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OSHA fines Nebraska Menards store for fatal safety violations

Scottsbluff, NB (AP) — Federal authorities have fined a Scottsbluff business $7,000 for an on-the-job accident that killed a 24-year-old worker in March.

The area director for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration said Menards had violated safety standards, but the problems have since been remedied.

OSHA’s Ben Bare said 24-year-old Brad Soske was standing at the base of a stack of garden ties when two bundles fell on him.

Bare said the stack was visibly leaning, but investigators said the safety violation was unintended, so no criminal penalties would be sought.

Bare said OSHA assessed the maximum penalty for the violation, the $7,000 fine.

Menards is based in Eau Claire.

Lawsuit seeks to block ‘In God We Trust’ engraving in Washington

Madison (AP) — A Wisconsin-based anti-religion group is seeking to block an architect from engraving “In God We Trust” and the Pledge of Allegiance at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington.

The House and Senate passed resolutions this month directing the Architect of the Capitol to engrave the national motto and the pledge in prominent places at the center, which is the entrance for tourists visiting the Capitol.

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday claiming the engravings, which are done using taxpayer money, would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

The group is seeking a court order to stop the work.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the engravings at less than $100,000.

No open-meeting concerns at legislative tour of Wal-Mart

Beaver Dam (AP) — Not enough members of a legislative committee on personal privacy showed up for a tour of a Wal-Mart distribution center to trigger Wisconsin’s open-meetings law.

A notice last week said Tuesday’s tour was closed to the public even though a majority of the committee planned to be there.

Only two of the seven committee members showed up, two short of a majority.

Committee chairman Rep. Marlin Schneider, D-Wisconsin Rapids, refused to comment during or after the two-hour tour. His committee is considering a bill that would limit the use of radio frequency identification devices.

Wal-Mart uses the technology and invited Schneider’s committee on the tour.

White paint ingredient price dips at slower pace

Washington (AP) — The price of a key ingredient in white paint is declining at a slower pace, a signal that the weakness in housing and factory activity should let up a bit.

Titanium dioxide prices fell 4.6 percent during the 12 months ending in June, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. That suggests the pace of home construction, renovations and manufacturing will be subdued in the coming months but a bit stronger than they have been, economists said.

The third straight month of smaller price drops for titanium dioxide also means the recession has eased, analysts said. In May, prices fell 5.1 percent during the year, after a 5.7 percent decline in April.

Interior secretary: Mining  reform a top priority

Washington (AP) — An Obama administration official says reforming the nation’s 137-year-old hardrock mining law is a top priority that Congress must address.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a Senate panel Tuesday the administration will devote “significant resources” to aiding congressional reformers who want to rewrite the General Mining Law of 1872.

Critics say the law has left a legacy of hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines that are polluting rivers and streams throughout the West. Mining companies also don’t pay royalties on gold, silver, copper and other hardrock minerals mined on public land.

Salazar said Congress should be able to pass a mining bill even though its agenda is brimming with higher profile issues.

NTSB: Fatal Boston trolley crash preventable

Washington (AP) — Investigators said Tuesday a fatal Boston trolley crash in May 2008 could have been prevented if an automated train control system had been in place.

Trolley operator Terrese Edmonds, 24, died after her train sped through a red stop signal and rammed another in a crash in suburban Newton, Mass., that also injured seven passengers on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Green Line.

Investigators estimated the striking trolley was moving at 38 mph at impact, and they said Edmonds apparently ignored the signal, which had been stuck in the stop position.

Operators were not required to report faulty signals by the MBTA, a factor that likely contributed to the accident, investigators said.

Investors return to mutual  funds in 2nd quarter

Boston (AP) — Investors shook off some of their caution in this year’s second quarter amid a rising market, shifting the largest amount into stock and bond mutual funds in more than two years, a fund industry consultant reported Tuesday.

A total $136 billion flowed into stock and bond funds during the April-through-June period, according to New York-based Strategic Insight.

That’s the biggest flow since the first quarter of 2007, when the total was nearly $150 billion. The totals exclude money-market mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

In the latest quarter, bond funds were the bright spot for the nearly $11 trillion U.S. mutual fund industry.

About two-thirds of the cash flowing in went to bond funds, with the remaining third going to stock funds, which are generally riskier than bond funds.

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