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BC-AP News Digest 3:10 am

December 20, 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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ONLY ON AP

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ITALY-THE MISSING-INVESTIGATING THE DEAD — The quest to trace the identities of all the victims of the Mediterranean’s deadliest migrant shipwreck has revealed that the sinking was far deadlier than anyone knew. One of the two investigators on the project has confirmed that the boat that sank on April 18, 2015 carried not 800 migrants as previously believed, but as many as 1,100. The discovery makes it even harder for the investigators to keep Italy’s promise to name the dead, especially when Europe has turned against migrants. By Lori Hinnant, Trisha Thomas and Krista Larson. SENT: 2,480 words, photos. An Abridged version has also moved. With ITALY-THE MISSING-INVESTIGATING THE DEAD-FAMILIES-PHOTO GALLERY — Migrant families wait, torn between hope and grief (sent).

STUDENT KILLED-IOWA — Before they arrested a farmhand in the death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts, investigators scrutinized four other potential suspects during their five-week search. Newly unsealed search warrant documents show that those who drew police interest included a neighbor seen washing his SUV hours after Tibbetts vanished, a Nebraska man who ditched his vehicle in Iowa days later and an acquaintance who had recently erased his cellphone data. All have been ruled out as suspects. By Ryan J. Foley. SENT: 930 words, photo.

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TOP STORIES

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UNITED STATES-SYRIA — Against the advice of many in his own administration, President Donald Trump is pulling U.S. troops out of Syria. Could a withdrawal from Afghanistan be far behind? By National Security Writer Robert Burns. SENT: 810 words, photo. With UNITED STATES-SYRIA-GLANCE — A look at U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war, from Obama’s decision to get in to Trump’s decision to get out (sent).

TRUMP’S PROMISE — President Trump appears likely to pass up his last, best chance to secure funding for the “beautiful” wall he’s long promised to construct along the U.S.-Mexico border. By Zeke Miller and Jill Colvin. SENT: 1,100 words, photo. With TRUMP-BORDER WALL — The Senate approves legislation to temporarily fund the government, a key step toward averting a federal shutdown after President Trump backed off his demand for money for a border wall with Mexico (sent).

NORTH KOREA-NUCLEAR — North Korea says it will never unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons unless the United States removes its nuclear threat first, a bombshell statement that could rattle a fragile diplomacy between Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang to defuse the nuclear crisis. By Kim Tong-Hyung. SENT: 730 words, photos. With KOREAS DIPLOMACY — U.S. envoy on North Korea visits border village amid stalemate (sent).

IRAN-CARPETS — As the Trump administration works to unravel Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the producers of the country’s famed Persian carpets fear they will lose vital markets. Before the U.S. withdrew from the deal and began restoring crippling sanctions earlier this year, the $425 million a year industry preserved an ancient tradition while providing much-needed income to Iranians as well as Afghan refugees, who create much of the more luxurious hand-woven pieces. SENT: 770 words, photos.

MEXICO-DOMESTIC WORKERS — Mexican society is re-examining the role of domestic workers and the working conditions for its mostly female labor force. Domestic workers are in ample supply in a country where half the population lives in poverty, and it’s common for middle class families to employ one or more. Now labor laws are set to improve for the workers. And the recent Netflix movie “Roma” by Academy Award-winning director Alfonso Cuaron has broken an awkward silence over employer-employee relationships. By Amy Guthrie. SENT: 1,350 words, photos.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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CONGRESS-LYNCHING BILL — The Senate has unanimously approved bipartisan legislation that would make lynching a federal crime. SENT: 110 words.

SPACE STATION — Three astronauts have returned to Earth after more than six months aboard the International Space Station. SENT: 220 words.

PHARMACY SHOOTING-OKLAHOMA — Authorities say an argument between a customer and a store clerk at a Walgreens in Oklahoma led to a shooting in which the customer was killed and two other people were wounded. SENT: 130 words, video.

AIRPORT GUN-JUELZ SANTANA — Rapper Juelz Santana sentenced to more than two years in prison for trying to get a loaded gun onto a plane. SENT: 130 words.

BRITAIN-GATWICK AIRPORT-DRONES — London’s Gatwick Airport remains shut while police and airport officials investigate reports that drones were flying in the area of the airfield. SENT: 130 words, photo.

ELECTION 2020-REPUBLICAN PRIMARY — Republicans in early voting states are grappling with how — and whether — to protect President Trump from a potential primary challenger in 2020. SENT: 760 words, photo.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-SIGN-UPS — Affordable Care Act sign-ups beat expectations and a court ruling that Obama’s health law is unconstitutional. SENT: 470 words, photo.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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SENTENCING BILL-FLIPPING MCCONNELL — When Mitch McConnell returned to his home state of Kentucky, he couldn’t escape the debate over criminal justice reform. The noise was encouraged and amplified by advocates who embarked on a single-minded campaign to sway the Senate majority leader, recognizing him as a key to unlocking a historic overhaul of federal sentencing laws. By Mary Clare Jalonick. SENT: 1,060 words, photos. With SENTENCING BILL-Q&A — What’s in the bill, and what’s not; SENTENCING BILL-MINORITIES — Black leaders forged alliance with Trump on sentencing deal (both sent).

TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE-FLYNN-QUESTIONS — The delayed sentencing hearing for Michael Flynn did more than just postpone his punishment. It also put off by months any chance of getting definitive answers to questions that have shadowed President Trump’s first national security adviser. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

LAWMAKERS SWITCH PARTIES — Two moderate Republican legislators in Kansas have become Democrats, capping an unprecedented round of GOP defections by Kansas City suburbanite lawmakers who soured on President Trump and a close political ally of his in last month’s governor’s race. By John Hanna. SENT: 700 words, photos. 

KASICH — Outgoing Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich acted as expected to veto a bill expanding gun-owner rights and, in a surprise move, also expanded a years-old anti-discrimination order to include gender identity. SENT: 440 words, photo.

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INTERNATIONAL

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JAPAN-NISSAN-GHOSN — A Japanese court denied prosecutors’ request to extend the detention of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who has been charged with underreporting his pay. SENT: 430 words, photos.

RUSSIAN SANCTIONS — The U.S. Treasury Department sanctions 15 Russians over hacking, interference in U.S. elections and a nerve agent attack in England. SENT: 130 words.

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NATIONAL

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SEXUAL MISCONDUCT-WEINSTEIN — Harvey Weinstein is due in court in New York as a judge decides on the future of his sexual assault case, which has been clouded by allegations that police acted improperly in the investigation that led to his arrest. SENT: 580 words, photo.

WAFFLE HOUSE SHOOTING — The man accused of killing four people in a Nashville Waffle House used to send his father text messages in which he punctuated everyday chitchat with delusional rants. SENT: 870 words, photos.

BABY SHOT IN FACE — Police in the western New Mexico city of Gallup say detectives are still trying to connect the moments leading to when a bullet struck the face of an 8-month-old girl. The 18-year-old mother Shayanne Nelson told police minutes after the shooting that she and her boyfriend, Tyrell Bitsilly, were in a shower at a motel when they heard a gunshot. But a good Samaritan who was helping the infant says he saw the boyfriend wiping the gun with a towel. SENT: 730 words, photos.

CALIFORNIA-JERRY BROWN INTERVIEW — California Gov. Jerry Brown says Democrats are likely to spend too much and the party’s dominance will make it tough for his successor to control it. SENT: 890 words, photos.

CLERGY ABUSE-ILLINOIS — The Illinois attorney general says her office has found 500 more Catholic clergy accused of sexually abusing children than the state’s six archdioceses have publicly identified. SENT: 520 words.

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BUSINESS/TECHNOLOGY

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FINANCIAL MARKETS — Asian stock markets plunged, following Wall Street down after the Federal Reserve raised U.S. interest rates. By Business Writer Joe McDonald. SENT: 450 words, photos.

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HEALTH/SCIENCE

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CHICKEN HAPPINESS — What makes for a happy chicken? Researchers are trying to answer the question as chicken welfare becomes a bigger issue. Chicken companies are trying to improve their image after being criticized for birds that grow so big and fast they can barely walk. But there’s disagreement about how to measure chicken welfare, and whether there’s even a problem that needs to be fixed. By AP Food & Health Writer. SENT: 860 words, video, photos.

US HEIGHTS & WEIGHTS — A new report shows U.S. adults aren’t getting any taller but they are still getting fatter. The average U.S. adult is overweight and just a few pounds from obese, thanks to average weight increases in all groups — but particularly whites and Hispanics. By Medical Writer Mike Stobbe. SENT: 390 words, photo.

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SPORTS

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MLB-CUBA AGREEMENT — Major League Baseball, its players’ association and the Cuban Baseball Federation reach an agreement that will allow players from the island nation to sign big league contracts without defecting, an effort to eliminate the dangerous trafficking that had gone on for decades. SENT: 1,130 words, photo.

FBC-SIGNING DAY —Zach Harrison choosing to stay home and play for Ohio State and new coach Ryan Day was maybe the most intriguing development of what can now be considered the new signing day. This is year two of the early signing period in college football and just like last year, most of the scholarships have been scooped up. The traditional signing period in early February will mostly be for finishing touches. Alabama has already wrapped up another recruiting title. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 830 words, photos.

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ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT

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PEOPLE-MICHELLE OBAMA — For Michelle Obama, choosing what designer to wear while she was in the White House involved many factors, from diversity to whether they were a nice person. Obama talked the decisions behind the outfits that made headlines during her time as first lady during a conversation with another fashion trendsetter, Sarah Jessica Parker, who was the moderator for the Wednesday night event for Obama’s “Becoming” book tour. By Entertainment Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody. SENT: 560 words, photos.

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HOW TO REACH US

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At the Nerve Center, Vincent Willis can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, ext. 1900. For graphics and interactives, ext. 7636. Expanded AP content can be obtained from http://newsroom.ap.org. For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact apcustomersupport@ap.org or call 877-836-9477.

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