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Which stores are open on Christmas Day 2017?

Whether you need to hop to the shop to snag some essentials (or a last-minute Christmas gift) or you’re missing an important ingredient for Christmas dinner, you may be able to find a store open on the big holiday.

» RELATED: What time do stores open and close on Christmas Eve 2017?

Here’s a breakdown of stores open for Christmas Day on Dec. 25, 2017:

Though the vast majority of retailers are closed on Christmas Day, some pharmacies and convenience stores will be open.

Note: The rule of thumb for holiday hours is to always call ahead and confirm. Some stores may close depending on their managers’ and franchise owners’ choices.

Pharmacies open on Christmas Day 2017

CVS: Most stores are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Locations inside Target stores will be closed. Call ahead to confirm.

Duane Reade: Either open 24/7 or open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call to confirm.

Rite Aid: Most locations open 24/7. Call to confirm.

Walgreens: Either open 24/7 or open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call to confirm.

Convenience stores open on Christmas Day 2017

7-Eleven: Most locations open 24/7. Call to confirm.

Circle K: Most locations open 24/7. Call to confirm.

Retailers open on Christmas Day 2017

Family Dollar: Most open 24 hours. Some have limited hours. Call to confirm.

Starbucks: Most locations close at 5 p.m. Call ahead.

This list will be updated as needed.

Surgeon admits burning initials into patients’ livers with laser

A British transplant surgeon has admitted that he assaulted two of his patients by burning his own initials into their livers during surgery. 

The BBC reported that Simon Bramhall pleaded guilty to charges of assault by beating at the Birmingham, England, Crown Court and will be sentenced on Jan. 12. As part of a plea deal, he also denied a more serious charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

>> Read more trending news

Bramhall, 53, was a surgeon at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in February and August 2013, when the crimes occurred. The BBC reported that liver surgeons typically use a device called an argon beam coagulator to stop bleeding in the organ’s small blood vessels, as well as to sketch out the area of a surgery on the liver’s surface prior to starting the operation. 

The liver typically heals itself and the laser marks disappear. 

In the case of one of Bramhall’s victims, however, the patient’s liver was already damaged and failed to heal properly. It retained the marks, which were spotted by another surgeon during a subsequent operation, the BBC said

Bramhall resigned in May 2014 following a disciplinary hearing. According to The Telegraph, the liver, spleen and pancreatic surgeon worked in Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s liver unit for 12 years.

Prosecutor Tony Badenock described the case as “highly unusual and complex” within both the medical community and the law.

“It is factually, so far as we have been able to establish, without legal precedent in criminal law,” Badenock said, according to The Telegraph

The guilty pleas represented Bramhall’s acceptance that what he did was both ethically and criminally wrong, the prosecutor said. 

“They reflect the fact that Dr. Bramhall’s initialing on a patient’s liver was not an isolated incident, but rather a repeated act on two occasions requiring some skill and concentration,” Badenock said. “It was done in the presence of colleagues.”

Bramhall told the BBC at the time of his 2014 resignation that he “made a mistake” when he branded his patients’ organs.

“I made the decision on 16 May I would hand in my notice,” Bramhall said. “It is a bit raw, and I have to move on.”

Baby sloth born at Texas zoo needs name

A baby sloth born a couple of weeks ago at a Texas zoo needs a name.

>> Read more trending news

The Linnaeus two-toed sloth was born to Sid and Sylvia on Nov. 17 at the Animal World and Snake Farm. 

“The birth was an unexpected surprise for animal care staff members,” the zoo said in a release. “Due to the sedentary lifestyle of the sloth, along with their thick, wiry fur, it is exceedingly difficult to see outward signs of pregnancy.”

The unnamed baby will wean on its mother until it eventually becomes part of exhibits for the zoo.

The name contest ends Dec. 22.

Overall teen drug use is down, marijuana and vaping up, study finds

Vaping and marijuana are becoming increasingly more popular among American teens than traditional cigarettes, binge drinking and the misuse of pain relievers, all of which have hit historic lows in 2017.

