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charleston, w.va. – The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go to e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclo…

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What many Americans hoped would be the first normal holiday season in three years has instead been thrown into crisis by inflation, with Christmas on the horizon. Food banks and charities across the country are reporting higher than expected levels of food insecurity as prices rise and food becomes less accessible to millions of American families.  Although the pandemic has largely faded, months of rising prices have driven working families back to the food bank lines. And that's left charitable organizations struggling to meet the demand.

In a picturesque corner of western Wisconsin, a growing right-wing conservative movement has rocketed to prominence. They see America as a dark place, dangerous, where democracy is under attack by a tyrannical government. They say few officials can be trusted, and believe neighbors might someday have to band together to protect one another. They have felt the contempt of people who see them as fanatics. But they insist they are just normal people who aren't so different from the rest of America. And their views haven't been swayed - not at all - by midterm elections that failed to see the sweeping Republican victories that many had predicted.

A new study says the U.S. gun death rate last year hit its highest mark in nearly three decades. And the rate among women has been growing faster than that of men. The paper was published Tuesday by JAMA Network Open. The researchers examined trends in firearm deaths since 1990. They say gun deaths began to steadily increase in 2005. But the rise accelerated recently, with a 20% jump from 2019 to 2021. American men continue to die in firearm fatalities at far higher rates than women. But the researchers said the increase in gun deaths of women is playing a tragic and under-recognized role.

Fentanyl has become a scourge across America and is taking a toll on the growing number of people living on the streets of Los Angeles. About a third of the 2,000 homeless deaths between April 2020 and March 2021 were from an overdose. The federal government says the highly addictive and lethal synthetic drug has quickly become the deadliest drug in the nation. While help is available, it is outpaced by the magnitude of misery on the streets. Homeless addicts in Los Angeles can be seen sprawled on sidewalks or passed out in alleys. Others peddle tiny doses and puffs of smoke to the desperate seeking their next high.

There has been a surge in the number of Mexicans seeking asylum in Canada this year. The reasons for the big jump include the relative ease for Mexicans to obtain refugee status in Canada compared to the U.S., visa-free travel between Mexico and Canada, and the threat of violence back home. More than 8,000 Mexican nationals have applied for asylum in Canada since the start of the year. That is six times as many as last year and more than twice as many as in 2019, which was the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions that accompanied it. The majority of the asylum seekers are flying into Montreal. The city has many direct flights between the two countries.