The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:
UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS UP
The nation's unemployment rate climbed above 8 percent last month and the economy shed 651,000 jobs, new data shows, further evidence of the deepening recession that has devastated the stock market and home prices and triggered the largest government recovery effort since the Great Depression. (Washington Post)
NEW JOBS, BUT LAYOFFS CONTINUE
Computer giant Microsoft Corp. plans to begin occupying a new 134,000-square-foot Chevy Chase space this spring that is expected to add several hundred new jobs, state economic development officials say. The move will result in as many as 600 new jobs in the county, according to a recent report by the state Department of Business and Economic Development. Some of those jobs will come from a smaller office in Chevy Chase that Microsoft currently occupies, although employees will move to the new digs from sites across the Washington, D.C., area, a Microsoft spokeswoman said. (Gazette)
The state's Public Service Commission is likely to stop or delay electric and gas companies from cutting off service to thousands of customers after winter termination restrictions expire April 1, according to the PSC chairman. As of February, 107,426 of Pepco's 474,316 residential customers in Maryland, or almost 23 percent, were late paying their bills, according to information provided by the utility. Several utilities, including Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, have said that as many as one in three of their customers now are late in paying their bills. With extreme cold weather in January and February and a deepening recession, the number of customers and the past-due amounts are expected to increase. (Gazette)
FIRE TAKES THE LIVES OF TWO
A man and a woman, both in their 60s, died early this morning in a fire that started in the basement of their Landover home.
The victims, whose names were not released pending notification of their families, are believed to be husband and wife, Prince George's County police spokesman Mark Brady said. (Washington Post)
REAL ID VIRGINIA
The wallet-sized card Americans flash at the airport, the bank and the grocery store is getting a new look in Virginia.
Starting this spring, the blue-and-white Virginia driver's license design will slowly disappear. The state flower, the dogwood, and the state Capitol will be featured on the new designs in shades of purple, green, yellow and pink. Photos will be black and white, moving the focus to facial features instead of hair and eye color. Birth dates will be easier to read. Cardholders under ages 21 and 18 will be quickly identifiable. (Free Lance-Star)
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY TOWING COMPANY INVESTIGATED
Police raided a Woodbridge wrecker service this week on suspicion the company overcharged customers by at least $301,500 over the past year. Dominion Wrecker Service at 15009 Jefferson Davis Highway is the target of an investigation into unauthorized towing charges for illegal parking, according to a search warrant affidavit filed at the Prince William County Courthouse. Andrew Manson, identified by police as the owner of the towing company, is accused of charging a minimum of $125 per car his company tows, the affidavit states. The maximum charge for towing a truck and heavier vehicles is $125. (Insidenova.com)
SUBURBAN YOUTH GOT DISTRICT SUMMER JOBS
More than 200 youths who participated in D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's jobs program last year were not city residents, most claiming addresses in Maryland although a handful said they lived in Virginia or as far away as Georgia, Florida or Texas, according to a report by the city auditor. The 203 participants were paid a total of $276,154 during the 10-week program, considered a failure of the Fenty administration after the budget swelled from $21.5 million to $55.7 million with the mayor's directive to his staff to give a job to every young person who wanted one. (Washington Post)
THE END OF CIRCUIT CITY IS SUNDAY
Circuit City will disappear from the retail landscape by Sunday night. All of the retailer's remaining 500-plus stores will close by then, ending an era for a chain that began in a small downtown Richmond storefront in 1949 and later became the nation's largest consumer-electronics chain. (Richmond Times Dispatch)
HAVE AN APPLE IN GEORGETOWN
The Old Georgetown Board has approved a design for the storefront of the Apple store slated for Wisconsin Avenue. The approval came after Apple made some changes to the glass storefront of its design, and made other minor adjustments such as a recessed entrance. The design must now be approved by the commission itself, and Luebke said he does not anticipate any controversy with that decision. Luebke couldn't comment on how soon the Apple store might open, and a spokesperson for Apple could not immediately be reached for comment. The store is set to be at 1229 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (Washington Business Journal)
HYBRID CAR SALES DOWN
Consumers have lost their appetite for pricey hybrids, two industry experts say, leading to a drop in used hybrid values and an oversupply of new ones. Used hybrid values are down 23.5% since their peak last summer, says Juan Flores, director of vehicle valuation for Kelley Blue Book. Just since the beginning of 2009, they've fallen 4.5%, while used vehicle prices overall are going up as more buyers opt for used over new. (USAToday)
LONG LIVE ROCK!!
Even in hard times, the show will go on. That's the case for the 38th annual Sherwood High School Rock 'n' Roll Revival, which this year features 30 percent more musicians than ever. But ticket sales are slow. In years past the show has sold out as soon as tickets went on sale. This year, however, tickets are available for all shows. (Gazette)
WHAT A BARGAIN!!!
Want a $40,000 Chanel gown on sale for a little under $10,000? Head on over to Potomac Mills mall today. Neiman Marcus opens its Last Call Clearance Center at the mall at 10 a.m. With savings of 30 to 65 percent, the merchandise is a consolidation of mark-down items from Neiman Marcus’ 40 mainline stores nationwide, its catalog, its Web site and Bergdorf Goodman stores. (Insidenova.com)