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Last Update on November 25, 2014 10:09 GMT

MERRY MARIJUANA

DENVER (AP) -- Forget the mistletoe -- think marijuana instead. Colorado's legal pot sellers have holiday offerings for their customers. This will be the first holiday season since retail marijuana became legal in the state. The Grass Station in Denver has a Black Friday special -- an ounce of weed for just 50 bucks for the first 16 customers in line Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Other pot sellers are going for the high-end, high market. Colorado Harvest and Evergreen Apothecary are releasing some top-shelf strains for the season. Of course, you can't send pot through the mail. So, many of the stores offer T-shirts, rolling papers and other items Colorado's legal tokers can send out of state.

UGLY CHRISTMAS TREE

READING, Pa. (AP) -- It's like "A Charlie Brown Christmas" for some folks in Pennsylvania. The 50-foot Christmas tree in downtown Reading (REH'-ding) was criticized as being ugly. City Council president Francis Acosta had ordered that the spindly spruce be given the ax and replaced by a more impressive fir. But the tree that couldn't get any respect is now getting some love. Council President Acosta has ordered workers to stop removing the ornaments. The tree will now stay.

CHRISTMAS TREES-GROWERS

BARABOO, Wis. (AP) -- This Christmas looks a lot merrier for some Wisconsin tree growers. Christmas Treeland in Baraboo lost a few hundred trees due to dry weather this year. That compares to the 10,000 trees lost by growers Jim and Suzanne Dohner in each of the last two years. Christmas Valley Tree Farm owner Jack Meegan says this is a "very good" year. He tells the Baraboo News Republic he only lost a small percentage of his tree crop this year. He says his family-owned business sells 300 to 400 trees a year.

CALIFORNIA DROUGHT-DIRTY CARS

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) -- There's something dirty in Burbank city government. We're not talking corruption but cars. To help save water during California's historic drought, the city isn't washing its vehicles. The Los Angeles Times reports the unwashed rides number more than 300 including police cars and fire trucks. But the washing ban doesn't apply to windows, for safety reasons. "Go Dirty for the Drought" stickers are being put on the city's unwashed fleet.


Science & Tech News

Last Update on November 25, 2014 08:06 GMT

IN THE NEWS: SPYING SOFTWARE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Cyber-security researchers say they've identified a highly sophisticated computer hacking program that's been used for several years to spy on banks, telecommunications companies and government agencies around the world.

While the source of the "Regin" malware is unconfirmed, experts say it was likely created by the government of some as-yet unidentified country.

Researchers at Symantec, a Silicon Valley security firm, say the malware was designed to collect screenshots, steal passwords and monitor mobile phone calls, among other things, while covering its tracks to avoid being detected. Based on its capabilities, Symantec says Regin is likely "one of the main cyberespionage tools used by a nation state."

Symantec says the malware has been used since at least 2008. Half the known cases of computer infection were in Russia and Saudi Arabia.

IN THE NEWS: FACEBOOK POST-STOLEN GUNS

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- A New Mexico man is facing charges after police say he posted Facebook photos of stolen guns from an unsolved burglary.

KOB-TV reports that Christopher Banegas recently was arrested and charged in connection with the September 2013 heist at an Albuquerque home.

Police say they lacked any leads until the victim recently saw pictures of his stolen guns on Banegas' Facebook page.

The two had been friends, and the victim tells police he didn't check Banegas' Facebook page because he didn't suspect him.

Banegas is facing charges of aggravated burglary, larceny of a firearm, and tampering with evidence. It isn't known if he had an attorney.


National/International News

Grand jury focused on key fatal Ferguson 'tussle'
November 26, 2014 00:24 GMT

Eds: Restores dropped words, adds date of grand jurors' questions about deadly force. AP Photos. By DAVID A. LIEB and HOLBROOK MOHR Associated Press

FERGUSON, Missouri (AP) -- Some witnesses called it a tussle. Others described it as a tug-of-war. Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson testified that they were fighting over his handgun.

None of the witnesses who testified, other than Wilson, could say exactly what was happening inside his police car, but by almost all accounts, Michael Brown was physically struggling with the officer through his open window moments before he was fatally shot on Aug. 9.

