Christmas shopping: Stores opening on Thanksgiving Day likely to become the new norm
This season could mark the end of Black Friday as we know it.
For decades, stores have opened their doors in the wee hours on the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, major chains such as Target and Sears ushered customers in on Thanksgiving itself, even before the turkey leftovers had gotten cold, turning the traditional busiest shopping day of the year into a two-day affair.
Despite an outcry from some employees, both stores and shoppers seemed to like it. Some people went shopping with a full belly, going straight from the dinner table to the stores. Others slept off their big meal and went to the mall before daybreak on Black Friday.
"I ate my turkey dinner and came right here," said Rasheed Ali, a college student in New York City who bought a 50-inch TV for $349 and a sewing machine for $50 when Target opened at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving. "Then I'm going home and eating more."
This new approach could become a holiday shopping season tradition.
'Shopping IS the holiday': On Black Friday, many feel powerless to resist tradition, emotion
BEAVER FALLS, Pa. (AP) -- Gravy was still warm. Dallas Cowboys were still in uniform. Thanks were still being given across the country as the pilgrimages to the stores began, heralding a new era of American consumerism.
Lured by earlier-than-ever Black Friday sales, people left Grandma and Grandpa in search of Samsung and Toshiba. They did not go blindly: In dozens of interviews, people acknowledged how spending has become inseparable from the holidays. Older folks pined for the days of Erector Sets and Thumbelinas while in line to pay iPad prices. Even some younger shoppers said it felt wrong to be spending money instead of quality time on Thanksgiving.
"But we're still out here," said Kelly Jackson, a paralegal who was standing inside a Best Buy store in the Pittsburgh suburbs, a 32-inch television ($189) in her cart. It was a consolation prize: Despite four hours on line, she missed the cheaper 40-inchers ($179) that she had heard about while listening to Internet radio.
Jackson's resignation was common among those who flocked to capitalism's temples for the consumer equivalent of genuflecting. Many said that this Black Friday bled into Thursday crossed a line, that merchants should not intrude like this. Christmas is about the message of Jesus, the feeling went -- not about the gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Yet amid these protests, people still talked about feeling powerless beneath the moment -- as if they had no choice but to shop.
Testing truce, Gaza crowds surge toward Israel border fence; 1 killed but cease-fire intact
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli troops fired on Gazans surging toward Israel's border fence Friday, killing one person but leaving intact the fragile two-day-old cease-fire between Hamas and the Jewish state.
The truce, which calls for an end to Gaza rocket fire on Israel and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, came after eight days of cross-border fighting, the bloodiest between Israel and Hamas in four years.
In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, the Palestinian U.N. observer Riyad Mansour called the situation in Gaza "extremely fragile" and said Israel's cease-fire violations and other illegal actions risk undermining the calm that was just restored.
Hundreds of Palestinians approached the border fence Friday in several locations in southern Gaza, testing expectations Israel would no longer enforce a 300-meter-wide (300-yard-wide) no-go zone on the Palestinian side of the fence that was meant to prevent infiltrations into Israel. In the past, Israeli soldiers routinely opened fire on those who crossed into the zone.
In one incident captured by Associated Press video, several dozen Palestinians, most of them young men, approached the fence, coming close to a group of Israeli soldiers standing on the other side.
Morsi opponents, backers clash as Egyptian president defends his near- absolute powers
CAIRO (AP) -- Supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi clashed Friday in the worst violence since he took office, while he defended a decision to give himself near-absolute power to root out what he called "weevils eating away at the nation of Egypt."
The edicts by Morsi, which were issued Thursday, have turned months of growing polarization into an open battle between his Muslim Brotherhood and liberals who fear a new dictatorship. Some in the opposition, which has been divided and weakened, were now speaking of a sustained street campaign against the man who nearly five months ago became Egypt's first freely elected president.
The unrest also underscored the struggle over the direction of Egypt's turbulent passage nearly two years after a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian regime. Liberals and secular Egyptians accuse the Brotherhood of monopolizing power, dominating the writing of a new constitution and failing to tackle the country's chronic economic and security problems.
