By Phil Wahba NEW YORK (Reuters) - Heavy discounting took a toll on U.S. retail sales during the Thanksgiving weekend as shoppers spent almost 3 percent less than they did a year earlier, according to data released Sunday by an industry group. One bright spot this weekend, according to the data, was e-commerce as online sales soared.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Investigators sought to determine the cause of a fiery crash that killed "Fast & Furious" star Paul Walker while the 40-year-old actor's fans erected a makeshift memorial Sunday near where the Porsche he was riding in smashed into a light pole and tree.
Two months after the disastrous launch of a website that is a key component of President Barack Obama's healthcare law, administration officials said on Sunday they had met their goal of getting the HealthCare.gov site running smoothly but warned that it needs more fixes. Obama adviser Jeffrey Zients said a five-week emergency "tech surge" had doubled the capacity of the online health insurance portal that is crucial to helping millions of people shop for insurance plans, while making it more responsive and less prone to errors. The administration said the effort's key improvement was to increase HealthCare.gov's capacity to 50,000 simultaneous users, which would allow the site to handle at least 800,000 users per day.
In a ceremony fitting royalty, the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington said on Sunday it was naming a rare, female giant panda cub "Bao Bao," after a public online vote that drew more than 123,000 submissions. Bao Bao (rhyming with Pow Pow) translates as precious or treasure in English, the zoo said. It was one of five Mandarin Chinese names offered in the online vote that ran from November 5 to November 22. Music and dancing and Chinese treats were served in celebration, zoo officials said.
By Barbara Goldberg and Ellen Wulfhorst NEWTOWN, Conn./NEW YORK (Reuters) - When 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre almost a year ago, her father, a professional jazz musician, stopped playing his saxophone. When he could bring himself to pick it up again a month later, Jimmy Greene felt his emotional wounds start to heal and, within months, he recorded an album celebrating his daughter's life. It is one of several works of art that have risen from the depths of loss and grief at Newtown. Creative expression helps express the unspeakable - shock, loss, sorrow - when other means fail, experts say.
Highlights of the Obama administration's update Sunday on the status of HealthCare.gov, the website that people in 36 states were supposed to use beginning on Oct. 1 to sign up for new health insurance coverage. After much work on the troubled site, the government claimed in a new report: