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A flurried frenzy of shoppers lined up at stores across the country, as retailers competed for holiday business in a year that's seen lackluster sales so far.
The annual Black Friday shopping blitz got under way early. Many big box stores opened on Thanksgiving Day so bargain hunters could capture door-buster deals in advance.
DEBBIE HEFNER, Kmart Shopper:
I love to be out with people. And some people are crazy out there. They're crazier than what we are.
You know, 1080p television, I did — I did a lot of searches online, over and over and over and over and over again for the last two weeks, and this is the best deal that I could find.
Many waited hours in line for a chance to snag deeply-discounted merchandise.
For store managers, Black Friday means big business. It's a day when many retailers average as much as 20 percent of their annual sales.
JOSE COCA, Store Manager, Kmart:
This is what we prep the first three-quarters for. This is the fourth quarter for us, big time, fun time, and a lot going on. I mean, this is where you want to be.
The National Retail Federation estimates about 140 million people in the U.S. will shop at some point Thanksgiving Thursday through Sunday.
More than 25 million of them were expected to take advantage of the sales yesterday alone. Across the Atlantic, British shoppers were copying the Black Friday frenzy.
Scuffles broke out among customers battling to get the best deals. But, for some back in the U.S., this Black Friday took on a different purpose. Workers picketed Wal-Mart in numerous locations across the country demanding more full-time jobs and $15-an-hour wages.
A handful were arrested in Chicago for blocking traffic, while in Missouri, protesters voiced their anger over the recent grand jury decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot a teenager. They demonstrated at Wal-Mart and Target stores.
The Ferguson area has already taken a major financial hit from rioting in the wake of the decision.
PATRICIA BYNES, (D) Committeewoman, Ferguson Township: These aren't just buildings. These aren't just businesses. These are people's lives. This is their employment. For a business owner, this is what they commit to every day.
The Saint Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce estimates some 60 businesses around Ferguson were looted, burned or vandalized this week.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced new plans today to offer no-interest and low-interest loans for businesses affected by the violence.
Police in Austin, Texas searched for a motive behind a gunman's attack on the city's downtown entertainment district early this morning. Around 2:30 a.m., a lone shooter sprayed the courthouse and police headquarters with a barrage of bullets and tried to set the Mexican Consulate on fire. The suspect died on the scene, and his car was checked by a bomb squad robot for explosive material.
Authorities later determined it was safe, but Austin's police chief said the impact of the attack could have been much worse.
ART ACEVEDO, Chief, Austin Police Department:
It's important to note that hundreds — over 100 rounds — we don't have an exact count — obviously, that's part of the investigation — but many, many, many rounds were fired in downtown Austin. You all from Austin know how many people were on the streets. We're very fortunate. This Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Friday and this weekend, I give thanks that no one but the suspect is injured or deceased.
Police identified the suspected gunman late today. He's 49 years old and he lives in Austin.
In Northern Nigeria today, at least 80 people were killed and many more wounded in a bomb and gun attack on a mosque. As many as three bombs ripped through the central mosque in Kano, Nigeria's second largest city. Shortly afterwards, hundreds of rioters filled the streets throwing stones and sticks.
The attack bore the hallmark of Boko Haram, the Sunni jihadist movement, but no group has yet claimed responsibility.
In Syria, rebel fighters made big strides south of Damascus today by capturing a string of towns from government forces. Rebels hope by reaching the capital city from the south, they can bring down President Bashar Assad's regime. Their success stands in contrast to Northern Syria, where U.S.-backed rebels are struggling against Islamic State militants.
Pope Francis had strong words for Islamic State militants today during a visit to Turkey. In remarks to the country's Muslim leaders, he condemned Islamic militants perpetrating violence against Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq. The pope is in the Muslim nation for a three-day visit. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greeted the pontiff at the presidential palace in Ankara. During his trip, Francis is expected to push Turkey to take a stronger stance against the Islamic extremists.
Mexico announced a government plan to crack down on crime today. President Enrique Pena Nieto said he's giving the Mexican congress the power to dissolve local governments that may have been infiltrated by drug gangs. The plan also gives state authorities control over municipal police. The crackdown comes two months after 43 college students disappeared, and were allegedly murdered by a drug gang working with local police.
On Wall Street today, stocks closed out November with the second straight month of gains. In a shortened day of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average gained half-a-point to close at 17828. The Nasdaq rose four points to close at 4791. The S&P 500 dropped five points to close at 2067, mainly because of the sharp drop in crude oil prices. For the week, the Dow lost a quarter-of-a-percent. The Nasdaq rose 1 percent. And the S&P was nearly flat.
Ray Rice, the former running back for the Baltimore Ravens, had his appeal of an indefinite suspension by the National Football League overturned today by an arbitrator. Rice was initially suspended for two games. But when a video surfaced of him punching his then-fiancee, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made the suspension indefinite. Rice was let go by the Ravens. The decision today means that he is eligible to play again, but many sports analysts say that is unlikely before the season ends.
The first family welcomed the official White House Christmas Tree to Washington today. The 20-foot white fir from a Pennsylvania tree farm arrived by horse-drawn wagon this morning. First lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia and the family dogs were on hand to receive it. The tree will stand in the White House's Blue Room throughout the holiday season.
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