National news briefs: 12/26/12

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Return fraud could cost $2.9B Storms blamed for two deaths

MOBILE, Ala. -- A Christmas Day twister outbreak left damage across the Deep South while holiday travelers in the nation's much colder midsection battled sometimes treacherous driving conditions from freezing rain and blizzard conditions Tuesday.

Winds toppled a tree onto a pickup truck in the Houston area, killing the driver. Icy roads already were blamed for a 21-vehicle pileup in Oklahoma, and the Highway Patrol says a 28-year-old woman was killed in a crash on a snowy U.S. Highway near Fairview, Okla.

Blizzard conditions were possible for parts of Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, with predictions of up to 10 inches of snow.

More than 400 flights nationwide were canceled by the evening, according to the flight tracker FlightAware.com. More than half were canceled into and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, which got a few inches of snow.

Return fraud costs retailers

DAYTON, Ohio -- The biggest day of the year for store returns is the day after Christmas, and while retailers work to accommodate the influx of shoppers at the customer service desk, they're increasingly mindful that some people may be naughty instead of nice.

This year, retailers estimate they will lose $2.9 billion due to fraud during the holiday season, according to the results of an annual return fraud survey from the National Retail Federation.

Clothing accounts for the bulk of items returned after Christmas, with customers wanting to exchange them for something else because they are "either the wrong size, wrong color or it's just ugly," Karen Robinson, a J.C. Penney store manager, said.

Military heart disease down

WASHINGTON -- A new study shows that the rate of coronary artery disease among U.S. service members has declined sharply in the past half-century, falling to roughly 1 in 10 military personnel today from about 8 in 10 during the Korean War.

The authors of the new study, which was published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, drew their findings from autopsies and medical records of nearly 4,000 service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2011. Most of them were men, with an average age of 26. Overall, 8.5 percent had some degree of hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries, known as coronary atherosclerosis.

Netflix back after outage

LOS GATOS, Calif. -- Those hoping to spend the holiday watching streaming video from Netflix can now get back in front of their TVs, tablets and PCs after a Christmas Eve outage.

A Netflix Inc. spokesman said Tuesday that the service has been fully restored.

The outage affected customers in the Americas starting around 3:30 p.m. EST Monday. The company, based in Los Gatos, Calif., blames problems with Amazon Web Services, and says it is investigating further.

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