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    My dad was a simple man. He loved simple food, like the cornbread his mother baked every day. Simple people, who never tried to put on airs. And simple pleasures, like hunting and fishing and being with me.

    Q: I just finished your article on water sensors and was disappointed you did not mention whole house water shut-off valves. I recently experienced water damage that required 90% of my wood floors to be replaced at an insured cost of about $55,000.

    While you may never be on the Martha Stewart or Ina Garten level of home entertaining, there’ s no reason you can’ t aspire to these mega-hostesses’ easy, breezy entertaining philosophies. And while you’ re at it, you can aspire to host for less— making Friday night dinners or Sunday brunch for the friends you call family affordable, digestible and eminently enjoyable...

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    Your story is an integral thread to the fabric of our community, and we love to tell it. Our reporters and editors are folks you might run into at the grocery store, at a church service, or at the high school football game. And we cover the news that matters most to you – local news, sports, public safety, education, city government, weather, business. Check out a few of our favorite stories below.

    Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the namesake son of an ousted dictator, has been sworn in as Philippine president. His rise to power comes 36 years after an army-backed “People Power” revolt booted his father from office. But in his inaugural speech, Marcos Jr. defended the legacy of his late father, who he said accomplished many things that were not done since the country’s independence. Activists and survivors of the martial law era say the political comeback was pulled off by whitewashing his family’s image. Protests were staged at the same time as Marcos Jr.'s inauguration Thursday at the steps of the National Museum in Manila. Marcos called for unity and avoided the mention of human rights abuses under his father's rule.

    California lawmakers have approved a nearly $308 billion spending plan. Lawmakers on Wednesday sent the annual operating budget to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is expected to sign it into law. The budget includes money to cover abortions for women who can't afford them. It also will pay for the health care of all low-income adults who are living in the country illegally. The centerpiece of the budget is a plan to send tax refunds to 23 million Californians to help pay for record high gas prices. Most households will receive checks from between $200 and $1,050, depending on how much money they make.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to begin a two-day visit to Hong Kong to mark the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover to mainland China, with a raft of heightened security measures and thousands of guests put into quarantine ahead of the celebrations. Xi, who has not left mainland China since the pandemic began 2 1/2 years ago, will attend a ceremony marking Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule and officiate an inauguration ceremony for the new government led by incoming leader John Lee on Friday. He is expected to arrive by high-speed train on Thursday afternoon and visit the city's Science Park. Xi will also meet with pro-Beijing politicians and tycoons, according to local media reports.

    Jonathan Annicks was 18 when a gunman shot him outside his Chicago home, leaving him paralyzed and in a wheelchair. His shooter was never caught. The Associated Press first reported on his story a few months after the 2016 incident. Since then he's gone to college and become a mentor for others with spinal cord injuries. While he's shown the world a brave face and “can do” spirit, the years since the shooting have had ups and downs. It's a reminder that overcoming tragedy can be messy. But, as he has from the start, he’s leaned on his family to help get him through. He dreams of a life with even more independence and a family of his own.

    If you haven’t been cleaning the vent under your fridge, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. TikTok creator @vanesamaro91 shows you exactly why this needs to be on your to-do list.

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