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  • LOS ANGELES— Sony Pictures defends decision to shelve' The Interview,' says "We had no choice."

  • Protection sought for scenic California region Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 7:13 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— A contingent of California environmental groups, business representatives and politicians will use a visit Friday from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to push for permanent protection of some 350,000 acres of picturesque federal land near the state's famous wine country. Congress declined this session to pass legislation from Democratic...

  • For US and Cuba, normalcy will take many steps Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 3:30 AM ET

    That's about to become clear as the Obama administration and the communist government of Raul Castro move to normalize more than a half-century of bitter animosity between the United States and Cuba. While international relations can be subject to laws passed by Congress, the White House enjoys broad discretion in diplomatic recognition.

  • It's law now: 'No Social Security for Nazis' Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 3:21 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— President Barack Obama on Thursday capped a swift and forceful response to an Associated Press investigation by signing into law a measure that bars suspected Nazi war criminals from receiving U.S. The AP's investigation, which was the impetus for the No Social Security for Nazis Act, found that dozens of former Nazis collected millions of...

  • EPA sets first national standard for coal waste Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 3:08 AM ET

    "The regulatory uncertainty that has impeded the beneficial use of coal ash for half a decade has finally come to an end," said Thomas H. Adams, the executive director of the American Coal Ash Association. "EPA's final decision to regulate coal ash as a' non-hazardous' material puts science ahead of politics and clears the way for beneficial use of ash to begin growing...

  • *Turkey assumed G20 presidency this month. They fear he is taking Turkey ever further from Western standards on rule of law and free speech. Supporters say he is returning Turkey to its former glory, restoring its Ottoman and Islamic heritage after nine decades of rule by a secular elite.

  • IMF withholds bailout money for Cyprus Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 7:53 PM ET

    NICOSIA, Cyprus— The International Monetary Fund said Thursday it won't release $108 million in rescue money for bailed-out Cyprus after the country's parliament voted to hold a key foreclosure law from taking effect at the end of December. The European Union had released a $430 million installment prior to the vote, bringing the amount of bailout cash given...

  • Dec 18- Chinese government approval for imports of a controversial type of Syngenta AG biotech corn increases the likelihood the seed maker will pay legal settlements, said some lawyers for U.S. farmers and exporters suing for damages from grain shipments rejected by Beijing. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, ends uncertainty about Agrisure Viptera...

  • Assembly passes bills requiring use of US goods Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 5:57 PM ET

    TRENTON, N.J.— The Assembly has passed a package of bills requiring companies that have contracts with state entities to use products made in the United States. The bills call for companies with contracts with public colleges and universities, as well as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Delaware River Port Authority, Delaware River Joint Toll...

  • Obama signs bill to sanction Venezuelan officials Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 3:24 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— President Barack Obama has signed legislation into law allowing him to sanction Venezuelan government officials who were involved in a crackdown on anti-government protesters. Last summer, the State Department imposed a travel ban on Venezuelan officials who were accused of abuses during street protests that left dozens of people dead.

  • NEW YORK, Dec 18- Royal Bank of Canada has agreed to pay $35 million to resolve a lawsuit by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, accusing it of running a massive trading scheme to gain lucrative Canadian tax benefits. The settlement, disclosed in papers filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, would resolve claims that a group of RBC employees...

  • A look at Michigan road funding plan Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 2:31 PM ET

    In May, voters would be asked to increase the state's 6 percent sales and uses tax to 7 percent and eliminate the sales tax on motor fuel, generating a net $588 million— mainly for $300 million for schools and nearly $100 million for local governments. The plan also would bar the Legislature from spending School Aid Fund revenue on public universities, an issue for...

  • Obama waives sanctions authority despite new law Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 1:31 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— President Barack Obama signed legislation Thursday authorizing new sanctions on Russia but said he does not plan to impose the penalties outlined in the measure. The U.S. and Europe have sought to present a united front against Russia over Moscow's provocations in Ukraine. Obama has told Russian President Vladimir Putin he would roll back U.S....

  • LONDON, Dec 18- Britain's Supreme Court has denied Rusal, the world's biggest aluminium producer, the right to appeal against a court ruling that allows sweeping reform of the London Metal Exchange warehousing system, and also ordered it to pay costs. That court also denied Rusal leave to appeal, but the company approached the Supreme Court directly.

  • SD Supreme Court says gambling promos not taxable Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 11:37 AM ET

    PIERRE, S.D.— Gambling boosters lauded this week's South Dakota Supreme Court decision that Deadwood casinos will no longer have to pay gambling taxes on promotional programs that give patrons free credits to play slot machines, saying Thursday that it'll save operators big money. Deadwood Gaming Association Executive Director Mike Rodman said the...

  • Montana ex-billionaire jailed for contempt Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 9:49 AM ET

    BUTTE, Mont.— Embattled real estate mogul Tim Blixseth was taken away in handcuffs on Thursday after a federal judge ordered the onetime billionaire jailed until he accounts for millions of dollars he owes his creditors. The incarceration of the 64- year-old Blixseth marks a dramatic turn in his six-year legal struggle against accusations that he illegally...

  • Indiana officer asked to stop selling 'divisive' shirts Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 7:55 AM ET

    SOUTH BEND, Ind.— Some officials in the Indiana city of South Bend have called on a police officer to stop selling T-shirts that make light of the "I can't breathe" refrain used in recent protests of the police killing of a New York City man. Mishawaka police officer Jason Barthel this week began selling T-shirts with the message "Breathe easy, don't break the law" at a...

  • NY AG cracks down on toy guns that look real Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 7:00 AM ET

    Eric Schneiderman's office announced Thursday that letters were sent to Walmart, Amazon, K-Mart and Sears telling them to follow a state law intended to ensure that toy guns aren't mistaken for the real thing. A Walmart spokesman says the company will work with Schneiderman to ensure compliance. Messages left with K-Mart, Sears and Amazon Wednesday were not...

  • European court rules obesity can be a disability Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 6:43 AM ET

    LONDON— Obesity can be a disability, the European Court of Justice ruled Thursday— a decision that could have widespread consequences across the 28- nation bloc for the way in which employers deal with severely overweight staff. According to Jacob Sand, Kaltoft's lawyer, the ruling means employers will have an "active obligation" to cater to the needs of their...

  • NC Rules panel approves new fracking standards Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 | 6:36 AM ET

    The state Rules Review Commission on Wednesday approved the regulations with the understanding that technical corrections for 13 of them would be worked out between now and January, said Vikram Rao, chairman of the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission. Rao said he expects the Legislature to receive the set of rules in January. Prior to Wednesday's...