Honor guard soldiers carry the coffin of the late Romanian King Michael during the funeral ceremony outside the former royal palace in Bucharest, Romania, Saturday, Dec.16, 2017. Thousands waited in line to pay their respects to Former King Michael, who ruled Romania during WWII, and died on Dec. 5, 2017, aged 96, in Switzerland. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

BC-AP News Digest 6 pm

December 16, 2017 - 6:01 pm

Here are the AP's latest coverage plans, top stories and promotable content. All times EST.








CONGRESS-TAXES-POLITICS — The most potent victory that Republicans would savor by pushing their tax bill through Congress next week may well be what it averts — another big GOP legislative failure in the age of Trump. Democrats view the legislation as a rich political opportunity, saying it's skewed to corporations and the wealthy. By Alan Fram. SENT: 860 words, photo. WITH: CONGRESS-TAXES — Trump defends tax plan as good deal for middle class, suggests it could lead to explosive economic growth. "We are really going to start to rock," he says. SENT: 760 words, photos.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-SIGN-UPS — A deadline burst of sign-ups after a tumultuous year for the Obama health law has revealed continued demand for the program's subsidized individual health plans. But even if a full repeal now seems off the table, actions by the Republican-led Congress and the administration could undermine insurance markets. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 860 words, photo. WITH: HEALTH OVERHAUL-DEADLINE — A rush of last-minute sign-ups prompts a deadline extension for some to finish applications for 2018 coverage. SENT: 130 words.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES — Fleeing residents turn downtown Santa Barbara into "a ghost town" as surging winds drive one of the biggest fires in California's history toward the city and the nearby wealthy enclave of Montecito. The 404-square-mile (1,046-sq. kilometer) Thomas Fire moves rapidly westward and crests Montecito Peak, just north of the enclave that boasts the mansions of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and many other celebrities. 970 words, photos. UPCOMING: Developing.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT-CONSENT — With every new allegation of sexual misconduct, Harvey Weinstein has said the same thing: He denies any nonconsensual sex. Other men accused of misconduct, like Russell Simmons, have said the same thing. But what IS consent? It's perhaps the central concept in the law governing sexual misconduct, and yet there is no consensus definition — in our culture, or in our laws. Advocates for victims hope that this may finally change. By National Writer Jocelyn Noveck. SENT: 1,000 words, photos. Eds: This story is this week's Sunday Spotlight.

SOUTH AFRICA-LEADERSHIP FIGHT — The fight to replace South Africa's scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma begins as thousands of delegates of the ruling African National Congress gather to elect a new leader who likely will become the country's next president in 2019 elections. Zuma acknowledges "failures" that have weakened the party of Nelson Mandela. By Krista Mahr. SENT: 720 words, photos. WITH: SOUTH AFRICA-LEADERSHIP FIGHT-CANDIDATES.

WHITE MARLIN OPEN — Phil Heasley caught the fish of his life, but the $2.8 million in tournament prize money got away. Heasley reeled in a 6-foot white marlin last year off Maryland's coast. But officials made him and his crew take lie detector tests, and they say all four men failed. Heasley is now in a protracted court battle over the winnings and his crew's reputation. By Ben Finley. SENT: 800 words, photos.




FIONA-OFF THE BOTTLE — Fiona the baby hippopotamus will soon eat nothing but grown-up hippo food as she's weaned from her bottles of formula, The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden says. SENT: 130 words, photo.

NBA PLAYER KILLED — The ex-wife of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright has been charged in his slaying, more than seven years after his body was found in a field in his hometown of Memphis. By Adrian Sainz. SENT: 670 words, photos.

BIOTERROR DRILL-INSECTICIDE — Five Native American tribes that own an Oklahoma site where the U.S. Department of Homeland Security intends to conduct bioterrorism drills next year now oppose the government's plan, saying the agency didn't inform them about chemicals it plans to release on grounds the tribes consider sacred because more than 100 children are buried there. By Justin Juozapavicius. SENT: 670 words, photos.

SKI LIFT MALFUNCTION — Police say a chair lift malfunction at a ski resort in central Pennsylvania strands dozens and leaves five people with minor injuries. SENT: 130 words.

EAT CRICKETS-WIN TICKETS — A Georgia theme park is offering guests a free ticket if they eat a cricket. SENT: 130 words.




FACT CHECK-WEEK — Like Roy Moore before him, President Donald Trump has denied he knows or ever met women who have accused him of unwanted sexual advances. Trump's tweet on the subject is at odds with the record — photos included — and was just one in a series of questionable statements he made over the past week on a variety of subjects. By Calvin Woodward. SENT: 1,060 words, photo.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT-NEVADA LAWMAKER — First-term Democratic Congressman Ruben Kihuen of Nevada says he won't seek re-election even as he denies sexual harassment allegations. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 350 words, photo.

