AP News Digest 4 a.m.

Via AP news wire
Wednesday 17 March 2021 07:54
CORRECTION Massage Parlor Shooting
CORRECTION Massage Parlor Shooting

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.

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ONLY ON AP

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RACIAL INJUSTICE-PROPGANDA REPORT — A new report from the Anti-Defamation League says white supremacist propaganda surged across the U.S. in 2020. The anti-hate organization provided the report Wednesday to The Associated Press. It says there were 5,125 cases of racist, anti-Semitic and other hateful messages spread through physical flyers, stickers, banners and posters. The group says that last year marked the highest level of white supremacist propaganda seen in at least a decade. A former far-right extremist who founded a deradicalization group says white supremacist and extremist recruiters see crises like the coronavirus pandemic, national reckoning over racism and heated election as opportunities. By Aaron Morrison. SENT: 610 words, photos.

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TOP STORIES

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MASSAGE PARLOR-SHOOTING — Authorities say a 21-year-old man has been captured hours after eight people were killed in shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. Cherokee County sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker said Robert Aaron Long of Woodstock, Georgia, was taken into custody in Crisp County on Tuesday night. Crisp County is about 150 miles south of Atlanta Four people were killed at a massage parlor in Acworth. Shortly after, three people were killed at a spa in northeast Atlanta, while a fourth person was killed at another spa across the street. The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States. By Kate Brumbak. SENT: 610 words, photos.

ELECTION 2020-FOREIGN INTERFERENCE — Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized influence operations to help Donald Trump in last November’s presidential election. That’s according to a declassified intelligence assessment that found broad efforts by the Kremlin and Iran to shape the outcome of the race but ultimately no evidence that any foreign actor changed votes or otherwise disrupted the voting process. By Eric Tucker. SENT: 910 words, photos.

BIDEN —President Joe Biden has visited a small, minority-owned business in suburban Philadelphia to showcase his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. He underscored that the huge relief package was passed without any help from Republican lawmakers as he sought to highlight how the bill will help small businesses imperiled by the public health crisis. By Josh Boak, Darlene Superville and Aamer Madhani. SENT: 770 words, photos.

CUOMO-SEXUAL HARASSMENT — President Joe Biden says New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should resign if the state attorney general’s investigation confirms the sexual harassment allegations against him. Biden made the remarks in an interview with ABC News that is scheduled to air Wednesday morning. When asked by anchor George Stephanopoulos if the investigation confirms the claims of the women, should Cuomo resign, Biden said “yes,” adding, “I think he’d probably end up being prosecuted, too.” Cuomo is facing allegations that he sexually harassed or behaved inappropriately toward multiple women, including several former staffers. He has denied touching any women inappropriately. SENT: 560 words, photos.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK — The European Union’s drug regulator is insisting that there is “no indication” the AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots as governments around the world faced the grimmest of dilemmas: push on with a vaccine known to save lives or suspend its use over reports of clotting in some recipients. By Raf Casert and Frank Jordans. SENT: 1,049 words, photos.

SYRIA-10 YEARS — The city of Daraa was the first place in Syria to explode into protests against the rule of President Bashar Assad in March 2011. Located in the rural south, it had long been neglected, its population overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim and largely impoverished. As the country marks the 10th anniversary of those protests, Daraa is back under government control, but only tenuously. It still feels perched on the rim of an active volcano, boiling with resentments, battered by an economic crisis and rife with armed groups caught between Russia, Iran and the government. SENT: 1,960 words, photos. There is an abridged version of this story.

GEORGE FLOYD-OFFICER TRIAL — Arguments over whether to allow evidence from a 2019 arrest of George Floyd into the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer are highlighting a key battleground in the case. Eric Nelson, an attorney for former officer Derek Chauvin, argues that the circumstances of that arrest are so similar to Floyd’s arrest in 2020 that the jury should hear about them. By Steve Karnowski and Amy Forliti. SENT: 1,170 words, photos. With EXPLAINING GEORGE FLOYD-OFFICER-TRIAL-DECODING JURY QUESTIONS — What’s behind some Chauvin jury questions? SENT: 810 words, photos.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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TRUMP-VACCINATION — Former President Donald Trump is again urging people to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. SENT: 170 words, photo.

ST. PATRICK'S PARADE-NYC — A largely virtual St. Patrick’s Day is planned for New York City on Wednesday, one year after the annual parade celebrating Irish heritage became one of the city’s first coronavirus casualties. SENT: 340 words, photos.

GERMANY-THEATER MANAGER — The manager of a prominent Berlin theater has stepped down in the wake of accusations by women of bullying and sexual harassment. SENT: 230 words.

SERIAL STOWAWAYS-ARREST — A woman with a history of stowing away on airliners has been arrested for attempting to sneak onto a flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. SENT: 280 words, photo.

BULGARIA-COUNTERFEIT MONEY — Bulgarian authorities say police seized high-quality forged banknotes produced at a printing office at a university in the capital. SENT: 130 words, photos.

