Questions about this digest: Contact Christopher Sullivan at 212-621-5435. Reruns of stories are available at http://apexchange.com, from the Service Desk at 800-838-4616, or your local AP bureau. Additional stories will be included in digest updates through the week.
OF SPECIAL NOTE:
MIGRANTS-DRIVEN TO DEATH
The crash peeled back the roof of the bus like a sardine can and left six migrants farmworkers dead. It was an isolated tragedy but also the result of chronic problems within an American agriculture industry dependent upon a reliable supply of low-wage, foreign-born workers who are promised free and safe transportation. The reality, the AP has found, is that vehicles carrying laborers are regularly overloaded, poorly maintained and uninsured, often driven by a fellow crew member without a proper license or with no license at all. An AP tally of wrecks across the country since just last year found 38 killed and more than 200 badly injured — and it’s certainly an undercount since no one keeps national figures. Blamed are enforcement gaps and the sometimes callous attitudes of those who contract for the workers. By National Writer Allen G. Breed. SENT: 2,400 words, with an abridged version, for print use Friday, Dec. 23. Stories sent in advance on Dec. 19; will be retransmitted spot on Dec. 22. Photos. AP video moving at 1 a.m. EST on Dec. 23.
BC-Migrants-Driven to Death-Q&A, on migrant transport law.
BC-Migrants-Driven to Death-Crashes, a glance listing 2015-2016 crashes.
AP’s multi-layered year-end package has begun moving. A separate advisory has been sent and will be updated regularly. Some highlights are below.
Fed up with modern Europe’s mantra of union? Reject it. Disgusted by the Washington establishment and where it has taken the country? Can it. Again and again through 2016, the news was topped by conflict and protest, by battles over culture and territory that revealed divisions far deeper than many realized. Confronting those problems, both citizens and leaders repeatedly torched moderation. The biggest headlines told many stories, but a defining theme was a decisive veering away from the status quo, whatever the consequences. By National Writer Adam Geller. 1,200 words moved on Dec. 14 for use anytime. Photos.
Thumbnail obituaries of notables around the world, arranged chronologically with a brief introduction. Full-length and abridged versions. By Bernard McGhee. Moved on Dec. 14 for use anytime. To be updated through year’s end. Photos, interactive.
YE-CHICAGO’S DEADLY YEAR
CHICAGO — As Chicago’s 2016 homicides approach 700, a look through the eyes of a pastor, a physician and a lawmaker who all have a close — too close — view of the relentless violence, often with victims who died far too young. By National Writer Sharon Cohen. UPCOMING: 1,500 words on Dec. 20. Photos.
YE-TOP 10 STORIES
AP’s annual survey of editors and news directors on the year’s most important news stories. Ballot was sent out on Monday, Dec. 12, with a voting deadline of Monday, Dec. 19. Story listing the Top 10, with Donald Trump’s election as the unsurprising No. 1, moved Dec. 21. By National Writer David Crary. Photos, interactive.
YE-POP CULTURE MOMENTS
NEW YORK — Politics is often reflected in our popular culture, but perhaps never so much as in 2016, when a reality star was elected president, political wars were waged on social media, and even a Broadway show ignited fierce partisan debate. BC-YE-Pop Culture Moments. By National Writer Jocelyn Noveck. 950 words moved Dec. 13. Photos. (Other Arts & Entertainment year-end stories are listed in a separate advisory.)
YE-FINANCIAL MARKETS-YEAR IN REVIEW
Wall Street got off to a dismal start in 2016 as fears of a global slowdown and plummeting oil prices pulled down stocks, triggering the second correction for the market in five months. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union at midyear delivered more pain to investors. But the market ultimately pulled out of its doldrums, on pace to end the year with solid gains, particularly for small company stocks. The turnaround reflects improved company earnings, more stable oil prices, and investor optimism that the Republican election sweep will soon usher in a bevy of business-friendly policies. UPCOMING: 1,000 words on Dec. 28. Will be updated Dec. 30 with final closing figures for 2016. By Alex Veiga. AP Photos. (Other Business news year-end stories are listed on a separate advisory.)
