In brief | Nation & World, December 2, 2013


Retailers may have shot themselves in foot with Thanksgiving sales

NEW YORK — Did retailers shoot themselves in the foot?

U.S. retailers offered holiday discounts in early November and opened stores on Thanksgiving Day to attract more shoppers. Those tactics drew bigger crowds, but they didn’t motivate Americans to spend.

A record 248 million people are expected to shop in stores and online over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend that ends Sunday, up from last year’s 247 million, according to the National Retail Federation.

But total spending is expected to fall for the first time ever since the retail group started tracking it in 2006. Over the four-day weekend, spending is estimated to reach $57.4 billion, down 2.9 percent from last year.

The group says earlier discounts led Americans to shop before the weekend and be more cautious about spending.

Protest leader says he met with Thai prime minister after violence

BANGKOK — The leader of Thailand’s anti-government protests said unexpectedly that he had met the prime minister Sunday after daylong clashes between his supporters and police but defiantly told her he would accept nothing less than having her elected government step down to be replaced by an appointed council.

Suthep Thaugsuban said the meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was held under the auspices of the military, which says it is neutral in the conflict. His account of defiance drew lusty cheers from his supporters.

Police throughout the day fought off mobs of rock-throwing protesters who tried to battle their way into the government’s heavily-fortified headquarters and other offices. Mobs also besieged several television stations, demanding they broadcast the protesters’ views and not the government’s. Several of the capital’s biggest shopping malls closed in the heart of the city due to the unrest.

Ukrainians stage largest anti-govt rally since Orange Revolution

KIEV, Ukraine — A protest by about 300,000 Ukrainians angered by their government’s decision to freeze integration with the West turned violent Sunday, when a group of demonstrators besieged the president’s office and police drove them back with truncheons, tear gas and flash grenades. Dozens of people were injured.

The mass rally in central Kiev defied a government ban on protests on Independence Square, in the biggest show of anger over President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a political and economic agreement with the European Union.

The protesters also were infuriated by the violent dispersal of a small, opposition rally two nights before.

Egypt police fire tear gas at ousted president’s supporters

CAIRO — Police fired tear gas to drive hundreds of supporters of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president from Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square on Sunday, as a panel tasked with amending the constitution adopted during his time in office agreed on changes to the text.

The 50-member panel revising the Islamist-tilted charter adopted under former President Mohammed Morsi managed to resolve its differences after two days of clause-by-clause voting on the final draft.

The text gives women and Christians “suitable representation” but says a future law must decide the details. It also calls for elections, either parliamentary or presidential, within 90 days after the draft constitution is adopted. The other election should be held up to six months later.

The new charter would require future presidents to declare their financial assets annually, and allows lawmakers to vote out an elected president and call for early elections if they have a two-thirds majority.

Members agreed that a contentious proposed article allowing military tribunals for civilians would be scaled back, allowing them only in case of direct attack on military personnel or assets.

By wire sources