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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Over 180 people arrested for DWIs on Wednesday

ST. PAUL --   Authorities in Minnesota arrested more than 180 motorists for D-W-I on so-called "Blackout Wednesday" the night before Thanksgiving.  The State Patrol, police and sheriff's offices across the state kicked off a stepped-up holiday D-W-I enforcement effort this week.  The Department of Public Safety says 16-hundred people have been arrested for drunken driving over the past three Thanksgiving weekends.  Officials say people who choose to drink alcohol need to plan a sober ride home.   


Janitors hired by contractors to clean big-box stores are holding a one-day strike this "Black Friday" and demonstrating at a Home Depot in Minneapolis (6-8am) and a Walmart in Saint Paul (1030am).  Organizer Merle Payne says Target has taken a leadership role with a new contractor policy, but he says so far the companies that clean Target stores in the metro area aren't taking that policy seriously  Payne says a lot of workers are still complaining about having to work seven days a week, ongoing sub-poverty wages and no clear path to ensure their voices are heard.  Payne says this is the fourth strike cleaning workers have held this year and expects today's will be the largest by far


The unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season has arrived today on Black Friday.  And what will Minnesotans be buying this year?  University of St. Thomas marketing Professor Dave Brennan says their annual holiday spending survey shows cash, gift cards, toys and -- continuing a several-year trend -- apparel.  Brennan adds usually when you see apparel up close to the top, that's a good sign because it's a postponable expense for most people.  Minnesota households are projected to spend on average 868 dollars this holiday season.


"Black Friday" is here and soon after comes "Cyber Monday," and the Better Business Bureau has some tips for safe on-line shopping.  Minnesota spokesman Dan Hendrickson says make sure your computer has the latest updates for SPAM filters, anti-virus and anti-spirus software, plus a secure firewall.  He suggests sticking to trustworthy websites, check the seller's repuation at, look for the BBB seal and other trustmarks -- and click on those trustmarks to make sure they're real.  Hendrickson says also beware of "phishing" and use a credit card rather than a debit card for on-line purchases.


The day after Thanksgiving may have many with tummy troubles reaching for an antacid, but Mayo Clinic researchers say, not so fast.  People who regularly take medications for acid reflux like Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid are often more suceptible to bacterial illnesses, and a new Mayo Clinic study shines some light on a possible cause.  Lead researcher Doctor John DiBaise says the study shows the medication seems to upset the delicate balance of bacteria in the guts of some patients, allowing more bad bacteria to grow.  He's not recommending people stop taking their regular antacids, but that doctors prescribe them carefully.


Fire-related accidents and deaths typically increase during the holidays.  And last year, November and December were the deadliest months in Minnesota with 14 fire fatalities.  This year, state fire officials are asking all of us to follow a few simple rules to help keep us safe.  For example, when you're cooking, you should never leave a hot stovetop unattended.  If you're using space heaters in your home, be sure they're at least three feet away from anything combustible and turn them off when you're sleeping.  And finally, you should never burn gift wrap in a fireplace--because it burns too fast and hot to be controlled. 


The Stillwater Police Department is investigating the theft of decorations from the gravesite of a fallen police officer.  The father of the late St.Paul Officer Josh Lynaugh reported that a decorative tree with blue L-E-D lights was taken from his son's plot last weekend.  Thirty-year-old Lynaugh suffered a fatal heart attack in February 2013 after a foot chase.  Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the Stillwater Police Department tip line (651-351-4945). 


Black Friday is the kickoff of the "real" Christmas tree season for growers in the state.  Paul Hugunin (HYOO'-guh-nin) of Minnesota Grown says many of the farms and tree lots open on Black Friday but it's a good idea to call ahead.  Hugunin says growers have less than a month to sell trees they've been growing eight to 12 years.  He adds that locally-grown Christmas trees are good for the economy and environment.  More than 60 Christmas tree farms and lots are listed in the Minnesota Grown Directory (minnesotagrowncom)