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NATIONAL
December 15, 2011 | By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau
  The petroleum industry and federal regulators focused more on exploration and production than safety in the years leading up to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, helping to set the stage for the worst offshore environmental disaster in U.S. history, according to a new independent report by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council. Conducted at the behest of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the report said the "multiple flawed decisions that led to a blowout" on the Deepwater Horizon rig resulted from "a deficient overall systems approach to safety" among the corporations that ran the drilling of the Macondo well, including BP, Transocean and Halliburton.
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ENTERTAINMENT
December 11, 2011
Every year brings a wealth of wonderful foreign-language offerings to American art houses, and 2012 appears likely to be no different. Following are five films opening next year that promise to be standouts; please note all release dates are subject to change. Declaration of War: Drawing on the real-life experiences of director Valérie Donzelli and costar/co-writer Jérémie Elkaïm, France's official entry for the best foreign language feature Oscar follows a couple named Romeo (Elkaïm)
BUSINESS
November 27, 2011 | By Andrew Leckey
Question: What's wrong with Brown Shoe Co.? I am a shareholder. Answer: Sales at its Famous Footwear chain have been as disappointing as the economy. That's why it plans to close about 145 of those stores over the course of this fiscal year that ends in January and into next fiscal year. It will also close its Brown Shoe Closet stores, F.X. LaSalle stores and Sun Prairie, Wis., distribution center. The sale of its And1 athletic shoe brand was recently finalized.
NATIONAL
November 15, 2011 | By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau
The Obama administration named Coast Guard Rear Adm. James A. Watson IV, who ran the federal response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as the new top monitor of safety and environmental practices in the offshore energy industry. Watson is scheduled to take up his post Dec. 1 as the new director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, replacing interim director Michael Bromwich. The Obama administration brought in Bromwich after the Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and spewing nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the ocean in the country's worst offshore environmental disaster.
SCIENCE
October 28, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
The X Prize Foundation, which offers monetary awards for solutions to pressing scientific challenges, has tackled space travel, moon missions and oil spill cleanups. Now it's taking on the human genome. The Archon Genomics X Prize presented by Medco is challenging teams to accurately sequence the DNA of 100 centenarians within 30 days at $1,000 or less per genome. The first team to complete the task successfully will receive $10 million, and the sequenced genomes will be published for use in research.
HEALTH
October 24, 2011 | By Amber Dance, Special to the Los Angeles Times
It's an annual autumn rite for many: trooping to the doctor's office or pharmacy for the jab that might stave off sniffles and aches during the flu season. Scientists would love to make this ritual history, if only they could come up with a flu vaccine that would work for many years, instead of one. The problem is that influenza is a wily opponent - every year it wears a new disguise, foiling the body's immune system as well as the medical profession's attempts to stifle it. In designing the annual shot, scientists must guess what strain of influenza will be prevalent in the upcoming season.
NATIONAL
October 21, 2011 | By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau
BP won approval from the Interior Department for a plan to explore for oil and gas in deep-water areas of the Gulf of Mexico, moving the company closer to drilling new wells barred after the blowout of its Macondo well touched off the country's worst offshore environmental disaster. The exploration plan was the first BP had submitted to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April 2010, killing 11 workers and spewing nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the gulf.
SPORTS
September 18, 2011 | Chris Dufresne
PLAY IT FORWARD Five things to watch this week in college football. 1. Pittsburgh and Syracuse were accepted Sunday as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. That sets the stage for further conference expansion. Regents from Texas and Oklahoma meet separately Monday to discuss possible moves to the Pacific 12 Conference. Stay tuned. 2. Big 12/Pac-12/Southeastern Conference game of the week? Oklahoma State plays at Texas A&M in a Big 12 game that actually might involve three conferences.
NATIONAL
September 15, 2011 | By Neela Banerjee and Richard Fausset, Tribune Washington Bureau and Los Angeles Times
BP and the two other companies drilling the exploratory Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico all violated federal safety regulations leading up to last year's oil spill, a federal investigation concluded in findings that could be crucial for a Justice Department investigation and numerous lawsuits surrounding the disaster. The report pinned much of the blame on oil giant BP, which was "ultimately responsible" for operations and safety on the rig. But the joint inquiry by the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement was critical of BP's drilling contractors,Transocean and Halliburton.
OPINION
September 5, 2011 | Jim Newton
This has been a hard couple years — on top of a hard era — for organized labor. The percentage of American workers who belong to a union has continued its long slide, dropping from 12.3% in 2009 to 11.9% in 2010. Those numbers are even starker if viewed through a longer lens: In 1983, more than 1 in 5 American workers was a member of a union; today it's barely half that. Moreover, while those numbers testify to the eroding faith many Americans have in organized labor to represent their interests — as well as the cunning tactics of employers to thwart organizing — they do not capture this year's singular, highly ideological rage.
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