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WASHINGTON (AP) — Food banks across the country are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from their usual shifts, and companies and schools that regularly supply large groups of volunteers are canceling their participation over virus fears.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — With a video series on issues he sees as pertinent to the Black community, the U.S. Senate’s only Black Republican, Tim Scott of South Carolina, is putting forth what he characterizes as a positive response to partisan rhetoric on race that he’s best-positioned to rebut.

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Officially, NBA players began participating in games that were scheduled to celebrate and honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1986 when the federal holiday commemorating the civil-rights leader was observed for the first time.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — From the inaugural platform, President Joe Biden saw American sickness on two fronts — a disease of the national spirit and the one from the rampaging coronavirus — and he saw hope, because leaders always must see that.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The omicron variant is sickening so many sanitation workers around the U.S. that some cities have had to delay or suspend garbage or recycling pickup, angering residents shocked that governments can’t perform this most basic of functions.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Americans overlooked shortages, spiking prices and uncertainty over the omicron variant to break spending records during the critical holiday shopping season. But figures released Friday show that after spending robustly early in the holiday season, consumers sharply slowed their purchases from November to December.

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Christmas tree fire caused the blaze that killed 12 people in a Philadelphia rowhome duplex, investigators confirmed Tuesday after a preliminary investigation, stopping short of officially saying a 5-year-old boy playing with a lighter was behind it.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans will reinstitute an indoor mask mandate to fight the spread of COVID-19 while readying for an influx of visitors for the Mardi Gras season, the city health director said Tuesday.

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ATLANTA (AP) — Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter used an address Monday to push for federal voting rights legislation and slam the twisting of critical race theory to create what she called “false narratives.”

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