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  • WASHINGTON, Dec 21- Last month's move by the U.S. commodities regulator to let Southwest Airlines Co keep its multibillion-dollar oil trades secret for 15 days offered the world's biggest low-cost carrier a break it has been seeking for three years. All other swap trades except Southwest's must be reported "as soon as technologically practicable."

  • NEW YORK— Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" finale went out on top at the box office, debuting with $56.2 million over the weekend and taking in $90.6 million since opening Wednesday, according to studio estimates Sunday. The Fox comedy took in $17.3 million, well off the pace of previous franchise entries. Sony, which is reeling from its cancellation of "The Interview" amid...

  • National coal mining deaths Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 11:56 AM ET

    LOUISVILLE, Ky.— National coal mining deaths dropped by more than half the year after the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia, from 48 to 21, and there were 20 each in 2012 and 2013, and a record low of 15 so far in 2014. The U.S. averaged about 30 coal mining deaths a year in the five years before Upper Big Branch. Injuries in coal mines have been on the...

  • US coal mines nearing record low in worker deaths Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 11:50 AM ET

    LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Less than five years after an explosion fueled by excess coal dust killed 29 men deep inside a West Virginia underground mine, the nation's coal mines are on pace for an all-time low in work-related deaths. "I do think we're seeing a cultural change in the mining industry that's for the better," Assistant Labor Secretary Joseph Main, who heads the U.S....

  • NY farmers lament lost opportunity for gas riches Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 11:41 AM ET

    ALBANY, N.Y.— While environmental groups are doing a victory dance over New York's decision to ban fracking, farmers such as apple grower David Johnson are grieving for dashed hopes and dreams. That's what they've done since the Marcellus Shale gas drilling boom began in 2008 and New York launched an environmental review that effectively put a moratorium in...

  • Oneida Indian Nation to build new NY casino Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 11:38 AM ET

    CHITTENANGO, N.Y.— The Oneida Indian Nation has announced plans to open a $20 million casino with a "Wizard of Oz" theme in the village where Oz author L. Frank Baum was born. Ray Halbritter, chief executive officer of the Oneida Nation, tells the Syracuse Post-Standard the casino will open in the spring in Chittenango, 14 miles east of Syracuse. The Oneidas announced...

  • US companies eager to embrace Cuba face hurdles Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 11:13 AM ET

    American businesses have begun imagining ways to capitalize on last week's announcement that the United States will restore diplomatic ties with Cuba and ease curbs on trade with one of the last surviving Communist regimes. Their more ambitious plans would require that Congress lift the U.S. embargo on most exports to Cuba. All that said, Cuba experts have a...

  • FARGO, N.D.— Prosecutors described a Toronto man's massive credit card fraud scheme as high-tech bank robbery— stealing the identities of 38,000 people in order to bilk dozens of banks. Nearly 2½ years later, following the government's petition to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal judge ordered Adekunle Adetiloye to pay about $1.5 million in...

  • Instant racing earns big bucks, draws concerns Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 10:57 AM ET

    BOISE, Idaho— Idaho racing officials say instant racing machines are succeeding in helping boost Idaho's declining horse industry. Idaho Racing Commission Executive Director Frank Lamb says machines used at places like Les Bois Park— located just outside of Boise— are supposed to look like slot machines. To date, Les Bois Park has earned more than $1.4 million...

  • WRAPUP 1-Obama says Sony hack not an act of war Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 10:52 AM ET

    President Barack Obama moved to prevent U.S. anger at North Korea from spiraling out of control on Sunday by saying the massive hacking of Sony Pictures was not an act of war but instead was cyber-vandalism. Washington's long-standing dispute with North Korea, which for years has centered on its nuclear weapons program, has entered new territory with the...

  • California puzzles over safety of driverless cars Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 10:41 AM ET

    LOS ANGELES— California's Department of Motor Vehicles will miss a year-end deadline to adopt new rules for cars of the future because regulators first have to figure out how they'll know whether "driverless" vehicles are safe. It's a rare case of the law getting ahead of an emerging technology and reflects regulators' struggle to balance consumer protection...

  • Inslee criticized for ignoring school levy equity Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 10:31 AM ET

    SEATTLE— When the Washington Supreme Court told the Legislature it needed to fix the way the state pays for public schools, it also ordered lawmakers to stop relying so much on local levy dollars to pay for basic education. Levy reform has been a topic of discussion at every legislative session since the 2012 Supreme Court decision in the McCleary case, but Gov.

  • US mulls putting NKorea on terrorism sponsor list Sunday, 21 Dec 2014 | 7:25 AM ET

    HONOLULU— President Barack Obama says the United States is reviewing whether to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism as Washington decides how to respond to what he calls an "act of cybervandalism," not one of war, against a movie company. "How it's going to be distributed, I don't think anybody knows quite yet," a Sony lawyer said.

  • SEOUL, Dec 21- Seoul prosecutors have launched an investigation into a leak of non-critical data at South Korea's nuclear power operator, the prosecutors' office said on Sunday, as worries mount about nuclear safety and potential cyberattacks from North Korea. Concern over potential cyberattacks from North Korea has got worldwide attention since the...

  • *Metro Bank broke mould by using software supplier. LONDON, Dec 21- When Metro Bank prepared to launch in 2010 as the first new bank to appear on British high streets for over a century, its founders broke with convention by outsourcing the construction of its computer systems. "That's the way the whole process developed in America," said Metro Bank co-founder Vernon...

  • President Obama announced on Wednesday he would restore diplomatic ties with Cuba and start dismantling economic sanctions, Americans have been filing into the cigar shop at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, where she hand-rolls cigars using techniques little changed since the 19th century. Cigars have been Cuba's signature product ever since Christopher...

  • SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 21- Popular photo-sharing service Instagram on Saturday took down the account of the man said to be behind the "assassination" of two New York City police officers, after the 28- year-old gunman's veiled threats and provocative messages went viral in the wake of the execution-style shootings. Posted just hours before Ismaaiyl Brinsley...

  • Dec 20- More than 1,500 protesters against police violence shut down part of the Mall of America in Minnesota on Saturday, resulting in about 25 arrests during the final weekend before Christmas as shoppers scrambled to buy gifts at one of the nation's largest shopping centers, officials said. The protest and a smaller action at the King of Prussia Mall in...

  • GOP to back 'The Interview' if it gets to theaters Saturday, 20 Dec 2014 | 7:00 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— The GOP is calling on supporters to buy a ticket to the movie "The Interview" if theater owners reverse their decision not to show the film amid threats of retaliation for its comedic take on assassinating North Korea's leader. The Republican Party chairman, Reince Priebus, says in a letter to theater chain executives that he's concerned that a...

  • The protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations across the United States in recent weeks over grand jury decisions not to charge white police officers in the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. Police made some arrests in the demonstration on private property at the Mall of America in the Minneapolis suburb of...