Daily Briefing


June 18, 2009

EPA declares health emergency in Montana towns

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday declared its first-ever "public health emergency," saying the federal government will funnel $6 million to provide medical care for people sickened by asbestos from a mine in a section of northwest Montana. The declaration applies to the towns of Libby and Troy, where for decades workers dug for vermiculite, a mineral used in insulation. They were unknowingly poisoning themselves: The vermiculite was contaminated with a toxic form of asbestos, which workers carried home on their clothes. The EPA also will invest at least $125 million in the next five years in the ongoing clean up. The news comes about six weeks after a Montana jury acquitted chemical company W.R. Grace and three of its executives on charges that they withheld information about the mine's dangers. Columbia-based Grace ran the mine from 1963 until it closed in 1990.

-The Washington Post

City's YouthWorks program employs 500 more workers

Baltimore's YouthWorks Program, which provides hands-on career experience for city teens, has provided summer jobs to 7,000 youths, exceeding last year's 6,500 participants, Mayor Sheila Dixon said Wednesday. Businesses will spend $1,400 to sponsor students ranging in age from 14 to 21. Students will work 30 hours a week for six weeks beginning June 22 and receive minimum wage. For the first time this year, the program will employ people up to the age of 24, thanks to federal stimulus money.

-Hanah Cho

10 banks repay billions in federal bailout money

Ten big banks made good Wednesday on their promises to repay $68 billion in government capital received under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it paid the Treasury $25 billion, Morgan Stanley $10 billion, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. $10 billion, U.S. Bancorp $6.6 billion, Capital One Financial Corp. $3.6 billion, and American Express Co. $3.4 billion. The other banks returning the federal money were BB&T Corp., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Northern Trust Corp. and State Street Corp. Regulators gave the 10 banks permission last week to repay the funds. The Treasury still has about $129 billion invested in about 580 financial institutions, according to a tally by research firm Keefe Bruyette & Woods.

-Los Angeles Times

Eddie Bauer files for bankruptcy protection

NEW YORK - : Struggling retailer Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc., which began as a Seattle fishing shop, later outfitted the first American to climb Mt. Everest and made thousands of newfangled down jackets and sleeping bags for the military during World War II, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday. Still known for outdoorsy clothing but serving a distinctly more domestic clientele of students and other mall patrons, the company said Wednesday that a bidder has agreed to keep most of its 371 stores open and honor its gift cards and hold onto most employees. The company said CCMP Capital Advisors LLC has bid $202 million in cash for its assets. Other buyers may also make bids.

-Associated Press

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