AP News Digest 2 p.m.

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Sunday 08 August 2021 19:03 BST
APTOPIX Tokyo Olympics Closing Ceremony
APTOPIX Tokyo Olympics Closing Ceremony (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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Louise Thomas

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Here are the AP’s latest coverage plans, top stories and promotable content. All times EDT. For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org.




OLY--THE GAMES END — It began with a virus and a yearlong pause. It ended with a typhoon blowing through and, still, a virus. In between: just about everything. The Tokyo Olympics, christened with “2020” but held in mid-2021 after being interrupted for a year by the coronavirus, glided to their conclusion in a COVID-emptied stadium as an often surreal mixed bag for Japan and for the world. By Ted Anthony. SENT: 1,220 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN — Taliban fighters seized most of the capital of northern Afghanistan’s key Kunduz province and won a monthslong siege of a neighboring provincial capital — the latest in a series of blows to government forces as U.S. troops complete their pullout after two decades in the country. By Rahim Faiez and Brian Rohan. SENT: 710 words, photos.

GREECE WILDFIRES — Pillars of billowing smoke and ash turned the sky orange and blocked out the sun above Greece’s second-largest island as a days-old wildfire devoured pristine forests and encroached on villages, triggering more evacuation alerts. By Nicolae Dumitrache and Elena Becatoros. SENT: 930 words, photos. WITH RUSSIA-WILDFIRES — Russian authorities started to evacuate two villages in a vast region of Siberia where 155 active forest fires burned. SENT: 240 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FAUCI — The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci says he's hopeful the Food and Drug Administration will give full approval to the coronavirus vaccine by month’s end, and predicted the potential move will spur a wave of vaccine mandates in the private sector as well as schools and universities. By Aamer Madhani. SENT: 600 words, photos.

2020 CENSUS-UNANSWERED QUESTIONS — Census Bureau statisticians and outside experts are trying to unravel a mystery: Why did people leave so many questions unanswered in the 2020 census? The blank answers spanned all categories of questions and all modes of responding. Theories abound, from respondents not understanding the question to not wanting to answer because of distrust over a failed effort to put a citizenship question on the form. By Mike Schneider. SENT: 880 words, photos.

REL-FACEBOOK PRAYERS — Facebook already asks for your thoughts. Now it wants your prayers. The social media giant has rolled out a new prayer request feature, a tool embraced by some religious leaders as a cutting-edge way to engage the faithful online. Others are eyeing it warily as they weigh its usefulness against the privacy and security concerns they have with Facebook. By Holly Meyer and David Crary. SENT: 1,030 words, photos. This story is the Monday Spotlight

VIRUS OUTBREAK-HANDSHAKES IN LIMBO — As workers return to the office, friends reunite and more church services shift from Zoom to in person, the question of whether to shake hands or not is befuddling growing numbers of people. A handshake can symbolize connection, particularly after a long period of no touching. But hands can be germy. By Heather Hollingsworth. SENT: 1,020 words, photos.




OLY--BKL-EXPLAINER-WOMEN’S HOOPS-WHAT’S NEXT — The U.S. women’s team will look very different at the 2024 Paris Games as the group will try and keep its Olympic streak going with an eighth consecutive gold medal. Five-time gold medalist Sue Bird is retired from international basketball now and her longtime backcourt partner Diana Taurasi is undecided if she’ll continue to play. The Americans will also have a new coach as Dawn Staley says she’s also done. SENT: 700 words, photos.

OLY-ATH-THE WOMEN'S GAMES — They set records everyone saw coming and others that surprised the experts. They suffered, and battled, and spoke their truth in ways that hadn’t been heard before. Over nine days at the near-empty Olympic Stadium, the women of track and field delivered a memorable show, both inside the lines and out. SENT: 910 words, photos.

OLY-JAPAN-MEDAL-HAUL — Despite the pandemic, the one-year delay and the soaring costs, the Japanese public may still find a sweet spot for the Tokyo Olympics, the way it did for the storied 1964 Games. Why? A historic haul of medals. Japan had its best Olympic production in every category: the most gold medals (27), the most overall (58), and a third-place finish in gold medals behind two much larger countries — the United States and China. SENT: 630 words, photos.

OLY-OFF-SCRIPT OLYMPICS — his Pandemic Olympics has been the most off-script Games in history. If the Olympics is, as they like to say, one of the planet’s biggest stages, there was a lot of improv going on. SENT: 960 words, photos.

OLY-VOL-VOLLEYBALL — The decades-long quest for the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. women’s volleyball team ended when the Americans finally broke through with a straight-set victory over Brazil. SENT: 850 words, photos.

OLY-COE-CLIMATE CHALLENGE — World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says the effects of climate change will force sports bodies to rethink their calendar of events. SENT: 400 words, photos.




