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AP News Digest 3 a.m.

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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CHINA-TESTING KITS — Secrecy and cronyism crippled China’s testing capacity in the early days of the outbreak, an Associated Press investigation has found. The China CDC selected three companies with close ties to CDC officials to make the first coronavirus test kits – even as they withheld critical information about the virus from other scientists. As a result, other laboratories couldn’t test for the pathogen, allowing it to spread undetected through Wuhan for weeks. After the city was locked down, medical staff grappled with critical shortages of test kits, and many were faulty, hampering patient access to care. By SENT: Dake Kang. 3,750 words, photos. There is an abridged version of this story.

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TOP STORIES

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VIRUS OUTBREAK-US SURGE — U.S. hospitals slammed with COVID-19 patients are trying to lure nurses and doctors out of retirement, recruiting students and new graduates who have yet to earn their licenses and offering eye-popping salaries in a desperate effort to ease staffing shortages. By Grant Schulte and Amy Forliti. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.

ELECTION-MENACING AFTERMATH — The last weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency have turned ugly — even potentially dangerous — for some of the people he blames for the loss he refuses to accept. Death threats are emerging against some of the officials named in Trump’s grievances about how the election was conducted. By Colleen Long and Calvin Woodward. SENT: 1,510 words, photos, video.

BIDEN-HEALTH CARE — Up soon for President-elect Joe Biden: naming his top health care officials as the coronavirus pandemic rages. It’s hard to imagine more consequential picks. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 700 words, photos. With BIDEN-PENTAGON — Biden faces escalating pressure from competing factions of own party as he finalizes his choice for secretary of defense; BIDEN-JUSTICE DEPARTMENT — Outgoing Attorney General William Barr’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won’t have an easy transition (both sent).

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CONGRESS — President-elect Joe Biden swings behind a bipartisan COVID-19 relief effort as his top Capitol Hill allies cut their demands for a $2 trillion-plus measure by more than half. By Andrew Taylor. SENT: 770 words, photos.

IRAQ-US-EXPLAINING THE DRAWDOWN — The planned withdrawal of 500 American forces from Iraq by mid-January, leaving 2,500 in place, is unlikely to have an immediate impact on Iraqi forces’ ability to combat remnants of the Islamic State group. But Iraq still relies heavily on foreign military support, including intelligence gathering, aviation and logistical assistance. A wider pullback could set the stage for a resurgence of the extremist group, which seized a third of the country in 2014, less than three years after the U.S. withdrew all its forces. Iran would also welcome a U.S. pullback, which would allow it to further deepen its influence in Iraq. By Samya Kullab. SENT: 980 words, photos.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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ONLINE CLASS-BOY SHOT — An 11-year-old California boy has died after shooting himself during a Zoom distance-learning class while his microphone and camera were off. SENT: 220 words, photo.

EGYPT-BUILDING COLLAPSE — An apartment building has collapsed in Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Alexandria, and officials say at least six people are dead. SENT: 230 words, photos.

TURKEY EARTHQUAKE — Turkey’s disaster authority and the U.S. Geological Survey say a 5.0 magnitude earthquake has struck Siirt in southeastern Turkey. SENT: 120 words.

AUSTRALIA-CHINA-GRAPHIC TWEET — A diplomatic war of words between Australia and China over a graphic tweet seems to finally cool as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a much more conciliatory tone. SENT: 380 words, photos.

DAYTIME METEOR — A noontime boom that was heard and felt from southern Ontario to Virginia was likely caused by a disintegrating meteor, according to an organization in western New York that keeps track of such phenomena. SENT: 330 words.

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MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

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VIRUS OUTBREAK-VIRAL QUESTIONS-BUTTONS — It’s hard to verify whether “self-cleaning” elevator buttons really work, but scientists say it would be difficult to catch the virus from such surfaces anyway. Self-cleaning and antiviral buttons and covers have become more common in the pandemic. But COVID-19 is an airborne disease, so experts say you shouldn’t really worry about the effectiveness of such features. SENT: 220 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOS ANGELAS — The city of Pasadena has kept outdoor dining open despite Los Angeles County restricting restaurants to takeout to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. A surge of COVID-19 cases last week in the nation’s most populous county led to a three-week end to outdoor dining and then a broader stay-home order that took effect Monday. SENT: 1,061 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SANTA CLAUSE — Portraying Santa Claus in the Coronavirus Age requires many precautions. Being over 60 and chunky might make for a perfect Santa, but could also signal the kinds of underlying physical conditions that lead to serious complications from the virus. SENT: 1,010 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOS ANGELES — The city of Pasadena has kept outdoor dining open despite Los Angeles County restricting restaurants to takeout to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. SENT: 1,060 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SKOREA — Hundreds of thousands of masked students in South Korea, including 35 confirmed COVID-19 patients, have taken the highly competitive university entrance exam despite a viral resurgence. SENT: 480 words, photos

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ASIA — Hundreds of thousands of masked students in South Korea, including 35 confirmed COVID-19 patients, have taken the highly competitive university entrance exam despite a viral resurgence that forced authorities to toughen social distancing rules. SENT: 300 words, photos.

