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Podcast ‘Serial’ turns town into fan destination

“Serial” has turned the town of Woodlawn into a destination for zealous fans, anxious to uncover answers to questions in a 1999 murder mystery.

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  • 2 in meningitis outbreak case to be released

    BOSTON (AP) — Two men at the center of a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people around the U.S. will be released from custody, pending their criminal trials, a federal judge in Boston ruled Thursday. U.S. Magistrate Jennifer Boal issued an electronic order saying that the U.S. attorney’s office had “not met its…

  • Correction: Cuba-Travel story

    NEW YORK (AP) — NEW YORK (AP) — In a story Dec. 17 about travel to Cuba, The Associated Press reported erroneously the number of Americans who were authorized to travel to Cuba last year. The number was 124,000, not 170,000. A corrected version of the story is below: US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba…

  • New York Fashion Week booted out of Lincoln Center

    NEW YORK (AP) — C’est la vie, fashionistas. The city of New York and Lincoln Center are evicting the invitation-only, twice-yearly Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in a court spat over destroyed trees and displaced park benches. A judge Friday approved a pretrial settlement in a complaint brought by community groups. They objected to the onslaught of…

  • Delaware officials celebrate national park

    NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) — After being the odd man out for many years, Delaware is celebrating the creation of its first and only national park. Ending Delaware’s status as the only state without a national park has been a mission for U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware’s senior senator, for more than a decade. “That’s…

  • Plea hearing set for ex-manager in halal food case

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A former manager at an Iowa-based halal food supplier is expected to plead guilty as part of a federal criminal investigation into the company’s exporting and marketing practices, according to court documents filed Thursday. Conspiracy charges filed against Philip G. Payne are the latest involving the Midamar Corp., which is…

  • Oakland joins LA in banning circus elephant tool

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The circus will stop coming to Oakland in a few years after a tool used by elephant handlers was banned in the city. The Oakland City Council earlier this week unanimously approved an ordinance outlawing bullhooks. The instrument resembles a fireplace poker, with a sharp hook on one end that is…

  • Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US

    HAVANA (AP) — The restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States unleashed expectations Thursday of even more momentous changes on an island that often seems frozen in a past of classic cars and crumbling Art Deco buildings. On the first full day after the surprise announcement, many Cubans expressed hope that it…

  • ‘Tis the season for the holiday blues

    WASHINGTON — This is supposed to be a season for celebration — for parties, family get-togethers and lots of good cheer.  But for some, it’s the season for the holiday blues. With so much going on, people can get stressed out and all kinds of negative emotions creep in.  For some, the stress is due to…

  • Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile

    WASHINGTON (AP) — How does one end almost 54 years of hostility toward a next-door neighbor? That’s about to become clear as the Obama administration and the communist government of Raul Castro move to normalize more than a half-century of bitter animosity between the United States and Cuba. It won’t happen overnight. Some of the…

  • ‘Hands Up’ players to attend Ferguson Christmas party

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams are following through on plans to aid residents in nearby Ferguson. The five players who did the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture before a recent home game are scheduled to appear at an Urban League of St. Louis Christmas Party on Friday for residents of Ferguson and…

  • Amid scrutiny, Vegas hotelier wins gambling license

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — The nightlife mogul who opened the SLS Las Vegas hotel and casino on the Strip has won a gambling license from Nevada regulators after intense scrutiny into his past business dealings and drug use. Sam Nazarian appeared before the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday. He said he was sorry for misleading…

  • Thousands respond to black rhino import request

    FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A federal agency is sifting through thousands of comments regarding a Texas hunter’s application for a permit to import the carcass of an endangered black rhinoceros that he hopes to kill. Since publishing the application request in November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has received more than 15,000 comments…

  • Ice buckets, breaking the Internet: A year in pop culture

    Just for fun, let’s try to picture the year in pop culture, all in one image. We might begin with a singer oddly named Adele Dazeem, belting “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen.” Suddenly a friend would pour a bucket of ice water over her head. Adele would immediately tweet the moment on her new…

  • Broken treetop hanging on wire gets holiday decor

    INDIAN ISLAND, Wash. (AP) — Some Washington state residents are getting in the holiday spirit by decorating a Douglas fir that toppled onto an unused utility line in a recent windstorm and looks like an upside-down Christmas tree. The 12-foot top of the tree that snapped off now dangles on the line on Indian Island,…

  • Questions and answers about traveling to Cuba

    NEW YORK (AP) — Don’t rush to book that flight to Cuba just yet. While the U.S. plans to restore diplomatic ties with the Caribbean island nation, globe-trotting tourists won’t be able to hop on a plane to Havana anytime soon. It remains illegal for most U.S. citizens to travel to — and spend money…

  • 2 in meningitis outbreak case to be released

    BOSTON (AP) — Two men at the center of a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people around the U.S. will be released from custody, pending their criminal trials, a federal judge in Boston ruled Thursday. U.S. Magistrate Jennifer Boal issued an electronic order saying that the U.S. attorney’s office had “not met its…

  • 3-D prosthetics give dog freedom (Video)

    WASHINGTON — A dog with no front paws learned to run with the help of a 3-D printer. A promotional video for 3D Systems tells the story of how the company’s 3-D-printed prosthetics allowed Derby, a disabled dog, to run upright for the first time. Derby was born with a congenital deformity characterized by small…

  • Charlie Brown and a city’s ugly Christmas tree

    READING, Pa. (AP) — Reading’s official Christmas tree has brought the city plenty of grief. Good grief. When the 50-foot Norway spruce went up last month, it drew immediate comparisons to the scraggly sapling in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Its giant bare spots and asymmetrical branches were no one’s idea of Christmas tree perfection —…

  • Podcast ‘Serial’ turns town into fan destination

    WASHINGTON – Thursdays have never been more exciting. Each week since October, more than a million listeners have rearranged their schedules to make time for a new episode of “Serial,” a 12-part podcast that delves into the investigation of the 1999 murder of Baltimore County, Maryland, teenager Hae Min Lee. The podcast’s popularity has inspired…

  • New York to ban fracking; environmentalists cheer

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Handing environmentalists a breakthrough victory, New York plans to prohibit fracking for natural gas because of what regulators say are its unexplored health risks and dubious economic benefits. New York, which overlies part of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation that has led to a drilling boom in Pennsylvania and other nearby…