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BC-AP News Digest 2 pm

February 20, 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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NEW & DEVELOPING

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ISLAMIC STATE BRIDE _ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says an Alabama woman who left home to join the Islamic State group in Syria is not a U.S. citizen and will not be allowed to return to the United States. SENT: 200 words, photos.

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ONLY ON AP

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HAZARDOUS MINES _ Every day many millions of gallons of water loaded with toxic metals flow from some of the most contaminated mining sites in the U.S. and into surrounding lakes and streams without being treated. The Associated Press found that the toxic torrent is killing aquatic life and tainting drinking water sources in Montana, California, Colorado, Oklahoma and at least five other states. By Matthew Brown. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.

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TOP STORIES

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SUPREME COURT-EXCESSIVE FINES _ Tyson Timbs admitted he’d sold drugs, and he accepted his sentence without a fight. What he wouldn’t quietly accept was the police seizing and keeping the $40,000 Land Rover he’d been driving when arrested. The Supreme Court sided with him unanimously in ruling the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applies to the states as well as the federal government. By Mark Sherman. SENT: 580 words. UPCOMING: 790 words, photo by 4 p.m.

VATICAN SEX ABUSE SURVIVORS _ Survivors of clergy sexual abuse met with organizers of a Vatican prevention summit Wednesday and demanded transparency, zero tolerance for abuse and for religious superiors to be held accountable when they protect priests who rape and molest children. By Nicole Winfield. SENT: 600 words, photos. WITH: VATICAN SEX ABUSE _ Pope Francis is convening this week’s summit at the Vatican to prevent cover-ups by Catholic superiors everywhere, as many around the world continue to protect the church’s reputation at all costs. SENT: 900 words, photos. WITH: WITH: VATICAN PRIESTS CHILDREN _ The clergy sex abuse summit has shined a spotlight on another pressing issue the Vatican has long sought keep quiet: the plight of children of priests. UPCOMING: 500 words by 5 p.m.

SYRIA _ A convoy of trucks carrying hundreds of civilians, including men, women and children, left the last enclave held by Islamic State militants in eastern Syria, signaling a possible end to a standoff that has lasted for more than a week. The tiny enclave on the banks of the Euphrates River is the final scrap of territory left to the extremist group that only a few years ago controlled a vast stretch of territory across Syria and Iraq _ at one point nearly from Aleppo to Baghdad _ aspiring to create an enduring and expanding jihadi state. Its recapture by U.S.-backed Syrian fighters would spell the territorial defeat of IS and allow U.S. President Donald Trump to begin withdrawing American troops from northern Syria, as he has pledged to do, opening a new chapter in Syria’s eight-year civil war. SENT: 600 words, photos.

EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK _ Chicago’s top prosecutor recused herself from the investigation into the attack reported by “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett shortly after police requested another interview with the actor. The office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx offered few specifics when announcing that Foxx was recusing herself from the case, which police said had “shifted” after detectives released two brothers who were initially deemed suspects. SENT: 900 words, photos. WITH: EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK-TIMELINE _ Key moments since Jussie Smollett reported Chicago attack. SENT: 850 words, photos.

RUSSIA-VENEZUELA _ The Trump administration is accusing President Nicolas Maduro of starving Venezuelans by blocking the delivery of hundreds of tons of American-supplied humanitarian aid sitting on the border in Colombia. In Russia, the Kremlin sees the opposition’s plan as a reckless pretext for ordering a foreign military intervention. As tensions in Venezuela mount ahead of a Saturday showdown over humanitarian aid, both sides are digging in, revealing how the South American nation’s conflict has become the latest fault line in a battle for global influence among the former Cold War adversaries. By Joshua Goodman and Vladimir Isachenkov. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos by 4:30 p.m. WITH: RUSSIA-PUTIN _ President Vladimir Putin sternly warns the United States against deploying new missiles in Europe. SENT: 900 words, photos.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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NEPTUNE-NEWEST MOON _ Neptune’s newest and tiniest moon is probably an ancient fragment of a vastly larger nearby moon. SENT: 150 words, photos.

VIETNAM-SUMMIT-HAIRDOS _ Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have become the latest style icons in Hanoi, a week before their second summit in Vietnam’s capital. SENT: 200 words, photos, video.

ODD--STOLEN PEPSI TRUCK _ Authorities say an Oklahoma man stole a Pepsi truck as the driver was unloading soda. Police say the man told them he was trying to get to the airport after an argument with his girlfriend. SENT: 150 words.

GWYNETH PALTROW-SKIING LAWSUIT _ Gwyneth Paltrow says a skier who accused her in a lawsuit of seriously injuring him at a Utah resort was actually the one that plowed into her. SENT: 150 words.

