AP NEWS
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BC-AP News Digest 2 pm

March 12, 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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TOP STORIES

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COLLEGE ADMISSIONS-BRIBERY _ Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged along with nearly 50 other people in a scheme in which wealthy parents bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centers to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said. “These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in announcing the $25 million federal bribery case. By Alanna Durkin Richer and Collin Binkley. SENT: 650 words, photos, developing. WITH: COLLEGE ADMISSIONS-BRIBERY-SPORTS _ The latest scandal to taint college athletics touches sports like tennis, sailing and water polo, but could end up carrying big penalties. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 6 p.m. WITH: COLLEGE ADMISSIONS-BRIBERY-ACTRESSES _ Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among the biggest names in a sweeping college admissions bribery scandal. Upcoming: 500 words, photos by 6 p.m.

ETHIOPIA-PLANE CRASH _ Britain, France and Germany joined a rapidly growing number of countries grounding a new Boeing plane involved in the Ethiopian Airlines disaster or turning it back from their airspace, while investigators in Ethiopia looked for parallels with a similar crash just five months ago. By Elias Meseret and Yidnek Kirubel. SENT: 700 words, photos, video. WITH: ETHIOPIA-PLANE CRASH-FAA _ The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is facing growing criticism for not grounding Boeing 737 Max 8 jets. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 4:30 p.m. WITH: ETHIOPIA PLANE CRASH-TRUMP _ President Trump laments the complexity of modern airplanes in the wake of two deadly crashes in the past five months. UPCOMING: 500 words by 4 p.m.

BREXIT _ British Prime Minister Theresa May implored lawmakers to support her divorce deal with the European Union, even as prominent Brexit supporters said changes she had secured to the agreement were not enough to persuade them to back it. With EU leaders warning there would be no more changes or negotiations, and less than three weeks to go until the U.K. is due to leave, British lawmakers were facing a stark choice in a vote later: support a deal many consider inadequate or run the risk that Brexit might happen chaotically, or not at all. By Jill Lawless and Danica Kirka. SENT: 1,060 words, photos. WITH: _ BREXIT-BACKSTOP _ Irish border still a key Brexit obstacle. SENT: 490 words, photos.

VENEZUELA-COMMUNICATIONS BREAKDOWN _ A highway shoulder in Venezuela’s capital has turned into one of the city’s most sought-after destinations. It’s one of the few places residents can find the slightest cell phone signal strong enough to reach loved ones around the world during the country’s worst blackout. By Scott Smith. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 4 p.m. WITH: AP EXPLAINS-VENEZUELA-ELECTRICAL GRID_ A look at what we know about the current breakdown in the electricity grid. UPCOMING 600 words, photos by 5:30 p.m.

RAPE KIT BACKLOG _ Languishing evidence in over 100,000 sexual assault cases around the country has been sent for DNA testing with money from a New York prosecutor and federal authorities, spurring over 1,000 arrests and hundreds of convictions in three years, officials said. It’s estimated that another 155,000 or more sex assault evidence kits still await testing, and thousands of results have yet to be linked to suspects. Many who have been identified can’t be prosecuted because of legal time limits and other factors. SENT: 700 words, photo.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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ODD--LOTTERY WINNER-LUCKY NUMBERS _ A Virginia woman parlayed a feeling to purchase 30 lottery tickets with the same numbers to win $150,000. SENT: 150 words, photo.

RECORD DISPUTE _ A state agency in Mississippi has spent nearly $18,000 challenging a $200 fine by another agency in a public document dispute. SENT: 150 words.

SLOVENIA-SEVERED HAND _ Authorities say a Slovenian woman who deliberately cut her hand with a circular saw to collect insurance money faces up to eight years in jail. SENT: 150 words.

SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE-MUSEUM _ One of General Motors’ first self-driving test vehicles is going on display at an automotive history museum in Michigan. SENT: 150 words, photo.

BRITAIN-HAWKING _ British regulators have barred Stephen Hawking’s former nurse from practicing after finding she failed to provide appropriate care to the late physicist. SENT: 300 words, photo.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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ELECTION 2020-WARREN THE WONK _ Elizabeth Warren is betting voters are looking for a policy guru. Kamala Harris thinks they want a candidate who moves them with a personal story. As they roll out their president campaigns, the two senators are field-testing dramatically different theories about how to connect to with electorate. UPCOMING: 890 words by 5 p.m., photos. WITH: ELECTION 2020-JOE BIDEN _ With members of the largest fire fighters chanting “Run Joe, run,” former Vice President Joe Biden teased out themes of a possible presidential candidacy, criticizing President Donald Trump’s leadership while questioning Republicans’ commitment to middle class America. By Brian Slodysko. SENT: 300 words, photos, video.

