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BC-Top Stories Digest

December 15, 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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TOP STORIES

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TRUMP-INTERIOR SECRETARY — In the latest Trump Cabinet turnover, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he will leave by year’s end as federal investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest move ahead. He cites “vicious and politically motivated attacks.” His detractors point to the ethics cloud and say he’s been a “shameless handmaiden” for special interests and treated government service while rolling back environmental protections. By Ellen Knickmeyer, Matthew Brown and Jonathan Lemire. SENT: 1,080 words, photos.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-LAWSUIT — A judge’s ruling that the Obama-era health law is unconstitutional has landed like a stink bomb among Republicans. They’ve seen the politics of health care flip against them as Americans have grown to value core provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including protections for medical conditions and Medicaid expansion for low-income people. The law remains in place for now, pending legal appeals expected to reach the Supreme Court. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 870 words, photos. UPCOMING: 900 words by 3 p.m.

TRUMP-CHIEF OF STAFF — A pledge of loyalty. Political savvy. Personal rapport. President Donald Trump had long made clear the qualities he was looking for in his next chief of staff. And when his first pick turned him down, sparking a frantic search, Trump turned to the man he’d already tapped for two previous jobs in his administration: Mick Mulvaney, a blunt, fast-talking former South Carolina congressman who had told Trump months ago he wanted the job. By Jill Colvin and Jonathan Lemire. UPCOMING: 900 words by 3:30 p.m.

FRANCE-PROTESTS — Tear gas billowed across the protest-scarred Champs-Elysees after a day of largely peaceful demonstrations in Paris and a water cannon shot a frigid stream at the crowd on the fifth straight weekend of protests by France’s “yellow vest” movement. The demonstrations against France’s high cost of living — sapped by cold weather, rain and recent concessions by French President Emmanuel Macron — were significantly smaller Saturday than at previous rallies. By Raphael Satter and Elena Becatoros. SENT: 710 words, photos.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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FACT CHECK-WEEK — President Donald Trump’s relationship with the truth tends to be borderline, at best, when it comes to the border. And he tried to cast doubt on whether his former national security adviser had lied to the FBI even after the ex-aide pleaded guilty to doing just that. By Calvin Woodward and Hope Yen. SENT: 2,300 words, photos.

IMMIGRATION-TEEN DETENTION CAMP-O’ROURKE — Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke leads a group of lawmakers on a tour of Tornillo, the tent city in remote West Texas where 2,300 immigrant teens are being held at what began as an emergency shelter but now is taking on a permanent feel, costing taxpayers up to $1,200 per child, per day. O’Rourke says he’s still deciding on a possible 2020 presidential run, even as the hype around him intensifies. By Will Weissert. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos, by 3 p.m.

ELECTION 2018-NORTH CAROLINA-CONGRESS — Warnings about the potential for voter fraud in a rural North Carolina county went unheeded for years before last month’s disputed congressional race. The contest has yet to be officially decided, amid suspicions that ballots were tampered with or discarded. Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. Both parties concede a do-over election might be needed. At the center of it all is Bladen County. By Michael Biesecker and Emery P. Dalesio. SENT: 1,100 words, photos. This story is this week’s Sunday Spotlight.

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INTERNATIONAL

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CLIMATE — Attempts by developed nations at the U.N. climate talks in Poland to create watertight rules for international carbon emissions trading have prompted new, last-minute demands from Brazil. SENT: 590 words, photos.

SRI LANKA-POLITICS —Sri Lanka’s disputed prime minister announced he would step aside, paving the way for his sacked predecessor to regain the position and apparently ending a political impasse that has paralyzed the government for nearly two months. SENT: 490 words, photos.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-ORTHODOX CHURCH — Ukrainian Orthodox leaders approve the creation of a unified church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate and elected a leader to head that new church — a move that could greatly raise tensions with neighboring Russia. The vote, held at a closed-door synod in Kiev’s St. Sophia Cathedral, is the latest in a series of confrontations between Ukraine and Russia. By Yuras Karmanau and Efrem Lukatsky. SENT: 800 words, photos.

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