After a sales slump that marked most of the past month, retailers were hoping for a repeat of last year's brisk post-Christmas business. Almost 11 percent of holiday buying occurred in the week after Christmas 1999. Deep discounts, driven by the need to make room for spring merchandise, were expected to stimulate shoppers concerned about uncertain economic conditions. Online shopping, meanwhile, more than doubled this year, according to the tracking service PC Data, which reported $8.7 billion in Internet holiday spending.
The southern Plains were hammered by a Christmas ice storm and freezing rain, with worse conditions being forecast. Snap-ped power lines and hazardous driving conditions caused numerous accidents and electricity outages in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas. In southern California, high winds toppled power lines and fanned wildfires near Los Angeles.
Running for Congress was far more expensive this year than in 1998, a new study showed. Campaign spending by 108 candidates for 34 Senate seats reached almost $299 million - a 53 percent jump from the previous election cycle, according to preliminary figures from the Federal Election Commission. Overall, a record $674 million was spent by those seeking Senate or House seats,
Seven escaped convicts were suspected in the shooting death of an Irving, Texas, policeman who attempted to break up a Dec. 24 sporting-goods-store robbery. Employees herded to the back of the store helped to identify the suspects as the prisoners who've been at large since Dec. 13, when they escaped with about a dozen guns stolen from a guard tower at the Connally Unit in Kennedy, Texas.
A metropolitan Los Angeles agency soon will conclude its first contract to buy water from a private supplier, The New York Times reported. The deal with Cadiz, Inc., an agribusiness company, is for as much as 47 trillion gallons a year and occurs against a backdrop of a federal policy shift and projected shortages.
The Coast Guard called off its search for survivors of a Belize-flagged freighter which apparently sank in rough seas during its passage from Miami to Haiti. Eight crew members were on board the 163-foot ship, which was loaded with foodstuffs.
Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist placed a full-page ad in the city's Journal Sentinel newspaper, apologizing for a five-year extramarital affair with a former aide and pledging to complete his term.
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