IRAN-FIRE FESTIVAL DEATHS — State TV says mishaps during an annual fire festival in Iran have left at least 10 people dead and hundreds more injured around the country. SENT: 250 words.

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MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

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VIRUS OUTBREAK-PAPUA-NEW GUINEA — Australia will send COVID-19 vaccines from its own supply to neighboring Papua New Guinea and will ask AstraZeneca to send more to try to contain a concerning wave of infections. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 8,000 doses would be sent next week for front-line health workers and he and his Papua New Guinea counterpart would ask AstraZeneca to send another 1 million doses. SENT: 690 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHICAGO SCHOOLS — Leaders with Chicago Public Schools say they’re eyeing an April reopening for high school students to return for limited in-person instruction. SENT: 300 words, photos.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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CONGRESS-SENATE RULES — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is warning ominously of a “scorched earth” landscape if Democrats use their new majority to bring an end to the Senate filibuster process. Senators have been considering changes to the decades-old rules that typically require 60 votes to advance legislation. By Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro. SENT: 840 words, photo.

MIGRANT CHILDREN — A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. The head of Homeland Security acknowledged the severity of the problem Tuesday but insisted it’s under control and said he won’t revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. By Ben Fox and Elliot Spagat. SENT: 1,20 words, photos.

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INTERNATIONAL

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CHINA-US — The U.S. has sanctioned an additional 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials over Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on political freedoms in the semi-autonomous city, just ahead of talks aimed at reducing tensions between the two countries. The sanctions follow changes to Hong Kong’s electoral law giving a pro-Beijing committee power to appoint more of Hong Kong’s lawmakers, effectively shutting opposition figures out of the process. SENT: 640 words, photos.

NETHERLANDS-ELECTION — Thousands of voting booths have opened across the Netherlands on the final day of a general election overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte is seeking a fourth term in office. SENT: 520 words, photos.

MYANMAR — Violence has returned to Myanmar after demonstrators protesting last month’s military coup held small, peaceful marches before dawn and avoided confrontations with security forces who have shot and killed scores of their countrymen in recent days. In the largest city of Yangon, where casualties have been the highest, police used rubber bullets against crowds in several neighborhoods. SENT: 1,360 words, photos.

ASIA-US — Japan and the United States criticized China’s “coercion and aggression” in Asia as senior ministers from both countries held their first in-person talks since President Joe Biden took office in January. Aside from the sharp rhetoric aimed at Beijing, the meeting in Tokyo and a planned stop next in Seoul are also aimed at reassuring U.S. allies in Asia after four years of occasionally confrontational dealings with the Trump administration. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.

JAPAN-SAME SEX MARRIAGE RULING — A Japanese court has ruled the government’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, recognizing the rights of same-sex couples for the first time in the only Group of Seven country that doesn’t acknowledge their legal partnership. SENT: 420 words, photos.

NIGER-ATTACK — Niger’s government says that gunmen have attacked a group of civilians returning from market day, killing 58 people. The attack Monday took place in Niger’s troubled Tillaberi region, where 100 people were slain in a series of attacks back in January. SENT: 290 words. UPCOMING: Developing.

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NATIONAL

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CALIFORNIA FIREWORKS BLAST — Authorities say two people were killed when a fireworks stash exploded in inland Southern California, setting a house on fire, blowing out windows across the neighborhood, and sending up a huge plume of smoke. SENT: 460 words, photo.

KENTUCKY-EARLY VOTING — Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Kentucky moved closer toward loosening voting access laws to make limited early voting a fixture. It’s in sharp contrast to the bitter partisan battles being waged elsewhere over election laws. SENT: 700 words, photos.

TEXAS BLACKOUTS-RESIGNATION — The last Texas regulator on the Public Utility Commission at the time of the deadly February blackouts has resigned. Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday that he had asked for and received the resignation of Arthur D’Andrea. SENT: 400 words.

JESUITS-REPARATIONS — The U.S.-based branch of the Jesuits has unveiled ambitious plans for a “truth and reconciliation” initiative in partnership with descendants of slaves once owned by the Roman Catholic religious order. By National Writer David Crary. SENT: 940 words, photos.

TEXAS-HIGHWAY CRASH — Authorities say eight people in a Dodge pickup truck loaded with immigrants were killed when the vehicle collided with another truck following a police chase near the Texas border city of Del Rio. SENT: 430 words, photo.

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BUSINESS/TECH

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FNANCIAL MARKETS — Asian shares fell in muted trading as world markets cautiously awaited the U.S. central bank’s latest assessment on the economy. Benchmarks in Japan, China, South Korea and Australia had slight declines. The U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest economic and interest rate projections are expected later in the day. SENT: 620 words, photos.

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SPORTS

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NCAA-BACK IN IT — Rutgers is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 30 years. There are other long-forgotten faces too. Welcome back, everyone! SENT: 1,250 words, photos.

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HOW TO REACH US

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