: 775 words, photos.

SEVERE WEATHER — A tornado touched down near Tulsa International Airport, injuring at least one person and damaging about a dozen homes, amid storms in the Southern Plains that brought a deluge of rain and powerful winds, closing an interstate and flipping campers at a raceway. Storms could bring more tornadoes and flash flooding to parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma on Tuesday. SENT: 450 words, photos.

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INTERNATIONAL

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SYRIA-QUELLING DISSENT — Thousands of documents purportedly collected from abandoned Syrian government offices during the country’s civil war reveal the reach of President Bashar Assad’s shadowy, labyrinthine security agencies as they spied on the population at large, sought to eliminate dissidents at all cost and systematically persecuted the Kurdish minority even before the onset of protests. By Sarah El Deeb. SENT: 975 words, photos.

EUROPEAN ELECTIONS-BREXIT — No one in Britain is more enthusiastic about this week’s European Union elections than people who hate the EU. Hard-core Brexit supporters have become increasingly eager to cast ballots for Nigel Farage’s newly formed Brexit Party, whose sole policy is to leave the EU as soon as possible. They’re attending rallies in their thousands to chant “Ni-gel! Ni-gel!” and denounce what they call the betrayal of their referendum vote to leave the bloc. Three years after that decision, political gridlock in Parliament means the U.K. is still not out the exit door. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

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HEALTH & SCIENCE

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KIDS AND CHOLESTEROL —Cholesterol levels in children and teens improved in the latest analysis of U.S. health surveys, yet only half of them had readings considered ideal. Overall, 7% of kids had high cholesterol in surveys from 2009 to 2016. That was down from 10% a decade earlier. In children, high levels mean 200 or above and ideal measures are below 170. By Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner. SENT: 350 words, photo.

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BUSINESS/TECH

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US-CHINA TRADE-HUAWEI — The United States is delaying some restrictions on U.S. technology sales to Chinese tech powerhouse Huawei in what it calls an effort to ease the blow on Huawei smartphone owners and smaller U.S. telecoms providers that rely on its networking equipment. The Trump administration insists the sanctions are unrelated to its escalating trade war with China, and many analysts see it as aimed at pressuring U.S. allies in Europe to accede to Washington’s entreaties to exclude Huawei equipment from their next-generation wireless networks, known as 5G. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

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SPORTS

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BKN--BUCKS-RAPTORS — The Raptors try to even the Eastern Conference finals in Game 4 against the Bucks. Toronto will again lean heavily on star Kawhi Leonard, who has played well despite a sore leg. By Ian Harrison. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts at 8:30 p.m.

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ENTERTAINMENT

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BRITAIN-JAMIE OLIVER RESTAURANTS — Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s British restaurant chain filed for bankruptcy protection, partly due to increased competition and escalating rents in local commercial districts. The insolvency will leave 1,000 people out of work and reignited worries about local retail and food outlets in Britain, which are struggling to attract customers much like downtowns in the United States. SENT: 500 words, photo.

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