ABORTION POLITICS — Conservative Alabama has elected a Democrat who supports abortion rights. But exit polls showed Doug Jones drew important crossover votes from Republicans who think abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. By Bill Barrow. SENT: 800 words, photos.

COAL MINE SAFETY — Three years after the Obama administration lowered the allowable limits for miners' exposure to coal dust, the Trump administration has brought the standards up for review. SENT: 540 words.

NORTH DAKOTA SENATE-GOP — In North Dakota, where Donald Trump won in a landslide last year, Republicans' lone Senate candidate is a little-known state lawmaker — and potato farmer — from a remote small town. The GOP is struggling to land a big name in North Dakota. SENT: 840 words, photos.




ZIMBABWE-FAR FROM MUGABE — Some in Zimbabwe's far-flung areas still haven't heard about the dramatic ouster of Robert Mugabe last month after 37 years in power. As new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa tries to revive a shattered economy, reforms are bumping up against a rural lifestyle where infrastructure is shaky or absent and news often travels by word of mouth. Clearly not all news has arrived. By Farai Mutsaka. SENT: 500 words, photos.

ROMANIA-KING'S FUNERAL — Tens of thousands of Romanians joined European royals to pay their respects to King Michael, Romania's last monarch and a ruler remembered for his dignity and morality, as he was given a state funeral. Michael, who ruled Romania twice before being forced to abdicate by the communists in 1947, died at age 96 in Switzerland on Dec. 5. By Alison Mutler. SENT: 650 words, photos. WITH: ROMANIA-KING'S FUNERAL-FIVE THINGS — SENT: 600 words, photos.

VATICAN-RELICS-RULES — The Vatican's saint-making office has updated its rules governing the use of relics for would-be saints, now explicitly prohibiting sales of the hair strands, hands, teeth and other body parts of saints that often fetch high prices in online auctions. By Nicole Winfield. SENT: 600 words, photos. WITH: VATICAN-MEDIA — Pope Francis is criticizing journalists who dredge up old scandals and sensationalize the news, saying it's a "very serious sin" that hurts all involved. SENT: 130 words, photos.

EGYPT-LIBRARY — Egypt reopens an ancient library which holds thousands of centuries-old religious and historical manuscripts at the famed St. Catherine Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in South Sinai. By Samy Magdy. SENT: 500 words, photos.

INDIA-GANDHI — Rahul Gandhi, the scion of India's most famous political dynasty, takes over as president of the main opposition Congress party while facing a stiff challenge from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Hindu nationalists. By Ashok Sharma. SENT: 540 words, photos.

AUSTRIA-NEW GOVERNMENT — The new Austrian government led by a conservative and a nationalist party is pledging to tighten the country's asylum and immigration regulations while maintaining a firm commitment to the European Union. By David Rising. SENT: 500 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-POLITICS — The Australian government wins a crucial by-election that restores its tenuous grip on power that was threatened by a constitutional ban on dual citizens sitting in Parliament. By Rod McGuirk.




SUBWAY EXPLOSION-BANGLADESHI WORRIES — When a 27-year-old immigrant from Bangladesh attempted to set off a pipe bomb in New York City's subway system, it didn't just rattle commuters. The city's Bangladeshi community is concerned about what that could mean for their immigration future in a political climate where the attack is already being used by President Donald Trump and others as yet more reasons immigration needs to be restricted. By Deepti Hajela and Verena Dobnik. SENT: 700 words, photo, video.

PIPELINE PROTEST-PURCHASES — North Dakota law enforcement purchased more than $600,000 worth of body armor, tactical equipment and crowd control devices during the height of protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, state invoices show. By Blake Nicholson. SENT: 700 words, photo.




SEXUAL MISCONDUCT-HOLLYWOOD COMMISSION — Hollywood executives and other major players in entertainment have established a commission to be chaired by Anita Hill that intends to combat sexual misconduct and inequality across the industry. SENT: 400 words, photos.




CANADIENS-SENATORS — The NHL marks its 100th anniversary with an outdoor game between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators at Lansdowne Park. Temperatures could drop to 7 degrees, with a slight chance of snow, in this game between division rivals at NHL 100 Classic. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 7 p.m.

THUNDER-KNICKS — Carmelo Anthony plays his first game in New York since he was traded to Oklahoma City when the Thunder visit the Knicks. Anthony is not sure how he'll be received now that he's playing in Kristaps Porzingis' house. Kristaps Porzingis is questionable because of a sore left knee. By Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 7:30 p.m.




For the Nerve Center, Rob Jagodzinski 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 [email protected] or call 877-836-9477.

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