Thursday morning news: December 26, 2019

Protests resume in Hong Kong » After weeks of relative calm, clashes have resumed in Hong Kong between police and anti-government protesters. 

AUDIO: [Sound of protests in Hong Kong]

Many protesters took to shopping centers, some donning Santa Claus hats. 

Others, dressed in black, smashed store windows. Police responded by firing tear gas and arresting numerous demonstrators. 

Protesters are demanding more freedom and protections of existing rights, but chief executive Carrie Lam has shown no signs of budging on those demands. 

Notre Dame stood silent at Christmas for first time in two centuries » For the first time since the French Revolution more than two centuries ago, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris did not hold Christmas Mass. The Paris cathedral has remained closed since a fire destroyed the roof and spire in April.

Notre Dame’s congregation and choir celebrated a midnight Mass on Wednesday at another Gothic church. 

Cathedral choir member Mathilde Ortscheidt said she was kicking herself for missing last year’s Midnight Mass.

ORTSCHEIDT: To think that I was ill last Christmas, and I missed Christmas at Notre Dame, thinking that I would go again this year with no problem. And yeah, no—I can’t believe that I’m not going to do Christmas. 

Notre Dame kept up its Christmas services during both world wars, but this year, the fire-damaged structure was too fragile to open it to worshippers.

Americans traveling for holidays in record numbers » More travelers have been hitting the roads, rails, and airways this holiday season. An estimated 116 million Americans are traveling through the new year. That’s the highest number on record—up about 4 million from last year.  

AAA’s Jeanette Castellanos…

CASTELLANOS: If you’re traveling by car, there are going to be about 105 million of your best friends on the roadways alongside with you. 

She said with Christmas falling on a Wednesday this year, the worst time to drive is right now. AAA expects the thickest traffic today and tomorrow. 

And if you’re flying, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein reminds you to arrive early.

FARBSTEIN: Two hours before a domestic flight, three hours before an international flight. It’s going to be a bigger challenge to park. It’s going to take you a little longer to check in, to get your boarding pass, to check your luggage, and of course, to wait in the TSA line. 

About 7 million Americans are flying. That’s the most in 16 years. 

Christmas spending up in 2019 » And travel isn’t the only thing on the rise. Retailers enjoyed a very merry Christmas this year, with holiday spending up an estimated 4 percent. And Black Friday was not the biggest shopping day of the year. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The United States saw its biggest shopping day in history on Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas. 

Sales topped $34 billion. That beat Black Friday’s total of $31 billion in sales and Cyber Monday’s $19 billion. 

Online shopping accounted for more than half of the sales growth over last year. But Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners said traditional shopping malls also saw “their best weekend of the season.”

A booming economy and high employment likely spurred the spending this year. The unemployment rate hit 3.5 percent this month, a 50-year low. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) Riot police point cans of pepper spray at protesters during a demonstration in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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