UNITED STATES-VENEZUELA _ A seemingly belligerent tweet by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about pulling diplomats out of Venezuela is the latest example of the Trump administration’s conflicting messages about its intentions in the South American country, hinting at U.S. military involvement to some audiences while insisting to others that it has no intention of using force. Critics say the mixed signals have made a muddle of American diplomacy. By Matthew Lee. UPCOMING: 790 words by 4 p.m., photos.

TRUMP-MEDICARE _ President Trump is being criticized for proposing steep Medicare payment cuts in his new budget. As a presidential candidate, Trump promised not to cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. SENT: 760 words. UPCOMING: 820 words by 5 p.m., photos.

DEMOCRATS-IMPEACHMENT _ Democrats are largely lining up behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she makes clear that she is not gunning for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. By Mary Clare Jalonick and Laurie Kellman. SENT: 520 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by 4 p.m., photos, video.

TRUMP INVESTIGATIONS-NEW YORK _ New York’s attorney general has opened a civil investigation into President Trump’s business dealings, taking action after his former lawyer told Congress he exaggerated his wealth to obtain loans. A person familiar with the inquiry said Attorney General Letitia James issued subpoenas Monday to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank seeking records related to four Trump real estate projects and his failed 2014 bid to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. SENT: 375 words, photo.

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NATIONAL

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CONFEDERATE MONUMENT-NORTH CAROLINA _ A North Carolina city removed a Confederate statue from the grounds of an old courthouse, a rare move in a state where such monuments are largely protected by law. SENT: 675 words, photos.

LGBT RIGHTS-GOP ROADBLOCK _ The LGBT rights movement’s top-priority bill, the Equality Act, will be introduced in Congress on Wednesday, but the excitement will be tempered by political reality: The bill could well be doomed, at least for this year, by lack of Republican support. UPCOMING: 900 words by 5 p.m.

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INTERNATIONAL

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AUSTRALIA-CARDINAL CHARGED _ The most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse will be sentenced to prison in Australia on Wednesday in a landmark case that has polarized observers. Some described the prosecution as proof the church is no longer above the law, while others suspect Cardinal George Pell has been made a scapegoat for the church’s sins. SENT: 1,250 words, photo. Eds: Sentencing likely after 9 p.m.

BRAZIL-COUNCILWOMAN KILLED _ Brazilian police arrested two former police officers in the killing of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, a brazen assassination that shocked Brazilians and sparked protests in several countries. The arrests come two days before the anniversary of the killings. While police had questioned many people, before Tuesday nobody had been arrested or charged in the shooting of Franco, a prominent activist for Afro-Brazilian and LGBT rights. SENT: 700 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN-PEACE TALKS _ The longest peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban to end America’s 17-year war in Afghanistan concluded Tuesday night in Qatar, with both sides saying progress had been made. The nearly two weeks of talks produced two draft agreements between the militants and the U.S. government on a “withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures,” American envoy Zalmay Khalilzad wrote on Twitter. SENT: 775 words, photos.

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HEALTH/SCIENCE

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GENE-EDITED FOOD _ The maker of a gene-edited soybean oil says a Midwestern restaurant recently started using the product for frying, marking the first commercial use of a gene-edited food. UPCOMING: 675 words by 5:30 p.m.

HEPATITIS OUTBREAKS _Outbreaks of hepatitis A are popping up across the U.S. among people who are homeless and inject illicit drugs. Many communities have struggled to contain the liver-damaging disease, some were able to curb outbreaks quickly through outreach efforts. SENT: 1,650 words, photos.

SEYCHELLES-OCEAN MISSION _ A British-led scientific mission to document changes taking place beneath the Indian Ocean has broadcast its first live, television-quality video transmission from a two-person submersible. Monsoon storms and fierce underwater currents continued to present a challenge at greater depths as scientific work began in earnest on Tuesday off the Seychelles. SENT: 400 words, photos.

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BUSINESS/TECH

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HONDA-AIR BAG RECALL _ A type of Takata air bag inflator once thought to be safe has now come under scrutiny after a crash and explosion in Maryland injured the driver of a Honda minivan. The incident forced Honda to recall about 1.2 million vehicles in North and Central America from the 2001 to 2016 model years that were not included in the massive string of Takata recalls for air bags that can hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment. SENT: 600 words, photo.

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ENTERTAINMENT

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EMPIRE CAST MEMBER-ATTACK _ A lawyer for Jussie Smollett said that she would welcome cameras in the courtroom during the “Empire” actor’s trial on charges accusing him of lying to police. SENT: 200 words, photos. Will be updated.

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SPORTS

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BKN--NBA-UNRULY BEHAVIOR _ NBA star Russell Westbrook vulgar and videotaped interaction with a fan in Utah was the talk of the league, and the latest viral exchange with a ticketholder. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 4 p.m.

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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, Courtney Dittmar (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.