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Tuesday Briefing

December 05, 2006|Andrew Malcolm and Brian Hanrahan | Times Staff Writers

New fire chief to battle hazing

Los Angeles' incoming fire chief, Douglas Barry, the first African American to head the department, says his bureau's problems of hazing and discrimination are limited in nature.

But the 53-year-old assistant chief pledges nonetheless to eradicate them from the troubled department. Barry, who is a 31-year veteran of the fire department, takes over as interim chief Jan. 1 during a maximum year-long formal search for a permanent chief.

His predecessor, William Bamattre, resigned last week under fire. He's complained that he did not possess the authority or the tools to discipline rogue firefighters and change the department's frat house culture that was often criticized for mistreatment of minorities and women. Page B1

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Bolton resigns as U.N. ambassador

The United States' ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, is vetoing his own tenure in office there and resigning. Bolton, who has been serving under a recess appointment because Democrats blocked his Senate confirmation, decides that another recess appointment would be an unnecessary fight. President Bush accepts the resignation but adds that he is "deeply disappointed." Page A4

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Hair-loss drug may skew cancer test

An estimated 4 million men use the hair-loss drug Propecia. But, researchers now report, that drug can mask the presence of prostate cancer.

The drug can throw off the findings in the PSA test, the most common test for prostate cancer, and produce false safe readings. The new study is published in the Lancet Oncology. Page A18

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Sen. Brownback looks to 2008

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback announces he's forming an exploratory committee to study launching a campaign for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2008.

Brownback, whose appeal is on the conservative side of the GOP spectrum, has seen several would-be competitors fall by the wayside in recent weeks, including Sens. Bill Frist of Tennessee and George Allen of Virginia. Page A20

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Lunar colonists in NASA's future

By the time your beautiful new baby is in college, NASA will have an international team of astronauts living and working at a permanent moon base.

The first extraterrestrial residents will drive around on the moon's surface in a newly designed lunar lander functioning like a low-gravity pickup truck and may even transit to the moon's dark side to construct an ambitious array of observatories. The new lunar landings are part of the larger plan eventually to send humans to explore Mars. Page A18

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NIH scientist accused of conflict

A senior scientist at the National Institutes of Health is charged with conflict of interest for accepting $285,000 in fees from a drug company.

Dr. Trey Sunderland III is the first NIH official in 14 years to be charged. Sunderland, 55, is expected to plead guilty to the single charge. Page A11

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Protesters gather

The Supreme Court hears arguments in Seattle and Louisville racial integration cases. The justices indicate that they're against such racial guidelines to determine school enrollments. Page A11

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THE CRITIC: 'Hannibal, the book suggests, is us. Except he isn't

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BUSINESS

Grocery chain outlines U.S. plans

Expect to see a new chain of grocery stores opening in the western U.S. by this time next year. Tesco, a British retailer, reveals more of its expansion plans, including launching stores that are about the size of the average Trader Joe's.

Tesco USA's headquarters is in El Segundo, and it plans to build a distribution center south of Riverside. The company expects to open 300 stores in the Southland, Las Vegas and Phoenix in the next five years and says they will be "smaller, simpler grocery stores." Page C2

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Paying a price for gift-giving

It's too late now, but really, you should have sought a job with Fidelity Investments a few years ago. You might have been flown to the 2004 Super Bowl in Houston and been invited to parties hosted by Maxim and Playboy. Or you could have gone on a four-day golf outing that included stops in Las Vegas and Cabo San Lucas. You might have even been thrown a bachelor party in Miami.

Unfortunately, there are rules against offering these kinds of gifts to win someone's business. The Wall Street firm behind the largesse, Jefferies & Co., has been fined almost $10 million for its activities. Page C1

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Wells Fargo looks for new borrowers

Wells Fargo & Co.'s mortgage business plans to court risky borrowers more aggressively, hoping they will sign up for additional services.

Wells will automatically enroll borrowers who have low credit ratings in a financial education program. Those borrowers also will be eligible for free consultations -- in English or Spanish -- with specialists who can help them create a financial strategy and clean up their credit.

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