• Black Friday store sales fall as Americans buy more online

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Black Friday shopping is shifting from hours spent in line to more time online. Sales at retail stores on Black Friday fell to $10.4 billion this year, down from $11.6 billion in 2014, according to preliminary figures from research firm ShopperTrak. And sales on Thanksgiving dropped to $1.8 billion from just over $2 billion. ShopperTrak has 1,200 members, including retailers and malls, in the U.S and overseas. Their figures don't include e-commerce. A big reason for the declines is increased online shopping, as Americans hunt down deals on their smartphones, tablets and computers. Another key factor: Many retailers are offering bargains long before Thanksgiving, limiting the impact of Black Friday sp

  • Nuclear crossroad: California reactors face uncertain future

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Six years ago, the company that owns California's last operating nuclear power plant announced it would seek an extended lifespan for its aging reactors. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. envisioned Diablo Canyon as a linchpin in the state's green energy future, with its low-carbon electricity illuminating homes to nearly midcentury. Now, with a much changed nuclear power landscape, the company is evaluating whether to meet a tangle of potentially costly state environmental requirements needed to obtain renewed operating licenses. If it doesn't move forward, California's nuclear power age will end.

  • The Latest: More than 80,000 in Oklahoma without power

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The latest on wintry weather and heavy rainfall in Oklahoma (all times local): 5 p.m. More than 80,000 electric customers are without power in Oklahoma as a slow-moving storm brings ice, sleet and wintry precipitation to the state. Oklahoma Gas & Electric — the state's largest electricity provider — reported more than 75,000 outages about 5 p.m. Saturday., with more than 26,000 in Oklahoma City and about 15,000 more outages in suburbs of the metro area. Public Service Company of Oklahoma — the second largest electric utility — had more than 5,000 outages in southwestern Oklahoma. More than 1,500 outages were in Caddo County, more than 1,200 in Washita County and about 1,000 were in G

  • UN: Maurice Strong, climate and development pioneer, dies

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    TORONTO (AP) — Maurice Strong, whose work helped lead to the landmark climate summit that begins in Paris on Monday, has died at age 86, the head of the U.N.'s environmental agency said Saturday. The Canadian-born Strong, the first U.N. Environment Program chief, organized the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which led to the launch of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. "Strong will forever be remembered for placing the environment on the international agenda and at the heart of development," Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP, said in a statement. The statement did not provide details of Strong's passing. Christiana Figueres, the current head of the U.N.

  • What to know about 'BernieCare,' Sanders' health overhaul

    Updated: 4 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The most ambitious "repeal and replace" health care plan from a presidential candidate comes from Sen. Bernie Sanders, not from a Republican. The Vermont independent who's seeking the Democratic nomination has been chastised by front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton for espousing an all-inclusive, government-run system. It's called the "single-payer" plan, loosely modeled on how health care is financed in Canada and most of Western Europe. Basically it means putting almost all the $3.2 trillion-a-year U.S. health care system in the hands of the federal government, with states acting as administrative subcontractors. Currently, government at all levels pays about half of the nation's health care bi

  • NYC-area ports stare down sizeable challenge of modernizing

    Updated: 4 hr ago

    NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — From ultra-thin laptops to drones to smartphones, the shelves of big-box retailers overflow with gadgets to help us communicate and conduct business at greater and greater speeds. What's largely unchanged is the way many of those goods arrive on those shelves, as they did in the era of the rotary phone and transistor radio. It's a supply chain fraught with the potential for disruption, particularly in the sprawling ports that hug Newark Bay just east of the New Jersey Turnpike — an aging complex where weather, labor issues and even computer problems have caused significant delays in recent years.

  • Semi rollover leads to oil spill in Provo Canyon

    Updated: 5 hr ago

    PROVO, Utah (AP) — A semitruck hauling two tankers of crude oil rolled over Saturday, forcing authorities to shut down Provo Canyon. The Utah Highway Patrol says the rollover happened just after 10 a.m. and when the semi was trying to change lanes. UHP officials tell Salt Lake City's KSL-TV (http://bit.ly/1TjUL8L ) that the driver lost control and crashed into the median barrier. The UHP says the front tanker ruptured, spilling roughly 4,500 gallons of the oil. Some of the substance went into the Provo River. The rear tanker appeared intact. Officials have not said when roads in the canyon will reopen for the public. Crews are working to clean up the spill.

