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Woman’s floating retirement home sinks into California bay

A California woman who was buoyed by the idea of a floating retirement home watched her life savings sink to the bottom of a bay, KGO reported.

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Debbie Herbstreit had paid $25,000 for the boat to use as a home and had owned it for a month. Sunday, she received an urgent call from the harbormaster at the San Leandro Marina, informing her that the boat was taking on water..

“I dropped everything and came here and I was praying a little prayer that it would be an inch of water or something,” Herbstreit told KGO.

It was worse than that. The boat was half-submerged and leaking fuel.

“My entire life savings,” Herbstreit told KGO. “This was going to be my retirement home, because I cannot afford a house in San Francisco and I love the city.”

Herbstreit said she was unaware of any defects in the boat and has no idea why it sank.

“It was beautiful. Hardwood floors, dishwasher, washer and dryer, a whirlpool bathtub,” she told KGO. “I had friends say to me, ‘wow!’

“They didn’t even think they were on a boat.”

‘Welcome to Florida’ sign covered in snow

Visitors to the Sunshine State got a winter’s greeting when the “Welcome to Florida” sign was seen blanketed in snow. 

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The image of the snowy welcome sign was shared by news website northescambia.com.

The state, as well as much of the Deep South, was hit by uncharacteristic cold over the weekend, which dropped flurries and left people without power in some states. 

Temperatures throughout Florida dipped to the 40s,with some parts getting to freezing Sunday night. 

Thousands were without power in Georgia and the Carolinas. Hundreds of flights were delayed or canceled over the weekend. Power was restored and airports were back on schedule Sunday.

Temperatures throughout the south were on a warming trend Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Man killed in fiery crash after buying daughter’s Christmas presents

A young Idaho father was killed Friday night when he crashed his car on the way home from buying his 3-year-old daughter’s Christmas presents, police and family said.

Idaho State Police officials reported that Andrew P. Blum, 29, of Spokane, Washington, was driving a maroon 2002 Mazda Tribute near Priest River when he lost control of the car in a curve. The car flipped in a ditch and, according to KHQ-TV in Spokane, burst into flames.

Neither Blum nor his sole passenger, older brother Jerod M. Paulus, were wearing their seatbelts, investigators said. Blum died at Bonner General Hospital, where Paulus, 32, was recovering from his injuries. 

Loved ones told KHQ that Blum’s life revolved around his daughter, Emma.

“He was a very good dad,” Sadie Brown, the girl’s mother, told the news station. “He loved Emma with everything he had.”

Brown said that, although they were no longer a couple, she and Blum spoke daily. She last spoke to him about 30 minutes before the crash, when he told her he was shopping for their little girl.

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The gifts he bought her were burned in the crash, but Brown said the loss of her father is all Emma cares about.

“She keeps saying, ‘Let me call my dad. I want to see my dad,’” Brown said. 

GoFundMe account has been set up to help Blum’s family pay for his funeral. 

Priest River is in North Idaho, about 45 miles north of Coeur d’Alene and 55 miles northeast of Spokane. 

Baby formula recalled over salmonella contamination

One of the world’s largest dairy groups has ordered a global recall of millions of baby milk products over fears of salmonella bacteria contamination.

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Lactalis is pulling millions of products made since mid-February and shipped to markets including China, Greece, Pakistan and Britain, according to a company list

Products in the United States are not affected. 

French health officials said 26 infants have gotten sick since Dec. 1. Those cases were linked to products branded Picot SL, Pepti Junior 1, Milumel Bio 1 and Picot Riz.

“(Lactalis is) sincerely sorry for the concern generated by the situation and expresses its compassion and support to the families whose children fell ill,” the company said in a statement.

Salmonella can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever. Most people are able to recover without treatment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ellen DeGeneres’ California home threatened by wildfires

The Thomas Fire is impacting thousands of California residents, including talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

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DeGeneres tweeted Sunday night that her Santa Barbara home is in danger from the raging wildfire.

“We just had to evacuate our pets,” she wrote. “I’m praying for everyone in our community and thankful to all the incredible firefighters.”

The Thomas Fire has burned through at least 200,000 acres through Sunday evening and also interrupted transmission lines in the Santa Barbara area, leaving more than 85,000 customers without power.

>> PHOTOS: California wildfires burn thousands of acres

The fire began seven days ago and has forced more than 88,000 people to evacuate their homes, KCBS reported.

More than 4,000 firefighters have been deployed to the firefight.

Who is Akayed Ullah, suspect in New York explosion?

Four people were injured Monday morning when an explosive device went off in an underground passageway near Times Square, New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. Among those injured was a man suspected of strapping the device to himself and carrying it toward Times Square.

>> Read more trending news

>> Related: New York explosion: Suspect, 3 others injured in 'terror-related' attack

New York Police Commissioner James O’Neil identified the suspect as Akayed Ullah, 27.

Superheroes stage holiday shopping spree at Target 

Christmas shoppers can usually find superheroes on toy shelves at Target. But, here’s a twist: shoppers at a Kansas City area Target discovered superheroes shopping for toys at Target.

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Iron Man, Thor, Supergirl, Snow White and Captain America were among the comic book heroes shopping for kids Sunday night at the Target in Mission, Kansas, The Kansas City Star reported.

