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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.
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NY farmers lament lost opportunity for gas riches

By Mary Esch, Associated Press  |  posted 35 minutes ago
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.
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US mulls putting NKorea on terrorism sponsor list

By Josh Lederman, Associated Press  |  posted 45 minutes ago
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.
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US companies eager to embrace Cuba face hurdles

By Paul Wiseman, Associated Press  |  posted Dec 21st - 9:20am
Cargill aims to sell more corn and soybeans. MasterCard covets another site for Americans to swipe credit cards. Marriott sees beachfront property that needs hotels.
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Saudi oil chief: No conspiracy behind oil prices

By Aya Batrawy, Associated Press  |  posted Dec 21st - 6:10am
Saudi Arabia's oil chief on Sunday dismissed allegations that his kingdom conspired to bring down oil prices in order to harm other countries and told a summit of Arab energy leaders that he was confident the market would stabilize.
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Tourism suffers in winter of EU-Russia discontent

By Jamey Keaten, Associated Press  |  posted Dec 21st - 4:30am
Russia's tensions with the West over Ukraine and the slump for the ruble are echoing through the French Alps — and unfortunately for some businesses, just in time for ski season.
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National coal mining deaths

Associated Press  |  posted 26 minutes ago
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 decline each year since 2007, when there were 4.2 incidents per 200,000 hours worked. Last year the rate was 3.1.
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US coal mines nearing record low in worker deaths

By Dylan Lovan, Associated Press  |  posted 26 minutes ago
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.
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Tobacco settlement board warns against complacency

By Susan Haigh, Associated Press  |  posted 46 minutes ago
A board that recommends how Connecticut should spend part of its legal settlement with major tobacco companies is urging state lawmakers not to become complacent about combating smoking, insisting that declining rates don't tell the full story.
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Canadian man told to pay $1.5 million for credit card fraud

By Dave Kolpack, Associated Press  |  posted Dec 21st - 9:22am
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. So when he was convicted of mail fraud in February 2011, the federal government began the arduous task of figuring out just how much each victim was owed.
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Instant racing earns big bucks, draws concerns

By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press  |  posted Dec 21st - 9:00am
Idaho racing officials say instant racing machines are succeeding in helping boost Idaho's declining horse industry. However, critics are pointing out that the machines may be cleverly disguised illegal slot machines.
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California puzzles over safety of driverless cars

By Justin Pritchard, Associated Press  |  posted Dec 21st - 8:51am
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.
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Inslee criticized for ignoring school levy equity

By Donna Gordon Blankinship, Associated Press  |  posted Dec 21st - 8:50am
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.
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Greek prime minister open to 2015 early elections

The Associated Press  |  posted Dec 21st - 7:00am
Greece's prime minister says early general elections could be called by the end of 2015 if the current legislature can elect a president and if negotiations with the country's creditors on post-bailout aid are completed.
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Here is the latest Idaho news from The Associated Press

The Associated Press  |  posted Dec 21st - 1:30am
Public health officials say a southwest Idaho woman has died from influenza. Southwest District Health announced Friday that the woman was from Nampa and over 70 years old. It's the first flu death in Canyon County this year. Southwest District Health Epidemiologist Raemi Nolevanko is urging the public to get a flu vaccination.
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Tolland nurse treated Ebola in Sierra Leone

By David Huck, Associated Press  |  posted Dec 21st - 1:10am
In mid August, resident Jane Boggini traveled to Sierra Leone, where she worked to help stem the Ebola outbreak as a nurse with the Doctors Without Borders relief organization.
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