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U.S. retail sales up strong 1.1 percent in March PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer   
Monday, 14 April 2014 09:43

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales in March rose by the largest amount in 18 months, led by strong gains in sales of autos, furniture and a number of other products.

The 1.1 percent jump reported by the Commerce Department on Monday was the best showing since September 2012. The government also revised February to a 0.7 percent gain, more than double its previous estimate.

Sales had fallen in January and December.

Sales of autos climbed 3.1 percent while sales at general merchandise stores, a category that covers retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target and department stores, increased 1.9 percent, the strongest one-month gain since March 2007, before the country fell into recession.

The strong March gain provides more evidence that the economy is emerging from a harsh winter with some momentum.

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Research looks at using crops to contain nitrogen PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 14 April 2014 06:31

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (AP) — A research project in northwest Iowa is looking at ways to keep fertilizer out of drinking water by planting certain crops to help contain nitrogen.

The project on Matt Schuiteman's land near Sioux Center yielded lessons that may be useful in other areas, the Sioux City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1jCxgXv ).

The research got started because some of Schuiteman's land is close to wells Sioux Center relies on for drinking water, and nitrate levels were rising.

The project looked at five different ways to use perennials and cover crops to limit the amount of nitrogen that washed away. Cover crops are planted between growing seasons to limit erosion and replenish nutrients in the soil.

"We've been using cover crops more and more for four or five years," said Schuiteman, who also has a cow-calf herd. "Some of the things we've learned are really effective at keeping the nitrates out of the water."

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Cost of fighting warming 'modest,' says UN panel PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by KARL RITTER, Associated Press   
Monday, 14 April 2014 06:36

BERLIN (AP) — The cost of keeping global warming in check is "relatively modest," but only if the world acts quickly to reverse the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the head of the U.N.'s expert panel on climate change said Sunday.

Such gases, mainly CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels, rose on average by 2.2 percent a year in 2000-2010, driven by the use of coal in the power sector, officials said as they launched the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change's report on measures to fight global warming.

Without additional measures to contain emissions, global temperatures will rise about 3 degrees to 4 degrees Celsius (5 degrees to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 compared to current levels, the panel said.

"The longer we delay the higher would be the cost," IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri told The Associated Press after the panel's weeklong session in Berlin. "But despite that, the point I'm making is that even now, the cost is not something that's going to bring about a major disruption of economic systems. It's well within our reach."

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Tribe banks on syrup for sweet relief from poverty PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DAVID SHARP, Associated Press   
Monday, 14 April 2014 06:29

PRENTISS TOWNSHIP, Maine (AP) — The members of the Passamaquoddy tribe have looked under their feet for a bottled water plant and have turned to the sky for a wind farm. But it's the forest that will be the first to deliver as the impoverished tribe seeks to become one of the biggest maple syrup operations in Maine.

The tribe, which owns 60,000 acres of land near the Canadian border in western Maine, has big plans for the syrup operation deep in the woods. Operating this season with nearly 3,000 taps, the tribe plans to expand over the next three years to 60,000.

The goal isn't to create a maple syrup empire, but rather to bring hope and stability to a tribe with soaring joblessness and poverty, said Indian Township Chief Joseph Socobasin.

"It creates an opportunity that we've never had," Socobasin said of the operation, one of several economic development projects underway for a tribe with unemployment topping 60 percent.

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