Saturday November 24, 2012

Trend of more stores opening on Thanksgiving likely to become the new norm

This season appears to mark the end of Black Friday as we know it.

For decades, stores have opened their doors in wee hours of the morning on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. But this year, that changed when major chains from Target to Toys R Us opened on Thanksgiving itself, turning the traditional busiest shopping day of the year into a two-day affair.

That means that shoppers who wanted to fall into a turkey-induced slumber could still head out to stores early on Black Friday. Others could head straight from the dinner table to stores on Turkey Day. And stores were able to attract both groups by offering door buster sales from $179 40-inch flat-screen TVs to $10 jeans at different times of the day.

Sam Chandler, 55, and his wife, Lori Chandler, 54, were a part of the early group. By the time they reached the Wal-Mart in Greenville, S.C. early Friday, they had already hit several stores, including Target and Best Buy. In fact, they had been shopping since midnight.

"We’ve learned over the years, you have to stand in line early and pray," Sam said.

Hamas popularity soars over Gaza battle; Abbas determined to win UN nod for Palestine

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- After bitter rival Hamas held its own in a fierce battle with Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has no choice but to override U.S. objections and seek U.N. recognition of a state of Palestine next week, his aides said Friday.

But even such recognition, likely to be granted, may not be enough for the Western-backed backed proponent of non-violence and a peace deal with Israel to stay relevant and counter the soaring popularity of Gaza’s Hamas militants.

Abbas -- formally the leader of all Palestinians but only in charge in parts of the West Bank -- was in trouble even before being relegated to the role of spectator as Israel and Hamas fought for eight days, starting Nov. 14, then negotiated a truce with the help of Egypt that could lead to easing Israel’s long-standing Gaza border blockade.

By comparison, years of effort by Abbas to negotiate the terms of a Palestinian state with Israel have led nowhere.

His West Bank government has been buckling under the worst cash crisis in its 18-year existence, sparking widespread domestic discontent. And Hamas, which seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, emerged from regional isolation after the Arab Spring uprisings brought its parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, to power in key countries, including Egypt.

Morsi opponents, backers clash in widest violence yet as Islamist president defends powers

CAIRO (AP) -- Thousands of opponents of Egypt’s Islamist president clashed with his supporters in cities across the country Friday, burning several offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, in the most violent and widespread protests since Mohammed Morsi came to power, sparked by his move to grant himself sweeping powers.

The violence, which left 100 people injured, reflected the increasingly dangerous polarization in Egypt over what course it will take nearly two years after the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Critics of Morsi accused him of seizing dictatorial powers with his decrees a day earlier that make him immune to judicial oversight and give him authority to take any steps against "threats to the revolution". On Friday, the president spoke before a crowd of his supporters massed in front of his palace and said his edicts were necessary to stop a "minority" that was trying to block the goals of the revolution.

"There are weevils eating away at the nation of Egypt," he said, pointing to old regime loyalists he accused of using money to fuel instability and to members of the judiciary who work under the "umbrella" of the courts to "harm the country."

Clashes between his opponents and members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood erupted in several cities. In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, anti-Morsi crowds attacked Brotherhood backers coming out of a mosque, raining stones and firecrackers on them. The Brothers held up prayer rugs to protect themselves and the two sides pelted each other with stones and chunks of marble, leaving at least 15 injured. The protesters then stormed a nearby Brotherhood office.

Iran criticizes Turkey’s request for NATO missiles to deploy along border with Syria

BEIRUT (AP) -- Iran lashed out Friday at Turkey for requesting that NATO supply it with Patriot surface-to-air missiles to deploy along the border with Syria, denouncing the step by Ankara as counterproductive.

Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani made the remarks after a visit to Damascus, a show of support by Tehran to its increasingly diplomatically isolated ally.

"The internal crisis in Syria cannot be solved through the deployment of such weapons," Larijani, who is close to the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, said at a news conference in Beirut where he went after leaving Syria.

Turkey’s request earlier this week follows several incidents in which violence has spilled across the border from the civil war in Syria, frequently mortar rounds falling a short distance inside. Patriots would be useful in intercepting ballistic missiles -- a much more serious but still hypothetical threat.

NATO said Wednesday it will consider the request "without delay."

Kan. honor flights halted after money goes missing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- As many as 100 World War II veterans have missed their chance to travel to Washington to see their war’s memorial after about $110,000 disappeared from a Kansas nonprofit that organized free trips for them.

Fifty-seven-year-old LaVeta Miller, of Great Bend, is charged with two counts of theft by deception. Her attorney declined to comment.

Miller previously led Central Prairie Honor Flight, which raised nearly $1.2 million from 2008 to 2012. But it ran out of money this year, and leaders now say it’s about $40,000 in debt.

Another group has taken over as the lead Honor Flight provider in Kansas, but its flights have been smaller. Officials say the matter is urgent because more than 600 World War II veterans die each day.

Saturday’s Powerball jackpot grows to estimated $325M

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Black Friday shoppers in many cities briefly detoured into lottery retailers, drawn off task by the prospects of winning a $325 million Powerball jackpot -- the fourth-largest in the game’s history.

Chicago resident Clyde Gadlin, 65, emerged from the bustle of holiday shoppers on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, to stop in at a 7-Eleven to buy his daily batch of Lottery tickets, including Powerball.

For him, the game is a chance to dream -- a single winner’s cash payout would be nearly $213 million before taxes -- and he tries not to let the long odds burst his bubble.

Lottery officials say they’re unsure what effect Thanksgiving and beginning of Christmas shopping season will have on sales, which normally pick up in the days before high-dollar drawings.

If he wins, Gadlin said, he’d journey back to his grandfather’s farm in Heidelberg, Miss., where he spent part of his childhood.