Wilson blamed it on Brown, saying the teenager reached through his driver's side window, hit him in the face, called him a "pussy" and grabbed his gun. Wilson told the grand jury that he pulled the trigger twice in his own defense, but no shots went off.

"At this point I'm like, why isn't this working? This guy is going to kill me if he gets ahold of this gun. I pulled it a third time, it goes off."

Wilson's description of his state of mind during that initial confrontation may help explain why jurors decided not to indict. One of the legal standards for justifiable use of deadly force in Missouri is whether an officer reasonably believed his life was in danger.

Thousands of pages of testimony reviewed by The Associated Press show the encounter between the white police officer and the black 18-year-old started off badly, and very quickly spiraled out of control.

Wilson had just wrapped up a call about a sick child. Brown had just stolen a pack of cigarillos from a convenience store. Wilson spotted Brown and a friend walking down the center of a residential street, and told them to move aside. They refused, and Brown responded with an expletive.

That was the moment when Wilson said he realized Brown matched the description of the robbery suspect, and decided to confront the young men singlehandedly, backing up his vehicle to block Brown's path.

What happened next was witnessed by people in at least two passing vehicles and residents watching from the porches and balconies of nearby apartment buildings. They told their accounts either directly to grand jurors or to FBI interviewers, whose recordings were played for the jury. Wilson and Brown's friend, Dorian Johnson, also recounted their versions of the struggle, sometimes with conflicting details.

Many of the eyewitnesses from the nearby buildings were older, had never been interviewed by the news media in the months since the shooting, and accused younger residents of circulating false stories about Brown having been shot while lying defenseless on the ground.

Wilson said he tried to open his vehicle door, Brown pushed it shut, and then he pushed Brown with the door before Brown reached in and hit him in the face.

Johnson saw it differently: He said Wilson had pulled his vehicle so close to them that when the officer tried to open the door, it hit Brown hard and bounced back. Then, Wilson's "arm came out the window, and that's the first initial contact that they had. The officer grabbed, he grabbed ahold of Big Mike's shirt around the neck," Johnson said.

Other witnesses then noticed the commotion.

"I don't know if he had grabbed him or what, but you could see them tussling in the car, they were moving around," said a witness watching from a porch whose taped interview was played for grand jurors. Though Brown was on the outside of the vehicle, his hands appeared to be inside it, the witness aid.

It was "just like some kind of tug of war or something was going on," the witness said.

A passing driver told the FBI that it appeared as though Brown's head was poking through the vehicle's window. The driver couldn't see the officer's hands, "But I did see a wrestle ... like a tussle back and forth."

Another motorist also described them grappling.

"The young man was standing outside the window and the police inside the window. And he had ahold of the young man, and the young man had ahold of him, and they are struggling with one another," the motorist said. "I saw Michael punching a couple times through the window."

Wilson testified that at that moment, he was thinking: "What do I do not to get beaten inside my car?"

"I drew my gun," Wilson told the grand jury. "I said, "Get back or I'm going to shoot you."

"He immediately grabs my gun and says, `You are too much of a pussy to shoot me,"' Wilson added.

The officer said he felt the gun twisting down on his hip, "and that point I thought I was getting shot."

Wilson then got off a shot that went through Brown's hand from a distance of 6 to 9 inches, a pathologist at the St. Louis County medical examiner's office determined. It was the only bullet that hit Brown at close range, spilling blood that stained Wilson's pants leg and the interior driver's side door handle. DNA from both men was found on the gun, said the DNA technical leader at the St. Louis County crime lab.

The fatal shots came moments later. Johnson fled, then Brown, and the officer left the car in pursuit.

Wilson testified that Brown then reversed course and approached him. He fired a round of shots, and said Brown paused, then came at him again, "just coming straight at me like he was going to run right through me."

"And when he gets about ... 8 to 10 feet away, I look down, I remember looking at my sites and firing, all I see is his head and that's what I shot."

Brown fell to the ground, fatally wounded by the last of the seven bullets that struck his body.

Wilson then got his police radio and said "give me a supervisor and every car you got."

Public attention to this killing has frequently focused on the fact that Brown was unarmed. But whether or not Brown had a weapon makes little difference under Missouri law. State law says officers can act with deadly force when they believe it is necessary to arrest a person who has committed a felony or who may "endanger life or inflict serious physical injury."

