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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

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Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 9:01 p.m.

Laurel: To Light Up Night. The switch is turned on tonight to officially begin the Christmas shopping season in Pittsburgh. Better make that tens of thousands of switches. And, yet again, it will be quite a kickoff with special, family-oriented events just about everywhere you go. Here's to a grand shopping season, for retailers and buyers alike.

Laurel: To the Allegheny County Airport Authority. It's now offering free one-hour parking in its extended lots at Pittsburgh International Airport, designed for those picking up arrivals. It's dubbed a “cellphone lot” — the public can wait there for a call from arriving passengers. It's a great idea and, as the authority hopes, should go a long way in reducing congestion along “arrival row.”

On the “Watch List”:

Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers quarterback is out of action indefinitely with an upper chest injury and an only lately disclosed serious rib injury that, if not fully healed and the signal-caller were to be hit just so, could lead to a fatal aortic rupture. Backup Byron Leftwich will start when the Steelers host Baltimore on Sunday night. We wish Big Ben a thorough recovery.

• Shell's “cracker” plant. An analyst is raising new questions about when the proposed Beaver County petrochemical plant actually might be built. And it might come down to the availability of skilled workers to engineer and construct it, says Bradley Olsen. Which might provide a silver lining — time for a more thorough analysis of public subsidies for the facility.

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