  • Luminant buys 2 East Texas power plants from NextEra

    Updated: 5 hr ago

    DALLAS (AP) — Luminant, one of the biggest electric power generators in Texas, has agreed to buy two East Texas electric power plants from NextEra for $1.3 billion. The acquisition of the Forney Energy Center east of Dallas and the Lamar Energy Center in Paris would add almost 3,000 megawatts of generating capacity to the Luminant system. Luminant already has more than 13,700 of generating capacity in Texas. The acquisition is expected to close next spring, pending regulatory approvals. Luminant is owned by the Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings Corp., which is presently in bankruptcy proceedings. The Luminant statement says the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and company creditors have approved the acquisition.

  • Obama shops at Washington bookstore, popular popsicle shop

    Updated: 6 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama kept up his holiday tradition of supporting small businesses. Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha visited Upshur Street Books in Washington's Petworth neighborhood Saturday, where he bought nine books. The Obamas skimmed through books in the fiction section of the dimly lit store with bright green walls. Miniature Christmas lights were hanging on the ceiling and around the front window display. The president emerged from the store with a brown shopping bag full of his purchases, which the White House said included children and young adult novels such as "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Book 8," ''Dork Diaries 1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life," ''A Snicker of Magic," ''On F

  • Hamstrung by Congress, Obama tries to clinch climate pact

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is trying to negotiate a legacy-making climate change pact this coming week in Paris with one hand tied behind his back. Congress can't even agree whether global warming is real. Scientists point to the global agreement, years in the making, as the last, best hope for averting the worst effects of global warming. Obama has spent months prodding other countries to make ambitious carbon-cutting pledges to the agreement, which he hopes will become the framework for countries to tackle the climate issue long beyond the end of his presidency in early 2017. But Republicans have tried to undermine the president by sowing uncertainty about whether the U.S. will make good on its promises. Sen

  • Energy-rich Russia pays little attention to climate change

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    MOSCOW (AP) — When forest fires roared through Siberia this summer, so vast that the smoke blocked vast Lake Baikal from satellite view, Russian officials blamed the blazes on arsonists and disorganized fire crews. Environmentalists say there was another culprit: global warming. As temperatures rise worldwide, areas such as Siberia are suffering increasingly long dry spells. Russia's national weather agency says the country is the fastest-warming part of the world. But Russia has taken little action to reduce its own emissions of the greenhouse gases believed to be behind the warming and at next week's international climate conference in Paris it aims to push a proposal that would allow its emissions to increase.

  • Iran lures foreign investors with new oil contracts

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran unveiled a new model of oil contracts Saturday aimed at attracting foreign investment once sanctions are lifted under a landmark nuclear deal reached earlier this year, and said U.S. companies would be welcome to participate. The new Iran Petroleum Contract replaces a previous buyback model, in which contractors paid to develop and operate an oil field before turning it over to Iranian authorities. Iran has sweetened the terms, hoping to bring in $30 billion in new investment. The new contracts last 15-20 years and allow for the full recovery of costs. The older contracts were shorter term, and investors complained of heavy risks and suffering losses.

  • New solar project set to shave power costs in Amsterdam

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (AP) — There's a new bright spot in Amsterdam, New York — a solar-power project that's expected to save the old industrial city thousands of dollars a year in electrical costs. Amsterdam's new "solar garden" is expected to go online Monday, the Daily Gazette (http://bit.ly/1OwUUUr) of Schenectady reported Saturday. Built on a decommissioned reservoir, the 2,000-panel array is the biggest solar project to date in the city of 18,000 people, about 35 miles from Albany. "It's good news for Amsterdam, because we're repurposing the property, and the residents will benefit because it's new revenue to the city," Mayor Ann Thane told the newspaper.