The jurors asked about this deadly force standard Friday shortly before they began deliberating. One asked whether a person's hands could be considered a weapon, and was told yes. Another asked whether Brown himself could be seen "as being a weapon" because of his "size and demeanor."

Prosecutor Kathi Alizadeh then interjected: "Those things that you are asking is, could a person reasonably believe that their life was threatened? That's the crux of what you all have to talk about."

Associated Press writers Phillip Lucas, Michael Kunzelman, Catherine Lucey, Nomaan Merchant, Garance Burke, Jeff Donn, David B. Caruso and Paul Weber contributed to this report.

An updated interactive about the Ferguson grand jury is available here: http://hosted.ap.org/interactives/2014/ferguson-shooting/


Report cites weather in deadly Bahamas air crash
November 26, 2014 00:34 GMT

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) -- A preliminary accident report is citing weather as a major factor in the small plane crash in the Bahamas that killed a well-known pastor and eight other people earlier this month.

The Department of Civil Aviation says the Learjet carrying Myles Munroe and members of his Bahamas Faith Ministries was forced to abort its initial landing attempt because of heavy rain and reduced visibility. The plane then struck a shipping crane at the Grand Bahama shipyard adjacent to the airport while trying to land on its second approach.

Munroe and his entourage were traveling from Nassau to Grand Bahama for a leadership meeting that he organized when the plane crashed Nov. 9.

The report released Tuesday cited no other obvious factors but the crash remains under investigation.


Business/Consumer News

US economy grew at 3.9 percent rate in 3rd quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy grew at a solid 3.9 percent annual rate in the July-September period, even faster than first reported, giving the country its strongest back-to-back quarters of growth in more than a decade.

   WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- (Marketwired) -- 03/21/14 --
 Companies that pride themselves on being eco-friendly may have conflicted
 ideas between marketing with ad specialties and maintaining their green
 reputation. Eco-friendly customizable products at EmbroidMe provide a
 solution. Show your prospective customers that your brand aligned with
 the green movement with EmbroidMe's diverse selection of promotional
 items conveniently labeled "green" by the manufacturer.
   Every year, Earth day reminds us how important it is to take care of the
 environment. Promote your business as environmentally conscious with
 products made from recycled and sustainable materials. Pens made of
 post-consumer recycled paper with plastic derived from corn or pad covers
 made of recycled PET (PolyEthylene Terephtalate) are a great choice and
 easily paired with note pads made from recycled paper. Golf balls made of
 100% recycled tire rubber, LED flashlights with rechargeable batteries,
 or calendars made of recycled paper are just some examples of the
 eco-friendly customizable products found at EmbroidMe.
   Eco-conscious businesses can incorporate their mission into their attire
 and work uniforms, with shirts can be made of organic cotton, partially
 recycled cotton, post-consumer PET and recycled polyester. Even the
 customization process can go green when embroidered with cotton thread or
 imprinted with vegetable-based inks.
   "Customers appreciate seeing your logo and knowing you support a cause
 they care about," said Christine Marion, MAS, director of retail
 operations for EmbroidMe. "Our experienced on-site specialists and Eco
 Awareness programs are here to assist you."
   About EmbroidMe
  With hundreds of Resource Centers around the world,
 EmbroidMe is the most comprehensive source for promotional apparel,
 premiums, and advertising specialties, providing its promotional partners
 with full-service custom embroidery and screen-printing for apparel. For
 more information about customized promotional products and to view this
 and additional releases, visit the EmbroidMe News & Press Release section
 of embroidme.com. EmbroidMe's on-site specialists are ready to provide
 you with first-class service and products of the highest quality; just
 click EmbroidMe Locations to find the Resource Center nearest you.
   Media Contact:
 Christine Marion, MAS
 cmarion@embroidme.com
 P: 561-713-2503
   AP-WF-03-21-14 1926GMT

