2A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 28, 2005
Shoppers respond, then retreat NEWS IN BRIEF
.: 1 >.
NEW YORK (AP) - The 2005 holiday shopping
season got off to only a modest start over the Thanks-
giving weekend as consumers responded initially to
aggressive discounting and then retreated.
"There was a lot of hype, a lot of promotions and
lot of people, but the results were on the lukewarm
side," said Michael Niemira, chief economist at the
International Council of Shopping Centers, estimating
that the weekend's sales results were down from a year
ago. He said heavy markdowns forced retailers to sell
more goods in order to meet sales targets.
Analysts said there was heavy shopper traffic early
Friday when stores opened even earlier than usual for
the day after Thanksgiving, offering deep, deep dis-
counts. When the early-bird specials were over, con-
sumers lost their enthusiasm.
"If you give Americans a bargain, they will get
up whatever time to take advantage of it. But I don't
think this weekend turned out to be as big as retailers
hoped," said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's
Research Group, based in (Charleston, S.C.)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which stumbled in the 2004
holiday season by not offering enough discounts, was
back in the game, attracting hordes of shoppers in
the pre-dawn hours Friday with discounted TVs and
DVD players. Its efforts appeared to have paid off; it
reported better-than expected sales Friday and also
estimated that November sales at stores open at least a
year would be up 4.3 percent.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. said that traffic and sales over
the weekend were better than expected, but didn't give
details. Toys R Us Inc. spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh
said the company was pleased with results for the
weekend, and cited such best-selling bargains as
Mattel Inc.'s Barbie Fashion Mall and MGA's Bratz
doll styling head.
ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which monitors sales at
more than 45,000 retail outlets, found that it was
a difficult weekend overall. The company said late
Saturday that Friday's sales slipped 0.9 percent to
$8 billion, only a small change from a hefty 10.8
percent gain a year earlier. But Niemira, who serves
as a consultant to ShopperTrak, said the company's
preliminary figures showed business dropped off
dramatically on Saturday, resulting in the weekend's
results being weaker than a year ago..
Actual results for Saturday will be available
today, he said.
The National Retail Federation offered a more
Ypsilanti resident Yaneka Mattingly, left, watches her sister load Items purchased at Walmart
upbeat report. According to a survey of 4,209 con-
sumers conducted by Bigresearch on Friday and
Saturday, total weekend spending from Thanksgiv-
ing Day through Sunday totaled $27.8 billion, a 21.9
percent increase over last year's $22.8 billion. The
figures include online spending.
According to Visa USA, overall sales volume on
Visa branded cards for the combined Friday and
Saturday period surpassed $7 billion, a 15 percent
increase over the year-ago period.
A clearer picture of how the retailers fared over
the Thanksgiving weekend will emerge Thursday,
when retailers report sales results for all of Novem-
Forecasts for holiday shopping have improved in
recent weeks amid declining gasoline prices. But
while gas is cheaper than it was a few months ago,
it's still more expensive than this time last year, and
shoppers face higher heating bills this winter. Given
such challenges, stores made a concerted effort to
lure shoppers with more enticing bargains, expand-
ed hours on Friday and other gimmicks.
But many shoppers were budgeting in the early
"I'm just starting, but I don't have that much shop-
ping this year," said Vera Raphael, who was buying
$25 sweaters at a Sears, Roebuck and Co. store in
Orlando, Fla. Saturday. "I have two weddings com-
ing up, so that's taking up all my money."
She said gas prices also made her anxious about
spending on non-essentials.
At a Target store in Warwick, R.I., Dwight Gar-
rett was pleased with a DVD player, marked down
to $29.97 from its listed price of $44.99.
"You can't beat the price," said Garrett, who had
traveled with his wife from Plainfield, Conn., to
shop at Target, Penney and other stores along a road
of big-box outlets in Warwick.
Time reporter to testify in leak case
A second Time magazine reporter has agreed to cooperate in the CIA
leak case and will testify about her discussions with Karl Rove's attor-
ney, a sign that prosecutors are still exploring charges against the White
Viveca Novak, a reporter in Time's Washington bureau, is cooperating
with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of
CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity in 2003, the magazine reported in
its Dec. 5 issue.
Novak specifically has been asked to testify under oath about conversa-
tions she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin starting in May 2004, the
Novak, part of a team tracking the CIA case for Time, has written or
contribute to articles in which Luskin characterized the nature of what was
said between Rove and Mathew Cooper, the first Time reporter who testi-
fied in the case.
SANTA MARIA, Calif.
Two killed in bus accident, dozens injured
A Greyhound bus ran off a freeway, overturned and slid at least 100 yards on its
side before hitting a tree Sunday, killing a pregnant woman and a man who were
aboard, authorities said.
Authorities said driver fatigue may have contributed to the crash. The previous
night, the driver had traveled from Fresno to Los Angeles, then left Los Angeles
shortly after 3 a.m. yesterday. He had been on the road for about four hours when the
Dozens of passengers among the 44 people aboard the San Francisco-bound bus
were hurt, at least seven of them with major injuries.