» RELATED: Doctors and the opioid crisis: An AJC National Investigation

That’s according to a new National Institute on Drug Abuse survey of about 45,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders, in which nearly 40 percent of U.S. 12th-graders surveyed reported some type of illicit drug use in the past year, with about 1 in 3 reporting using some kind of vaping device.

>> Read more trending news 

The results released Thursday also showed that the use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin continues to decline overall, to the lowest levels seen in the survey’s 43 years.

Read the full survey at drugabuse.gov.

Here are the major findings from the Monitoring the Future survey:

Cigarette smoking declines among teens

According to these findings from the 2017 Monitoring the Future survey, cigarette smoking has dramatically declined in the past decade. 

In 1997, 24.6 percent of 12th-graders reported cigarette smoking as a daily drug activity. In 2017, only 4.2 percent of high school seniors said they smoked cigarettes on the daily.

» RELATED: 7 million people die of tobacco use each year — how much is tobacco costing Georgians?

Vaping, marijuana use up among teens

About 1 in 3 12th-graders in the U.S. reported using some kind of vaping device in 2017, but many teens don’t know what is in the device they’re using, according to the survey.

» RELATED: Are e-cigarettes a way to quit smoking?

When asked what they thought was in the mist they inhaled the last time they used the device, 51.8 percent of 12th graders said ‘just flavoring,’ 32.8 percent replied ‘nicotine’ and 11.1 percent said ‘marijuana’ or ‘hash oil.’ 

“We are especially concerned because the survey shows that some of the teens using these devices are first-time nicotine users,” Nora D. Volkow, director of NIDA, said. “Recent research suggests that some of them could move on to regular cigarette smoking, so it is critical that we intervene with evidence-based efforts to prevent youth from using these products.”

» RELATED: Atlanta parents weigh pros and cons of letting their teens vape

And among American eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders, the percentage of those who said they used pot in the previous year increased to 24 percent, a 1.3 percent increase from 2016.

While marijuana rates are slightly up from 2016 (22.6 percent), they’re similar to 2015 rates (23.7 percent).

And according to the survey, 12th-graders in states with medical marijuana laws are more likely to have vaped marijuana or consumed marijuana edibles than their counterparts.

» RELATED: Vaping device that looks like USB drive popular with teens

Binge drinking levels off among teens

Binge drinking (having five or more drinks in a row) among eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders appears to have leveled off in 2017 after years of steady decline, according to the report.

» RELATED: How much alcohol is too much?

Here’s the 2017 breakdown compared to peak years:

- 12th-graders: 16.6 percent reported binge drinking (31.5 percent in 1998)

- 10th-graders: 9.8 percent (24.1 percent in 2000)

- Eighth-graders: 3.7 percent (13.3 percent in 1996)

“While binge drinking among eighth, 10th, and 12th grade students remains well below the levels seen a decade ago, the downward trend in binge drinking appears to have slowed somewhat in recent years,” George F. Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said. “This may signal a need for more emphasis on alcohol prevention strategies in this age group.”

» RELATED: Georgia law says teens can have alcohol (sometimes)

Pain medication misuse hits historic lows among teens

In 2017, the misuse of opioid pain reliever Vicodin among high school seniors dropped to its lowest point since the survey began measuring it in 2002.

» RELATED: 5 ways to to talk to your young child about the opioid epidemic

Only 2 percent of 12th-graders reported Vicodin misuse. Last year, the figure was at 2.9 percent. In 2003, 10.5 percent of 12th-graders reported Vicodin misuse.

When it comes to overall pain medication misuse (narcotics other than heroin) among high school seniors, the survey showed a significant decline since its 2004 peak — from 9.5 percent in 2004 to 4.2 percent in 2017.

» RELATED: US gun death rate up for second straight year, drug deaths rising faster than ever

“The decline in both the misuse and perceived availability of opioid medications may reflect recent public health initiatives to discourage opioid misuse to address this crisis,” Volkow said. “However, with each new class of teens entering the challenging years of middle and high school, we must remain vigilant in our prevention efforts targeting young people, the adults who nurture and influence them, and the health care providers who treat them.”

