Walt in Georgia sends a story about the drop in recycling. Dawson County had already suspended collection of glass and plastic. Now it's adding paperboard to the list. Companies are cutting their purchases of recycled material, so recycling centers can't use what consumers would usually bring in. (Bonus: Chana Joffe-Walt covers the West Coast scene.)
Meanwhile, Mitch in Oregon sends a story about $3.39 billion in bailout money for American Express. The company is converting itself into a bank. Mitch takes special note of this paragraph: "American Express Chief Financial Officer Daniel Henry said in October that that company had $24 billion of debt maturing over the next 12 months. While the lender would probably have been able to pay that off, gaining access to TARP removes any concern, said [analyst Richard] Shane."
Mitch writes, "Did American Express convert to a bank just to get a $3.39 billion gift from the TARP that they didn't even need?" Technical note: The Treasury's getting stock in the deal, so it's not, strictly speaking, a gift.