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  • CHICAGO— When retailers open state-approved medical marijuana shops in Illinois later this year, they will face a distinct disadvantage in luring prospective patients across their thresholds: Marijuana will always be cheaper on the black market. Dispensary owners in Illinois are thinking, too, about Tupperware-style education parties, spa-like interior...

  • Sea urchin haven disturbed by Santa Barbara oil spill Saturday, 23 May 2015 | 8:00 AM ET

    LOS ANGELES, May 23- Stephanie Mutz makes a living plucking sea urchins from the Santa Barbara coast and selling the prickly treasure to upscale restaurants in Southern California. "That was one of my predominant fishing spots, so I just have to think of a Plan B," said Mutz, who supplies restaurants from Santa Barbara to Orange County, including the Michelin- starred...

  • California farmers agree to drastically cut water use Saturday, 23 May 2015 | 3:09 AM ET

    SACRAMENTO, Calif.— California farmers who hold some of the state's strongest water rights avoided the threat of deep mandatory cuts when the state accepted their proposal to voluntarily reduce consumption by 25 percent amid one of the worst droughts on record. The rare concession from the farmers is the latest indication of the severity of the water shortage...

  • California oil spill harder to clean up in choppy waters Saturday, 23 May 2015 | 12:21 AM ET

    LOS ANGELES— A 10- square-mile oil slick off the coast of California is thinner than a coat of paint and it's becoming harder to skim from choppy waters, officials said Friday as more dead animals were discovered on the Santa Barbara coast. Federal regulators ordered Plains All American Pipeline to drain the pipe that leaked, test the metal in the damaged section...

  • LOS ANGELES, May 22- Owners of an oil pipeline that burst in California this week must take numerous corrective measures, including an in-depth analysis of factors contributing to the spill and a plan to fix any flaws found, before they can restart the line, U.S. safety officials said on Friday. The corrective action order issued on Thursday by the U.S....

  • SANTA BARBARA May 22- Government prosecutors are investigating the company at the center of the California oil spill for possible criminal sanctions, according to the district attorney of Santa Barbara- a city that helped spawn the modern environmental movement. Perhaps one of the worst places on Earth for a crude oil leak, Santa Barbara is a beautiful...

  • LOS ANGELES, May 22- Union dockworkers at all 29 U.S. West Coast ports have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a contract agreement reached in February with shipping companies and terminal operators to end months of labor strife that snarled trans-Pacific trade. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union voted 82 percent in favor of the new...

  • CHICAGO/ NEW YORK, May 22- As a virulent avian influenza outbreak continues to spread across the Midwestern United States, some egg-dependent companies are contemplating drastic steps- importing eggs from overseas or looking to egg alternatives. A spokeswoman for Archer Daniels Midland Co said that as egg supplies tighten and prices rise, the food processing...

  • PORTLAND, Ore.— An Oregon medical marijuana patient who was badly burned in an explosion while he was legally using butane as a solvent to make hash oil is suing the makers and sellers of the fuel. Kevin Tveisme, 28, of Portland, was injured in 2013 when his furnace clicked on, igniting butane vapor. The explosion destroyed his garage and injured a friend, Joseph Westom,...

  • HOUSTON, May 22- Hundreds of barrels of oil that gushed from a ruptured coastal pipeline in scenic California this week could stiffen opposition to large oil projects that companies want to build in the state, notably those to deliver cheap U.S. crude on trains. A leak of 100,000 barrels of crude off Santa Barbara in 1969 led to bans on new leases for offshore...

  • PORTLAND, Ore., May 22- Oregon Governor Kate Brown expanded the state's drought emergency to eight more counties on Friday amid a devastating West Coast drought and warned that water shortages could be imminent and a tough fire season may be ahead. The new Oregon counties listed in a drought emergency are Deschutes, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Morrow, Umatilla...

  • LOS ANGELES— The labor dispute that hobbled international trade through West Coast seaports earlier this year officially ended Friday when the union representing dockworkers announced its members had ratified a five-year contract. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union voted 82 percent in favor of the deal, according to spokesman...

  • NEW YORK, May 22- U.S. stock investors have been enjoying an extended period of low volatility and steady gains, but with the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year and major indexes near records, the market could get a bit choppier in coming weeks. Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday said she expected the U.S. central bank to raise rates in 2015,...

  • The oil pipeline leak that fouled a stretch of California coastline this week reflects a troubling trend in the nation's infrastructure: As U.S. oil production has soared, so has the number of pipeline accidents. "Tick, tick, tick," said Robert Bea, a professor emeritus in civil engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Since 1995, there have been more...

  • Adult dating site investigating breach of user data Friday, 22 May 2015 | 3:01 PM ET

    PALO ALTO, Calif.— The operator of a popular adult dating website said Friday it's investigating a potential security breach, following reports that hackers stole names, email addresses and information about the sexual preferences of up to 4 million members. Britain's Channel 4 news outlet reported that hackers posted some of the information on an obscure...

  • *Microsoft was willing to offer about $55 bln- CNBC. May 22- Microsoft Corp and Salesforce.com Inc held "significant talks" this spring but failed to agree on a price, CNBC reported, citing people familiar with the matter. A potential bidder can go up to $70 billion on the high end and Microsoft, Oracle Corp and Amazon.com Inc are the companies most likely to be suitors,...

  • LOS ANGELES, May 22- Owners of the oil pipeline that ruptured in California this week must take numerous corrective measures, including an in-depth analysis of factors contributing to the spill, before they can restart the line, federal safety officials said on Friday. The corrective action order issued on Thursday by the U.S. Transportation Department's...

  • US oil and natural gas rig count drops by 3 to 885 Friday, 22 May 2015 | 1:22 PM ET

    HOUSTON— Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by three this week to 885.. Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Louisiana lost four rigs, West Virginia declined by three and Kansas, North Dakota and Ohio each lost one. Alaska, California, Colorado, Texas, Utah and Wyoming were all...

  • LOS ANGELES— Richard Martinez thinks of his son every day, and with those thoughts come the constant reminder of a young life cut tragically short by a troubled man with a gun. Martinez had just gotten off the phone with his son, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, on the night of May 23, 2014, when the sophomore English major at the University of California, Santa...

  • SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The California Assembly on Friday approved one of the nation's toughest bans on plastic, exfoliating microbeads that are polluting waterways. Manufacturers already have pledged to phase out the materials, including L'Oreal, Unilever and Johnson& Johnson, and use natural alternatives such as apricot shells and cocoa beans.