More retailers are stretching out Cyber Monday into Cyber Week

With many Americans back in the office after the holidays, employees may have to check these online deals on their breaks. But don’t worry, more retailers are stretching out Cyber Monday into Cyber Week, according to a Nov. 30 ABC Good Morning America report.

Their report recommends online shoppers to be prepared for limited supplies, limited-time sales and restrictions.  Deals they recommend include an Amazon Fire unlocked phone available for only $99 instead of the original price of $649 for Dec. 1 only. And, Amazon’s new Fire HD 7 tablet deal began Nov. 27 and ends Dec. 1, is available for $109 (regularly $139) in six-inch and seven-inch models plus five color choices.

Want a quality, well-fitted custom mens suit at a fraction of the cost of traditional tailors? As part of Black Lapel’s first sale ever, on Monday, buy any gift card and get a 40 percent bonus added in value. Black Lapel’s online ordering system offers free shipping and a “flawless fit promise.”

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Cyber Monday through Sunday, Dec. 7, will offer deals on new and pre-owned video games, consoles, smartphones and more. All week long, customers can snag deals both online and in its more than 4,200 retail stores.

Though this year’s details haven’t been released, last year Google Play had free MP3s, including pop hits and classics. “If last year’s spoils were anything to go by, Google Play will be the one-stop shop for any movie buff or music-lover who may have overstretched themselves on Black Friday,” according to DealNews.

Good Morning America reported that Kmart and Sears’ Cyber Week deals start Sunday, Nov. 30 at midnight until Saturday, Dec. 6 at 11:59 p.m. The two sister companies interchangeably allow free in-store pick-up at any of 1,800 Sears or Kmart locations nationwide. One deal is save $100 on a RCA 46-inch 1080p LED HDTV, paying $349.99.




How will Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s worsening health impact Justice duties?

After previously surviving colon and pancreatic cancer, the 81-year-old Supreme Court justice is reportedly ‘resting comfortably’ after cardiac surgery Wednesday.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remained hospitalized Wednesday after undergoing a cardiac procedure early Wednesday morning. The 81-year-old is the oldest active justice on the nation’s highest court and had survived past diagnoses of colon and pancreatic cancer.

Cardiovascular disease continues to a leading cause of mortality in the U.S., with one person dying of heart disease on average every 40 seconds. With age, smoking, high cholesterol, and other risk factors, plaque can build up along the lining of coronary arteries (used by the heart to receive vital oxygen and nutrients) leading to narrowing and decreasing blood flow to some heart muscle. If heart muscle receives inadequate blood flow, a burning or discomfort may occur in the chest, also known as angina.

Justice Ginsburg reported experiencing anginal pain on the night of November 25th. The pain was later found to be related to narrowing in a main artery on the right side of the heart. While the exact treatment records are not available, doctors likely rectified the situation by opening up the narrowed area by inflating a small balloon located in the vessel, and then placing an expandable metal cage known as a stent to help keep the vessel open. Justice Ginsburg underwent this procedure successfully and is progressing with her recovery.

However, no medical intervention is without risk. And for surgical interventions in particular, that risk is often front-loaded: the chance of experiencing an adverse event is highest early on, and gradually falls in the weeks and months that follow. An example in the case of cardiac stents is stent thrombosis, when a clot forms in the stent and partially or completely blocks blood flow. This can lead to the very heart attack that placing the stent was trying to prevent. A recent review of a large international sample of patients led by Dr. Ron Waksman, associate director of the Division of Cardiology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where Justice Ginsburg received her stent, found that 75 percent of these thrombosis events occurred within one year.


Black Friday deals set to take off in 2014

Consumers are more confident and ready to reinvest through the traditional Black Friday shop-a-thon in 2014, according to a Latin Post report on Nov. 22. The online source has published a list of best deals and worse deals for 2014 put together by WalletHub.

The best stores this year are offering the highest average discounts, and WalletHub highlighted which department or type of product is receiving the highest discounts this year.