Overall, according to the survey, illicit drug use other than marijuana and inhalants, remains the lowest in the history of the survey in all three grades.

Read more from the survey at drugabuse.gov.

House Ethics Committee probe launched after Kihuen accused of sexual harassment

The House Ethics Committee announced Friday that it has opened an investigation into sexual harassment allegations levied against Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada.

>> Read more trending news

The announcement came after a pair of women accused the congressman Kihuen was sworn into office in January. Before representing Nevada’s 4th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, Kihuen served in the Nevada Senate.

A woman, who was not identified for fear of retribution, told The Nevada Independent on Thursday that she was working as a lobbyist when Kihuen was a state senator and that he “touched her thighs or buttocks on three separate occasions without her consent.”

She showed the newspaper a slew of suggestive text messages she said were sent to her by Kihuen during the 2015 legislative session, including one asking that she “come sit on his lap in the middle of a committee meeting,” the Independent reported.

She said she had previously dealt with a slew of inappropriate Facebook messages from Kihuen, all sent during the 2013 legislative session.

“I don’t think Ruben thinks what he did was wrong,” she told the Independent. “Like, I think he just thought he was playing around, which, I don’t think he realized the position he probably put people in.”

In a statement obtained by the Independent, Kihuen pointed to his 10 years in the state Legislature, during which time he “dated several different women,” he said.

“Out of respect for their privacy, I won’t discuss my communications or any other details of those relationship,” he said.

Earlier this month, a woman told BuzzFeed News that she quit her job as a finance director for Kihuen’s 2016 congressional campaign after he made repeated sexual advances toward her.

The woman, identified only by the name Samantha, told the news site she began working for Kihuen in December 2015. She said ongoing sexual harassment led her to quit by April 2016. 

Twice, she said, he touched her thighs without her consent. She told Buzzfeed that Kihuen once touched her thigh while they were in a car together and after he asked if she had ever cheated on her boyfriend.

“She told him to stop, and said she said ‘no,’ and began talking about her boyfriend,” the news site reported.

In a separate incident in March, Samantha told BuzzFeed that Kihuen grabbed the back of her thigh in March 2016 as she was trying to help him with his computer while he was making fundraising calls.

“I asked him what he was doing and he stopped,” she said.

Democratic Party leaders have called on Kihuen to step down in the wake of the accusations. 

“In Congress, no one should face sexual harassment in order to work in an office or in a campaign,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Dec. 2, after Samantha came forward. “The young woman’s documented account is convincing, and I commend her for the courage it took to come forward. In light of these upsetting allegations, congressman Kihuen should resign.”

Kihuen said last week that he has no intention to resign in light of the allegations, according to CNN.

“I’m definitely not resigning,” he said on Dec. 6. “That’s all I can tell you for now.”

Animal control: Woman throws boyfriend’s dog to its death from 17th-floor window

A woman was charged after throwing her boyfriend’s 2-year-old pug mix to its death from a 17th-floor window, according to animal control officials.

>> Read more trending news

Juanita Jones, 28, was charged with felony animal cruelty Thursday in the Nov. 30 incident, according to NJ.com

Hazel belonged to Jones’s boyfriend, Howie Ellis, 59, and landed about 5 feet from his vehicle in the parking lot, according to NJ.com

A witness, who called police, heard a commotion before Hazel was thrown and saw Jones, who looked like she was going to jump, according to NJ.com. The witness ran down two floors and held Jones until police arrived.

Jones was taken for a psychiatric evaluation after the incident, according to NJ.com. A court hearing is scheduled for Jones next week.

Strangers come together to help mother get her life back on track

A South Carolina mother who gave up her children so she could get clean has received an early Christmas present, thanks to the kindness of strangers.

Jessica McCutcheon surrendered her children to the Department of Social Services. Officials said she had battled drug abuse and was a victim of domestic violence, WYFF reported.

>> Read more trending news 

But recently, McCutcheon turned her life around so much she was able to regain custody of her children. 