YE-THE YEAR THE CURSES ENDED
No one thought anything could top underdog Leicester’s shocking English Premier League title. Then Cleveland broke its championship drought and the Cubs won the World Series, both from 3-1 deficits. Moves Dec. 30. By Tom Withers. (Other Sports news year-end stories are listed on a separate advisory.)
THE YEAR IN PHOTOS:
On Monday, Dec. 5, AP sent its year-end photo packages. As in past years, there were 100 news photos, 50 sports photos, and this year 50 feature photos were added to the mix. These encompass highlights from various news and sports stories from around the world.
Few presidents have entered the White House carrying as many expectations as Barack Obama. The first black president and the first of his generation, Obama arrived promising to end wars, restore economic stability, improve health care, expand equality, reimagine our politics and, yes, bring new hope and change.
After eight years, what did Obama achieve? In a series of all-formats stories, AP explores the answers to that question. Here is a digest of the stories available for use starting Dec. 21, 2016, and an additional package of stories available for use starting on Jan. 4, 2017:
Barack Obama’s first job as president: Piece together the shards of a shattered U.S. economy. It wasn’t smooth and it wasn’t fast, but Obama was ultimately successful. The president will leave behind an economy far stronger than the one he inherited, with an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent and 20 million more people with health insurance. But those achievements did not erase the scars of the 2009 economic collapse — Americans’ deep distrust in their government, banks and institutions. Obama proved better at restoring economic stability than making Americans believe he’d done it. By Josh Boak. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video on Dec. 21.
OBAMA LEGACY-FOREIGN POLICY
President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy may be defined as much by what he didn’t do as what he did. Over eight years, Obama ushered in a new era of diplomacy, re-establishing the United States as the driving force behind fighting climate change and reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. But he also ran headlong into his limitations as the world’s chief diplomat. His cautious and pragmatic approach to world affairs ultimately couldn’t deliver on the founding promise of his presidency: Ending wars. By Bradley Klapper. UPCOMING: 1,100 words, photos on Dec. 22.
When Michelle Obama considered the daunting prospect of becoming first lady, she purposely avoided turning to books by her predecessors for guidance. Instead, she turned inward. “I didn’t want to be influenced by how they defined the role,” Mrs. Obama once said, explaining that she had to define it “very uniquely and specifically to me and who I was.” That meant doing it her way. When she leaves the White House next month, just a few days after celebrating her 53rd birthday, Mrs. Obama will do so not just as a political figure, but as an international brand. It was a path that friends say she charted largely on her own. By Darlene Superville. UPCOMING: 1,200 words, photos on Dec. 23.
From glittering state dinner gowns to sporty cardigans, fashion was good to Michelle Obama — and she was great for fashion. A booster of countless designers and a powerful, stylish example for middle-aged women, she influenced the fashion world like no other first lady before her, designers say. By National Writer Jocelyn Noveck. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos on Dec. 23.
MICHELLE OBAMA-LEGACY FOR KIDS
The feel-good initiatives of first lady Michelle Obama have served as both inspiration and eight years of teaching moments for many families. So what, exactly, do they think is her legacy over a period of time that represents a good chunk of lifespan for today’s kids? By Leanne Italie. UPCOMING: 800 words on Dec. 23.
In boasting about his tenure in the White House, there are numbers President Barack Obama often cites: 15 million new jobs, a 4.6 unemployment rate and 74 months of consecutive job growth. And one number you will almost never hear: More than 1,030 seats. That’s the number of spots in state legislatures, governor’s mansions and Congress lost by Democrats during Obama’s presidency. It’s a startling statistic that reveals an unexpected twist of the Obama years: The leadership of the one-time community organizer was rough on the grassroots of his party. When Obama exits the White House, he’ll leave behind a battered Democratic Party that languished in his shadow for years and is searching for a new message. By Lisa Lerer. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos on Dec. 24.
He entered the White House a living symbol, breaking a color line that stood for 220 years. Barack Obama took office, and race immediately became a focal point in a way that was unprecedented in American history. No matter his accomplishments, he seemed destined to be remembered foremost as the first black man to lead the world’s most powerful nation. But Obama’s racial legacy is as complicated as the president himself. By Sharon Cohen and Deepti Hajela. UPCOMING: 2,900 words, photos, video, interactive on Jan. 4. With OBAMA LEGACY-RACE-ABRIDGED.
