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SCIENCE
December 9, 2013 | By Amina Khan
Billions of years ago, when early life was just taking hold on Earth, Mars was home to an ancient lake filled with the right chemical ingredients for life to thrive, scientists said Monday. Drilling into dry rock, NASA's Curiosity rover has discovered signs that Gale Crater was once watery, perhaps ringed with ice and snow, and could potentially have hosted an entire Martian biosphere based on a type of microbe found in caves on Earth. Such primitive organisms, called chemolithoautotrophs, feed on chemicals found in rocks and make their own energy.
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WORLD
December 5, 2013 | By David S. Cloud
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is outfitting a 647-foot cargo ship with high-tech equipment in an effort to safely destroy hundreds of tons of lethal chemical weapons agents that were collected in Syria after a deadly gas attack this summer sparked an international outcry. Two specially developed hydrolysis machines, which use water or bleach to neutralize the chemicals that produce nerve gases, have been installed aboard the Cape Ray at the U.S. naval base in Norfolk, Va., officials said Thursday.
NATIONAL
November 29, 2013 | By Cindy Carcamo
Most of the 400 residents who were evacuated in a small northern Ohio town have been allowed to return to their homes after a train car leaked thousands of gallons of a highly flammable chemical earlier this week. The homes closest to Tuesday's derailment in the town of Willard will remain off-limits as the cleanup continues, according a statement by the railroad company CSX Transportation. About three dozen homes are still in the evacuation zone, according to the city. Officials lifted the evacuation for the bulk of the homes on Thursday afternoon, allowing residents to return in time for Thanksgiving after 13,000 gallons of styrene monomer leaked from a train car. No injuries were reported.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 22, 2013 | By Matt Stevens
Preliminary testing at Malibu High School has uncovered toxic chemicals at levels that exceed regulatory limits, according to a statement released Friday by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. The findings trigger what could be a "very large, very expensive" remediation plan in which the district will have to conduct additional testing and ultimately clean up the chemicals, district Supt. Sandra Lyon said. That potentially years-long process will be overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she added.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 21, 2013 | By Anthony York
Gov. Jerry Brown announced new safety standards for furniture on Thursday, limiting the use of certain flame-retardant chemicals that have been found to be toxic. In a statement, Brown described the announcement as the culmination of the administration's yearlong effort to update the 40-year-old standards and reduce Californians' exposure to harmful compounds. In 2012, Brown ordered state agencies to revisit the standards amid concerns that substances found in items such as chairs and sofas could be harmful -- particularly to children.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 21, 2013 | By Joseph Lapin
Jerry Stahl believes it's impossible to shock an audience anymore, but in his new novel, "Happy Mutant Baby Pills" (Harper Perennial, $14.99 pp.), he comes close. His main character, Lloyd, falls in love with a murderous woman named Nora who wants to take down Monsanto and Dow Chemical. After an absurd, paranoid and somehow comic murder spree, they decide to create a mutant baby in protest of capitalism by ingesting as many prescriptions, GMOs and pesticide-laden products as possible - while shooting endless amounts of heroin.
WORLD
November 21, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
The international agency tasked with locating and destroying Syria's chemical weapons said Thursday it was calling for help from private industry in neutralizing 1,000 metric tons of chemicals and munitions after U.S. ally Albania balked at hosting the operation. In a report on its "detailed plan of destruction" approved Thursday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons laid out its prioritized destruction schedule under which the most dangerous chemical arms and substances -- already removed from the country -- will be rendered harmless and buried in secure waste sites.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 19, 2013 | By Ari Bloomekatz
Federal authorities said Tuesday that they have seized more than 200,000 children's dolls arriving from China at ports in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities after the toys tested positive for banned chemical compounds. The dolls showed high levels of phthalates, according to a news release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Ten shipments were seized from the ports of Los Angeles; Chicago; Dallas; Norfolk, Va.; Memphis, Tenn; Newark, N.J.; Portland, Ore., and Savannah, Ga. The seizures began in April and concluded Oct. 20. Authorities said the dolls seized were worth about $500,000.
WORLD
November 15, 2013 | By Shashank Bengali
WASHINGTON - Albania on Friday rejected the United States' request to allow Syria's chemical weapons to be destroyed on its soil, dealing a blow to the international effort to dismantle President Bashar Assad's toxic arsenal. The decision by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama came after several days of protests in the small Balkan nation, where activists have opposed taking in Syria's chemical weapons because of environmental and security concerns. The international watchdog agency spearheading the disarmament effort has called for the weapons to be destroyed outside Syria, which is in the midst of a grinding civil war, but no country has volunteered to host the effort.
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