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AP News Digest 3 am – The Independent

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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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MIGRATION-AFGHANS IN THE ALPS — When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August, some Afghans resolved to escape and embarked on forbidding journeys of thousands of miles to Europe More than three months later, their odysseys have taken them through multiple countries and carried some high into the French-Italian Alps. That’s where Ali Rezaie pushed through knee-deep snow to evade border guards and reach France. By finding paths deep into Europe, Rezaie and his companions offer hope to other migrants who are sure to follow. Their knowledge about the obstacles, their contacts and their travel tips will trickle back to Afghanistan. By John Leicester and Daniel Cole. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video.
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TOP STORIES
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VIRUS-OUTBREAK-HOLIDAY-MOOD — This year’s holiday season was supposed to be a do-over for last year’s subdued celebrations. Instead it’s turning into a redux of restrictions, cancellations and rising angst over the never-ending pandemic. Lines again stretch around blocks at some COVID-19 testing sites. Refrigerated mobile morgues are on order, and parts of Europe are re-tightening borders amid a winter spike in coronavirus infections. Infections are soaring around the world, and the quickly spreading omicron variant has triggered new restrictions on travel and public gatherings reminiscent of the dark days of 2020. By Michael Rubinkam, Jennifer Peltz and Ali Swenson. SENT: 1,020 words, photos.
VIRUS-OUTBREAK-J&J-VACCINE — Most Americans should be given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead of the Johnson & Johnson shot that can cause rare but serious blood clots, U.S. health officials say. The strange clotting problem has caused nine confirmed deaths after J&J vaccinations — while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines don’t come with that risk and also appear more effective, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. By Lauran Neergaard and Mike Stobbe. SENT: 910 words, photo.
MIDWEST TORNADOES-REBUILDING — Residents in the town of Mayfield, Kentucky, among the hardest hit by last week’s tornado, have dug themselves out of the rubble and begun burying their dead, but now face a daunting and long-term task: rebuilding. By Sean Murphy. SENT: 750 words, photos, video. With MIDWEST-TORNADOES-VICTIMS — Army vet, 3-year-old among the dead in widespread twisters.
BIDEN — President Joe Biden addresses December graduates at historically Black South Carolina State University. It is the alma mater of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn whose public support of Biden before the 2020 South Carolina primary is credited with boosting him to the Democratic presidential nomination. By Meg Kinnard. SENT: 700 words, photos. UPCOMING: 990 words after 10 a.m. ceremony.
IRAQ ISLAMIC STATE — For the first time since the defeat of Islamic State, federal Iraqi forces and Kurdish peshmerga are coordinating to close security gaps along a disputed zone in northern Iraq, as part of their ongoing fight against the militants. Both forces are digging trenches in the village of Lehiban, located along the disputed zone, which has become a microcosm of a growing IS threat across the country in recent weeks. However, the fragile security partnership relies on the U.S.-led military coalition which is gradually looking to wind down its presence. By Samya Kullab. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.
OPIOID CRISIS-PURDUE BANKRUPTCY — A federal judge’s decision to reject a massive opioid settlement with Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma is a victory for those who want to hold the family that owns the company accountable for their role in the nation’s overdose epidemic. It also will delay, perhaps for years, the billions of dollars that would have gone to communities and addiction treatment centers across the country to address the ongoing toll of drug addiction. By Geoff Mulvihill. SENT: 940 words, photos.
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TRENDING NEWS
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SCHOOLS-VIOLENCE THREATS — Schools step up security in response to threats on TikTok. SENT: 620 words, photo.
MISS AMERICA — Miss Alaska, Emma Broyles, crowned Miss America. SENT: 110 words, photos.
AUSTRALIA-BOUNCY CASTLE — Australia mourns child victims of bouncy castle accident. SENT: 290 words, photos.
CUOMO-BOOK DEAL — New York attorney general taps brakes on effort to seize Andrew Cuomo book profits. SENT: 470 words, photo.
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MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK
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VIRUS-OUTBREAK-JAPAN — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida spoke by phone with Pfizer Inc. CEO Albert Burla, apparently to ensure a fast supply of COVID-19 vaccines for booster shots amid the global spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. SENT: 390 words, photos.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-QUEBEC — Bars, restaurants, stores and entertainment venues across the Canadian province of Quebec will be required to operate at 50% capacity beginning Monday because of a surge in coronavirus cases from the new omicron variant. SENT: 320 words, photos.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-AUSTRALIA — The premier of Australia’s most populous state said he is not considering lockdowns or other restrictions as a record 2,213 new COVID-19 cases were reported, the highest number since the pandemic began. SENT: 280 words, photos.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres exhorted the world to make “concrete” progress within days toward a now-distant goal of vaccinating 40% of the global population against COVID-19 before the year ends. SENT: 360 words, photo.
