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BC-AP News Digest 5:45 am

March 10, 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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ETHIOPIA-PLANE CRASH _ The Ethiopian prime minister’s office says an Ethiopian Airlines plane has crashed on its way to Nairobi, with deaths reported. Ethiopian Airlines says it believes 149 passengers and eight crew members were on board. SENT: 100 words. UPCOMING: Developing. With ETHIOPIA-PLANE CRASH-THE LATEST.

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TOP STORIES

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TRUMP-BUDGET DEFICIT _ The federal budget deficit is ballooning on President Donald Trump’s watch and few in Washington seem to care. Even if they did, the political dynamics that enabled bipartisan deficit-cutting deals decades ago has disappeared, replaced by bitter partisanship and chronic dysfunction. By Andrew Taylor. SENT: 980 words, audio, photo.

SUNSHINE WEEK-FADING LIGHT _ Newspapers in more than 1,400 cities and towns across the US have closed over the past 15 years, often leaving residents without a reliable source of local news. The experience in a Missouri Ozark community typifies the trend. A poor business climate for newspapers, cost-cutting ownership and shifting reader habits have left many places without an independent journalistic voice. By David Bauder and David A. Lieb. SENT: 2,360, photos.

ELECTION 2020-MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION _ A growing list of Democratic presidential contenders want the U.S. government to legalize marijuana, reflecting a nationwide shift as more Americans look favorably on cannabis. By Michael R. Blood and Nicholas Riccardi. SENT: 1,010 words, photos.

EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK-CHARGES _ News that a grand jury had indicted “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly lying to Chicago police about being attacked by two masked men may not have made much of a splash except for one thing: The lone felony count that Smollett had been arrested on last month had turned into 16. By Don Babwin. SENT: 820 words, photos. WITH: EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK-TIMELINE _ Some key moments in the Smollett arrest story. SENT: 1,120 words, photos, video.

NKOREA-ELECTIONS _ Millions of North Korean voters, including leader Kim Jong Un, went to the polls to elect roughly 700 members to the national legislature, though the vote was more of an endorsement than a competitive contest. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 750 words, photos.

MEXICO-PRESIDENT 100 DAYS _ Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s first 100 days in office have combined a compulsive shedding of presidential trappings with a dizzying array of policy initiatives, and a series of missteps haven’t even dented his soaring approval ratings. Lopez Obrador has answered more questions from the press, flown in more economy-class flights, posed for more selfies with citizens and visited more risky areas with little or no security than several combined decades of his predecessors. By Christopher Sherman and Mark Stevenson. SENT: 1,298 words, photos.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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PEOPLE-JENNIFER LOPEZ _ Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez announce engagement in Instagram post showing their hands and a massive engagement ring. SENT: 200 words, photo.

IRAN-IRAQ _ Iran’s president to make first official visit to Iraq this week amid pressure from hard-liners, nuke deal unravelling. SENT: 130 words.

CHINA-US-RELIGIOUS FREEDOM _ China has issued a protest over remarks the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom made criticizing Beijing’s polices toward Muslim and Tibetan Buddhist minorities. SENT: 370 words.

CHINA-WILD ELEPHANTS _ China is growing crops specifically for wild elephants to graze on in an effort to spare the livelihoods of local farmers. SENT: 150 words, photo.

R KELLY _ R&B singer R. Kelly was released from a Chicago jail after someone paid $161,000 in back child support for him. SENT: 300 words, photo. With R KELLY-THE LATEST.

TV-SMILF CANCELED _ The comedy series “SMILF” has been canceled after allegations of on-set misconduct from creator and star Frankie Shaw. SENT: 320 words.

IDITAROD _ A Frenchman continues to lead the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. SENT: 160 words, photos.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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TRUMP-BIBLES _ President Donald Trump was just doing what he could to raise spirits when he signed Bibles at an Alabama church for survivors of a tornado outbreak, many religious leaders say, though some are offended and others say he could have handled it differently. By Jennifer McDermott. SENT: 870 words, photos.

ELECTION 2020-O’ROURKE DOCUMENTARY _ The new Beto O’Rourke documentary ends with him musing about how to keep the momentum of his 2018 defeat in the Texas Senate race going, but also declaring “maybe that’s it.” Those same questions continue swirl around a possible O’Rourke 2020 presidential campaign. But the movie, “Running With Beto,” provides no answers. O’Rourke himself attended the premiere Saturday at South by Southwest, but he also was coy about his future, repeating only that he’ll announce his plans “soon.” SENT: 490 words, photo.

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NATIONAL

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TURBULENT FLIGHT-INJURIES _ Severe turbulence tossed terrified passengers and crew around a Turkish Airlines plane cabin as it passed over Maine, with 30 people suffering bumps, bruises, cuts and a broken leg before the flight landed safely at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, officials say. SENT: 460 words, photos.

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME-WASHINGTON STATE _ As daylight saving time is set to take effect in most of the U.S. this weekend, the Washington House passed a measure Saturday that would make those later sunsets permanent in the state all year _ if Congress allows it. SENT: 510 words, photos. With SPRING FORWARD _ Time to abide by the adage to spring forward, with the shift from standard to daylight saving time coming at 2 a.m. local time Sunday across most of the United States (sent).

DEEP SOUTH-SEVERE WEATHER _ Two apparent tornadoes touched down in central Arkansas, destroying shops as severe storms raking the South damaged some buildings and tore away roofs in northeast Mississippi. SENT: 370 words, photo. With DEEP SOUTH-SEVERE WEATHER-THE LATEST.

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INTERNATIONAL

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BREXIT-WHAT NEXT? _ After months of Brexit deadlock, this is it: decision time. With Britain scheduled to leave the European Union in less than three weeks, U.K. lawmakers are poised to choose the country’s direction, at least for now, from among three starkly different choices: deal, no deal or delay. SENT: 930 words, photos.

CHINA-TIBET _ China is defending its often-criticized rule in Tibet 60 years after the Dalai Lama fled into exile amid an abortive uprising against Chinese control, saying those who question its policies are merely biased. SENT: 770 words, photo. With INDIA-TIBET _ Tibetan activists in India mark uprising’s 60th anniversary (sent).

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BUSINESS

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CHINA-US-CURRENCY _ China’s central bank governor affirmed an official promise to avoid manipulating its currency to boost exports, an issue he said American and Chinese negotiators discussed in their latest talks aimed at ending a tariff war. By Business Writer Joe McDonald. SENT: 480 words, photos.

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SPORTS

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CELTICS-LAKERS _ Kyrie Irving scored 30 points and Marcus Smart had 16 in the Boston Celtics’ 120-107 victory over the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers. Marcus Morris had 16 points and seven rebounds, and Gordon Hayward added 15 points as the Celtics continued to gather momentum for the postseason with their third consecutive win on a four-game California trip that concludes Monday against the Clippers. LeBron James had 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in his 80th career triple-double. By Greg Beacham. SENT: 730 words, photos.

BKC--T25-DUKE-NORTH CAROLINA _ Freshman Coby White scored 21 points and third-ranked North Carolina hung on late to beat fourth-ranked Duke 79-70 to earn a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship. Senior Kenny Williams scored a season-high 18 points for the Tar Heels, who led by 15 with about 6½ minutes left but had to hold off a rally from their fiercest rival _ who played yet again without injured freshman star Zion Williamson. By Sports Writer Aaron Beard. SENT: 910 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(at)ap.org or call 877-836-9477.