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World Briefs I

Mine Kicks Up Dust Over Talc

los angeles times
Death Valley National park, CA

Rainbow Talc Mine in Death Valley is inactive now. But owners Carol and Edward Baumunk want to rev it up again. They own the rights to millions of tons of talc burrowed inside the sheltering mountains - talc in demand by manufacturers of ceramics and paint, paper and fine china.

The Baumunks want to begin extracting their talc. They have the legal right to do so, but the National Park Service has a legal duty to protect the wilderness where the mine so doggedly squats.

And so, a clash.

If the Baumunks win federal approval for their venture, the Rainbow would be the first mine ever permitted to operate in a national park wilderness area. The prospect has attracted comments from environmentalists and property rights activists nationwide.

Martin and his staff are reviewing those comments now. They will decide among four options: permit the mine to open under specified conditions, deny it a permit, commission a detailed environmental impact report or seek federal money to buy out the Baumunks' claim.

Acquiring the mine would probably prove the most popular option. The Baumunks are willing to sell. The park service is eager to buy. However, with no federal funds or private donations in view, neither side sees hope for a buyout any time soon. So the Baumunks are pushing to open the mine. "We're not spring chickens," said Edward Baumunk, 79.

Bankruptcy Judge Ousts Owners of Psychic Friends Network

the baltimore sun

Michael W. Lasky has been dethroned as head of Inphomation Communications Inc., the now-bankrupt operator of the Psychic Friends Network.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James F. Schneider ruled Wednesday that Lasky could not be trusted to keep running the company he founded, and ordered that he and other top executives be replaced by an outside trustee.

"My only question is: How soon are you going to have a trustee in there with a padlock to keep the current management out of there?" Schneider asked the representative of the Office of the U.S. Trustee as he concluded a two-day hearing.

The Pikesville-based Inphomation, which once had annual sales of about $140 million, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Feb. 2, claiming assets of $1.2 million and liabilities of $26 million. A group of creditors asked Schneider to appoint an emergency trustee, contending Lasky and other managers were stripping Inphomation of assets and diverting business to a clandestine shell company.