Posted 5:30 AM EDT on March 21, 2014

Eds: APNewsNow.
   BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) -- Nike says strong global demand for its athletic goods helped third-quarter net income beat expectations as it readies for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.
   The world's largest athletic clothing maker says that not counting income from discontinued operations, earnings rose 3 percent, to $685 million, or 76 cents per share, in the three months ended on Feb. 28. The year before, profit came to $662 million, or 73 cents per share. The discontinued operations added another $204 million in profit to last year's period. Analysts expected 72 cents per share, according to FactSet. Nike sold its Cole Haan and Umbro brands last year.
   Revenue rose 13 percent to $6.97 billion, beating analysts' expectation of $6.81 billion.
   The Beaverton, Ore.-based company said Thursday that future orders worldwide rose 12 percent.
   AP-WF-03-20-14 2110GMT

Posted 5:27 AM EDT on March 20, 2014

PALO ALTO, CA -- (Marketwired) -- 03/06/14 --
 PunchTab, the leading omni-channel loyalty and engagement platform,
 announced today the release of their Android SDK. The SDK is a free
 toolkit that provides Android mobile and tablet developers the capability
 to add customized loyalty and engagement programs to any app to help
 increase usage, purchase, awareness, and brand engagement.
   With tens of thousands of apps hitting the market every month and
 billions of dollars spent on mobile marketing, the world of mobile
 development has become a congested, competitive marketplace to carve out
 success. Generating user awareness and continued use remain critical
 challenges for organizations that utilize mobile applications to engage
 customers, or add mobile as part of larger omni-channel initiatives.
 Android developers can now implement PunchTab's loyalty and engagement
 infrastructure in mobile apps, incentivizing users to take actions that
 meet marketing agendas and business goals.
   "Mobile is the most important channel for brands when it comes to
 engaging consumers with relevant, real-time messages and offers.
 According to a recent study, 83% of consumers expect to make more
 purchases via mobile in the next 12 months, a 15% increase from today's
 current statistics -- this is a critical proof point of how important
 mobile has become for brands. Awareness, engagement, and enhanced loyalty
 are essential components in the success of a mobile app," said PunchTab
 Founder and CEO Ranjith Kumaran. "With our Android SDK we can provide
 Android developers with the same high-quality, easy-to-use functionality
 that the PunchTab platform offers to over 19,000 active programs on our
 platform."
   The Android opportunity is significant. Google Play accounted for almost
 75 percent of total app downloads in 2013 and according to Distimo,
 Google Play's revenue share has actually been growing at the expense of
 Apple's. Since June 2013, Google Play's revenue jumped 51 percent. The
 statistics are a window into the continuously growing Android mobile
 application market that does not appear to be slowing down. Brands have
 taken notice and with the PunchTab Android SDK, they have an opportunity
 to reach even more consumers on mobile.
   Analyst and TIME tech columnist, Ben Bajarin estimates that over one
 billion Android smartphones will be sold in 2014, and by the end of 2014
 mobile web users will be three times that of the desktop web. "Mobile can
 no longer be a side strategy for brands, it needs to be a central
 strategy as it's an essential element for maintaining consumer
 engagement. The Android opportunity is one that cannot be overlooked,"
 Bajarin reports.
   PunchTab's Android SDK offers mobile developers a free toolkit with an
 easy to integrate static library and customizable features to most
 effectively meet bottom line business goals. Developers can easily
 reward-enable engagement, repeat usage, social sharing, and more.
   For more information on PunchTab's developer kit visit
 www.punchtab.com/developer.
   About PunchTab, Inc.
  Founded in January 2011, PunchTab is an
 omni-channel loyalty and engagement platform that enables agencies,
 brands, and enterprise organizations to incentivize user behavior and
 drive business success. PunchTab's customers use the company's flexible
 solutions to deepen audience engagement, drive purchase, and build
 awareness by leveraging everything from social sharing and UGC and
 awareness campaigns, to sophisticated B2E and B2B programs. PunchTab
 offers both an out-of-the-box product and a fully customizable,
 white-labeled solution that can reward any action with virtual, social
 and real-world rewards. For more information, please visit
 www.punchtab.com.
   Media Contacts:
 Ben Barenholtz
 Sparkpr for PunchTab
 ben@sparkpr.com
 415.241.5207
 Robyn Hannah
 PunchTab
 robyn@punchtab.com
 408.823.3863
   AP-WF-03-06-14 1315GMT

