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The rail and chemical industries have committed to a safer design for new tankers but are pressing regulators not to require modifications to tens of thousands of existing cars, despite a spike in the number of accidents as more tankers are put into service to accommodate soaring demand for ethanol, the highly flammable corn-based fuel usually transported by rail.

Derailments have triggered chemical spills and massive blasts like one in July in Columbus, Ohio, that blew up with such intensity that one witness said it "looked like the sun exploded." Some communities with busy railways are beginning to regard the tankers as a serious threat to public safety.

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Cheapest airfare might be on airlines' own website

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Some airlines are making travelers work harder to find a deal.

Carriers are offering more deals to passengers who book flights directly on their websites. It's an effort to steer people away from online travel agencies such as Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity, which charge the carriers commissions of roughly $10 to $25 a ticket.

While travelers save money, they also must do without the convenience of one-stop shopping.

Frontier Airlines is the latest carrier to jump into the fight, announcing Wednesday that it will penalize passengers who don't book directly with the airline. Those fliers won't be able to get seat assignments until check-in. And they'll pay more in fees while earning half as many frequent flier miles.

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Gas prices hit $8 in NJ, Pennsylvania in Lukoil protest

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. (AP) â¿¿ More than 50 Lukoil gas stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania jacked up prices to more than $8 a gallon Wednesday to protest what they say are unfair pricing practices by Lukoil North America that leave them at a competitive disadvantage.

Dozens of Lukoil franchise owners also gathered to protest at a station in this central New Jersey town where the posted prices were an eye-popping $8.99 a gallon.

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