JERUSALEM

Hanukkah festival begins with lighting of menorahs

Jews around the world ushered in the eight-day Hanukkah festival Saturday evening, lighting the first candles of ceremonial lamps that symbolize triumph over oppression.

In Israel, families gathered after sundown for the lighting, eating traditional snacks of potato pancakes and doughnuts and exchanging gifts. Local officials lit candles in public places, while families displayed menorahs in their windows or in special windproof glass boxes outside.

Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, commemorates the Jewish uprising in the second century B.C. against the Greek-Syrian kingdom, which had tried to impose its culture on Jews and adorn the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem with statues of Greek gods.

The holiday lasts eight days because according to tradition, when the Jews rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem, a single vial of oil, enough for one day, burned miraculously for eight.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.

Crist expected to run for former seat as governor

Now that former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is a Democrat, pretty much everyone in Florida’s political world expects him to seek his old seat.

Crist revealed his long-anticipated conversion Friday after more than two years as an independent. He made the announcement on Twitter and included a photo of his new voter registration form that he filled out at the White House.

Should Crist run, he could become the first person to serve as Florida governor as a Republican and a Democrat. Crist only served one term before choosing to run for Senate instead of re-election.

MERCER, Pa.

Gunshot kills 7-year-old boy in parking lot of gun store

A man’s handgun went off in the parking lot of a gun store Saturday and the shot killed his 7-year-old son, authorities said.

Joseph V. Loughrey, 44, was getting into his truck when the 9 mm handgun discharged, wounding Craig Allen Loughrey in the chest, according to state police. The boy died at the scene at Twigs Reloading Den in East Lackawannock Township, 60 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Investigators said Loughrey told them he didn’t realize there was a bullet still in the chamber.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s governor pushes for change in status

Puerto Rico’s governor will hold an extraordinary session to push for approval of a resolution urging Congress and President Obama to honor the results of a recent referendum that would change the island’s political status.

Luis Fortuno said Puerto Rico embraced statehood and rejected the current U.S. commonwealth status during a Nov. 6 referendum. He said Saturday that Congress and Obama pledged to respect the results of the two-part referendum.

In the first question, more than 900,000 voters, or 54 percent, said they were not content with the current status.

On the second question, only about 1.3 million voters made a choice. Of those, nearly 800,000, or 61 percent, chose statehood. Some 437,000 backed sovereign free association and 72,560 chose independence. Nearly 500,000, however, left that question blank.

– From news service reports