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BC-AP Top Stories Digest

February 6, 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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VIRGINIA POLITICS-BLACKFACE — Virginia sank deeper into political turmoil when another top Democrat — Attorney General Mark Herring — admitted putting on blackface in the 1980s, when he was a college student. With Gov. Ralph Northam’s career in extreme peril over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, Herring issued a statement saying he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a rapper during a party as a 19-year-old at the University of Virginia. By Alan Suderman. SENT: 650 words, photos, developing.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS-OVERSIGHT — Democrats unbowed by President Donald Trump’s denouncement of “ridiculous partisan investigations” are charging ahead with their agenda and plans to investigate Trump’s tax returns, businesses and ties to Russia. By Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick. SENT: 880 words. UPCOMING: 1000 words by 5 p.m., photos, video.

TRUMP-ABORTIONS — President Trump’s animated denunciations of late-term abortions are being made with an eye toward re-energizing evangelicals, a key part of his political base. Trump, an unlikely champion of pro-life causes, has seized on the issue and had to be talked down from using the State of the Union’s bully pulpit from going even harder after abortion comments made by Virginia’s embattled governor. By Jonathan Lemire and Nicholas Riccardi. UPCOMING: 800 words by 5 p.m., photos.

STATE OF UNION-TRUMP 2020 — At a pivotal moment in his presidency, President Trump used the State of the Union to preview the type of rhetoric that he thinks will seal his re-election in 2020. By Steve Peoples. UPCOMNG: 800 words by 5 p.m., photos.

ARMY-GETTING FIT — The Army is developing a new, more grueling and complex fitness exam that adds dead lifts, power throws and other exercises designed to make soldiers more fit and ready for combat. The Army hopes the new test will help screen out recruits who are less physically fit and mentally disciplined, making it more likely they will stay in the service. UPCOMNG: 1100 words by 3 p.m., photos, video.

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN-WORKERS — Nearly two weeks after the end of the longest government shutdown in U.S history, many federal workers are still reeling financially and waiting to be made whole by government agencies that have struggled with payroll glitches and delays in ensuring everyone is paid. Many have not received back pay while scrambling to catch up on unpaid bills and pay back unemployment benefits. By Michelle R. Smith. UPCOMING: 1,100 words, photos by 4:30 p.m.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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TRUMP-BORDER SECURITY — Congressional negotiators say federal officials have told them they need a mix of technology, personnel and barriers to secure the southern boundary and lawmakers flash mixed signals about whether they’ve moved any closer to a border security agreement. SENT: 570 words. UPCOMING: 790 words by 4 p.m., photos.

TRUMP-INFRASTRUCTURE — President Trump pronounced himself eager to work with Congress on a plan to rebuild America’s crumbling roads and bridges in his State of the Union address but offered no clue to what he’ll support. Legislators from both parties are expressing interest in doing a deal on infrastructure, but the key will be whether Trump is willing to support higher taxes to pay for it. UPCOMING: 750 words by 5 p.m., photos.

ELECTION 2020-ELIZABETH WARREN — Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is struggling to move past questions about her claims to Native American heritage, which could complicate her presidential campaign. UPCOMING: 800 words by 5 p.m., photos.

UNITED STATES-ISLAMIC STATE — America will not cede leadership of the fight against the Islamic State group, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday, as he tried to allay fears that President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw forces from Syria could imperil gains against the militants there and neighboring Iraq. By Matthew Lee. SENT: 670 words. UPCOMING: Updates expected from Trump’s 3 p.m. remarks, 790 words by 5 p.m., photos.

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NATIONAL

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MEXICO-MIGRANT CARAVAN — A caravan of 1,600 Central American migrants is surrounded by Mexican authorities in an old factory a short distance from Texas, where they hope to seek asylum but appear to have a faint chance. The migrants arrived on buses in Piedras Negras, Mexico, across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Texas. The caravan is the first in recent months to head toward Texas instead of California. SENT: 550 words, photos.

TEXTING SUICIDE — The involuntary manslaughter conviction of a young woman who encouraged her boyfriend through dozens of text messages to kill himself was upheld by Massachusetts’ highest court. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with a lower court judge who found that Michelle Carter caused Conrad Roy III’s death when she told him to “get back in” his truck that was filling with toxic gas after he told her he was scared. The judge said Carter had a duty to call the police or Roy’s family when she knew he was killing himself. SENT: 695 words, photo.

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INTERNATIONAL

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VENEZUELA-HUMANITARIAN AID — For 32-year-old Anahis Alvarado, whose battle with kidney failure has become more desperate as Venezuela sinks deeper into crisis, the prospect of bringing in emergency medical and food supplies couldn’t come soon enough. But many aid experts worry the Trump administration and Venezuela’s opposition are repeating President Nicolas Maduro’s mistake of playing politics with humanitarian aid, creating false expectations as supplies arrive at the Colombian border to pressure the military to abandon its support for the embattled socialist. By Christine Armario and Joshua Goodman. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos by 4:30 p.m.

VATICAN-NUN ABUSE — The Vatican clarified comments by Pope Francis about a case of what he called “sexual slavery” within a French congregation of nuns, saying he was referring to an abuse of power that was reflected in instances of sexual abuse. Francis cited the case when responding to a question about the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy during a press conference Tuesday returning home from the United Arab Emirates. It was the pope’s first-ever public acknowledgment of the problem of priests and bishops sexually abusing nuns. He stressed that the Vatican had been confronting the issue for some time and vowed to do more. SENT: 400 words, photos.

BREXIT — European Council President Donald Tusk took a swipe at some Brexit-backers in Britain, wondering aloud what “special place in hell” might be reserved for those who had no idea how to deliver the country’s exit from the European Union. With just 50 days to go until Britain is due to leave the EU and concern mounting about a potentially chaotic Brexit, Tusk, who chairs meetings of EU leaders, also appeared to dash any British hopes that the bloc would reopen discussions over the Brexit deal that was overwhelmingly rejected by U.K. lawmakers last month. SENT: 850 words, photos, video.

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HEALTH/SCIENCE

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TELEMEDICINE — Walmart workers can now see a doctor for only $4. The catch? It has to be a virtual visit. The retail giant recently rolled back the $40 price on telemedicine, becoming the latest big company to nudge employees toward a high-tech way to get diagnosed and treated remotely. But patients have been slow to embrace virtual care. Eighty percent of mid-size and large U.S. companies offered telemedicine services to their workers last year, up from 18 percent in 2014, according to the consultant Mercer. Only 8 percent of eligible employees used telemedicine at least once in 2017, most recent figures show. By Health Writer Tom Murphy. SENT: 900 words, photos.

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BUSINESS/TECH

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SPOTIFY-PODCASTING — Music streaming service Spotify is buying podcast companies Gimlet and Anchor as it looks to take on Apple’s popular iTunes’ podcasting platform. The acquisitions are an aggressive move by Spotify to expand into the small but burgeoning podcast industry. SENT: 400 words, photo.

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