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AP News Digest 3:30 a.m.

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ONLY ON AP

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THE AP INTERVIEW-HEALTH SECRETARY — With COVID-19 cases rebounding abroad, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra tells the AP that unless Congress provides more money, tests and treatments will be “stuck on the ground” as the nation nears a “pivot point” in its long struggle with the coronavirus. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video.

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TOP STORIES

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RUSSIA-UKRAINE-WAR — As Russian forces pressed their assault on Ukraine, world leaders called anew for an investigation of the Kremlin’s repeat attacks on civilian targets. With mounting attacks on schools, hospitals and residential areas, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that American officials were evaluating whether war crimes were committed. By Andrea Rosa. SENT: 940 words, photos. WITH: RUSSIA-UKRAINE-WAR-THE LATEST; RUSSIA-UKRAINE-WAR-THINGS TO KNOW.

UNITED STATES-CHINA — Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping are set to speak as the White House warns China that providing military or economic aid to assist Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be met with severe consequences from Washington and beyond. By Aamer Madhani. SENT: 640 words, photo. UPCOMING: 990 words after 9 a.m. call.

RUSSIA PUTIN CRACKDOWN — Facing stiff resistance in Ukraine and with crippling economic sanctions at home, Russian President Vladimir Putin is using language that recalls the rhetoric from Josef Stalin’s show trials of the 1930s. Putin’s ominous speech Wednesday likened opponents to “gnats” who try to weaken the country at the behest of the West. His angry rant set the stage for sweeping repressions against those who dare to speak out against the war in Ukraine. SENT: 950 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHINA — Even as authorities lock down cities in China’s worst outbreak in two years, they are looking for an exit from what has been a successful but onerous COVID-19 prevention strategy. Public health experts caution that any plans to ease zero COVID measures are still sporadic and preliminary, and no timeline has been set. However, public messaging, a new study and officials indicate China is exploring a possible relaxation of some of its restrictions. By Dake Kang and Huizhong Wu. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

MED-GENETIC-STUDY — Scientists are getting their first peek at the genes of nearly 100,000 Americans in what’s considered a uniquely diverse genomic database. The National Institutes of Health released the data to help researchers study how people’s genes, environments and lifestyles interact to drive their health. Half the participants are from racial and ethnic groups historically left out of medical research. By Lauran Neergaard. SENT: 520 words, photos.

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MORE ON RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR

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RUSSIA-UKRAINE-WAR-NEUTRALITY EXPLAINER — In talks between Russia and Ukrainian towards a possible cease-fire after three weeks of intense fighting, negotiators are exploring prospects of a future “neutrality” for Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that had been moving closer to NATO in hopes of membership — infuriating Moscow. SENT:1,200 words, photos.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-WAR-US-CITIZEN-KILLED — An American man was killed in a Russian attack on the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, where he was seeking medical treatment for his partner. The death of Jim Hill was reported Thursday by his sister. SENT: 350 words, photos.

UKRAINE-WAR-BRANDS-STILL-IN-RUSSIA — As the war in Ukraine drags on, international companies still in Russia are coming under increasing pressure to leave. SENT: 950 words, photos.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-WAR-CONGRESS — The U.S. House has voted to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, paving the way for President Biden to enact higher tariffs. SENT: 610 words, photo.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE-WAR-MARS-MISSION — Because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe will no longer be attempting this year to send its first rover to Mars, which was to have probed whether the planet ever hosted life. SENT: 245 words.

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MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

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VIRUS-OUTBREAK-MODERNA-BOOSTER — Drugmaker Moderna asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a fourth shot of its COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose for all adults. SENT: 240 words, photo.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SOUTH KOREA — Officials in South Korea tried to calm public fears amid concerns about a faltering pandemic response as daily cases and deaths reached record highs. SENT: 710 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SAMOA — Samoa will go into lockdown from Saturday as it faces its first outbreak of COVID-19 after a woman who was about to leave the country tested positive during a routine test. SENT: 500 words, photos.

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TRENDING NEWS

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RUSSIA-UKRAINE-WAR-SCHWARZENEGGER — Film icon Arnold Schwarzenegger told Russians in a video posted on social media Thursday they’re being lied to about the war in Ukraine and accused President Vladimir Putin of sacrificing Russian soldiers’ lives for his own ambitions. SENT: 460 words, photos.

PEOPLE-PETE DAVIDSON — Pete Davidson has bowed out of a short ride to space on a Jeff Bezos rocket. The “Saturday Night Live” star is no longer able to make the flight, which has been delayed for nearly a week, Bezos’ space travel company said. No other details were provided. SENT: 200 words, photo.

VIDEO-GAME-HALL-OF-FAME — The World Video Game Hall of Fame announced the finalists being considered for induction later this year. Twelve games are being considered. They include: Assassin’s Creed, Candy Crush Saga, Dance Dance Revolution, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Minesweeper. SENT: 275 words.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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ELECTION 2022-OHIO REPUBLICANS — Ohio’s crowded Republican Senate race has been all about one man: Donald Trump. But with less than two months until the state’s May 3 primary, some of the leading candidates have accepted that the former president’s coveted endorsement may never come. By Jill Colvin. SENT: 1,190 words, photos.

UNITED STATES-IRELAND — President Joe Biden’s plans to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day were scrambled Thursday after Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin tested positive for COVID-19. SENT: 750 words, photos.