Meredith Shannon, the foster mother of McCutcheon’s daughter, wanted to do something for the mother of the girl she took care of.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

“We just felt she was part of our family and we just felt that we needed her kids to have a good Christmas and we wanted to be a part of that,” Shannon told WYFF.

So she and her neighbor and some athletes at North Greenville University lent a hand. 

They collected $600 in gifts, including gift cards from local stores, while a stranger donated a car to McCutcheon and her family. 

The video of the life-changing gift has been posted online and has been viewed millions of times.

“She was borrowing people’s cars to get to work and to get her kids to school and I just felt that God laid it on our hearts and that we really needed to be able to provide a good car for her so that she could continue to parent her kids like she needed to,” Shannon told WYFF.

Man with concealed weapon permit fatally shoots would-be robber in Target parking lot

A man with a concealed weapon permit fatally shot a would-be robber Thursday evening, according to reports. 

>> Read more trending news

A 21-year-old man with gunshot wounds in his back and chest was found in the parking lot near a South Side Target, according to WMAQ. The man, who has not been identified, was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

A silver Nissan was seen leaving the area after shots were fired, according to the Chicago Tribune

The driver, who was not named, was stopped as he returned to the scene. Police found a semi-automatic gun, a revolver and spent casings in the car. 

The 27-year-old driver said he fired the semi-automatic gun after he was approached by the other man, who tried to rob him at gunpoint. 

He was returning to the scene to talk to police and was taken into custody.

RIP AIM: AOL retires its pioneering Instant Messenger app

It’s the end of an era. As of Friday, web company AOL’s groundbreaking Instant Messenger program is no more.

>> Read more trending news

Oath, the entity formed by AOL combined with Yahoo, announced in October that it would retire AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) on Dec. 15.

As of Friday, users were no longer be able to sign into AIM. Officials with Oath said in October that data associated with the app will be deleted and warned that users would have to save their images, files and chat history before Dec. 15, if they hoped to keep it.

People who have email addresses under the aim.com domain name will still be able to access email as usual, according to Oath.

AIM was the first chat application of its kind when it launched in 1997.

“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” said Michael Albers, vice president of communications products at Oath. “As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017.”

Company officials said in an FAQ about the change that no replacement app is in the works.

“Thank you to all of our AIM users,” Albers said. “We are more excited than ever to continue building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products for users around the world.”

Panthers' Thomas Davis donates $15K for high school state championship rings

Carolina Panthers defensive linebacker Thomas Davis has made a huge donation to help the Harding University High School football team get its players and coaches championship rings.

>> Read more trending news

Davis confirmed he donated $15,000 to the team in a tweet to WSOC-TV anchor John Paul.

The football team finished its 14-1 season with a 30-22 win over Scotland County in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A State Championship game in Winston-Salem. It’s the first state championship for the team since 1953.

Head football coach Sam Greiner was on the radio Friday morning when Davis called in and said he would help. The football program was trying to figure out ways to purchase rings for its players who couldn't afford them.

The rings cost about $400 apiece, so the school was trying to raise about $20,000. A GoFundMe page was set up to help the team buy rings, which had raised nearly $7,000 by Friday morning.

When Greiner accepted the head coach position two years ago, the football program was one of the worst in the state -- winning just one game in both 2014 and 2015. The players didn't have uniforms until the coach’s church bought them. They still practice on a beat-up baseball field and have to dress behind the stands.

"If someone wrote a movie script about everything that's happened, they would think it's a fairy tale,” Greiner said. “They wouldn't think it's real life.”

WSOC-TV asked what expenses Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools cover and was told it provides for game officials, security and coaching stipends.

Everything else is up to the school, families or a booster club.

Harding doesn't have a booster club, and a majority of the students’ families don't have the money.

"We have kids on our rosters that don't really have homes,” Greiner said. “They really don't know what they're going to eat (from) day to day.”

Greiner and his church created a family before building a state championship-caliber team. The church provides meals before games and Greiner let his quarterback, Braheam Murphy, who was homeless, live with him.

"I have two daughters because I think the good Lord knew I had enough sons, coaching football," Greiner said.

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