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July 31, 2011 | By Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times
When Kristoffer M. Solesbee was a boy, he enjoyed making backyard bombs out of vinegar and baking soda. He also liked to shoot off potato cannons by igniting hair spray in a plastic tube to propel a spud. And he launched model rockets from a field near his home in Citrus Heights , a suburb of Sacramento. "He liked burning stuff and blowing stuff up," recalled his father, Larry Solesbee. As an adult, Kristoffer Solesbee hoped to become a firefighter. But jobs in the field were scarce, and when a military recruiter offered him a spot at the Air Force's explosive ordnance disposal school, "he jumped at the chance," his father said.
July 7, 2011 | Meghan Daum
There's something exhilarating about walking out of a movie. Not only does it reacquaint you with the notion of your own free will ("Wait a second, no one is forcing me to watch Tom Hanks ride around on a scooter!"), it's like getting two extra hours in your day. To walk out of a bad movie is literally to escape from the darkness, to show yourself who's boss, to remind yourself that your time is valuable. So is your money, of course. Should you get it back? Lately there's has been some disagreement on that score, particularly when it comes to "The Tree of Life," directed by the legendary (and legendarily esoteric)
July 2, 2011 | By Kate Mather, Los Angeles Times
Southern California Edison officials are preparing to move four massive retired steam generators from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Diego County to a disposal site in a remote area of Utah. And, at 700,000 pounds each, moving the generators will be no small task. Beginning this summer, each of the generators will be placed on a specially designed 400-foot-long truck and will make the 800-mile trek from the plant to Clive, Utah, passing through San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, as well as Nevada.
June 26, 2011 | Liz Weston, Money Talk
Dear Liz: Do you have any advice for a family of six with only $200 a month to spend on food? My wife and I are in dire need of advice, as our bills keep increasing but neither of us has gotten a raise in six years. We have two garnishments on our paychecks that effectively take 50% of what we make. After health insurance and 401(k) loans are deducted, we bring home $2,000 a month. Our rent takes $1,400 of that and utilities take most of the rest. Do you have any miracle advice for us?
June 3, 2011 | By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Mecca, Calif. -- California environmental regulators have launched an internal audit to determine why their agency sanctioned a Coachella Valley recycling facility to accept tons of toxic waste that, in part, was the source of noxious odors that sickened children at a nearby elementary school. The recycling company, Western Environmental Inc., was ordered by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection in May to cease accepting hazardous materials, drain an uncovered oil pond and reduce two four-story mountains of contaminated soil on the site.
May 22, 2011 | By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times
Army Staff Sgt. Mark C. Wells never said much to his family about his assignment in Afghanistan . His work as an explosive ordnance disposal technician meant he was often on sensitive, dangerous missions, defusing explosives and sweeping areas ahead of visits by high-ranking political figures. He especially didn't seem to want his family to know of the close calls his job entailed. "Just know, if anything happens, I'm doing what I love to do," he would tell them, recalled his father, Burl Wells.
April 3, 2011 | By Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times
For days on end, 23-year-old Hiraku Sato and a co-worker toiled in their pharmacy in Tagajo City, picking through hundreds of small containers of vitamin drinks, aspirin and other medicines that were flung to the four corners of their shop when ocean waters from nearly a mile away rushed in. A 4-foot-high mound of metal shelves, broken computers and other retail detritus was still massed this week outside the store in the northeastern coastal community....
February 6, 2011 | By Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times
Defusing land mines is dangerous under the best of circumstances; darkness only ups the ante. Such were the conditions in mid-December when, after a battle in Afghanistan's Helmand province, a group of Marines was trying to get back to base overnight to avoid an ambush that was anticipated at daylight. The job of clearing the path belonged to Staff Sgt. Justin E. Schmalstieg 28, an experienced bomb disposal technician from Camp Pendleton who was on his fourth tour of duty.
February 4, 2011 | By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times
Target Corp. has agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle a multiyear government investigation into the alleged dumping of hazardous waste by the retail chain, according to court documents filed this week. The settlement, pending final approval by a judge, is part of a bigger push by prosecutors throughout the state to crack down on environmental violations by big-box retailers and follows multimillion-dollar settlements in recent years with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot. Under the tentative agreement, the Minneapolis-based retail giant admits no wrongdoing but will pay about $3.4 million to the California attorney general's office.
January 27, 2011 | By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times
A labor-backed advocacy group issued a study Wednesday that labeled much of Los Angeles' trash-disposal system polluting and wasteful, and called for the adoption of a franchise process that could bolster recycling rates, provide green jobs and increase city revenue. "What we have now is completely inefficient and chaotic, and we have to put some order to it," said City Councilman Jose Huizar. Private haulers operate on a permit basis that critics say falls short of recycling goals and lacks standards and accountability.
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