VIRUS OUTBREAK — Despite a sluggish start, the European Union’s COVID-19 vaccination drive has caught up to that of the United States, where the slowdown of the country’s once-vaunted campaign has contributed to the virus’s deadly comeback. SENT: 910 words, photos.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-MIDEAST — Iran, grappling with its most severe surge of the coronavirus to date, reported more new infections and deaths across the country than any other single day since the pandemic began. SENT: 320 words, photos.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-MASK-MANDATES — Businesses large and small, from McDonald’s and Home Depot to local yoga studios, are reinstituting mask mandates as U.S. coronavirus cases rise. Bars, gyms and restaurants across the country are requiring vaccines to get inside. After a largely mask-free summer, it’s a reversal no one wanted to see, brought on by the fast-spreading delta variant and new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. SENT: 920 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-RECKLESS DRIVERS — Motorists have felt the need to speed during the pandemic, a worrisome trend as roads get busier with the final stretch of summer travel. The number of highway deaths in 2020 was the greatest in more than a decade even though cars and trucks drove fewer miles during the pandemic, and motorists are continuing to speed, tailgate and zigzag through traffic. SENT: 730 words, photos.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-ZIMBABWE-VACCINES-VICTORIA-FALLS — Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls usually teems with tourists who come to marvel at the roaring Zambezi River as it tumbles down more than 350 feet (108 meters) to the gorge below, sending up a mist that is visible from miles away. SENT: 570 words, photos.




OBIT-MARKIE POST — Markie Post, TV veteran actor of ‘Night Court,’ dies at 70. SENT: 360 words, photo.

ODD-NOISY-PICKLEBALL — Knock it off! Loud pickleball games annoy some in Michigan. SENT: 160 words.




CONGRESS-INFRASTRUCTURE — Senators are back at work and laboring toward eventual passage of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. The Democratic leadership has vowed to stay as long as it takes to overcome Republican holdouts who want to drag out final votes on one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities. That means late night and early morning sessions before final passage, which may come Tuesday. SENT: 830 words, photos.

VOTING BILL-ZUCKERBERG — When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated $400 million to help fund election offices as they scrambled to deal with the coronavirus pandemic late last summer, he said he hoped he would never have to do it again. Republican legislatures are granting him that wish. At least eight GOP-controlled states have passed bans on donations to election offices this year as Republicans try to block outside funding of voting operations. SENT: 1,140 words, photos.




TWO STATUES-MISSISSIPPI — For more than a century, one of Mississippi’s largest and most elaborate Confederate monuments has looked out over the lawn at the courthouse in the center of Greenwood. It’s a Black-majority city with a rich civil rights history, not far from where 14-year-old Emmett Till was murdered in 1955. Efforts to remove the Confederate monument, and create one honoring Till, have left some dissatisfied. SENT: 1,580 words, photos.

WESTERN WILDFIRES — Fueled by strong winds and bone-dry vegetation, California’s Dixie Fire has grown to become the largest single wildfire in state history. Residents of scenic forestlands in Northern California face a weekend of fear with the blaze threatening to reduce thousands of homes to ashes. SENT: 890 words, photos.

GEORGE FLOYD-MINNEAPOLIS POLICE — Activists in Minneapolis are making a second attempt to get rid of the city’s police department, more than a year after George Floyd’s death at the hands of officers. In the heat of summer, they’re hitting doorsteps in an effort to persuade people to vote this November to replace the department with a new public safety unit that will have licensed peace officers “if necessary.” SENT: 1,030 words, photo.




BELARUS-REPRESSIVE YEAR — President Alexander Lukashenko has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since taking power in 1994. But when massive protests that began last August presented him with an unprecedented challenge, he responded with exceptional force. That turned out to be the opening salvo in a year of intense repression. SENT: 1,150 words, photos.

POLAND-BELARUS-PROTEST — Hundreds of people, among them many Belarusians living in exile in Poland, marched in Warsaw to protest political repression in neighboring Belarus — a demonstration held on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Belarus presidential election that they consider rigged. SENT: 420 words, photos.

CUBA-US-MIGRATION — Cuba is seeing a surge in unauthorized migration to the United States, fueled by an economic crisis. Many have launched themselves into the sea on small boats or rafts to attempt the dangerous crossing of the Florida Straits. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.

ISRAEL-LEBANON — Israel’s prime minister said he holds the Lebanese government responsible for rocket fire launched from its territory, whether the Hezbollah militant group launched the weapons or not. SENT: 300 words, photos.

TURKEY-WILDFIRES-BEES — Turkey’s wildfires have left little behind, turning green forests into ashen, barren hills. The destruction is being intensely felt by Turkey’s beekeepers, who have lost thousands of hives as well as the pine trees and the insects their bees depend on. Twelve days of deadly wildfires have dealt a major blow to Turkey’s honey industry and even its longer term prospects appear bleak. SENT: 920 words, photos.




SOC--BARCELONA-MESSI — Lionel Messi began crying before he even started speaking. The “most difficult” moment of his career had arrived and he wasn’t ready for it. It was time to say goodbye to Barcelona after more than two decades with the Catalan club. SENT: 910 words, photos.

FBC--OBIT-BOBBY BOWDEN — Bobby Bowden, the folksy Hall of Fame coach who built Florida State into an unprecedented college football dynasty, has died at 91. SENT: 1,780 words, photos. With FBC--OBIT-BOBBY BOWDEN-REACTION — Bowden remembered as coaching legend on and off the field. SENT: 660 words, photos.




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