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WASHINGTON
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MANCHIN-CHILD TAX CREDIT — Sen. Joe Manchin’s reluctance to endorse the Biden administration’s expanded child tax credit program is rippling through his home state of West Virginia. SENT: 760 words, photos. With CONGRESS-MANCHIN — Top Democrats say they’re “frustrated” and “disappointed” with Manchin; CONGRESS-BUDGET — Biden acknowledges $2 trillion bill stalled, but vows it will pass.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-MILITARY VACCINES — All the U.S. military branches have begun disciplinary actions and discharges for troops who have refused to get the mandated coronavirus vaccine, with as many as 20,000 unvaccinated forces at risk of being removed from service. SENT: 1,090 words, photos.
VOTING MACHINES-DEFAMATION LAWSUIT — A judge rejected a motion by Fox News to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against the cable news giant by Dominion Voting Systems over claims about the 2020 presidential election. SENT: 470 words, photo.
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NATIONAL
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DAUNTE WRIGHT-OFFICER TRIAL — The Minnesota police officer on trial in the shooting death of Daunte Wright was expected to take the stand, hoping to persuade jurors to acquit her of manslaughter charges in what she has said was a gun-Taser mixup. SENT: 780 words, photos, videos. UPCOMING: Trial resumes at 10 a.m.
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INTERNATIONAL
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AFGHANISTAN-CURRENCY SLIDE — The value of Afghanistan’s currency is tumbling under the new Taliban rulers, exacerbating an already severe economic crisis and deepening poverty in a country where more than half the population doesn’t have enough to eat. SENT: 690 words, photos.
JAPAN FIRE — More than 20 people were feared dead after a fire broke out in a building in Osaka in western Japan, fire department officials say, and police were investigating arson as a possible cause. SENT: 480 words, photos.
BRITAIN-POLITICS — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has suffered a stunning defeat in a parliamentary by-election that was a referendum on his government amid weeks of scandal and soaring COVID-19 infections. SENT: 240 words, photos.
NKOREA-KIM JONG IL-10TH DEATH ANNIVERSARY — North Korea commemorated the 10th anniversary of former leader Kim Jong Il’s death with calls for greater public loyalty toward his son and current leader Kim Jong Un, who is struggling to navigate the country out of deepening pandemic-related hardships. SENT: 790 words, photos.
ASIA STORM — At least three people were reported dead in the Philippines after a strong typhoon engulfed villages in floods, tore off roofs, toppled trees and knocked out power in southern and central island provinces, where more than 300,000 villagers had fled to safety before the onslaught, officials say. SENT: 640 words, photos.
HONG KONG-ELECTION — Hong Kongers are preparing to vote for the first time this weekend since election laws were changed, amid a dearth of opposition candidates months after the city began cracking down on dissent. SENT: 940 words, photos.
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BUSINESS/ECONOMY
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FINANCIAL MARKETS — Shares fell in Asia after technology companies led Wall Street benchmarks lower as investors weighed the implications of higher interest rates, surging coronavirus cases and tensions between Beijing and Washington. By Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 690 words, photos.
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HEALTH/SCIENCE
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ABORTION-PILL — The Food and Drug Administration permanently removed a major obstacle for women seeking abortion pills, eliminating a long-standing requirement that they pick up the medication in person. By Health Writer Matthew Perrone. SENT: 840 words, photo.
WILDLIFE KILLING-NEVADA LAWSUIT — Conservationists are suing three federal agencies over the adequacy of an environmental review the government has said satisfies requirements to resume killing coyotes, mountain lions and other wildlife in federally protected wilderness areas in Nevada. SENT: 740 words, photo.
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SPORTS
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CHIEFS-CHARGERS — Travis Kelce scored on a 34-yard pass from Patrick Mahomes in overtime and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied for a 34-28 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. By Sports Writer Joe Reedy. SENT: 990 words, photos.
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ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT
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SEXUAL-MISCONDUCT-CHRIS-NOTH — “Sex and the City” actor Chris Noth has been accused of sexually assaulting two women, who shared their accounts with the trade publication The Hollywood Reporter, allegations Noth denies. By Television Writer Lynn Elber. SENT: 740 words, photo.
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HOW TO REACH US
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At the Nerve Center, Jerome Minerva can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Wally Santana (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 844-777-2006.
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