Top Stories for Thursday, November 27, 2014

America Celebrates Thanksgiving Day

From AP, “Americans mark Thanksgiving with parades, turkey”: “Turkey, stuffing and a helium-filled Thomas the Tank Engine are on the menu as friends and families gather across the United States to celebrate Thanksgiving…

Oohing and ahhing spectators of all ages lined the route of the nationally televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which counted Thomas the Tank Engine, Paddington bear and the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger among its six new giant balloons.”

From AP, “EARLY-BIRD SHOPPERS TURN OUT ON THANKSGIVING”: “The Thanksgiving openings are one way retailers are trying to compete for Americans’ holiday dollars. Used to be that Black Friday was when they’d focus their sales promotions. But increasingly, they’ve been pushing those promotions earlier on Friday – and eventually into the holiday itself – to grab deal-hungry shoppers’ attention.

Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 70,000 stores globally, is expecting a sales increase of 3 percent to 5 percent to $2.57 billion to $2.62 billion on Thanksgiving. Last year’s figure grew two-fold from the year before.

The National Retail Federation expects 25.6 million shoppers to take advantage of the Thanksgiving openings, down slightly from last year.”

Ferguson Protests Dwindle, Mass Arrests Made in California

From AP, “Ferguson protests dwindle as businesses regroup”: “As demonstrations in California heated up overnight, the robust protests in Ferguson dwindled in size and severity as Thanksgiving approached, a change from the days immediately following the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.

People have begun cleaning up the battered suburban community of Ferguson and seeking something closer to normal. Meanwhile, a group gathered in downtown St. Louis on Thursday morning for what the organizer called a “pro-community” car cruise.

Organizer Paul Byrd said the cruise — which consisted of a few vehicles, mostly pickup trucks — was meant to be peaceful and to counteract the violence seen earlier this week in Ferguson after Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted in the fatal August shooting of 18-year-old Brown, who was black and unarmed…

There were no reports of major confrontations or damage to property in Ferguson overnight — where about a 100 people marched in a light snow — and St. Louis County police said there were only two arrests. Troops with rifles were posted at intersections and parking lots in an area where stores were looted and burned Monday into Tuesday.

Since the grand jury’s decision was announced, demonstrators have been active in other cities throughout the U.S. Most have been peaceful. But at least 130 demonstrators who refused to disperse during a Los Angeles protest were arrested Wednesday night, while 35 people were detained in Oakland following a march that deteriorated into unrest and vandalism, according to police officials.

Ferguson business owners and residents on Wednesday covered up broken windows, cleared away debris and hoped the relative calm would last into the Thanksgiving holiday.”

From UK Daily Mail, “Ferguson protesters disrupt Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”: “At least seven people were arrested Thursday morning in Manhattan after trying to disrupt the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as part of a protest against the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri.

The demonstrators used the hashtag #Stoptheparade on Twitter to rally supporters to their cause in New York City ahead of the holiday festivities.”

Obama’s Immigration Executive Action Scuttles Tax Deal

From Politico, “How immigration killed the tax deal”: “The immigration executive order soured the GOP on the tax cuts for the working poor and middle class sought by Democrats. Republicans worried undocumented immigrants targeted by the order would begin claiming the credits in droves. They found a friend in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who reluctantly agreed to drop his party’s demands to extend expiring parts of the earned income tax credit and its companion, the child tax credit.

The decision infuriated Reid’s colleagues.

“Everyone felt that Reid had suddenly given the store to Republicans and not gotten much in return,” said a Democratic House aide.

The president, with liberal Democratic backing on the Hill, issued the veto threat and the plan imploded, making the tax deal the first major collateral damage of the White House’s immigration action…

Both sides wanted to go big and include more, throwing concerns about the budget deficit aside. Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and the Democrats were entertaining the idea of more permanent business tax relief that Republican wanted, and Republicans had even offered to make the expansion of the EITC permanent, according to a senior Senate Democratic aide.

Senate Democrats had made the EITC, a wage supplement for the working poor, and the $1,000 child tax credit key priorities weeks ago. In October, Wyden huddled with Finance members to find out what concessions he should wrestle from Republicans as part of the talks. They agreed on the provisions.

But then the president announced his executive action on immigration late last week, and it all started to unravel.

Republicans took the Democrats’ tax credits off the table completely.”

Tensions Rise Amongst OPEC Nations

From Reuters, “Saudis block OPEC output cut, oil price sinks further”: “Saudi Arabia set the stage for more blood-letting on oil markets after blocking on Thursday calls from poorer members of the OPEC oil exporter group for output cuts to arrest a slide in crude prices.

Benchmark Brent oil fell more than $4 to $73.50 a barrel on fears that the global oversupply will build up in coming months asSaudi Arabia kept silent about what would prompt it to consider production cuts.

With an OPEC statement making no mention of any extraordinary meeting or a need for members to stop overproducing, Thursday’s decision represents a major shift in the group’s policies away from its usual drive to defend prices…

A price war might make some future shale oil projects uncompetitive due to high production costs, easing competitive pressures on OPEC in the longer term.

“We interpret this as Saudi Arabia selling the idea that oil prices in the short term need to go lower, with a floor set at $60 per barrel, in order to have more stability in years ahead at $80 plus,” said Olivier Jakob from Petromatrix consultancy.

“In other words, it should be in the interest of OPEC to live with lower prices for a little while in order to slow down development projects in the United States,” he added.”