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Merced Grove safe

(AP) -- Firefighters brought a blaze that had spread in Yosemite National Park under control, and containment lines kept the wildfire from threatening some the treasured sequoias that are among the largest and oldest living trees on Earth.

The flames spread about a half-mile in the Crane Creek area Wednesday, park officials said, but remained about 10 miles from Merced Grove, one of three Yosemite stands of giant sequoias.

The towering trees grow only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and can live longer than 3,000 years.

Flames could reach the grove if the fire makes a significant surge, park spokesman Scott Gediman said.

The fire was threatening about 50 homes that remained under evacuation orders.

It has destroyed a home and a duplex and burned through more than six square miles since it began on Saturday. It was 34 percent contained.

Church sale

(AP) -- The pastor of an East Palo Alto church is being sued for allegedly trying to sell both the church and a house donated by a former deacon without permission of congregants.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday that the complaint names Born Again Christian Center Pastor Andre Harris, along with his wife, Gloria, and members of his extended family.

The suit alleges that the church's congregants never approved the sale of the church properties.

It alleges breach of fiduciary duty and violation of a state law that dictates the sale of properties by nonprofit religious entities.

Dying comes first

(AP) -- A federal agency says it will release extra water into Northern California's Klamath and Trinity rivers once salmon start dying from drought-related disease, but not before.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Wednesday the decision came after consulting with tribes, irrigators and other agencies.

Fisheries biologist Joshua Strange of Stillwater Sciences says that will be too late. Strange submitted a memo to the Klamath Fish Health Advisory Team saying low flows this year could lead to a salmon kill like one in 2002, when tens of thousands of adult salmon died.

The major threat is a parasite known as Ich, which attacks fish in stagnant water.

He says extra water makes it harder for the parasite to attack fish, making it most effective before the disease shows up.

Beazer 3Q stung

(AP) -- Beazer Homes USA Inc.'s (NYSE: BZH) fiscal third quarter loss widened, stung by a loss on debt extinguishment.

The Atlanta homebuilder reported a loss of $12.4 million, or 47 cents per share, for the period ended June 30. That compares with a loss of $5.8 million, or 23 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Income from continuing operations was $6.6 million when stripping out a $19.8 million loss on debt extinguishment.

The homebuilder said revenue rose 13 percent to $354.7 million from $314.4 million.

The average sales price for homes closed on rose 12.1 percent, while new home orders fell 6.6 percent.

BofA settlement

(Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp. is nearing a settlement with the Justice Department after raising its proposed offer to resolve probes into its sale of mortgage-backed bonds in the runup to the financial crisis, according to people familiar with the talks.

The amount of the settlement under discussion has ranged from $13 billion to $17 billion, one of the people said.

The discussions include how much money will be paid in cash and how much in consumer relief.

An agreement could cement BofA's (NYSE: BAC) status as the firm punished hardest for faulty mortgage practices that spurred the housing bubble and collapse.

The company, under Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan, has booked more than $55 billion in expenses tied to home loans, mostly linked to the disastrous 2008 takeover of subprime lender Countrywide Financial Corp.

In a separate matter, the bank, based in Charlotte, N.C., was also ordered this week to pay $1.3 billion in penalties for defective mortgage loans that Countrywide sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the crisis.

Lumber Liquidators drop

(AP) -- Lumber Liquidators saw a 19 percent drop in second quarter earnings after a rough winter that dampened construction in many regions.

Net income decreased to $16.6 million, or 60 cents per share, from $20.4 million, or 73 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

The hardwood flooring retailer's revenue climbed 2.3 percent to $263.1 million from $257.1, also matching expectations. Same-store sales fell about 7 percent.

Taiwan bribery case

(Bloomberg) -- Farglory Land Development Co. jumped in Taipei trading following its chairman's release from being detained in a bribery investigation.

Chairman Chao Teng-hsiung was indicted July 25 for paying bribes to a government official to obtain rights to develop residential property. The court released Chao on bail the same day, Farglory said.

Prosecutors filed corruption charges last week saying Chao paid a government official NT$16 million ($534,000) for the rights to develop a residential property in northern Taiwan and another NT$4 million for a separate project near a subway station, prosecution documents show.

Chao was taken into custody in June after a Taiwan court said he was suspected of tampering with evidence.

In addition to residential properties, the company is also building the Taipei Dome Complex, a 40,000-seat multipurpose stadium in the heart of Taiwan's capital city, according to its website. The stadium was to open this year.

Chinese solar prices

(Bloomberg) -- JA Solar Holdings Co. expects solar panel prices in China to recover as developers scale up projects and government measures encourage developments.

“Current prices have bottomed and will rebound later” as Chinese orders rise, said Xie Jian, president of JA Solar (Nasdaq: JASO), the world's third-biggest solar panel maker by production capacity.

The expected recovery in China, which accounts for more than 60 percent of global solar panel output, offers an early sign that manufacturers are succeeding in soaking up supply by building their own projects.

The government's push to promote developments closer to regions where electricity is needed most -- so-called distributed solar projects -- may also spur orders.

Panel prices in China declined about 10 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the second half of last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Ugandan road funds

(Bloomberg) -- The African Development Bank will help finance the $109 million reconstruction of two Ugandan roads to boost trade with eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.

The Ugandan government will pay for 10 percent of the cost of the upgrade while the Tunis, Tunisia-based lender's loan caters for the balance, Dan Alinange, a spokesman for the Kampala-based Uganda National Roads Authority, said this week.

A 70-mile road connects to Congo on the country's western border while the other links to Kenya in the east.

Construction of the two roads will start in June 2015 and works will take 36 months “due to the terrain in both areas,” Alinange said.

Chinese solar exports

(Bloomberg) -- China's solar energy exports rose about 18 percent to $7.42 billion from a year ago in the first half of 2014 as manufacturers held onto market share in the United States and Europe, an industry group said.

Solar cells and modules formed most of the exports, which totaled $12.3 billion for the whole of 2013, said Sun Guangbin, secretary-general of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products.

Asia accounted for 51 percent of the overseas shipments in the first six months of this year, followed by Europe and North America, Sun said this week.

He expects exports to the U.S. to decline in the remainder of 2014 because of tariffs.

Sun said China may enjoy record solar installations this year. More than a half of solar capacity in China still depends on sales abroad.

Sun said he expects the world to add 46 gigawatts of solar power in 2014. About 38.3 gigawatts were installed last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.

China had 354 companies selling solar cells and panels abroad in the first half, almost half of the number two years ago, Sun said.

The number will be further reduced as China works to consolidate the industry through mergers and acquisitions, he said.

London infrastructure

(Bloomberg) – London Mayor Boris Johnson said the city needs a coherent plan for infrastructure over the next 36 years if it's to keep its place among the world’s elite.

Rising demand for public transport, water, power, education, housing and air travel will have to be met as the U.K. capital's population soars, Johnson said as he started a public consultation on meeting the city’s infrastructure needs for 2050.

He also announced plans to set up a London Infrastructure Delivery Board to oversee the necessary work.

“Without a long-term plan for investment and the political will to implement it, this city will falter,” Johnson said.

A report to be published early next year will seek to set priorities and find ways to reduce costs as London's population increases by a projected 37 percent to 11 million people by the middle of the century.

Arup Group Ltd. estimates 1.3 trillion pounds ($2.2 trillion) will have to be invested in London infrastructure between 2016 and 2050 by both the public and private sectors, Johnson's office said.

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