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By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. retail sales rose solidly in November, adding to signs of a strengthening economy that could draw the Federal Reserve closer to reducing the pace of monetary stimulus. The upbeat economic picture was, however, clouded somewhat by another report on Thursday showing the biggest jump in a year in first-time applications for unemployment benefits last week. The Commerce Department said retail sales increased 0.7 percent last month as Americans bought automobiles and a range of other goods. November's retail sales increase was the largest in five months and followed a 0.6 percent rise in October.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Smithsonian's National Zoo has found serious problems with its animal care and management of various creatures kept in the Cheetah Conservation Station over the past year, and the zoo's director said Thursday that he is looking at changes to the operation amid budget cuts.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Nelson Mandela is gone, but many mourners waiting patiently for a chance to see Mandela for a last time on Thursday said they retain high hopes about South Africa's future. If the heady optimism of the days when South Africa's peaceful transformation to an all-race democracy in the 1994 elections has been diminished by time and economic challenges, many still believe the years ahead can be fruitful, with growing opportunity.