ELECTIONS-POLICE — Republicans promoting claims of widespread voter fraud in at least two politically important states are turning to a new tactic to appease voters who falsely believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen: election police. The efforts in Florida and Georgia to establish law enforcement units dedicated to investigating voting or election crimes come as Republican lawmakers and governors move to satisfy the millions of voters in their party who believe former President Donald Trump’s false claims that widespread voter fraud cost him reelection. SENT: 1,180 words, photos.

CONGRESS-NEW MEXICO AUDIT — Congressional Democrats open an investigation of a 2020 election review ordered by Republican commissioners in Otero County, New Mexico. SENT: 580 words, photo.

MEADOWS-VOTER REGISTRATION — North Carolina state investigators are probing the voter registration of Mark Meadows, a former chief of staff to President Donald Trump, amid questions about him listing a home he never owned on voter records, the state attorney general’s office said. SENT: 470 words, photos.

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NATIONAL

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TEXAS CRASH-GOLF TEAMS-VICTIMS — A 13-year-old was driving the pickup truck that struck a van in West Texas in a fiery collision that killed nine people, National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said. The truck’s left front tire, which was a spare tire, also blew out before impact, he said. Although it was unclear how fast the two vehicles were traveling, “this was clearly a high-speed collision,” Landsberg said. SENT: 920 words, photos. WITH: TEXAS CRASH-GOLF-TEAMS; TEXAS CRASH-GOLF TEAMS-EXPLAINER-YOUNG DRIVER (sent)

ARKANSAS-DEPUTY SHOOTS TEEN — An Arkansas jury is deliberating in the manslaughter trial of a former deputy who fatally shot an unarmed 17-year-old during a traffic stop. Jurors deliberated for two hours Thursday after a day of testimony that included former Lonoke County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Davis recounting the June 23 shooting of Hunter Brittain. SENT: 600 words, photos.

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR-KIDNAPPING PLOT — A key figure in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to restrain the “tyrant” on a table then pose for a photo “like we just made the biggest drug bust,” according to a secret recording played for jurors. SENT: 430 words, photos.

CALIFORNIA DROUGHT — Drought-stricken California is facing another year of parched conditions and pleas for conservation as the winter comes to a close with little of the hoped-for rain and snow. SENT: 770 words, photo.

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INTERNATIONAL

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JAPAN-NUCLEAR-TOWN-REOPENING — Until recently, Futaba, home to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, has been entirely empty of residents since the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. A tiny section of the town has reopened for the first time since all 7,000 residents had to flee. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

PERU FUIMORI — Peru’s Constitutional Court has approved the release from prison of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year sentence for murder and corruption charges. SENT: 500 words, photos.

ARGENTINA IMF — Argentina’s Senate has given final legislative approval for President Alberto Fernández’s administration to refinance the government’s $45 billion debt with the International Monetary Fund and avoid a default. SENT: 500 words, photos.

ISREAEL-KOSHER WARS — Israel’s new government has taken aim at the country’s powerful rabbinical authorities with a pair of religious reforms that would chip away at the tight grip of the country’s chief rabbinate on many aspects of daily life. SENT: 950 words, photos.

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HEALTH & SCIENCE

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CLIMATE CHANGE-KANSAS SKEPTICISM — Efforts to propel Kansas’ renewable energy future are at a standstill, mired in legislative stalemate. At its center is a former TV weather personality who is using his chairmanship of a key committee to promote questionable claims about green energy and to spotlight complaints from opponents of wind and solar energy projects. SENT: 955 words, photos.

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BUSINESS/ECONOMY

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FINANCIAL MARKETS — Shares were mostly lower in Asia on Friday after Wall Street extended a rally into a third day and oil prices pushed higher, surpassing $105 per barrel. Tokyo and Sydney advanced while Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul declined. SENT: 710 words, photos.

AMAZON-FIRED EMPLOYEES — A federal labor board wants to reinstate an Amazon employee who was fired from his New York City warehouse job after leading a protest in the early days of the pandemic calling for better COVID-19 protections. SENT: 450 words, photos.

INDIA-RUSSIAN OIL — An Indian official says state-run Indian Oil Corp. bought 3 million barrels of crude oil from Russia earlier this week to secure its energy needs, resisting Western pressure to avoid such purchases. SENT: 300 words, photos.

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ENTERTAINMENT

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MUSIC-DOLLY PARTON — Dolly Parton is still on the list of this year’s nominations for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame despite the country icon asking to be removed because she hasn’t “earned that right.” The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation said in a statement Thursday that, in effect, it is up to the voters to decide if Parton is elected. SENT: 330 words, photo.

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SPORTS

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SOC-CHELSEA FOR SALE — Deadline day is Friday for bids to be submitted to buy Chelsea and end the 19-year ownership of Roman Abramovich. This is a sale enforced on the Russian billionaire after being sanctioned by the British government for his close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine. SENT: 510 words, photo.

SAINT-PETER’S-KENTUCKY — Tiny Saint Peter’s took down basketball royalty, getting 27 points from Daryl Banks III in an 85-79 overtime victory over second-seeded Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. SENT: 970 words, photos.

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HOW TO REACH US

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https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/ap-vladimir-putin-russia-joe-biden-ukraine-b2038708.html AP News Digest 3:30 a.m.

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