The Brief

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Fewest U.S. Smokers in 5 Decades

The percentage of adult smokers fell from 20.9% in 2005 to 17.8% in 2013, per a new report, the lowest rate since the CDC began its tracking in 1965

Snowstorm in the USA

Snow Threatens Holiday Travel

A Nor’easter bringing rain and snow to the north and west of the I-95 corridor is threatening the plans of 20 million people, with hundreds of flights canceled

Sarah Koenig

Serial Podcast Gets Season 2

Serial, the most popular podcast in the history of podcasts, will return to give listeners one story told week-by-week with its just-announced second season, staffers wrote on their website Wednesday, about one week after first asking listeners to donate

Members of the burial team carry a body to his grave at King Tom Cemetery in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Nov. 19, 2014.

Ebola Cases in Sierra Leone Will ‘Soon Eclipse’ Liberia

Sierra Leone will "soon" dethrone Liberia as the hardest-hit country in West Africa's Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization cautioned Wednesday. Nearly one-fifth of its total cases were reported in a three-week period that ended Sunday

Darren Wilson Ferguson Police Officer

Darren Wilson's Lawyers: No Plans for Brown Family Apology

The legal team of the white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson said Wednesday that he has no specific plans to apologize to the family of Michael Brown: “Even if he gave the most heartfelt apology, they’d still not like it"

Uber

Uber Reportedly Valued at $40 Billion

Uber’s PR troubles are not scaring off investors as the on-demand ride service is raising new funding at a valuation of up to $40 billion, according to a new report. Uber last raised money earlier this year, when it secured around $1.2 billion at a $17 billion pre-money valuation

Customers wait in line outside a Target Corp. store ahead of Black Friday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013.

Feeling Lazy? Buy Your Place in Line This Black Friday

Consumers have been using TaskRabbit, a platform that lets users pay to “outsource” any job, to hire people to wait in line for Black Friday doorbusters. “Every year hundreds of taskers are hired to wait in line for Black Friday deals,” said a company spokesman

Customers shop at a Walmart store in the Porter Ranch section of Los Angeles November 26, 2013. This year, Black Friday starts earlier than ever.

Health Insurance Sign-Ups Coming to Malls on Black Friday

The Obama administration's enrollment push with Westfield Shopping Centers, continuing through the holiday season, will involve setting up outreach tables at malls in Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Washington state

ABC's 2014 Summer TCA Tour Portraits

Viola Davis to Make Show About Detroit's Female Prosecutor

The actress, who plays a defense attorney on How to Get Away with Murder, is trying her hand at the other side of the courtroom by producing a new drama inspired by Kym Worthy, the prosecutor who has led the charge to investigate Detroit's 11,000 backlogged rape kits

Chancellor Angela Merkel in the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Nov. 26, 2014.

Merkel Says Russia’s Actions Are Unjustifiable

The German Chancellor Wednesday suggested she is prepared for a confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine crisis when she told German lawmakers Russia’s actions interrupt “the peaceful international order and breach international law”