AP News Digest 6:15 a.m.

AP News Digest 6:15 a.m.
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 http://newsroom.ap.org.

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 http://newsroom.ap.org.

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TOP STORIES

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CONGRESS-INFRASTRUCTURE — Senators will resume a weekend session toward passage of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package after running into opposition from a few Republicans who want to drag out final votes on one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities. By Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro. SENT: 950 words, photos. Senate to resume at noon EDT.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK — Despite a sluggish start, the European Union’s COVID-19 vaccination drive has caught up to that of the United States where the slowdown of the country’s once-vaunted campaign has contributed to the virus’s deadly comeback. SENT: 910 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-HANDSHAKES-LIMBO — As workers return to the office, friends reunite and more church services shift from Zoom to in person, the question of whether to shake hands is befuddling growing numbers of people. The handshake has been around for centuries. A widely held belief is that it originated to prove to someone that a person was offering peace and not holding a hidden weapon. These days, a handshake can symbolize connection, particularly after a long period of no touching. But hands can be germy. And that’s where the conflict lies. Is the handshake ever coming back? The answer depends on who you ask. By Heather Hollingsworth. SENT: 1,020 words, photos.

BELARUS-REPRESSIVE-YEAR — President Alexander Lukashenko has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since taking power in 1994. But when massive protests that began last August presented him with an unprecedented challenge, he responded with exceptional force. That turned out to be the opening salvo in a year of intense repression. Protesters were met with mass arrests and beatings. Journalists and activists have been relentlessly targeted, including one who was arrested after his flight was forced to divert to Belarus. By Yuras Karmanau. SENT: 1,150 words, photos.

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TOKYO OLYMPICS

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BKL-WOMEN’S FINAL — Sue Bird capped off her unblemished 17-year Olympics run with a record fifth gold medal. All she and longtime U.S. teammate Diana Taurasi have done on the international stage is win and now stand alone with five gold medals — the first basketball players ever to accomplish that feat — after a 90-75 win over Japan at the Tokyo Games. By Sports Writer Doug Feinberg. SENT: 880 words, photos.

VOL-VOLLEYBALL — The decades-long quest for the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. women’s volleyball team ended when the Americans finally broke through with a straight-set victory over Brazil. The United States had won three silver medals and two bronze since first getting on the medal stand in 1984. It got to the top step at the Tokyo Games by beating the team that denied it a chance at gold in the final match of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Serbia beat South Korea to win the bronze medal. By Sports Writer Josh Dubow. SENT: 860 words, photos.

OLY-THE-GAMES-END — It started with a virus. It ends with a typhoon. And in between was just about everything. After a yearlong delay fueled by the coronavirus, the Tokyo Olympics are gliding to their end as a mixed bag for Japan and for the world. They were held in the middle of a resurging pandemic. They were rejected by many Japanese. They were plagued by months of administrative problems. These Games presented logistical and medical obstacles like no other. By Ted Anthony. SENT: 880 words, photos.

OFF-SCRIPT-OLYMPICS — Every two years, when an Olympics convenes, its organizers harness billions of dollars to make sure the entire affair is tightly, carefully scripted. That clears the way for one area to be genuinely unpredictable: the athletes’ performances. It never quite works out that way, of course. Be it doping or diplomatic incidents, bad behavior or political upheaval, the event rarely unfurls in exactly the way the International Olympic Committee But even viewed through that prism, this Pandemic Olympics has been the most off-script Games in history. If the Olympics is, as they like to say, one of the planet’s biggest stages, there was a lot of improv going on. By Ted Anthony. SENT: 970 words, photos.

THE-PERSEVERANCE-GAMES — The pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games finally come to a close after an exhausting, enlightening and sometimes enraging run. These Olympics will be forever remembered as the Games where the athletes found their voice. Tokyo marked a turning point when mental health became as important as physical health, and tales of perseverance often overshadowed actual performance. SENT: 1,410 words, photos.

JAPAN-THINKING-OUT-OF-THE-BOX — Countries’ foods are also windows on their souls. In Olympic host country Japan, two unusual dishes have plenty to say about Japanese traits of inventiveness, risk-taking and openness to foreign influences. One is a new rice pizza, developed only for the Japanese market by the pizza chain Domino’s. Another is a Cup Noodle ice cream, sold only at the Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama. Some of the same Japanese traits seen in its foods have also helped Japan pull off the improbable feat of hosting the Tokyo Games in the midst of the pandemic. By John Leicester. SENT: 840 words, photos.

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MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

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VIRUS-OUTBREAK-ZIMBABWE-VACCINES-VICTORIA-FALLS — Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls usually teems with tourists who come to marvel at the roaring Zambezi River as it tumbles down more than 350 feet (108 meters) to the gorge below, sending up a mist that is visible from miles away. SENT: 570 words, photos.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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THAILAND-FOREIGNER-DEAD — Thai man charged with killing, robbing Swiss woman. SENT: 330 words, photos.

CHINA-ALIBABA-SEXUAL-ASSAULT — Alibaba working with police amid sexual assault allegations. SENT: 330 words, photos.

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WASHINGTON/ POLITICS

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VOTING-BILL-TEXAS — Texas Democrats still refused to return to the state Capitol on Saturday as Gov. Greg Abbott began a third attempt at passing new election laws, prolonging a monthslong standoff that ramped up in July when dozens of Democratic state lawmakers left the state and hunkered down in Washington, D.C. SENT: 635 words, photos.

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INTERNATIONAL

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GREECE-WILDFIRES — Pillars of billowing smoke and ash blocked out the sun above Greece’s second-largest island and turned the sky orange as a days-old wildfire devoured pristine forests and triggered more evacuation alerts while residents appealed for additional firefighting help. SENT: 710 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN — Taliban fighters took control of much of the capital of northern Afghanistan’s Kunduz province, including the governor’s office and police headquarters, a provincial council member say. SENT: 470 words, photos.

INDONESIA-VOLCANO-ERUPTS — Indonesia’s most volatile volcano erupted on the densely populated island of Java, spewing smoke and ash high into the air and sending streams of lava and gasses down its slopes. No casualties were reported. SENT: 340 words, photos.

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NATIONAL

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WESTERN WILDFIRES — Fueled by strong winds and bone-dry vegetation, California’s Dixie Fire has grown to become the largest single wildfire in state history. Residents of scenic forestlands in Northern California face a weekend of fear with the blaze threatening to reduce thousands of homes to ashes. SENT: 800 words, photos.

ALASKA-MISSING-PLANE — Six people who were killed in a sightseeing plane crash were recovered and identified after crews initially struggled to reach the wreckage in southeast Alaska due to poor weather conditions. SENT: 300 words, photos.

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BUSINESS

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SAUDI-ARAMCO-EARNS — Saudi Arabia’s oil-producing company, Aramco, announced Sunday a net income of around $47 billion for the first half of the year, double what it earned over the same period last year when the coronavirus grounded travel and pummeled global demand for oil. SENT: 380 words, photo.

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ENTERTAINMENT

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PEOPLE-RICKEY MEDLOCKE — Lynyrd Skynyrd has pulled out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame concert after guitarist Rickey Medlocke tested positive for COVID-19. The band was set to co-headline the concert Monday night with Brad Paisley. SENT: 110 words, photos.

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SPORTS

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STEELERS-WATT — Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler acknowledged that linebacker T.J. Watt isn’t practicing because he has yet to sign a long-term contract. Watt has been on the field doing individual work, but he hasn’t practiced with his teammates during training camp workouts at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. SENT: 610 words.

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HOW TO REACH US

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At the Nerve Center, Vincent K. Willis 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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