JCPenney, Macy’s and Rite Aid are the top three discount givers, with JCPenney topping the list at an average of 65 percent off on items. Both Macy’s and Rite Aid are offering 53 percent. The lowest five on the list include the biggest name retailers, especially for electronics, such as Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, Big Lots, and Costco, which is in last place with 21 percent off items. Best Buy and Walmart are offering an average of 32 percent off each.

However, within each category of products, there is a difference in ranking.

For example, the top apparel store is Sears, offering 69 percent off, with JCPenney ranking second. Office Depot and OfficeMax, which are the same company, are the top discount givers, at 40 percent, for computers and phones.

Macy’s is offering high discounts in two categories, with an average of 65 percent off consumer electronics, and 59 percent off consumer packed goods. JCPenney is offering the best discount on appliances, at just under 50 percent, and it is at the top of “other products” with about 60 percent off. Kohl’s is at the top of two lists, for toys with 48 percent off and furniture at 60 percent off.

Overall, toys are the most discounted item this year for the post-Thanksgiving sale, with more than one quarter of all toys being discounted. But the item receiving the highest average discount is jewelry this year.




Federal prison population drops by thousands

The Federal prison population has decreased for the first time in several decades, according to the Justice Department. The population dropped by roughly 4,800 over the past year.

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about the issue on Tuesday, saying that the Justice Department expects to end the current budget year next week with a prison population of roughly 215,000 inmates. It would be the first time since 1980 that the federal prison population has declined during the course of a fiscal year. Furthermore, the Bureau of Prisons projected a drop of more than 2,000 inmates in the next year, and nearly 10,000 in the year after.

“This is nothing less than historic,” Holder said, addressing a conference at the New York University School of Law that was hosted by the Brennan Center for Justice. “To put these numbers in perspective, 10,000 inmates is the rough equivalent of the combined populations of six federal prisons, each filled to capacity.”

The crime rate has dropped along with the prison population, Holder said, proving that “longer-than-necessary prison terms” don’t improve public safety.

Holder continued to argue that unnecessarily long prison terms may actually have a negative effect on public safety and communities.

“We know that over-incarceration crushes opportunity. We know it prevents people, and entire communities, from getting on the right track,” Holder said.

More recently, the Justice Department has encouraged a broader swath of the prison population to apply for clemency, and has supported reductions in sentencing guideline ranges for drug criminals that could apply to tens of thousands of inmates.

Holder calls for the government to come up with new ways of measuring success of its criminal justice policies. “It’s no longer adequate — or appropriate — to rely on outdated models that prize only enforcement, as quantified by numbers of prosecutions, convictions and lengthy sentences, rather than taking a holistic view.”


August unemployment rates rise in 24 states: Hiring picked up in 35

According to a Sept. 21 Associated Press (AP) news report, the U. S. Labor Department reported Sept. 19 that unemployment increased in 24 states, fell in 15 and was unchanged in 11. On a positive note, hiring picked up in 35 states, while it fell in 15.

The AP reported that unemployment rates can rise even when hiring increases if more people start looking for work and don’t immediately find jobs. The state figures suggest hiring was broad-based across most regions of the country last month, even as nationwide job gains in August were the weakest this year.

The national unemployment rate dipped to 6.1 percent in August, from 6.2 percent the previous month. Employers added 142,000 jobs, below an average of 212,000 in the previous 12 months.

Georgia’s unemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent from 7.7 percent in July to the highest among all the states. It was followed by Mississippi at 7.9 percent. That’s the first time Georgia has had the highest rate since the Great Recession ended. Previously, Nevada, Michigan and Rhode Island have had the highest.

Georgia’s rate rose even as its employers added the fourth-most jobs in the nation last month, gaining 15,800.

North Dakota had the lowest rate in the nation, as it has for many years, at 2.8 percent. The state is benefiting from an oil and gas drilling boom. It was followed by three states with 3.6 percent unemployment: Nebraska, South Dakota and Utah. The biggest job gains were in Texas, which added 46,600 jobs, followed by California, with 27,700 and Michigan, with 17,900.

The Midwest had the lowest unemployment rate among the nation’s four regions, at 5.8 percent. The unemployment rate in the Northeast was 6.2 percent, followed by 6.3 percent in the South and 6.6 percent in the West.