Posted 12:49 PM EST on March 06, 2014

HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL -- (Marketwired) -- 02/28/14 --
 ADP Dealer Services, Inc., a division of ADP(R) and a leading global
 technology solutions provider dedicated to helping dealerships drive
 measurable results across every area of their operation, announced today
 that due to the overwhelming interest and positive feedback they received
 surrounding their Fixed Ops Expos, they will be launching a new round of
 Dealer Solutions Expos for automotive retail dealers. They will be
 thought leadership events designed to show what successful dealerships
 are doing to change the way they do business in order to meet
 technology-driven consumers' demand.
   Last year, over 600 dealers attended 25 expos across the country, touting
 them as very insightful and informative. One dealer described their
 experience as the "best three-hour time investment I've made in a long
 time."
   ADP Dealer Services will offer dealers a unique opportunity to join an
 interactive discussion with industry thought leaders as well as their
 peers during each event. The first subject will feature automotive retail
 expert, Mike Stoll, presenting, "How to Optimize Your Front Office for
 Maximum Customer Retention" and business security expert, Jim Foote,
 presenting "Who Let the Data Out?". They will each share strategic best
 practices and insider knowledge designed to give attendees a competitive
 edge around customer retention and security.
   These expos are a key pillar in Dealer Services' strategy to provide
 insights that help their dealer clients transform how vehicles are
 marketed, sold, and serviced using technology.
   The Dealer Solutions Expos is open to all dealership management across
 the country and will begin in early March, extending throughout 2014. For
 more information or to register for an event in your area, please visit
 our website, email events@adp.com or call 866.722.1844.
   About ADP
  With more than $11 billion in revenues and more than 60 years
 of experience, ADP(R) (NASDAQ: ADP) serves approximately 620,000 clients
 in more than 125 countries. As one of the world's largest providers of
 business outsourcing and Human Capital Management solutions, ADP offers a
 wide range of human resource, payroll, talent management, tax and
 benefits administration solutions from a single source, and helps clients
 comply with regulatory and legislative changes, such as the Affordable
 Care Act (ACA). ADP's easy-to-use solutions for employers provide
 superior value to companies of all types and sizes. ADP is also a leading
 provider of integrated computing solutions to auto, truck, motorcycle,
 marine, recreational vehicle, and heavy equipment dealers throughout the
 world. For more information about ADP, visit the company's Web site at
 www.adp.com.
   The ADP logo and ADP are registered trademarks of ADP, Inc. All other
 marks are the property of their respective owners. Copyright Copyright
 2014 ADP, Inc.
   Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame--mw?attachid=2528720
 Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame--mw?attachid=2528723
 Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame--mw?attachid=2528725
 Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame--mw?attachid=2528718
   Media Contact:
 Michelle Benko
 ADP Dealer Services
 michelle.benko@adp.com
 847.485.4389
   AP-WF-02-28-14 1106GMT

Posted 5:27 AM EST on February 28, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwired) -- 02/26/14 --
 The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors(R)
 President Steve Brown:
   "NAR supports reforms that promote economic growth, but we strongly
 oppose severely altering the rules that govern ownership and investment
 in real estate. Real estate powers almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy,
 employs more than 17 million Americans, and contributes a quarter of all
 federal and state tax revenue and as much as 70 percent of local taxes.
   "We are extremely disappointed with several of the provisions contained
 in U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp's tax reform draft
 released today, namely proposed limits on the mortgage interest deduction
 and capital gains, and the repeal of deductions for state and local
 property taxes. These proposed changes to the taxation of real estate
 will impact every single American, either directly or indirectly.
   "NAR will carefully analyze the details of the Chairman's plan so we can
 best educate Congress and the public about how this plan would impact the
 owners, consumers, and producers of both residential and commercial real
 estate."
   The National Association of Realtors(R), "The Voice for Real Estate," is
 America's largest trade association, representing 1 million members
 involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate
 industries.
   Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other
 news releases are posted in the "News, Blogs and Videos" tab on the
 website.
   For further information contact:
 Jenny Werwa
 202-383-1193
 jwerwa@realtors.org
   AP-WF-02-26-14 2105GMT

Posted 5:26 AM EST on February 26, 2014

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