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BC-AP News Coverage Advisory 1545 GMT

December 18, 2013

Here’s a look at how AP’s general news coverage is shaping up today. Some plans are subject to change.

HIGHLIGHTING:

Among today’s coverage highlights as we see them at 1545 GMT:

-- AP POLL-AFGHANISTAN, IRAN AND FOREIGN POLICY (sent)

-- BUDGET BATTLE (sent, developing)

-- RUSSIA-AMNESTY (sent)

-- SYRIA (sent)

-- OBAMA-GUANTANAMO (upcoming)

-- URBAN SCHOOLS-SCORES (upcoming)

-- INDIA-US-DIPLOMAT ARREST (sent)

-- HAITI-OLDE GOOD THINGS (sent)

-- KOREAS-DEFECTOR FAMILY (sent)

-- MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOT (sent, developing)

-- SMART BICYCLE (sent)

SOUTH SUDAN VIOLENCE (sent; with text)

VIDEO: MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOT (sent, with text); RENO HOSPITAL SHOOTING (sent; with text)

Here are details of those stories, plus others we have in the works for today and notable pieces that we sent in the past 10 hours:

TOP STORIES:

RUSSIA-AMNESTY - Russia’s parliament has passed an amnesty bill that includes crew members of a Greenpeace ship and jailed members of the Pussy Riot punk band. SENT: 550 words.

HAITI-OLDE GOOD THINGS - The Christian missionary owners of an antique store in Manhattan are using part of their proceeds to fund the group’s orphanage in Haiti. But the home was so dirty and overcrowded in recent inspections that the government said it shouldn’t stay open. SENT: 1,500 words, photos.

SYRIA - Syrian warplanes dumped explosive-laden barrel bombs over opposition-held parts of Aleppo, the fourth day of a relentless offensive to drive rebels out of the contested city that has killed at least 165 people. SENT: 650 words, photos.

TURKEY-CORRUPTION PROBE - Istanbul police leading a major corruption and bribery investigation targeting allies of Prime Minister Erdogan have seized shoe boxes stashed with $4.5 million at the home of a state-owned bank’s chief executive, a Turkish news agency reports. SENT: 500 words.

SOUTH SUDAN-VIOLENCE - Fighting in South Sudan has killed up to 500 people, U.N. diplomats say, and the United Nations fears the violence in the oil-rich East African country is “largely along ethnic lines.” SENT: 600 words, photos.

EGYPT - Egypt state media is reporting that the country’s top prosecutor has referred ousted Islamist President Morsi to trial for conspiring with foreign groups with the intention of carrying out terrorist operations in the country. SENT: 420 words, photo.

BRITAIN-OBIT-RONNIE BIGGS - Ronnie Biggs, who known for his role in the 1963 Great Train Robbery and then escaped from prison and spent decades on the run, has died at 84. SENT: 900 words, photos.

EU-SPAIN PROBE - The EU announces a probe targeting Real Madrid, Barcelona and five other top Spanish soccer clubs that it says may have received possible illegal state aid. SENT: 630 words, photos.

KOREAS-DEFECTOR FAMILY - Dubbed “Bachelor Mom,” Kim Tae-hoon has adopted nine North Korean boys who defected to the South. He’s something of a celebrity, and an unusual success story in the South’s long struggle to assimilate North Korean defectors. SENT: 1,030 words, photos.

UKRAINE - Ukraine’s leadership praises a Russia-financed bailout as a guarantee of financial stability, while opposition activists claimed the deal is likely to worsen economic troubles as the country’s dependence on Moscow increases. SENT: 560 words, photos.

BOLIVIA-JAILED AMERICAN - Intrigue is surrounding a New York businessman’s escape from Bolivia into care of actor Sean Penn. SENT: 950 words, photos.

SOUTH AFRICA-MANDELA-GRANDSON - An ongoing feud between some of the Mandela family members which has made headlines in the past year takes another turn with a report that grandson Mandla Mandela was locked out of the family’s homestead. SENT: 490 words, photo.

CHINA-POLLUTION - A hospital in southwest China opens a clinic for patients suffering symptoms related to smog, highlighting how big a concern pollution has become for Chinese. SENT: 430 words.

CHINA-ACTRESS LAWSUIT - “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” actress Zhang Ziyi reaches an undisclosed settlement with a U.S.-based dissident news website that she sued for libel after it published reports that she was paid to have sex with Chinese government officials. SENT: 550 words, photo.

CHEMICAL WEAPONS-SYRIA-Q&A - Questions and answers on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons plan for the destruction of Syria’s stockpile of weapons and precursor chemicals. SENT: 670 words, photos.

CHINA-CHRISTMAS CLAMPDOWN - Chinese authorities are ramping up prosecutions of rights activists during the year-end holidays, apparently hoping the West will pay less attention to its wide-ranging crackdown on dissent that has drawn international criticism throughout the year. SENT: 820 words, photos.

