11.27.15:  Holiday shoppers get a head start on Thanksgiving



UNDATED (AP) — The Super Bowl of shopping has begun. For some, it started right after Thanksgiving Day dinner, with stores such as Wal-Mart and Toys R Us opening in the late afternoon Thursday.

The National Retail Federation expected about 30 million people to shop on Thanksgiving, and about 99.7 million on Black Friday.

And for the first time, more shoppers are expected to visit retailers’ websites on their smartphones than on desktop computers and tablets this weekend.


11.27.15:  Farm recalls produce used in Costco salad linked to E. coli



SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California farm is recalling a vegetable mix believed to be the source of E.coli in Costco chicken salad that’s been linked to an outbreak.

Nineteen people in seven states have been sickened. Taylor Farms Pacific Inc. of Tracy, California, has recalled a mix of diced celery and onion used in Costco chicken salad and other foods containing celery.

The Food and Drug Administration says the company is acting “out of an abundance of caution.”


11.27.15:  First family gets unwanted visitor



WASHINGTON (AP) — One tourist says she heard a man take a big, deep breath and whisper to himself, ‘All right, let’s do this,’ before he climbed over the White House fence yesterday afternoon.

The man was immediately apprehended and taken into custody on the North Lawn.

At the time, President Barack Obama and his family were spending Thanksgiving at the White House.


11.27.15:  Volunteers spend today serving instead of shopping




HOUSTON (AP) — A growing number of churches in Houston and elsewhere are offering an alternative to the usual Black Friday shopping rush as a way of celebrating the Christmas season. It’s called Bless Friday.

Participants engage in service projects coordinated by participating congregations. Events include delivering cookies to patients and families at a medical clinic, preparing gifts for sailors arriving at the Port of Houston, cleaning a local prayer garden, decorating the homes of the mentally challenged and volunteering at homeless centers and food banks.

Bless Friday was organized by Houstonian Chuck Fox, who says it’s easy to “lose sight of the real reason for Christmas, remembering and honoring Jesus.” Fox says the idea of service came during a sermon he heard. Bless Friday started in Houston in 2000. Fox says participating churches this year include some in Seattle and New York.


11.25.15:  Americans take to the roads, air


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Many Americans have gotten the jump on Thanksgiving, already taking to the roads and by air to reach their holiday destinations.

Triple-A says some 46.9 million people are traveling more than 50 miles from home to celebrate Thanksgiving.

That’s an increase of more than 300,000 people over last year, and the most travelers since 2007.


An improved economy and cheaper gas prices are leading to more people traveling this Thanksgiving holiday.


If you plan to travel, you’ll notice extra police on Michigan roadways.

The annual crackdown runs through Sunday and officers will focus on impaired driving, seatbelt use, careless driving, and speeding.

Officials say Thanksgiving is Michigan’s second deadliest holiday in terms of traffic crashes.


11.24.15:  Detroit, Austin welcome Syrian refugees despite governors


DETROIT (AP) — The mayors of Detroit and Austin are welcoming Syrian refugees despite pushback by their states’ Republican governors following the deadly attacks in Paris.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says his city can support 50 Syrian families annually for the next three years. Mayor Steve Adler says Austin has accepted three Syrian refugees in the past two years and another is coming.

The Democrats spoke during a White House-arranged conference call Monday, a week after numerous Republican governors spoke out against federal refugee policies.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has instructed refugee-resettling organizations to stop helping Syrians. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who initially lobbied for refugees, has urged a pause in the resettlement program until security concerns are addressed.

Duggan says he’s comfortable with the refugee-vetting process. Adler says refugees are terror victims.


11.24.15:  Upbeat feds revising self-driving car position



LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal transportation officials are updating their position on self-driving cars, with an eye toward getting the emerging technology into the public’s hands.

Just two years ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation struck a cautious tone. Its official policy statement still says the cars should be limited to testing.

Google and several traditional automakers have been doing just that — running prototypes equipped with a suite of sensors and cameras around public streets and highways, mostly in California.

Those cars must have someone behind the wheel, ready to take over.

Google has advocated spreading the technology, once the tech titan concludes its cars are safe.

Now, transportation department spokeswoman Suzanne Emmerling says that with rapid development of the technology, federal policy is being revised.


11.24.15:  US issues travel warning following terror attacks



WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department is warning that Americans should be alert to possible travel risks, especially during the holidays, following increased threats from militant groups around the world.

A travel alert will be in effect until Feb. 24.

Officials say current information suggests that militants with the Islamic State, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and other groups continue to plan attacks in multiple regions.


11.23.15:  Ground delays at US airports on the rise



NEW YORK (AP) — An Associated Press analysis finds that airplanes spent 23 minutes and 32 seconds, on average, taxiing between gates and runways during the first nine months of this year.

That’s the longest it has been since the Bureau of Transportation Statistics started tracking taxi times in 1995 and a 50-second increase over last year’s average.

The creep in taxi times is attributed to a number of things: massive runway construction projects at some of the nation’s busiest airports; schedule changes; and new, distant runways that relieve congestion but require more time to reach.


11.23.15:  Arrest in IN murder of pastor’s wife



INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis police have arrested a man in the shooting death of a pastor’s pregnant wife during an apparent home invasion.

Police say they’ve arrested 18-year-old Larry Taylor of Indianapolis on a preliminary charge of murder in the death of 28-year-old Amanda Blackburn.

Officers from the department’s gang and violent crime units arrested Taylor with help from U.S. Marshals.