Federal bailout? The Obama administration has pledged $320 million to bankrupt Detroit, money designed to help the city recover amid its own financial mismanagement. The funds will come mostly from federal grants to raze blighted buildings, pay police and firefighters, and improve public transit. President Barack Obama sent Attorney General Eric Holder, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to meet with Michigan and city officials today. Detroit declared bankruptcy on July 18 and has more than $18 billion in long-term obligations. The population has dropped from 1.8 million to 700,000. People who fled for greener pastures left behind almost 150,000 abandoned properties, with a combined 20 square miles of vacant land, about the size of Manhattan.
New chemical attacks? The Syrian government has asked the United Nations to investigate three new chemical weapons incidents that took place after the Aug. 21 attack that reportedly killed hundreds and captured the world’s attention. Including the three new attacks, which the government says took place near Damascus, UN teams are investigating seven incidents in all. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government claims rebel groups are responsible for the new attacks, as well as the Aug. 21 incident. Foreign intelligence agencies, including those in the United States, say evidence overwhelmingly points to government troops as the source of the nerve gas.
Money, please. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the agency that insures lenders against losses if mortgage loans go bad, needs a $1.7 billion cash infusion from the U.S. Treasury before the end of the month to cover its losses. It’s the first time the agency has asked for taxpayer funds since its founding in 1934. The agency normally uses fees it charges borrowers to cover losses. But after racking up $5 billion in losses through its reverse mortgage program, which allows seniors to take equity out of their homes, agency officials informed the Obama administration its $30 billion in cash reserves would not be enough to cover the next 30 years of projected losses.
Presidential library. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which oversees former President George Washington’s estate in Northern Virginia, has unveiled a new library dedicated to the nation’s first leader and his fellow Founding Fathers. The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington cost more than $106 million, all from private donations. The 45,000-square-foot building contains George and Martha Washington’s personal papers and letters and Washington’s collection of favorite books. But the long-awaited library is not really designed for public use. Scholars, historians, government officials, corporate executives, nonprofit organizations, and university presidents are welcome but Mrs. Smith’s second-grade history class is not.