AP News Digest 3 a.m.

Hong Kong Tiananmen Monument
Hong Kong Tiananmen Monument

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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TOP STORIES ______________

VIRUS OUTBREAK — For the second year in a row, the ever-morphing coronavirus presents would-be holiday revelers with a difficult choice: cancel their trips and celebrations yet again or figure out how to forge ahead as safely as possible. Many health experts are begging people not to let down their guard, but pandemic fatigue is real. While travel restrictions in some places have forced cancellations, many governments have been reluctant to order more lockdowns. Instead they are increasingly leaving decisions about who to see and where to go in the hands of individuals. By Laura Ungar and Tali Arbel. SENT: 1,200 words, photos. WITH: VIRUS OUTBREAK-OMICRON SEVERITY (sent); VIRUS OUTBREAK-TREATMENT (sent); VIRUS OUTBREAK-THE LATEST (sent).

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHINA — China has ordered a lockdown of the 13 million residents of the northern city of Xi’an in the face of a small but growing COVID-19 outbreak. The measure comes just weeks before the country hosts the Winter Olympics in Beijing Authorities have adopted strict pandemic control measures under their policy of seeking to drive new transmissions to zero, leading to frequent lockdowns, universal masking and mass testing. SENT: 450 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN-CLIMATE CHANGE-DROUGHT — The climate has changed in the last few decades in a valley in northwestern Afghanistan, leaving the earth barren and people struggling to survive, dependent on aid. Repeated droughts have parched the land; there are no pastures for livestock and nowhere to grow life-sustaining crops. The severe drought now gripping Afghanistan has dramatically worsened the already desperate situation in the country, and experts predict climate change will make such events even more severe. By Elena Becatoros. SENT: 1,200 words, photos, video.

INTELLIGENCE-FOREIGN INTERFERENCE — As Russia was working to subvert U.S. elections and sow discord among Americans, Congress directed the creation of an intelligence center to lead efforts to stop interference by foreign adversaries. But two years later, that center still is not close to opening. The intelligence community and Congress remain divided over the center’s mission, budget and size, according to current and former officials. SENT: 1,160 words, photos.

DAUNTE WRIGHT-OFFICER TRIAL — The jury at the trial of a suburban Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed Black motorist Daunte Wright was to return Thursday for a fourth day of deliberations as the Christmas holiday loomed. The jury weighing Kim Potter’s fate has been out 2 1/2 days, or about 23 hours, since getting the case Monday following closing arguments. By Amy Forliti and Scott Bauer. SENT: 450 words, photos, video.

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TRENDING NEWS ___________________

JEFFREY EPSTEIN-MAXWELL TRIAL — Ghislaine Maxwell trial deliberations halt until Monday. SENT: 450 words, photos.

CONGRESSWOMAN-CARJACKING — Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon was carjacked at gunpoint by two men in a south Philadelphia park but wasn’t injured, police and her office said. SENT: 350 words, photos.

GUAM-COCKFIGHTING — A U.S. appeals court has affirmed a ban against cockfighting in U.S. territories. SENT: 270 words, photos.

OBIT-SALLY ANN HOWES — Sally Ann Howes, who played as a child actor before she later starred in the 1968 film “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” with Dick Van Dyke, has died. She was 91. SENT: 250 words, photos.

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MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK __________________________________

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VACCINE MANDATE — The Supreme Court says it will hold a special session in just over two weeks to hear arguments on the Biden administration’s vaccine or testing requirement for large employers and a separate vaccine requirement for healthcare workers, an announcement that comes amid rising coronavirus cases. SENT: 400 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VIRAL QUESTIONS-VACCINE-KIDS — Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children? Yes, U.S. regulators authorized Pfizer’s vaccine for younger children after millions of 12- to 17-year-olds already safely got the shot, the only one available for children in the country. SENT: 400 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CALIFORNIA — California’s roughly 2.5 million health care workers have until Feb. 1 to get a coronavirus vaccine booster shot or risk losing their jobs. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new rule on Wednesday. SENT: 850 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-AUSTRALIA — Australia has reported a major spike in coronavirus infections, prompting the worst-hit state of New South Wales to reimpose mask wearing indoors. SENT: 500 words, photos.

