Donors from the securities and investment industries — which stand at the vortex of the Wall Street meltdown — have been the most generous in helping to pay for Barack Obama’s inauguration festivities.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzed the contributions disclosed so far by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, 118 donors who identified themselves as being part of those industries have shelled out $3.6 million to help pay the estimated $40 million bill for inauguration balls and other events.

Close behind in generosity are 175 lawyers and law firms, which have pitched in about $2.5 million. From 49 people in the TV, movie or music business, $1.7 million has been raised. That includes $50,000 each from actors Halle Berry and Sharon Stone, and directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

Californians have donated the most — 396 donations totaling $6.4 million. New Yorkers are a distant second, with 232 donors and $3.9 million.

Waiter, there’s bug parts in my drink, yogurt, ice cream, etc.: Starting in 2011, consumers will be informed on labels that red coloring made from the dried bodies of cochineal bugs is an ingredient in foods and cosmetics.

The information will be provided under an FDA labeling rule that had been sought by activists for more than a decade. While specifics on most dyes still don’t have to be listed, carmine and cochineal will be in deference to people who may have allergic reactions to the stuff — or are vegetarians.

The Cold War system of lengthy lists of stuff U.S. researchers and firms can’t export due to national security concerns is outdated and unworkable in a globalized world of science and technology, according to a new report from the National Research Council. It calls the listings — to which items are regularly added, but almost never removed — a "technological Maginot Line" that does more harm than good to our security and economy.

Committee co-chair and former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft says policies need to shift to a presumption that everything is open to exchange unless some item or information can be demonstrated to be a threat.

Just in time for what promises to be a flurry of new rulemaking (and unmaking) by the Obama administration, the federal government has taken another big leap into the info age.

The Office of the Federal Register has set up an Electronic Public Inspection Desk that provides instant access on the Web to documents headed to publication in the official record of federal rules and minutia. For the past 72 years, the only way to inspect the documents before publication was to be physically present at the register’s document desk in Washington. Now, the next day’s official record is a few clicks away at under "Public Inspection Desk."

Three years after a West Virginia coal mine disaster, in which 11 trapped miners died from deadly gases, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has finally come out with new rules that would require underground "refuges" be constructed where miners could huddle and wait for rescuers.

The agency has ordered mine operators to provide underground shelters stocked with food, water, first-aid supplies, a two-way communication system, a system for expelling toxic gases, and enough air for 96 hours.

E-mail Lee Bowman at bowmanl(at) and Lisa Hoffman at hoffmanl(at)

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