Sep 25, 2011, 9:20 p.m.

DALLAS, Texas (Reuters) - What started out as a simple token gift from a teenage boy to his girl has morphed into a tradition of gargantuan proportions that, again, proves everything is bigger in Texas. It's the homecoming mum, and it has come a long way since parents of today's teens were in high school.

Obama slams Republicans in West Coast money swing

SEATTLE (Reuters) - President Barack Obama kicked off a West Coast fundraising tour on Sunday with harsh criticism of his Republicans opponents, accusing them of "ideological pushback" at a time of national crisis. The newly combative tone of the Democratic president is a strategy to fire up core supporters whose enthusiasm and financial backing helped him capture the White House in 2008 and who he must motivate again in his 2012 re-election bid.

Arkansas' hillbilly image resonates into 21st century

LITTLE ROCK, Ark (Reuters) - The image of barefoot mountain hillbillies has made many Arkansans cringe for decades. But it's a hard one to shake -- even though the state produced a two-term president in Bill Clinton, a famous author in John Grisham, and one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs in Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

Southern California grocery workers ratify contract

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Unionized Southern California supermarket employees at Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons ratified a contract deal reached last week that averted a threatened strike, said the union representing the workers. The United Food and Commercial Workers union said in a statement that members voted on Friday and Saturday to approve the three-year agreement reached on Monday covering 62,000 grocery workers. It did not release the vote count.

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