NEW YORK (AP) -- A wealthy Kansas City businessman has answered the prayers of some New Yorkers ravaged by Sandy, appearing as a "Secret Santa" handing out $100 bills to some who'd lost everything.
The anonymous benefactor is spending $100,000 this holiday season for such acts of kindness, including visits Thursday to the New York borough of Staten Island and neighboring Elizabeth, N.J.
He walked up to surprised strangers, thrusting crisp bills into the hands of some who'd lost homes and belongings. "You're not alone, God bless you," he told a couple whose home was badly damaged but now had an extra $300 in cash for rebuilding.
Keeping close watch over the cash handouts were police officers from New York and New Jersey, plus FBI agents and former agents from various states. They provided security and helped him choose locations where people are most in need.
Olivia Bazile, an unemployed mother of five, said, "I feel like I just got a million dollars. It's only $100, but God is good all the time."
COLUMBIA, Pa. (AP) -- A dispute over a central Pennsylvania restaurant's 10 percent discount for people who bring in a current copy of their church bulletin has been settled.
Sharon Prudhomme (PROOD'-ohm), who with her husband owns Prudhomme's Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia, Pa., says the state's Human Relations Commission notified her and others involved that the promotion can continue. She says the restaurant offers the discount to all who bring in a bulletin, including atheists.
The discount program had been challenged by a local man who belongs to the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The restaurant began the discount as a way to boost business on Sundays.
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- Scientists measuring California's giant sequoias to assess their role in fighting climate change have discovered that the tree thought to be the world's second largest is actually third.
A team led by Humboldt State's Stephen Sillett has discovered that The President is the second-largest tree, supplanting the nearby General Grant.
The researchers are studying how the sequoias and coastal redwoods will be affected by climate change and whether the state's iconic trees can help combat it.
Sillett said that The President's 2 billion leaves, the most of any tree on the planet, would make it one of the most efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.
The President is still growing and contains 54,000 cubic feet of wood.
The General Sherman is still believed to be the world's largest tree.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- A group of Native American tribes has succeeded in raising $9 million to buy a piece of land in South Dakota's Black Hills that they consider sacred.
Cris Stainbrook of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation tells The Associated Press that the tribes raised enough money to purchase the land from its current owners. Stainbrook, who was taking part in a meeting with stakeholders, says the deal should be finalized Friday. The deadline to raise the money was Friday.
The land, known as Pe' Sla (pay shlaw), went up for sale after being privately owned. Members of the Great Sioux Nation have been allowed to gather there every year to perform rituals.
The site plays a key role in the tribes' creation story, and members fear new owners would develop it.
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