BUZZ ALDRIN-FAMILY FIGHT _ Buzz Aldrin’s son is trying to stop his father from transferring assets in the latest battle between the Apollo 11 moonwalker and two of his children over whether he is capable of managing his affairs. SENT: 300 words.

NYPD FRIENDLY FIRE DEATH _ A New York City police detective killed by friendly fire last week receives a posthumous promotion. SENT: 150 words, photo.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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ELECTION 2020-CORY BOOKER _ Weeks into a presidential campaign he launched on a theme of optimism, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is trying to convince voters that he can also be a tough fighter. UPCOMING: 1000 words by 6 p.m., photo.

UNITED STATES-NORTH KOREA-WAR REMAINS _ The remains of at least a couple more American soldiers killed in the Korean War are likely to be identified shortly from 55 boxes provided last summer by North Korea. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 650 words by 4 p.m., photo.

MILITARY-COLD WEATHER TRAINING _ After 17 years of war against Taliban and al-Qaida-linked insurgents, the U.S. military is shifting its focus to better prepare for great-power competition with Russia and China, and against unpredictable foes such as North Korea and Iran. High up in the California mountains, Marines undergoing advanced cold-weather training are learning how to battle future enemies and the unforgiving environment. SENT: 1040 words, photo, video.

TRUMP-AUSTRIA _ President Donald Trump hosts Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, elected in part due to his tough immigration policies. UPCOMING: 300 words by 4 p.m., photos

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NATIONAL

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TRUMP LAWYER-INVESTIGATION _ A judge has agreed to postpone the start of ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s prison sentence by two months to May 6. New York Judge William Pauley approved the delay after Cohen’s lawyers said he needed more time to recover from shoulder surgery and prepare for Congressional testimony. They noted prosecutors did not object. SENT: 200 words, developing.

UNITED METHODISTS-CRISIS MEETING _ The United Methodist Church convenes its top legislative assembly Sunday for a high-stakes, three-day meeting likely to determine whether America’s second-largest Protestant denomination will fracture due to divisions over same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy. By AP National Writer David Crary. UPCOMING: 1,100 words.

HATE GROUPS _ An organization that tracks white supremacists and other far-right extremists says its annual count of “hate groups” has reached the highest level in more than two decades. SENT: 200 words, developing.

WEINSTEIN LAWSUIT _ Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers seek to overturn a judge’s ruling in a class-action lawsuit allowing women to sue the movie mogul as a sex trafficker, accusing him of trying to coerce sex in return for movie roles or career enhancement. Weinstein not expected to attend. SENT: 130 words, photo. Developing from afternoon hearing.

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INTERNATIONAL

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NKOREA-ENDING THE WAR _ With their second summit fast approaching, speculation is growing that President Donald Trump may try to persuade North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to commit to denuclearization by giving him something he wants more than almost anything else: an announcement of peace and an end to the Korean War. Such an announcement could make history. It would be right in line with Trump’s opposition to “forever wars.” And, coming more than six decades after the fighting essentially ended, it just seems like common sense. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 1,210 words, photos.

NIGERIA-ELECTION-KANNYWOOD FOR PEACE _ As emergencies go, it had a catchy tune. Faced with a Nigerian election that could spiral into violence, some in the popular film industry known as Kannywood gathered this week to shoot an urgent music video appealing to the country for peace. Deploying film stars to call for calm follows weeks of TV ads and T-shirts urging Nigerians in widely spoken pidgin English to “Vote Not Fight: Election no be war.” The last-minute delay of the vote until Saturday, however, has sharpened some tempers. By Cara Anna. SENT: 660 words, photos.

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BUSINESS/TECH

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SAMSUNG-NEW PHONES _ Samsung is expected to show off its newest smartphones, the latest effort by a phone maker to come up with new features compelling enough to end a sales slump. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Will be updated after product event which starts at 2 p.m. SENT: 150 words, developing.

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ENTERTAINMENT

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OSCARS-BEST PICTURE RACE _ This year’s best-picture race has confounded even the most seasoned onlookers. Ahead of Sunday’s Oscars, we run down the chances of each nominee. By Film Writer Jake Coyle. UPCOMING: 850 words by 4 p.m., photos.

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SPORTS

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ESPORTS-BREAKOUT GAME _ “Fortnite” may finally have a challenger atop the video game world. “Apex Legends” _ a battle royale from Electronic Arts_ has stormed the market and set records for downloads and Twitch viewership in its first three weeks. One key to its success: EA convinced influencers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins to set aside “Fortnite” for a bit and give “Apex” a try. Some esports organizations are scrambling to find players, but others are concerned about overcommitting to the suddenly volatile battle royale genre. By Jake Seiner. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

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HOW TO REACH US

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At the Nerve Center, Richard A. Somma can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Donald E. King (ext. 1900). For graphics and interactives, Phil Holm (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.