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AP News Digest 3 a.m. – The Independent

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THE AP INTERVIEW-TALIBAN MINISTER — A top Taliban leader says Afghanistan’s new rulers are committed in principle to education and jobs for girls and women and have learned lessons from their previous time in power. Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told The Associated Press in a rare interview on Sunday that the Taliban appeal to the world’s “mercy and compassion” to help the millions of Afghans in desperate need. Muttaqi says that having a weak Afghan government “is not in the interest of anyone.” The minister acknowledged the world’s dismay at limitations on girls’ education and on women in the work force. He says the Taliban are working to improve the situation. By Kathy Gannon. SENT: 970 words, photos.
MIDWEST TORNADOES — Dozens of people in five states have been killed by tornadoes that leveled entire communities on Friday night, but the toll at a Kentucky candle factory is not as devastating as initially feared. Officials initially said only 40 of 110 workers at Mayfield Consumer Products had been rescued. But spokesman Bob Ferguson now says eight people are confirmed dead, eight are missing and more than 90 people have been located. Still, the governor expects the statewide toll to reach at least 50, and at least 14 people are dead in four other states: Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri. By Bruce Schreiner and Dylan Lovan. SENT: 880 words, photos, videos. With MIDWEST TORNADOES-SURVIVORS — Autumn Kirks and her boyfriend, Lannis Ward, were both working the night shift at a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, when a massive tornado struck. Then her boyfriend went missing — and all she could do was wait. By Bruce Schreiner. SENT: 550 words, photo, video. MIDWEST TORNADOES-PHOTO — A photo from a tornado-damaged home in Kentucky landed almost 130 miles away in Indiana. By Bruce Schreiner. SENT: 600 words, photos.
MIDWEST TORNADOES-A TOWN DEVASTATED — In Mayfield, Kentucky, survivors of one of the devastating tornadoes that cut a long path of destruction through the Midwest and South are grappling with ruins all around them. Mayfield has 10,000 residents, and it was one of the worst-hit towns in the unusual mid-December spate of twisters. SENT: 870 words, photos.
CAPITOL BREACH-MEADOWS — The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection is set to recommend contempt charges against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The expected action Monday comes as lawmakers are releasing new details about documents Meadows has handed over to the committee. By Mary Clare Jalonick. SENT: 850 words. AP Photos.
NORTH KOREA-KIM’S CHALLENGE — Since taking power after his father’s death in 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has spent 10 years erasing doubts that he was too young and weak to extend his family’s brutal dynastic grip over the impoverished, nuclear-armed state. But as he marks a decade in rule this week, Kim appears to be at a critical crossroads while grappling with a decaying economy worsened by pandemic border closures. By Kim Tong-Hyung. SENT: 1,190 words, photos.
CALIFORNIA STORM — The Western U.S. is bracing for the brunt of a major winter storm expected to hit Monday, bringing travel headaches, the threat of localized flooding and some relief in an abnormally warm fall. Lighter rain and snow fell in Northern California on Sunday, giving residents a taste of what’s to come. SENT: 850 words, photos.
EMIRATES-INVISIBLE CHILDREN — The United Arab Emirates has decriminalized premarital sex in a bold expansion of personal freedoms but the law has struggled to fulfill its promise. Unwed mothers may no longer land in jail, but they’re caught in bureaucratic limbo, fighting to obtain birth certificates for their babies born in the shadows. A new law on out-of-wedlock births, celebrated in state media last month as a progressive victory, now threatens to further complicate the process. SENT: words, photos. By By Isabel Debre. SENT: 1,100 words, photos. This is the Tuesday Spotlight
WHITE HOUSE-CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT — The White House Historical Association is honoring President Lyndon Johnson with its 2021 annual Christmas tree ornament. SENT: 750 words, photos, video.
CHINA NANKING MEMORIAL — China is marking the 84th anniversary of the 1937 Nanking Massacre, in which it says 300,000 civilians and disarmed soldiers were killed by Japanese in and around the former Chinese capital. SENT: 460 words, photos.
ISRAEL-MISS UNIVERSE — Harnaaz Sandhu of India was crowned the 70th Miss Universe, topping a field of some 80 contestants in a pageant that was touched by politics and the pandemic. Sunday’s ceremony was held in the Israeli Red Sea resort town of Eilat. SENT: 480 words, photos.
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL-FATAL SHOOTING — A sheriff says one person has died and 13 others were injured in a drive-by shooting during a candlelight vigil near Houston. SENT: 160 words.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-HUNGARY — As coronavirus infections and deaths soar in Hungary, the country’s journalists and public health professionals are demanding more detailed data on the outbreak from the government. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.
DAUNTE WRIGHT-OFFICER TRIAL — The trial of a Minnesota police officer charged in the shooting death of Daunte Wright opens its second week of testimony Monday. A medical examiner is expected to walk jurors through Wright’s autopsy. SENT: 570 words, photos.
NAVY SHIP-FIRE — The Navy will hold a hearing Monday to review whether there is enough evidence to order a court martial for a San Diego-based sailor charged with setting the fire that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard in the summer of 2020. SENT: 420 words, photos.
CALIFORNIA SOLAR PANELS — California’s rooftop solar market is the largest in the nation but is poised for changes by state regulators who could lower financial benefits for homeowners who install solar panels. SENT: 940 words, photos.
SCHOOL SHOOTING-MICHIGAN — A 15-year-old boy accused of opening fire at his Michigan high school, killing four students, is due in court for a procedural hearing. Ethan Crumbley is charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and other counts for the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School. SENT: 310 words, photo.
STITCH THIER NAMES-MISSISSIPPI — A quilt exhibit at Jackson State University honors dozens of lives lost in the U.S. to racial violence. Two quilts stitched together by 75 artists from the U.S. and beyond feature more than 115 portraits of Black victims. The Stitch Their Names Memorial Project was started by Eugene, Oregon, high school math teacher Holli Johannes in July 2020. SENT: 850 words, photos.
AUSTRALIA-SOUTH KOREA — Australia and South Korea have signed a $720 million defense deal as South Korean President Moon Jae-in became the first foreign leader to visit Australia since the pandemic began. SENT: 370 words, photos.
CHINA-US-CARBON REDUCTION — The top U.S. diplomat in China says the countries had a very good year for collaboration on dealing with climate change, but Washington is still pushing Beijing to adopt more ambitious carbon reduction goals. SENT: 770 words, photos.
GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS — The Hollywood Foreign Press Association will announce nominations to the 79th Golden Globes on Monday morning. But will Hollywood care? The press association, often ridiculed, even by its own hosts, this year went from punchline to pariah. After a Los Angeles Times’ expose detailed some of the HFPA’s unethical behavior and revealed that its 87 voting members didn’t include one Black journalist, much of the film industry threatened to boycott the Globes. SENT: 440 words, photos.
FILM-BOX OFFICE — Despite critical acclaim and two years-worth of anticipation, Steven Spielberg’s lavish “West Side Story” revival made little noise at the box office, debuting with $10.5 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday — a worrisome result for a movie industry struggling to recapture its finger-snapping rhythm. SENT: 900 words, photos.
BEARS-PACKERS — Aaron Rodgers threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns to continue his mastery of the NFL’s oldest rivalry as the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 45-30. The Packers scored the first 24 points of the second half to erase a 27-21 halftime deficit. Green Bay took a four-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North and moved closer to its third straight division title. SENT: 970 words, photos.
At the Nerve Center, Shameka Dudley-Lowe 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 For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact or call 844-777-2006.
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