Four survivors were trapped in the wreckage and had to be rescued with hydrau-
lic equipment, while some of the most seriously injured were airlifted to hospitals,
Faro Jahani, 50, of San Francisco, and Martha Contreras, a 23-year-old Santa
Maria resident who was seven months pregnant, were killed, said Lt. Dan Minor of
the California Highway Patrol.
Seven other people suffered major injuries, four had moderate injuries and 31 had
minor injuries after the bus went down an embankment along Highway 101 in Santa
Maria shortly after 7 a.m., said Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Keith Cullom.
Villages flattened after earthquake in Iran
An earthquake with a magnitude of at least 5.9 shook a sparsely populated area
of southern Iran yesterday, flattening seven villages, killing 10 people and injuring
70, officials and state-run television said. The tremble was felt as far away as Oman
and the United Arab Emirates.
Heidar Alishvandi, the governor of Qeshm, was quoted by state television as
saying rescue teams were deployed to the affected area, and people in the wrecked
villages moved quickly to safely.
Another provincial official, Ghasem Karami, told The Associated Press that
high casualties were not expected because the area was not heavily developed.
Tehran's seismologic center said the quake was of magnitude 5.9, but the U.S.
Geological Surveyin Golden, Colo., said it had a magnitude of 6.1.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
A story in Wednesday's edition of the Daily (Hillel votes to ban all Coke
products) incorrectly stated that Ed Potter is the attorney for Coca-Cola. Potter is
the director of Global Labor Relations for the soft-drink company.
A story in the Nov. 18 edition of the Daily (Students make spiritual jour-
ney in Spain) incorrectly stated that the city of Len, the starting point of the
students' trip, is in France. The city is in Spain. The story also incorrectly
reported that the trip to Santiago took the students five weeks to complete. It
should have said that the trip took 16 days. Next year's trip will take five weeks
to complete and will begin in France.
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Iraqis arrested in plot to kil judge
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraqi police
arrested eight Sunni Arabs for alleg-
edly plotting to kill the judge who
prepared the indictment of Saddam
Hussein, authorities said yesterday, the
day before the ousted leader's trial for
crimes against humanity resumes.
Former U.S. Attorney General
Ramsey Clark arrived in Baghdad
to help the defense but might not be
allowed in court today when the first
of up to 35 prosecution witnesses take
Tight security surrounds the pro-
ceedings, which are restarting after
a five-week recess in a specially built
courtroom in the heavily guarded
Green Zone. The precise starting
time was not announced due to fear
of attack by both Saddam's supporters
The eight alleged plotters from Iraq's
Sunni Arab minority were apprehend-
ed Saturday in the northern city of
Kirkuk, police Col. Anwar Qadir said.
He said they were carrying written
instructions from a former top Saddam
deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, order-
ing them to kill investigating judge
Raed Juhi, who prepared the case
against Saddam and forwarded it to the
trial court in July.
Al-Douri is the highest ranking
member of the Saddam regime still
at large and is believed to be at least
the symbolic leader of Saddam loyal-
ists fighting U.S. forces and Iraq's new
"As an Iraqi citizen and a judge, I am
vulnerable to assassination attempts,"
Juhi told The Associated Press. "If I
thought about this danger, then I would
not be able to perform my job ... I will
practice my profession in a way that
serves my country and satisfies my
example, names of four of the five trial
judges have been kept secret and some
of the 35 witnesses may testify behind
curtains to protect them from reprisal.
Defense lawyers had threatened
to boycott the proceedings after two
of their colleagues were slain in two
attacks following the opening session
Oct. 19. However, lawyer Khamees al-
Ubaidi told the AP yesterday that the
defense team would attend after an
agreement with U.S. and Iraqi authorities
on improving security for them.
On the eve of the hearing, Clark and
former Qatari Justice Minister Najib al-
Nueimi flew to the capital from Amman,
Jordan, to lend weight to the defense
team. Both have been advising Saddam's
lawyers and support their call to have the
trial moved out of Iraq because of the
However, neither Clark nor al-Nueimi
has been officially recognized by the court
as legal counsel. U.S. and Iraqi officials
said Saddam's chief lawyer, Khalil al-
Dulaimi, did not officially request permis-
sion for any foreign attorneys to attend the
Iraqi law permits foreign lawyers to act
as advisers but requires that those argu-
ing cases in court must be members of the
local bar association.
Clark, who served as attorney general
under President Johnson, wrote last month
that Saddam's rights had been system-
atically violated since his December 2003
capture, including his right "to a lawyer of
his own choosing."
Clark and others say afair trial is impos-
sible in Iraq because of the insurgency and
because, they argue, the country is effec-
tively under foreign military occupation.
U.S. and Iraqi officials insist the
trial will conform to international
This Is a file photo of Saddam Hussein as he speaks to presiding Judge
Rlzgar Mohammed Amin at his trial. Yesterday, Iraqi police arrested eight
Sunni Arabs for allegedly plotting to kill the judge who prepared the indict-
ment of Hussein.
Saddam and seven co-defendants are
charged in the killing of more than 140
Shiite Muslims after an assassination
attempt against the former president
in the Shiite town of Dujail in 1982.
Convictions could bring a sentence of
death by hanging.
Insecurity from the predomi-
nantly Sunni insurgency has compli-
cated efforts to put Saddam on trial
and forced draconian measures. For
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