"I don't like, want or need to resort to exceptional measures, but I will if I see that my people, nation and the revolution of Egypt are in danger," Morsi told thousands of his chanting supporters outside the presidential palace in Cairo.
But even before he spoke, thousands from each camp demonstrated in major cities, and violence broke out in several places, leaving at least 100 wounded, according to security officials.
Natural gas explosion levels multistory building in Mass. city, several people injured
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- A natural gas explosion leveled a multistory building housing a strip club in one of New England's biggest cities on Friday evening, injuring at least eight people.
There was no word on whether there had been any fatalities, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno's spokesman Thomas Walsh said.
Eight people were being evaluated at Baystate Medical Center, but none had critical injuries, a hospital spokeswoman said. It was unclear if injured people had been taken to other hospitals.
The explosion, in an area of downtown Springfield with commercial properties and residences, destroyed a building that housed a Scores Gentlemen's Club. The blast sent bricks and glass flying through the streets.
Firefighters responded to the scene at 4:20 p.m. and were investigating a gas leak when the blast happened shortly after 5 p.m., authorities said.
Iran criticizes Turkey's request for NATO Patriot 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."
European Union summit on long-term budget ends without deal
BRUSSELS (AP) -- A summit of the European Union's 27 national leaders, charged with agreeing on a long-term budget for the bloc, broke up Friday afternoon without being able to reach a deal.
Coming just days after the 17 eurogroup finance ministers failed, yet again, to agree on the conditions for releasing badly needed bailout money for Greece, the failure of the two-day summit raises questions about how the bloc makes important decisions. In most cases, unanimity is required, meaning that each country wields veto power.
The EU's top officials, who put in long hours trying to soften up the national leaders individually before putting them together in the same meeting room, tried to put a brave face on the budget deadlock.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who presides over the summits, said the "constructive discussions" at the summit meant an agreement could be reached early next year. He added that the national leaders had instructed him and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to continue working toward consensus over the coming weeks.
Barroso, too, called the talks constructive. But he added, "we are not yet at the point of reaching consensus."
Saturday's Powerball jackpot grows to estimated $325 million, fourth-largest in game's history
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 Gadlin wins, he said he'd return to his grandfather's farm in Heidelberg, Miss., where he spent part of his childhood.
Freshman QB Max Wittek faces a daunting debut when underdog USC hosts No. 1 Notre Dame
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Not many young quarterbacks would even have the audacity to imagine making their first career starts under the circumstances surrounding Max Wittek at the Coliseum on Saturday night.
The freshman is replacing Matt Barkley, an injured senior who has claimed most of the career passing records at Southern California. He's facing Notre Dame (11-0), a storied football power with a No. 1 ranking and the nation's most feared defense.
The Irish need just one more win to book a spot in the national title game, and the struggling Trojans (7-4) have lost three of four. Yet Wittek also has arguably the best receiving duo in the nation catching his passes and a sold-out stadium firmly at his back.
If the enormity of this occasion is scaring Wittek, the confident 19-year-old with a bigger arm than Barkley hasn't shown it a bit.
"You really can't ask for a better opportunity to show what you've got," Wittek said. "I just want to get that first snap, maybe that first hit, out of the way, and I'll be ready to go."
NHL cancels games through Dec. 14, All-Star game in Columbus, Ohio, too
More than a third of the NHL regular season and two of its marquee events have now been called off.
The league announced its latest round of cancellations on Friday -- Day 69 of its labor lockout. All games through Dec. 14 were wiped out, and this time All-Star Weekend, scheduled for Jan. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio, was lost, too. The New Year's Day outdoor Winter Classic already was scratched.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said losing the All-Star festivities is "extremely disappointing."
"We feel badly for NHL fans and particularly those in Columbus, and we intend to work closely with the Blue Jackets organization to return the NHL All-Star events to Columbus and their fans as quickly as possible," Daly said in a statement Friday.
The Blue Jackets said fans holding tickets to the game, the skills competition, and other events during that weekend could receive refunds.