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  • WICHITA, Kan.— President Barack Obama's announcement this week to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease some economic restrictions has been closely followed in Kansas, as the move could open up a major market for winter wheat producers. The Republican senator urged the Treasury Department to immediately rewrite cumbersome regulations that...

  • Texas ranchers seeking alternative incomes Saturday, 20 Dec 2014 | 10:46 AM ET

    GAIL, Texas— The Muleshoe Ranch's profits were chopped in half when the drought withered pastures, dried up stock tanks and forced the owner to move most of his cattle out of state. Three years later, the sprawling 33,000- acre West Texas ranch is again populated with cattle, thanks to improved rainfall. The changes may be permanent, and the ongoing drought is among...

  • USVI rejects bill to sell Hovensa oil refinery Saturday, 20 Dec 2014 | 10:45 AM ET

    CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands— Legislators in the U.S. Virgin Islands have rejected a proposal to sell the former Hovensa oil refinery in St. Atlantic Basin Refining Inc. had pledged to employ more than 700 workers and make more than $1.6 billion in fixed payments. John de Jongh Jr. warned that the legislative action would have serious repercussions on the...

  • TRIPOLI, Dec 20- Libya's internationally recognised government aims to set up a new payment system to receive oil revenues, bypassing the central bank based in Tripoli, the capital city that is no longer under its control, its top oil official said on Saturday. The OPEC oil producer has had two parallel governments and parliaments since August when a group called...

  • Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future Saturday, 20 Dec 2014 | 8:53 AM ET

    MIAMI— One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba's northwest coast, and the thaw in relations with the United States is giving rise to hopes that Cuba can now get in on the action. As a result, Cuba produces just 55,000 barrels of oil per day. Cuba needs 155,000 barrels per day, and it fills the gap with oil from Venezuela, part of a trade...

  • Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan Saturday, 20 Dec 2014 | 8:01 AM ET

    Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. While American journalists have extensively covered the fallout from the unprecedented Sony hacking attack, it hasn't exactly been massive news in Japan. This might all be perplexing to the rest of the world since Sony is one of Japan's most iconic global...

  • Tick-tock: Tips for last-minute shoppers Saturday, 20 Dec 2014 | 7:36 AM ET

    PORTLAND, Ore.— The clock is ticking, and your holiday shopping list isn't complete. The National Retail Federation found that only about half of shoppers had finished shopping as of Dec. 10. That opens up lots of strategies for shopping that will keep you out of the crazy lines in stores at noon on Christmas Eve.

  • *North Korea calls accusations "groundless slander". *Obama says Sony should not have caved in to hackers. SEOUL/ WASHINGTON, Dec 20- North Korea said U.S. accusations that it was involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures were "groundless slander" and that it was wanted a joint investigation into the incident with the United States.

  • North Korea proposes joint probe over Sony hacking Saturday, 20 Dec 2014 | 6:09 AM ET

    SEOUL, South Korea— North Korea on Saturday proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. into the hacking attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, warning of "serious" consequences if Washington rejects a probe that it believes would prove Pyongyang had nothing to do with the cyberattack. U.S. officials blame North Korea for the hacking, citing the tools used...

  • Falling oil prices worry Algeria Saturday, 20 Dec 2014 | 5:09 AM ET

    ALGIERS, Algeria— With oil prices at their lowest in five years and showing few signs of hitting bottom, Algeria is feeling the pinch. Though its problems are dwarfed by the impact on Russia for example, Algeria may have to rein back many of the policies it has held dear over many years. In many ways, the rule of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has echoes with...

  • SHANGHAI, Dec 20- China has cut red-tape for foreign bank branch openings and entry into renminbi business, state media said on Saturday, the latest in a series of measures to liberalise the banking sector. Banks now no longer have to first establish a China representative office before setting up other branches. China has been working to liberalise its...

  • NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Six years ago, there was a massive spill of coal ash sludge in Tennessee. The EPA ruled that the ash can be treated like regular garbage, meaning regulating the stuff will be left up to states and watchful citizens. "We had to go to court to force EPA to issue this first-ever coal ash rule, and unfortunately, we will be back in court to force coal plants to...

  • Sony saga blends foreign intrigue, star wattage Saturday, 20 Dec 2014 | 12:43 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— President Barack Obama declared that Sony "made a mistake" in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, and he pledged the U.S. would respond "in a place and manner and time that we choose" to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal. Sony said it had had no choice but to cancel distribution of the movie since...

  • Protesters in contempt of court for anti-whaling campaign Saturday, 20 Dec 2014 | 12:15 AM ET

    SAN FRANCISCO— Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers were found in contempt of court Friday for continuing their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the waters of Antarctica. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a commissioner to determine how much Paul Watson and members of the Sea...

  • Iron Mountain reaches $44.5M settlement with US Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 10:15 PM ET

    Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said the settlement involves services the Boston- based company provided to government entities from 2001 to 2014 through contracts with the General Services Administration, or GSA. Prosecutors say the settlement resolves allegations that Iron Mountain Inc. failed to provide GSA with accurate information about its...

  • But while Obama got laughs in Washington, Oscar winners George Clooney and Sean Penn launched broadsides against Sony and Hollywood studios' response to the hack. Sony has said it could not release the film on its set date of Dec. 25 after cinemas said they would not show it because of fears of unspecified threats from hackers. Clooney, whose past two films for which...

  • Dec 19- U.S. health regulators on Friday approved AbbVie's all-oral treatment for hepatitis C, and the company said the drug would cost $83,319 for a typical 12- week plan, a bit below its huge selling competitor Solvadi from Gilead Sciences. AbbVie's newly approved regimen is also less costly than Gilead's newest one-pill regimen that combines Sovaldi with...

  • Top 20 Concert Tours from Pollstar Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 7:51 PM ET

    2. Fleetwood Mac; $2,351,433; $132.10. 3. Katy Perry; $1,870,870; $101.70. 4. Enrique Iglesias/ Pitbull; $1,190,894; $83.03.

  • MEXICO CITY/ NEW YORK, Dec 19- Mexico and the United States finalized a pact on Friday to end a months-long sugar dispute that threatened to escalate into a broader trade battle. The two countries have settled on agreements that will avoid hefty duties on imports of sugar from Mexico, the U.S. Department of Commerce said in a statement. In a deal hammered out after...

  • US regulators close small Minnesota bank Friday, 19 Dec 2014 | 7:38 PM ET

    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday that it has taken over Northern Star Bank, based in Mankato, Minnesota. BankVista, based in Sartell, Minnesota, agreed to assume all of Northern Star Bank's deposits and to purchase essentially all of the failed bank's assets. Northern Star Bank's failure is expected to cost the federal deposit insurance fund $5.9...