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WASHINGTON ______________

VIRUS OUTBREAK-BIDEN MESSAGING — President Joe Biden’s message to the American people on confronting the omicron coronavirus variant comes with a heavy dose of cajoling. That’s while some other countries are issuing decrees to their citizens. America’s ideologically polarized reaction to vaccines and masks, and its federal system in which states have broad authority over health matters, limits some of the options Biden can exercise. SENT: 900 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CONGRESS — House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn says he has tested positive for COVID-19, though he is fully vaccinated with a booster and has no symptoms. SENT: 150 words, photo.

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NATIONAL ______________

INFRASTRUCTURE BILL-TRIBES — The massive infrastructure bill signed earlier this year promises to bring change to Native American tribes that lack clean water or indoor plumbing through the largest single infusion of money into Indian Country. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.

THERANOS FOUNDER-FRAUD TRIAL — The jurors assessing 11 charges of fraud and conspiracy against former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes are scheduled to begin their third day of deliberations Thursday. They’re also considering taking next week off, after initially that they’d be willing to deliberate during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. SENT: 450 words, photos.

ISLAMIC STATE-HUSTON — A Texas man convicted of providing material support to the Islamic State group was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in federal prison after the government appealed his previous sentence, saying it was too lenient. SENT: 300 words, photo.

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INTERNATIONAL ___________________

HONG KONG-TIANANMEN MONUMENT — A monument at a Hong Kong university that commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre has been removed by workers over the objections of its creator from Denmark. The 26-foot-tall Pillar of Shame, which depicts 50 torn and twisted bodies piled on top of each other, was made by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt to symbolize the lives lost during the bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing on June 4, 1989. SENT: 700 words, photos.

DUBAI-POST COVID BOOM — The globalized city-state of Dubai appears to be in the midst of a boom season. It’s a surge in growth spurred on by one of the world’s highest vaccination rates and government moves to de-escalate tensions with regional rivals and lure foreign businesses. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

INDIA-ARMY KILLINGS — High up in the hills along India’s border with Myanmar, Oting village in the northeastern state of Nagaland is in mourning after more than a dozen people were killed by soldiers. The Indian army says it was a case of mistaken identity and the soldiers thought some of the people were militants, but local residents have strongly disputed this. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

MIDEAST-ARMS SEIZURE — The U.S. Navy says it has seized a large cache of assault rifles and ammunition being smuggled by a fishing ship from Iran likely bound for war-ravaged Yemen. SENT: 400 words, photos.

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BUSINESS/ECONOMY _____________________

AMAZON WEB SERVICE OUTAGE-EXPLAINER — A major outage in Amazon’s cloud computing network on Dec. 7 severely disrupted services at a wide range of U.S. companies for hours, raising questions about the vulnerability of the internet and its concentration in the hands of a few firms. SENT: 850 words, photos.

FINANCIAL MARKETS — Asian shares are higher after stocks advanced on Wall Street, buoyed by encouraging reports about the potential impact of the omicron variant of coronavirus. SENT: 450 words, photos.

CHINA INTEL XINJIAN — Intel Corp. has apologized for asking suppliers to avoid sourcing goods from Xinjiang after the chipmaker became the latest foreign brand attacked by state media over the region where authorities are accused of widespread abuses. SENT: 250 words, photos.

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HEALTH/SCIENCE _________________

US OPIOID CRISIS-ANIMAL TRANQUILIZER — An animal tranquilizer is turning up in drug overdoses across the country. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says xylazine was involved in fatal drug overdoses in 23 states in 2019, with a highest rate — 67% — happening in the Northeast. SENT: 950 words, photos.

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OLY—HK0-BEIJING 2022-LIFE WITHOUT NHL — The Russian team will be the favorite for the Olympic hockey men’s gold medal after the NHL withdrew from sending players to Beijing because of the disruption caused by coronavirus outbreaks. Russia with the KHL has the strongest league outside the NHL and is hopeful of retaining the gold medal it won in 2018. SENT: 800 words, photos.

HKN-HIRING ANGELS — Angels for Higher is giving people with Down syndrome opportunities to work as greeters at sports arenas and other venues across the country. SENT: 800 words, photos.

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HOW TO REACH US

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The Nerve Center 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 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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