  • Hogs, residents compete for Kansas county's water supply

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    TRIBUNE, Kan. (AP) — Only 1,200 people live in Kansas' smallest county, where using irrigation to quench thirsty crops is no longer an option for many because the water source underneath this flat, arid prairie is nearly exhausted due to decades of overuse. Recognizing that economic development was at a standstill, county residents narrowly voted five years ago to allow corporate hog-feeding operations to move in and bolster the tax base in the county that abuts Colorado and is named after New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley of "Go West, young man" fame. A second feeding operation was just approved by the state.

  • Maine ski resort focuses on safety after chairlift accidents

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine (AP) — A Maine ski resort that's responsible two of three chairlift mechanical failures that led to injuries in the past five years is working to make sure it doesn't happen again. Sugarloaf is spending $1.5 million to make improvements after a chairlift malfunction allowed it to move in reverse last March, injuring seven skiers. Workers are replacing the drivetrain on the King Pine chairlift that malfunctioned and have replaced the gear box on a sister lift of a similar design, Timberline. They've also upgraded the brakes on seven other lifts to ensure no rollbacks. Another aging lift was removed altogether.

  • News Guide: What to know about December legislative session

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Legislature returns Tuesday for two or three weeks of voting with a number of issues on tap before it adjourns for the year. Lawmakers face few hard deadlines to act near the halfway mark of their two-year session. But some major bills have seen little traction all year, leaving proponents to hope for movement in December. Other priorities, like enticing a massive data center to western Michigan with tax breaks, have just popped up. What to look for: ___ DETROIT SCHOOLS Gov. Rick Snyder's proposal to split Detroit's troubled state-run school district in two next summer and spend $70 million annually over a decade to pay off debt while launching a new district is hitting o

  • Research: Major fault near reactors links to 2nd crack

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and earthquake faults have been uneasy neighbors for decades. Even before the twin reactors produced a single watt of electricity, the plant had to be retrofitted after a submerged fault was discovered 3 miles offshore during construction. That cleft in the earth, known as the Hosgri fault, has long been considered the greatest seismic threat to a plant that stands within a virtual web of faults. But new questions are being raised by sophisticated seafloor mapping that has found that the Hosgri links to a second, larger crack farther north, the San Gregorio fault. In general, the longer the fault, the stronger its potential shaking power.

  • In reversal, North Dakota gets less from feds than it gives

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's oil prosperity has reversed a historic trend of the state getting a greater share of federal spending than its residents paid in taxes. The Tax Foundation, a Washington think tank, said North Dakota got $1.68 in federal spending for every dollar its residents paid in federal taxes in 2005, ranking sixth in the nation. For nearly a decade before that, North Dakota never fell out of the top 10. But new data from the federal government show that in fiscal 2013, the latest year for which figures were available, North Dakota got 97 cents for every dollar it sent to Washington. Only 11 states, including North Dakota, which now ranks 43rd, received fewer federal dollars than they paid in taxes.

  • Pennsylvania budget fight's bottom line, as usual _ taxes

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania is now five months into a budget impasse with taxes the main sticking point — a scenario familiar to anyone who's tried to understand the Byzantine motives that drive elected officials in its capital city. A "framework" agreement being worked out between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature teetered on the edge of collapse after Republicans said a key element, increasing sales taxes to plug a budget deficit and cut school property taxes, lacked support among their ranks. A few days later, a Senate Republican proposal to impose a $12 billion to $14 billion state tax increase to fully eliminate the hated school property taxes — legislation Wolf opposed —

  • AAA: Md. drivers paying $2.08 per gallon

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Motorists in Maryland are paying 4 cents less at the pump when compared with a week ago. AAA Mid-Atlantic said Friday in a report that the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Maryland was $2.08, down from $2.12 a week ago. The price of gas in the state is 3 cents above the national average of $2.05. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in cities around the state includes $2.07 in Baltimore, $2.12 in Cumberland, $2.09 in Hagerstown and $2.07 in Salisbury. Motorists in the state are paying 75 cents less per gallon than at this time last year when the average price of a gallon of regular gas was $2.83 per gallon.