Armed with $17,000 in donations collected by Elite Comics in Overland Park, the superheroes picked out toys that will be given to kids staying at Children's’ Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, the Star reported.

“It means a lot,” said Captain America, also known as Jerry Holtorf of Overland Park.

Holtorf’s parents battled cancer. In his trips to the hospital, he said he saw children in their own fights against the disease. He wanted to help make the kids’ Christmas a happier time.

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate in age,” Holtorf said. “What (my parents) were going through in their room, a 6- or 7-year-old was going through in the next room and it breaks your heart.”

The caped crusaders summoned a rental trailer to cart away their packages, bound for children in the hospital. And if anyone wants to join the crusade, there are still opportunities ahead.

“We’re not done,” said Elite Comics owner William Binderup, who added that he will be accepting new, unwrapped toys through Dec. 22.

Not a fan: Hilarious Santa photo shows baby pleading for ‘help’ in sign language

Kerry Spencer has an annual Christmas tradition that brings a smile to the faces of her family members, and this year, the public is getting in on the laughs.

Spencer, of Parkton, Maryland, every year shares a photo of her son, Samuel, sitting on Santa’s lap at a mall in Provo, Utah. What’s unique about Samuel’s visit with Santa 12 years ago is that he wasn’t crying, and he wasn’t telling the big guy what he wanted for Christmas.

“We taught our baby sign language,” Spencer wrote in a Dec. 5 Twitter post. “This is the sign for ‘help.’ You’re welcome.”

In the photo, a very authentic-looking Santa smiles for the camera while a solemn-looking, 1-year-old Samuel averts his eyes. His chubby little toddler hands are making the American Sign Language (ASL) sign for “help,” or as close to it as he can get.

Mashable reported that Spencer, whose Facebook profile states that she is a faculty member at Stevenson University, taught both of her children ASL.

“We taught both our kids baby sign (language) because they can sign before they talk and it is so very useful to be able to communicate with your baby,” Spencer said. 

Spencer said she shares the photo each year on Facebook, but this year, her friend, author Mette Harrison, asked her to tweet it so she could retweet it to her own followers.

As of Monday morning, the tweet had more than 25,000 likes and had been shared close to 6,700 times. 

Some of the reactions to the photo were nearly as funny as the photo itself. 

“Wonder what my son was trying to say,” one Twitter user wrote above a photo of a little boy showing Santa his middle finger, with Santa looking on with great interest.

“Something boss. I can tell,” Spencer responded.

“This is how I signed ‘help,” another woman wrote, sharing a photo of herself as a child, screaming on Santa’s lap and desperately trying to get away.

“That works, too,” Spencer wrote.

Other commenters pointed out that Samuel’s technique wasn’t quite right. 

“It’s ASL baby sign,” Spencer wrote in response. “Like with spoken language, certain words are ‘mispronounced’ by babies learning them.”

She posted an image of the ASL sign for comparison. 

Overall, people found the photo as hilarious as Spencer and her family do. Samuel, now 13, even got in on the Twitter action.

“I happen to be the baby in this photo,” he tweeted. “You may direct all likes and follows to me now.”

“You’re a big boy now,” his mom responded.

“You got that right, Hun,” Samuel wrote. 

Spencer said the entire family laughs at the photo each year.

“Posting it is one of our favorite family traditions,” she said, according to Mashable

Police: Florida couple left child living alone in trailer for months

A Florida couple has been arrested after police said they rented a trailer and left a child there alone for months, police said.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said that the boy, whose age was not released, was left at the trailer for about two months until Jennifer Nichols and Joshua Sanders were arrested in November, The Pensacola News Journal reported.

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The woman who leased the trailer to Nichols and Sanders said they made the rental agreement in September, but she told the Sheriff’s Office of the alleged neglect when it became obvious that only the child lived in the residence.

The woman said she tried to care for the child, but told the couple that they either had to move into the trailer or move the child to a place where he would be cared for.

The landlord said that Sanders told her that it was not a problem as long as the rent was paid, The Journal News reported.

The child told police that the couple would leave him a small amount of money and a few meals. He wasn’t able to contact them.

The boy was also not attending school and had several cases with Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), but no caseworkers could be named. He has since been removed from the trailer and placed in DCF custody, The Journal News reported

Nichols and Sanders were both being held at the Escambia County Jail.

Chef Mario Batali leaves 'The Chew' amid sexual harassment allegations

Chef Mario Batali is stepping down as co-host of ABC’s cooking and lifestyle show “The Chew” after being accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching women, USA Today reported.

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Multiple anonymous women alleged in a story by food-trade publication Eater New York that Batali had groped their breasts or buttocks, amid other allegations.

Batali apologized and pledged to try and “regain” the “respect and trust” of his fans, family and business associates.

“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt,” Batali said. “Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted.

“That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”

Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group — which services about two dozen restaurants owned by Batali, Joe Bastianich and others — confirmed that Batali “will step away from the company's operations,” USA Today reported.

“We have asked Mario Batali to step away from ‘The Chew’ while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” ABC said in a statement. “ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct.”

Batali has been one of four co-anchors of “The Chew” since its inception in 2011, Variety reported. He also recently signed a deal with Food Network to produce new episodes of his cooking series “Molto Mario” for the first time since 2005. Food Network had no comment on the status of that project, Variety reported.

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