Early Briefing: The Dulles Rail "Body Blow"

*Columnist Steven Pearlstein sees the decision not to fund the Dulles rail project as an "economic body blow" to the entire region. He criticizes the decision-making criteria and calls for a Plan B. See column

*Lockheed Martin of Bethesda won a 10-year, $1 billion contract to develop what is expected to be the world's largest crime-fighting computer database of biometric information, including fingerprints, palm prints, iris patterns and face images. See story

*Restrictions on shoreline development would be tightened under a bill introduced in the House of Delegates this week on behalf of the O'Malley administration. Environmental advocates back the measure, but it is expected to meet resistance from builders and developers, who worry that the state is trying to take away their land-use rights. The bill would push development farther from the water's edge than is now required, from 100 feet to 300 feet.

*W.R. Grace is seeking court approval to extend its $250 million bankruptcy loan for two years while it awaits a legal decision on how much it owes for injuries and deaths linked to its asbestos products. In papers filed with the Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., the chemical company asked the court to sign off on an amendment to the loan agreement that gives it access to the financing through April 1, 2010. The loan is slated to expire April 1.

*Lockheed Martin's latest fee on the Joint Strike Fighter jet program is its lowest ever because of production delays. Lockheed earned 67.3 percent of the fee available for the six-month period ending Oct. 31, according to Defense Department figures. The lowest previous award was 69.9 percent in late 2004. Lockheed's only profit in the 12-year development phase is the fee.

*In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Richmond chemical producer Albemarle said it agreed to buy 4 million shares of stock for $37.22 apiece. The company will buy 3 million shares from a trust held in the name of Floyd D. Gottwald Jr., 300,000 shares from Gottwald himself, and 700,000 shares from Westham Partners.

*Legg Mason Capital Management raised its stake in Countrywide Financial, the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, to 15 percent and said it had not decided whether to vote for Bank of America's $4 billion takeover. See Bill Miller's letter to shareholders.

By Terri Rupar  |  February 13, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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