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Prayers? Bombs? Hawaii history shows stopping lava not easy

People in Hawaii are asking if anything can be done to stop or divert the flow of lava as molten rock from Mauna Loa volcano inches toward a highway on the Big Island. It's an issue that comes up every time lava approaches infrastructure or towns. And over the decades, people have tried rock wall berms and other barriers to divert lava flows. The Army once even dropped bombs on Mauna Loa. Whether it can be done successfully depends on force of the lava flow and the terrain. But many in Hawaii also question the wisdom of interfering with nature and Pele, the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes and fire.

A look inside Christmas a tree farm, and tips for keeping a live tree fresh during the holidays

Before dusting off your decorations and hanging you ornaments, the age-old question must be asked: Whether to use a fake or real Christmas tree this holiday season. While a plastic tree may be more convenient, Greg Hann, owner of Hann’s Christmas Tree Farm in Oregon, Wis., helps shed some light on the benefits that a real Christmas tree can bring to not only your home, but the local ecosystem as well.

Aline Kominsky-Crumb, underground cartoonist, dies at 74

Known for her feminist themes and often brutally frank, highly personal and self-critical work, American cartoonist Aline Kominsky-Crumb has died at the age of 74. A close collaborator of her cartoonist husband, Robert Crumb, she died of cancer Tuesday at their longtime home in France. That's according to the manager of the website that sells Crumb’s work. Kominsky-Crumb was known for work that was not only autobiographical but also bracingly sexual and explicit. She met Crumb in the early 1970s in San Francisco, where she was part of the all-female Wimmen’s Comix collective before breaking with the group and starting “Twisted Sisters” with Diane Noomin.

EXPLAINER: How will College Football Playoff expansion work?

The College Football Playoff will include 12 teams, starting with the 2024 season. An expansion plan that was crafted for two years and haggled over for another 18 months finally cleared all the obstacles needed to go from idea to reality. The CFP announced Thursday that the current four-team system would be tripling in size. There are still a few more details to work out, like exact dates of some of the games, but college football is two years away from another dramatic change to its postseason. Here's how it will work.

Drought-hit California cities to get little water from state

California water agencies that serve 27 million people will get just 5% of what they requested from the state to start 2023. Thursday's announcement by water officials comes as the nation's most populous state anticipates a fourth dry year. California typically gets half its annual rain and snowfall from January through March, so the allocations could change depending on how much precipitation falls. Limited state supplies mean water managers will continue to urge people to rip up grass, water their plants less, take shorter showers and engage in other water-saving activities.

Illinois lawmakers OK crime bill cleanup, plan ends bail

Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly have approved followup clarifications to their watershed criminal justice overhaul. The proposal passed Thursday appeases critics by adding numerous offenses to a list of crimes that qualify a defendant to remain jailed while awaiting trial. The House approved it after the Senate on the last day of the fall session and before the Jan. 1 effective date of the so-called SAFE-T Act. The act chiefly eliminates the longstanding practice of requiring cash bail for criminal defendants. Critics say bail penalizes the poor and  the goal is to detain dangerous people awaiting trial while not locking up those who pose no threat but can’t afford bail.

Prosecutor: Donald Trump knew about exec's tax fraud scheme

A prosecutor says Donald Trump “knew exactly what was going on” with top Trump Organization executives who schemed for years to dodge taxes on company-paid perks. The argument challenges defense claims that the former president was unaware of the plot at the heart of the company’s tax fraud case. Manhattan prosecutor Joshua Steinglass lobbed the bombshell allegation during closing arguments Thursday. He promised to share more details when he resumes on Friday, buoyed by the judge’s decision to grant prosecutors permission to veer into territory that had been considered off limits because Trump is not on trial.

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