CHINA-US-SHIPS - Military relations with the United States face a rosy outlook, China’s Defense Ministry says, in an apparent attempt to limit damage from a recent confrontation between the countries’ navies in the South China Sea. SENT: 400 words.

INDIA-US-DIPLOMAT ARREST - An Indian diplomat says U.S. authorities subjected her to a strip search, cavity search and DNA swabbing following her arrest on visa charges in New York City, despite her “incessant assertions of immunity.” The case has sparked widespread outrage in India and the New Delhi government has revoked privileges for U.S. diplomats to protest the woman’s treatment. SENT: 750 words, photos.

INDIA-CORRUPTION BILL - India’s Parliament approves a contentious anti-graft bill that empowers an independent ombudsman to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption by politicians and civil servants. SENT: 330 words, photos.

UNITED STATES-PHILIPPINES - The U.S. is giving nearly $25 million in additional humanitarian aid to help the Philippines deal with the enormous devastation and deaths wrought by Typhoon Haiyan last month, Secretary of State John Kerry says. SENT: 580 words, photos.

MYANMAR-OPIUM - Official efforts to stamp out opium production in Myanmar are falling flat because poor farmers don’t have alternative ways to make a living, a U.N. agency says. SENT: 490 words, photos.

CHINA-BIRD FLU - Chinese authorities say a 73-year-old Chinese woman died after being infected with a bird flu strain that had sickened a human for the first time, a development that the World Health Organization calls “worrisome.” SENT: 400 words.

INDIA-ECONOMY - India’s central bank surprises many by keeping its key interest rate unchanged despite a worrying rise in inflation, citing concerns over sluggish economic growth. SENT: 460 words, photos.

JAPAN-TRADE - Japan’s trade deficit ballooned 35 percent last month compared to a year ago, the biggest November deficit on record, as fuel imports soared following the 2011 nuclear catastrophe. SENT: 230 words.

CHINA-BITCOIN BAN - The biggest Bitcoin exchange in China says it’s no longer accepting yuan deposits, dealing another setback to the virtual currency. SENT: 270 words.

MEDIA FREEDOM - Reporters Without Borders says fewer journalists were killed this year than last, but many more were kidnapped. SENT: 130 words.

PAKISTAN - A Pakistani court called for the government to review an ordered retrial of a doctor who helped the U.S. search for Osama bin Laden over a separate case. SENT: 450 words, photo.

SWITZERLAND-FROZEN ASSETS - The Swiss government has decided to keep 760 million Swiss francs ($858 million) in Egyptian and Tunisian assets frozen for three more years. SENT: 230 words.

PALESTINIANS-OBIT-SARRAJ - A leading Palestinian human rights campaigner Dr. Eyad Sarraj, who dealt with the mental health damage caused by political oppression and challenged both Israeli and Palestinian abuses, died after battling leukemia, his family said. SENT: 380 words, photo.

IRAQ - Iraqi officials say attacks across the country have killed 11 people, including three Pakistani Shiite pilgrims. SENT: 130 words.

VATICAN-POPE’S TEAM - Pope Francis celebrated his beloved San Lorenzo’s victory in the Argentine soccer championship, hoisting a replica of the team’s trophy for all to see. SENT: 320 words, photos.

ROMANIA-CORPSE CORRUPTION - More than two dozen Romanian police officers and ambulance employees have been charged with calling undertakers to tell them that someone had died — or in some cases were not yet dead — in exchange for money. SENT: 200 words.

GERMANY-HITLER CITIZENSHIP - A Bavarian town council voted unanimously to strip Hitler of honorary citizenship bestowed 80 years ago. SENT: 130 words.

EUROPE-FINANCIAL-CRISIS - European finance ministers appear to have made a breakthrough in their long-standing efforts to deal with failing banks. But other tough issues remain to be resolved in discussions. SENT: 450 words, photos.

BRITAIN-PLASTIC MONEY- The Bank of England says it will start issuing plastic bank notes for the first time in its 300-year history. SENT: 130 words, photos.

BUDGET BATTLE - A modest, bipartisan budget pact designed to keep Washington from lurching from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis and ease the harshest effects of automatic budget cuts is on the brink of final passage in Congress. SENT: 670 words, photo, audio. UPCOMING: Late afternoon vote; 700 words by 2300 GMT.

BUDGET-ECONOMY - Congress is on the verge of doing something it hasn’t done during three years of partisan warfare: Passing a budget deal that won’t likely hurt the economy. SENT: 770 words.

OBAMA-GUANTANAMO - Dozens of detainees at Guantanamo Bay may be closer to heading home under a bipartisan deal reached in Congress that gives Obama a rare victory in his fight to close the prison for terror suspects. UPCOMING: 850 words, photos by 2130 GMT.

