Creator of first 50-star U.S. flag dies at 67
Robert G. Heft, who is credited with designing and sewing the first 50-star American flag, died Saturday at age 67. A cause of death wasn't immediately available. Heft made the flag in 1958 as part of a high school history project in Lancaster, Ohio. He spent more than 12 hours sewing the design on his mother's Singer sewing machine. President Dwight D. Eisenhower chose Heft's design to replace the 48-star flag. Born in Saginaw, Heft left Michigan after his parents separated when he was about a year old. He returned after retiring from Northwest State Community College in Archbold, Ohio, where he was a professor.
For delivery firms, welcome stress
FedEx and UPS — the nation's two biggest private package delivery companies — will work at a frenzied pace starting Monday to kick off the busiest shipping week of the year. U.S. retail sales showed a slight increase in November, and delivery companies are expecting to see the resulting rise in holiday package traffic. On last year's busiest shipping day, FedEx says, it delivered 12 million packages; this year, the company is projecting 13 million.
Charity alternative for Web shoppers
A new Web site lets people donate to charity the money they would have spent on, say, that $44.50 Henley sweater from the Gap — or, better yet, the $250,000 his-and-hers ICON aircraft that Neiman Marcus is selling this year. BRAC USA, the American arm of a Bangladeshi development and aid organization, started the site, www.whatididnotbuy.org, on Thursday. As of midday Friday, 89 people had contributed roughly $500 using the site, forgoing items like a blender, Champagne, power tools and a flat-screen television.
Gay marriage foes tap Calif. firms
As the political battle over same-sex marriage plays out in state capitals, several companies have emerged as the go-to players for opponents of the marriages. Of the $2.7 million spent to pass Maine's measure to overturn a same-sex marriage law, about 75 percent flowed to companies in California that billed hundreds of thousands of dollars for consulting work, phone lists, printing and other services, according to campaign disclosure documents.
California: A series of winter storms moved in Saturday, bringing rain and snow and sending mud and debris on to highways. Up to 90 vehicles were stranded along a 12-mile stretch of Angeles Crest Highway north of Los Angeles, said county fire Capt. Frank Reynoso.
California: Eight people were arrested Saturday after protesters broke windows, lights and planters outside the home of Robert Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, late Friday.
Utah: Friends and family of Susan Powell, 28, who disappeared Monday under what police call suspicious circumstances, fasted and prayed Saturday for her safe return as volunteers posted thousands of fliers with her image on it.
Pennsylvania: The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national advocacy organization, said it plans to file a federal civil rights complaint against the Philadelphia School District after a series of attacks on Asian students at the South Philadelphia High School.