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December 30, 2013 | By Stuart Pfeifer
As 2013 comes to a close, so will dozens of tax breaks that save companies billions of dollars in tax liability. Congress has allowed 55 tax breaks to expire but will likely restore many of them, retroactively, in the coming months, the Associated Press reported.  In years past, the breaks have expired only to be restored in the months to come. “It's a totally ridiculous way to run our tax system,” Rachelle Bernstein, vice president of the National Retail Federation, told the AP. “It's impossible to plan when every year this happens, but yet business has gotten used to that.” PHOTOS: Most affordable zip codes for home buyers Some of the tax breaks are big, including billions in credits for research and development, generous exemptions for banks that operate overseas and several that allow businesses to write off capital investments faster.
December 30, 2013 | By Erin Conway-Smith
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - A series of attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital left dozens of people dead Monday as the army fought off assailants identified as followers of a disgruntled religious leader. The coordinated attacks, at first thought to be a coup attempt, targeted a state television station, the airport and a military base in Kinshasa, the capital. Gunfire was also reported in Lubumbashi, the country's second-largest city and capital of mineral-rich Katanga province.
December 26, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan
China watched this month as the nation's first lunar rover rolled across the moon's surface. It was a moment of national pride when images of the six-wheel rover, dubbed Jade Rabbit, were transmitted live back to Earth, showing the red and gold Chinese flag on the moon for the first time. "Now as Jade Rabbit has made its touchdown on the moon surface," the state-run Xinhua news agency said, "the whole world again marvels at China's remarkable space capabilities. " The lunar triumph offered many Americans their first glimpse at an unfolding new space race involving countries with emerging economies.
December 23, 2013 | By Jed Wallace
Charter schools make a basic promise to students, parents, school districts and the state: They operate with greater autonomy and flexibility than regular public schools in exchange for increased accountability. In keeping with this covenant, the California Charter Schools Assn. has established an accountability framework and minimum criteria for charter renewal. As charters come up for renewal, this framework allows us to not only support high-performing schools but shine a light on schools that aren't doing their job. This month, the CCSA is calling for the closure of six schools across the state because of poor academic performance, including one in Los Angeles.
December 19, 2013 | By Henry Chu
LONDON - Dozens of people in Britain were injured, seven of them seriously, when the ceiling or part of the balcony collapsed at a theater in London's West End during the busy holiday season. The incident occurred about 8:15 p.m., less than an hour into the acclaimed production of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, near Piccadilly Circus. The London Ambulance Service said in a statement that it treated more than 75 people with minor injuries.
December 19, 2013 | By Samantha Schaefer and Tony Perry, This post has been corrected. See note below for details
One person was killed and dozens more were injured in two separate tour bus crashes Thursday afternoon on Interstate 15 on trips to and from casinos in northern San Diego County, officials said.  The accidents, one near Bonsall in northern San Diego County and the other in south Corona, both occurred about 2:30 p.m., officials said. One person was killed and 19 injured -- six seriously and 13 moderately -- when a bus en route to the Valley View Casino overturned on rain-slicked, southbound I-15 near Bonsall, the CHP said.
December 18, 2013 | By Rick Rojas
Three years after a truck competing in a desert off-road race careened into a crowd of spectators, a $5.8-million settlement was reached with the relatives of those killed and a dozen who were injured, their lawyers announced Wednesday. In the 2010 accident in Lucerne Valley, the pickup truck, a modified Ford Ranger, went out of control during the California 200 race and became airborne, slamming into the crowd. The accident killed eight and injured dozens. The settlement, which is the resolution of multiple lawsuits filed by victims and their families, was reached Tuesday, the lawyers said.
December 17, 2013 | By Robyn Dixon and Amro Hassan
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Dozens of soldiers were killed as clashes continued for a second day in the South Sudanese capital of Juba, as more than 13,000 civilians took refuge at a U.N. peacekeepers' base. The fragile state is confronting its greatest crisis since independence in 2011, after clashes erupted late Sunday and President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy, Riek Machar, of launching a coup attempt. Kiir swapped his trademark American cowboy hat for military fatigues when he made Monday's television address.
December 16, 2013 | By Samantha Schaefer
A fire in Monterey County has burned more than 300 acres of dense, dry vegetation, prompting some evacuations in the Big Sur area, officials said. Dubbed the Pfeiffer fire, the blaze started late Sunday near the intersection of Pfeiffer Ridge Road and Highway 1, said Andrew Madsen, a spokesman for the Los Padres National Forest. At least 50 people have been evacuated from the area, he said. Air tankers, four helicopters and a strike team of engines from the Angeles National Forest were assisting crews on the ground, who are working to put containment lines in place, Madsen said.
December 13, 2013 | By Ronald D. White
At a Garden Grove manufacturing plant, chemists confer over batches of lavender, parsley and other natural ingredients, testing them for strength and quality. Other tests ensure that the products are pure and pour well. Visitors might be excused for thinking the facility was crafting a fine wine or artisan beer. But at Earth Friendly Products, plants have a higher purpose: getting your house and clothing clean without hurting the environment. Earth Friendly Products makes dozens of natural cleaning products, including the best-selling Ecos laundry detergent, which is carried online, in supermarkets and at big-box stores such as Wal-Mart and Costco.
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