OCALA, Fla. (AP) — A man died in a shooting Saturday at a shopping mall in central Florida in which the victim was apparently “targeted” for the attack, police said.

Hundreds of people in the U.S. and Canada have been sickened and at least 10 people have died in a growing outbreak of salmonella poisoning linked to contaminated whole and pre-cut cantaloupe.

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Try Alaska

For most Americans dreaming of a white Christmas, this year's prospects aren't good. Although parts of the Rockies and Midwest already have snow or could get a fresh dusting by Monday, other parts of the country that are normally coated in white this time of year are still sporting their drab late-fall look.

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — Joyce Loaiza lives alone, but when she returns to her apartment at a Florida senior community, the retired office worker often has a chat with a friendly female voice that asks about her day. A few miles away, the same voice comforted 83-year-old Deanna Dezern when her friend died. In central New York, it plays games and music for 92-year-old Marie Broadbent, who is blind and in hospice, and in Washington state, it helps 83-year-old Jan Worrell make new friends.

NEW YORK (AP) — The holiday travel rush hit its peak Friday as mild weather and lower flight cancelation rates raised hopes for merrier drivers and airline passengers than last year. U.S. airlines are predicting a blockbuster holiday season and have projected confidence they can handle the crowds after hiring thousands of pilots, flight attendants and other workers, seeking to avoid the delays and suspensions that marred travel last year and culminated with the Southwest Airline debacle that stranded more than 2 million people.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — Motorists were stranded in their vehicles on flooded roadways in typically idyllic Santa Barbara on Thursday, while nearby Oxnard got a month's worth of rain in a single hour in a storm that pummeled Southern California while Christmas travel got underway.

The Philadelphia television news crew members who died after their helicopter crashed in a southern New Jersey forest were returning from a trip to film a Christmas lights display, an investigator said Thursday.

HOMESTEAD, Florida (AP) — Snuggling on the sofa across from the Christmas tree, Sol proudly showed off the dog her foster parents gave her for earning all A’s even though she crossed the southern U.S. border knowing very little English. “They helped me a lot,” said the 14-year-old eighth grader. Then she blushed, hid her face in Cosmo’s fur, and added in Spanish, “Oooh, I said that English!”

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Like Christmas trees, Santa and reindeer, the poinsettia has long been a ubiquitous symbol of the holiday season in the U.S. and Europe. The name “poinsettia” comes from the amateur botanist and statesman Joel Roberts Poinsett, who happened upon the plant in 1828 on a side trip during his tenure as the first U.S. minister to a newly independent Mexico.

MENANDS, N.Y. (AP) — Kaine is a big, buoyant dog looking for a home. But lately, he's spending a lot of time at the office. Animal shelters around the U.S. are bursting at the seams amid the rising cost of living, so the gray and white 7-year-old has been staying in a worker's office at the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society while awaiting adoption

MIAMI (AP) — The United States freed a close ally of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in exchange for the release of 10 Americans imprisoned in the South American country and the return of a fugitive defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard” who is at the center of a massive Pentagon bribery scandal, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.

When the coronavirus pandemic took hold in an unprepared U.S., many states like Ohio scrambled for masks and other protective gear. Supplies were so limited in 2020 that the state bought millions of medical gowns from a marketing and printing company and spent about $20 million to try to get personal protective equipment made in-state.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — South Carolina and Florida were the two fastest-growing states in the U.S., as the South dominated population gains in 2023, and the U.S. growth rate ticked upward slightly from the depths of the pandemic due to a drop in deaths, according to estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The United States added 1.6 million people, of which more than two-thirds came from international migration. The half percent growth rate was a slight uptick from the 0.4% growth rate last year and the less than 2% increase in 2021.

LUKEVILLE, Ariz. (AP) — Hundreds of dates are written on concrete-filled steel columns erected along the U.S. border with Mexico to memorialize when the Border Patrol has repaired illicit openings in the would-be barriers. Yet no sooner are fixes made than another column is sawed, torched and chiseled for large groups of migrants to enter, usually with no agents in sight.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Utility crews worked Tuesday to restore power to hundreds of thousands of customers in Maine and some rivers continued to rise following a powerful storm that hit the northeastern U.S., drenching communities and bringing windspeeds over 60 mph (96 kph) in some areas. At least five people were killed.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — When a toilet is flushed in California, the water can end up in a lot of places — the ice in a skating rink, the manufactured snow on ski slopes, in pipes providing irrigation for farmland. And — coming soon — in your drinking glass.

Since the pandemic first upended American education, an estimated 50,000 students are still missing from any kind of U.S. school. That’s according to an Associated Press analysis of public, private and homeschool enrollment as of fall 2022, and U.S. Census data in 22 states, plus Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The late Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court and an unwavering voice of moderate conservatism for more than two decades, will lie in repose in the court's Great Hall on Monday. O’Connor, an Arizona native, died Dec. 1 at age 93.

NEW YORK (AP) — Heavy rain and high winds swept through the Northeast on Monday for the second time in a week, spurring flood warnings, electricity outages, flight cancelations and school closings. The National Weather Service predicted up to 5 inches of rain in some parts of the region. More than 245,000 power outages were reported from Pennsylvania to New York to New England, with numerous reports of trees falling on power lines.

Patriotic mobs and harbor tea-dumping returned to Boston on Saturday as the city marked the 250th anniversary of the revolutionary protest that preceded America's independence.

The mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher in a Virginia classroom was sentenced Friday to two years in prison for felony child neglect by a judge who chastised her for abdicating her responsibilities as a parent.

WEST END, N.C. (AP) — Jesse Wimberley burns the woods with neighbors. Using new tools to revive an old communal tradition, they set fire to wiregrasses and forest debris with a drip torch, corralling embers with leaf blowers. Wimberley, 65, gathers groups across eight North Carolina counties to starve future wildfires by lighting leaf litter ablaze.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has been increasingly pressuring Congress to pass stalled legislation to support Ukraine's war against Russia, saying that funding has run out. On Tuesday, however, President Joe Biden touted a new military aid package worth $200 million for Ukraine.

WASHINGTON (AP) — When you buy eyedrops at a U.S. store, you might assume you're getting a product made in a clean, well-maintained factory that’s passed muster with health regulators. But repeated recalls involving over-the-counter drops are drawing new attention to just how little U.S. officials know about the conditions at some manufacturing plants on the other side of the world — and the limited tools they have to intervene when there's a problem.

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto safety regulators say they have taken the first step toward requiring devices in vehicles that prevent drunk or impaired driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced on Tuesday that it is starting the process to put a new federal safety standard in place requiring the technology in all new passenger vehicles.

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