Find more coverage on the Virus Outbreak on the featured topic page in AP Newsroom.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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BIDEN-PRESS SECRETARY — President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, wants to restore the prestige — and credibility — of the position. Psaki says she views the core of her new job as rebuilding trust in government, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. By Will Weissert. SENT: 1,280 words, photos.

TRUMP-FACT CHECK — President Donald Trump is repeating false claims of widespread vote rigging that even his own attorney general has disputed. That’s the finding of an AP Fact Check SENT: 1,700 words, photo.

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INTERNATIONAL

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HONG KONG-JIMMY LAI — Outspoken Hong Kong pro-democracy advocate and media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been refused bail on a fraud charge amid a growing crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous city. Jimmy Lai of Next Digital, which publishes the Apple Daily newspaper, was among 10 people arrested Aug. 10 on what police said was suspicion of violating a national security law and collusion with a foreign country. SENT: 380 words, photos.

FRANCE OBIT-GISCARD D'ESTAING — Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who became a champion of European integration during his 1974-1981 presidency, has died at age 94. Giscard d’Estaing’s office said Wednesday night that he passed away in his family home in the Loir-et-Cher region, in central France, after contracting COVID-19. SENT: 700 words, photos.

INDIA FARMER-PROTESTS-PHOTO GALLERY — Instead of cars, the normally busy highway on the outskirts of New Delhi that connects most northern Indian towns to the capital is filled with tens of thousands of protesting farmers, many wearing colorful turbans. SENT: 380 words, photos.

CHINA-FORCED LABOR — The U.S. will block imports from a major Chinese producer of cotton goods for its suspected use of workers detained as part of a crackdown on ethnic minorities. SENT: 430 words.

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NATIONAL

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POLICE SHOOTING-WISCONSIN-KENOSHA — A 17-year-old Illinois man accused of killing two men during an August protest in Wisconsin faces a preliminary hearing in the case. Hearings such as the one Thursday in Kenosha are generally used to determine whether enough evidence exists to proceed to a trial. Kyle Rittenhouse is charged with homicide and attempted homicide in the shootings. SENT: 360 words, photos. Hearing scheduled for 10:30 a.m. CT Thursday.

IMMIGRATION-SEPARATED FAMILIES — A court-appointed committee has yet to find the parents of 628 children separated at the border early in the Trump administration. A court filing Wednesday also says the government last week provided additional phone numbers to aid the long-running search. SENT: 530 words, photos.

OFFICER KILLED-CONVICTION OVERTURNED — Prosecutors will re-try a case against a man accused of killing a Los Angeles police officer over 30 years ago but the incoming district attorney will not seek the death penalty again despite the family’s wishes for capital punishment. Kenneth Earl Gay is charged with murder in the death of Officer Paul Verna in 1983. SENT: 770 words, photos.

ALASKA LANDSLIDES — Alaska authorities say it’s believed six people are missing and four homes have been destroyed after multiple mudslides were reported in the community of Haines on Wednesday. SENT: 570 words, photos.

FEMA-HARASSMENT — More than a quarter of workers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency say they have been harassed or discriminated against based on their gender or race, according to a new survey. SENT: 580 words, photo.

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HEALTH & SCIENCE

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CHINA MOON-PROBE — China’s space agency says its latest lunar probe has finished taking samples of the moon’s surface and sealed them within the spacecraft for return to Earth. SENT: 440 words, photos.

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BUSINESS/ECONOMY

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NEW ZEALAND-SEAN PARKER — New Zealand authorities have approved tech billionaire Sean Parker’s purchase of a one-third stake in film director Peter Jackson’s visual effects studio. Parker needed special permission from the Overseas Investment Office because he isn’t a New Zealand resident and the Weta Digital studio is worth more than 100 million New Zealand dollars ($71 million). SENT: 310 words, photos.

FINANCIAL-MARKETS — Shares are mostly higher in Asia, helped by progress toward rolling out coronavirus vaccines and talk of reaching a compromise on new help for the U.S. economy. SENT: 830 words, photos.

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ENTERTAINMENT

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APPLE MUSIC-END OF THE YEAR — Roddy Ricch is the king of Apple Music: The rapper has the music platform’s most-streamed song and album of the year. Apple announced Thursday that Ricch achieved the feat with his hit “The Box” and his debut album, “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial.” SENT: 250 words, photo.

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SPORTS

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FBN-RAVENS STEELERS — Ben Roethlisberger threw for 266 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Steelers improved to 11-0 with a disjointed 19-14 win over the undermanned Baltimore Ravens. The game was postponed three times while the Ravens dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak that forced Baltimore to take the field minus star quarterback Lamar Jackson among others. By Will Graves. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

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HOW TO REACH US

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