Senator Bernie Sanders: 'I am thinking about running for president'

Most of the talk surrounding the 2016 presidential race is whether or not former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will run for the Democratic presidential nomination. A recent announcement from Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont may, however, distract politicos from that story line (at least for the moment).

“I am thinking about running for president, and the issue of whether you run as an independent, with the necessity of setting up a fifty-state infrastructure, running as a Democrat, that’s something that I’m looking at,” Sanders told Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd. “The truth is, profound anger at both political parties, more and more people are becoming independent.”

The Independent senator stressed that the problem in American politics is not Hillary or her potential campaign.

“I don’t know that Hillary is running,” Sanders said. “I don’t know what she’s running on. I know that the middle class in this country is collapsing. I know that the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider. There’s profound anger at the greed on Wall Street, anger at the media establishment. The American people want real change. I have been taking on the big money interests and special interests all of my political life…The issue is not Hillary.”

According to Politico, Sanders, if he decides to run for the Oval Office, would defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.





State of Connecticut urges caution over state-issued debit cards used at Home Depot

National home improvement company Home Depot confirmed Sept. 13 that a recent data breach could have gone back as far as April, and affected customers who used credit and debit cards at nearly 2, 200 of its U.S. and Canadian stores.

In a Sept. 13 news report, the Associated Press reported that Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier is encouraging residents who may have used some of the state-issued prepaid debit cards at Home Depot to take steps to prevent unauthorized use of their accounts. Nappier urged action by holders of cards issued by JPMorgan on behalf of the state’s Department of Revenue Services, Department of Labor, Department of Social Services as well as the Department of Children and Families.

JPMorgan has notified Nappier’s office that 214 cardholders who used their cards at the retailer may be affected. Nappier urges cardholders to take advantage of Home Depot’s free identity protection services and monitor their accounts.

The Miami Herald and the Associated Press reported on Sept. 10 that attorney generals for Connecticut, California and Illinois are leading a multistate investigation into the Home Depot data breach. Jaclyn Falkowski, spokeswoman for the Office of Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, said Sept. 10 that initial contact has been made with Home Depot, but they declined to comment further.

U.S Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Sept. 9 requesting that they investigate the incident. The senators said they’re concerned that Home Depot had inadequate procedures in place to detect and stop the theft of customer data.

Senators Blumenthal and Markey introduced the Personal Data Protection and Breach Accountability Act in February after companies like Target Corp. and others disclosed data breaches.

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‘Duck Dynasty’ cousin running for Congress in Louisiana

A relative of the Duck Dynasty stars is running for Congress in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District. Zach Dasher is running to replace Vance McAllister. The conservative married Congressman will not seek re-election after being caught kissing a female staffer on camera.

Dasher is the nephew of “Duck Commander” Phil Robertson. He announced his candidacy in a press release.

Dasher has no political experience, but the pharmaceutical representative believes that his inexperience is a positive trait in the Congressional race. “It is time for ordinary citizens to get off of the sidelines and get involved in the political system,” said Dasher in the release.

“For too long, we’ve set idly by while Washington politicians slowly gain control over every aspect of our lives,” added Dasher. “I can effectively fight the big government intellectual elitists in Washington.”

The Duck Dynasty stars ran into controversy in December 2013 when Robertson made comments many viewed as racist and homophobic. Roberton said in a magazine interview last year that being gay was “just not logical.”

While Dasher hasn’t commented on the remarks from last year, it appears he shares many of the same evangelical Christian views on politics as his famous relatives.

“Man is made in the image of the Almighty God. If we are afraid to say that, then we don’t have a case for liberty. Our rights do not come from a bunch of elite politicians in Washington, D.C. They come from the Almighty God,” said Dasher in his statement.

Dasher has the full support of his relatives, but it’s unclear if their support will translate to an election victory in the 5th Congressional District. Duck Dynasty’s ratings have been sliding nationally, but their popularity is still high in Louisiana. “My gut is that this boy [ Dasher] will get 20, 25 percent[of the vote],” said Roy Fletcher, a Louisiana political consultant.