OBAMA LEGACY-POP CULTURE
From his fist bump at the 2008 Democratic National Convention to the mic drop at his last White House Correspondents Dinner, Barack Obama has dominated as America’s pop culture president. He has provided a running chronicle of the ephemera of our times: slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon, reading mean tweets with Jimmy Kimmel, cruising in a Corvette with Jerry Seinfeld, filling out his NCAA basketball bracket live on ESPN. It wasn’t just frivolity, though. In an increasingly fragmented media world, Obama used pop culture platforms to press serious parts of his agenda. By Nancy Benac. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos, interactive on Jan. 4.
OBAMA LEGACY-SOCIAL MEDIA
The first American president of the social media age, Obama spent his tenure breaking ground on how politicians connect with a digitally savvy electorate. He has used social media as a tool to educate, to amuse, to spin, and, undoubtedly, to shape his legacy. And judging by his successor’s Twitter account, it’s one of the few legacies he’s leaving that President-elect Donald Trump has embraced. By Kevin Freking. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos, interactive on Jan. 4.
President Barack Obama took office in 2009 as a self-described “fierce advocate” for gay rights, yet for much of his first term drew flak from skeptical activists who viewed him as too cautious, too politically expedient. By the time the White House was basked in rainbow colors to celebrate the Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage, those criticisms had fallen away. Obama is viewed by gays and lesbians as a champion of their rights and well-being, and criticized by those who say his policies infringe on their religious beliefs. By David Crary. UPCOMING: 950 words, photos, interactive on Jan. 4.
FOR THIS WEEK (for immediate release, except as noted):
DEADLY NEW DRUGS
The proliferation of rapidly evolving synthetic opioids has become so fierce that the Drug Enforcement Administration says they now constitute an entire new class of drugs. By Erika Kinetz. SENT: 2,350 words with an abridged version and glance on Dec. 21. Photos, video.
U.S. assertions that China is the top source of the synthetic opioids that have killed thousands of drug users in the U.S. and Canada are unsubstantiated, Chinese officials tell the AP. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials say their casework and investigations consistently lead back to China. By Erika Kinetz. SENT: 1,200 words, with abridged version, on Dec. 19. Photos.
The happiest of seasons is also among the deadliest: Unintentional shootings spike during the holidays, and are more likely to occur than any other time of the year, according to an analysis by The Associated Press and the USA TODAY Network. In all, 32 people were killed nationwide and 59 injured over the past two years between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. By Ryan J. Foley and Meghan Hoyer. 1,200 words on Dec. 21. Photos.
DISABLED CHILDREN-CUSTOM TOYS
At the University of North Florida, engineering and physical therapy students are converting drivable toy cars from store shelves into custom-made fun for disabled children. By Jason Dearen. SENT: 770 words on Dec. 19. Photos, video.
A set of quintuplets born this month in Phoenix get a visit from Santa Claus as their parents and doctor discuss the rare birth. UPCOMING: 400 words on Dec. 21. Photos.
The number of Nepalis working abroad has grown significantly in recent years, yet the number of those who come home dead has risen far more dramatically. Over 5,000 workers from this small country have died working abroad since 2008. By Martha Mendoza. SENT: 2,830 words with an abridged version, on Dec. 21. Photos, video.
Sigourney Weaver, at 67, is something like the high queen of science-fiction, whose mere voice (like in “Finding Dory”) is enough to suggest a whole world of movies. On the release of “A Monster Calls,” Weaver reflects on her career and her legacy of strong female protagonists. By Film Writer Jake Coyle. UPCOMING: 850 words on Dec. 19. Photos.
TRAVEL 2017 LOOKAHEAD
The summer solar eclipse, concerns about windows closing on Cuba, a rush of interest in Portugal, fear of Zika and terrorism are all factors in where to go in the new year. By Beth J. Harpaz. SENT: 900 words on Dec. 19. Photos.
NEW YEAR’S EVE-CELEBRITY JAMS
New Year’s Eve is the jam of the year, so we asked Will Smith, Jennifer Anniston, David Oyelowo, Kate McKinnon and other celebs what’s on their party playlists. By Leanne Italie. SENT: 350 words on Dec. 19. Photos.