URBAN SCHOOLS-SCORES - Public school students in the largest U.S. cities are improving in reading and math faster than their counterparts in suburban and rural schools, according to federal data. UPCOMING: 600 words by 1900 GMT.

AP POLL-AFGHANISTAN, IRAN AND FOREIGN POLICY - Obama’s approval ratings for handling foreign policy issues generally top his ratings for most domestic issues, including the economy and health care, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. SENT: 575 words.

TEEN DRUG USE - Fewer U.S. teens are trying fake marijuana known by such names as K2 and Spice, apparently getting the message that these cheap new drugs are highly dangerous, according to the government’s annual survey on drug use. SENT: 500 words, photo.

MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOT - Lottery officials say the two winning Mega Millions tickets for a $636 million jackpot — the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history — were sold in California and Georgia. SENT: 450 words, photos, video. Developing.

RENO HOSPITAL SHOOTING - A gunman opened fire at Reno hospital campus, killing himself and one other person and critically injuring two others. SENT: 800 words, photos, videos.

DISABLED CRUISE SHIP - Recently filed court documents show Carnival Cruise Lines knew about the risk of leaks from engine fuel hoses and recommended taking precautions aboard the ill-fated Carnival Triumph. SENT: 650 words, photo.

BIG SUR FIRE - More than 800 firefighters are battling an unusual late fall wildfire that has destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to flee the forested mountains of the Big Sur region. SENT: 590 words, photos.

BLIND MAN-SUBWAY FALL - A blind man and his guide dog are safe after fall onto NYC’s subway tracks. The owner says dog saved his life. SENT: 400 words, photos, video.

HARVARD-BUILDING EVACUATIONS - The Harvard University student whom prosecutors say made bomb threats to try and avoid a final exam is due in court. SENT: 135 words.

OIL TRAIN DERAILMENT-MAINE - A bankruptcy hearing will be held to determine the fate of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, which operated an oil train that derailed and crashed, killing 47 people in Quebec. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words, photos by 3 p.m.

TEACHER SLAYING-AFFAIR - A New Hampshire man is sentenced for gunning down his wife, a teacher, in front of their 3-year-old son after he learned she was having an affair with a former student. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 1900 GMT.

VENICE BOARDWALK CRASH - Witnesses from around the world have testified about the terror they felt when a black sedan plowed through a crowd last year on the Venice Beach boardwalk, killing a newlywed. SENT: 420 words, photos.

GULF-OIL-SPILL-INDICTMENT - A deadlocked jury will return for a third day of deliberations in the case against a former BP engineer charged with deleting text messages to obstruct a probe of the company’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. SENT: 130 words.

HEALTH

BLOOD PRESSURE — New treatment guidelines say many older adults with high blood pressure can be treated less aggressively, which could mean taking fewer pills to get it under control. But not all experts are on board with the advice. SENT: 660 words.

TECH

SMART BICYCLE - A Massachusetts startup has launched a device that transforms almost any bicycle into a smart electric-hybrid vehicle, making commuting or going uphill easier. SENT: 590 words, photos, video.

DIGITAL LIFE-TECH TEST-MAKER GIFT GUIDE - A look at gifts that challenge the mind, from robot kits to programmable microcontrollers to musical instruments. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos by 1800 GMT.

BUSINESS

FEDERAL RESERVE - Economists think that when the Fed’s latest policy meeting ends, it will announce it’s maintaining its pace of $85 billion a month in bond purchases despite a drop in unemployment and other improving economic data. UPCOMING: Statement to be released at 1900 GMT; 130 words by 1915 GMT, then 500 words by 2000 GMT.

— FED FORECASTS - The Fed’s latest quarterly forecasts for short-term interest rates, unemployment and economic growth. UPCOMING: Forecasts to be released at 1900 GMT; 130 words by 1915 GMT.

BERNANKE-PERFORMANCE - A review of Ben Bernanke’s 12th and final news conference as Fed chairman. UPCOMING: 600 words by 2100 GMT.

JPMORGAN-FDIC LAWSUIT - JPMorgan Chase sues FDIC for more than $1 billion over claims stemming from Washington Mutual. SENT: 330 words.

GOLDMAN SACHS-JAIL PROGRAM - About 1,500 incarcerated NYC teens are getting behavior therapy through unprecedented Goldman Sachs-funded program. UPCOMING: 500 words.

HOME CONSTRUCTION - U.S. builders broke ground on homes at the fastest pace in more than five years, strong evidence that the housing recovery is accelerating despite higher mortgage rates. SENT: 430 words, photo.

ENTERTAINMENT

ELF ON THE SHELF-BACKLASH - The Elf on the Shelf, a stuffed felt elf whose job it is to report back to Santa on who’s been naughty or nice, has climbed high on best-seller lists. But a backlash also has bubbled up with anti-elf rants on Facebook and raunchy, bawdy and bloody visuals on Tumblr and Instagram. SENT: 850 words, photos.

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