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Dow Chemical puts its stamp on Olympic Stadium

LONDON — A project has begun to drape London’s Olympic Stadium in a $11.4 million decorative curtain linked to Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical Co.

The move confirmed Tuesday comes despite efforts by critics to prevent the Midland, Mich.-based company from continuing its association with the 2012 London Games. Critics have argued that the top Olympic sponsor should not be involved in the project because of its links to Union Carbide, accused in the 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India, that killed 15,000 people.

Dow bought Union Carbide 16 years after the accident.

The company’s critics, including British lawmakers, say that Dow’s purchase of Union Carbide makes it responsible for groundwater contamination and other issues that linger in Bhopal. Protests against the company have included the burning in effigy of Sebastian Coe, the head of the committee running the London Olympics.

Dow wants to use the wrap to showcase its activities at the Olympics. Dow products can be found all over the Olympics right down to the track at the stadium.

HOUSING

Requests for building permits for houses most in 3 1/2 years

Builders requested the most permits in March for single-family homes and apartments in 3 1/2 years, suggesting that many expect the housing market to improve in the next year.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that permits, a gauge of future construction, rose 4.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 747,000 in March. That’s the highest level since September 2008.

The rise in permits helped offset a slower month of construction.

Jonathan Basile, director of economics at Credit Suisse, said more permits is a “good sign for broader economic activity” and should lead to an increase in construction in the coming months.

Yet the rate of construction and the level of permit requests remain only about half the pace considered healthy. Economists say the housing market has a long way to go before it is back to full health.

From wire dispatches and staff reports