Early Briefing: Pearlstein Doesn't Believe
*Columnist Steven Pearlstein just doesn't believe in a housing recovery. He also doesn't believe that the Washington area economy is recession-proof. See column
*Due to the gloomy outlook for the county's finances, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett announced a hiring freeze on the 9,400-person workforce under his jurisdiction. Leggett's chief administrative officer, Timothy Firestine, said exceptions would be made for essential positions such as public safety jobs and bus drivers for at least the next five months. See story
*Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine proposed legislation that would make companies let people know if their Social Security numbers or other personal data were accidentally made public - unless they determined there was no "reasonable risk" that the consumer would be harmed by the disclosures. See story.
*The nonprofit group Environmental Maryland said it discovered potentially toxic fly ash residue in air samples taken near a dumpsite in the Gambrills area that is owned by BBSS Inc. and used by Constellation Energy. See story.
*Landmark Communications of Norfolk, which owns Annapolis's Capital-Gazette Newspapers as well as the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, is considering a sale of its businesses. See story.
*Amtrak workers could strike as soon as Jan. 31. A presidential emergency board's recommendations to resolve a contract dispute, submitted to the White House this week, started a 30-day period during which the workers may not strike.
*GenVec, a Gaithersburg drug company, said the Food and Drug Administration agreed to allow the company to measure overall survival in patients taking its cancer drug TNFerade as its clinical study's main goal, rather than 12-month survival rates.
GenVec is studying TNFerade in 330 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.
If the study shows a benefit in overall survival, it could be considered as a basis for full regulatory approval of TNFerade, GenVec said. The company may be able to stop the trial sooner if there is clear evidence of the drug's effectiveness.
GenVec shares rose 9 cents, to $1.58. See press release.
*The publisher of Congressional Quarterly and the St. Petersburg Times is exploring the sale of its profitable CQ Press book business. Jordan Edmiston Group, a New York investment bank, was retained to handle the transaction, Florida-based Times Publishing said. Times Publishing is owned by the nonprofit Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
*Dominion Resources, the owner of Virginia's largest electric utility, restarted its North Anna 2 reactor in Virginia after replacing a reactor coolant pump motor. The reactor was listed at 82 percent of capacity in a report by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The plant is about 45 miles northwest of Richmond.
*Professional Services Council, a trade group for government contractors, hired the Podesta Group to lobby the federal government, according to a disclosure form. The firm will lobby on congressional bills that seek to reform federal contracts and strengthen oversight, according to the form posted online Dec. 21 by the Senate's public records office.
Northrop Grumman, Stanley and IBM are among the more than 200 corporate members of the trade group.
January 4, 2008; 5:00 AM ET
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