Environment
4:27 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Sunken tugboat spills diesel fuel into Saginaw River

Many freighters require the assistance of tug boats along the Saginaw River. A recent tug boat sinking has spilled diesel fuel into the river.
flickr user ifmuth

The Bay City Times reports the tug boat sank early Monday spilling 800 gallons of diesel fuel.

It's reported that Grand Rapids-based Young's Environmental Cleanup Inc. and Mt. Clements-based HM Environmental Services are working to contain and clean up the spill.

The cause of the sinking won't be known until the tug is pulled from the river. Paul Luedtke of Luedtke Engineering, the company that owns the boat, said:

"We won't know until then and anything before then would just be speculation."

A crane will pull the tug from the water once the diesel spill is cleaned up.

Health
3:43 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

More teens using marijuana, fewer using alcohol

The University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has been conducting this study for 36 years.
United Nations Photo

The University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has been monitoring drug use among teens for 36 years. This year's "Monitoring the Future" study had responses from more than 46,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

They found that marijuana use is on the rise. 43.8% of 12th graders said they've used marijuana in their lifetime. That's up from 42% in 2009, and 42.6%  in 2008. From the study:

Marijuana use, which had been rising among teens for the past two years, continues to rise again this year—a sharp contrast to the considerable decline of the preceding decade

Alcohol use, on the other had has been decreasing. 54.1% of 12th graders said they'd been drunk in their lifetime. That's down from 56.5% in 2009, and 54.7% in 2008. From the study:

Alcohol use—and, specifically, occasions of heavy drinking—continues its long-term decline among teens into 2010, reaching historically low levels.

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Food
2:37 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Saccharin removed from EPA's bad list

Use those little pink packets to your heart's delight. Saccharin is off an EPA hazardous list.
William Hartz Flickr

I always thought twice before adding those little pink packets to my iced tea because a little voice in my head was telling me they were bad. No proof, just something I had heard somewhere.

As it turns out, saccharin WAS on EPA's hazardous constituent list. It's been on the list since 1980. The substance was put on the list because the EPA's Carcinogen Assessment Group listed it as a "potential human carcinogen."

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Opinion
1:21 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Commentary: Fixing Our Courts

Marilyn Kelly, who is now Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, has given her life to Michigan’s legal system.

Now in her last term on the bench, she doesn’t like a lot of what she has been seeing lately. Besides deciding cases, Michigan’s Supreme Court is charged with overseeing all the other courts.

And she fears that the public is losing respect for the judiciary, in part because of the way judges are chosen. Especially higher-level judges, those who sit on appellate and supreme courts.

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Arts/Culture
1:05 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Is it art? or Graffiti? or Both?

Lyrics from Paul Simon's "America" painted on an abandoned building in Saginaw
Gus Burns | The Saginaw News

Someone is writing Paul Simon lyrics on walls in Saginaw.   Why?  We don't know.    Why is this unknown Banksy wannabe quoting lyrics from Simon's song "America"?  We don't know that either.  But the song does mention Saginaw. 


Here's the story in the Saginaw News:

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Auto/Economy
12:48 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

The state of Michigan to help brownfield redevelopment

Inside the Packard Plant in Detroit.
Angelique DuLong

The state of Michigan will soon increase assistance to redevelop old industrial sites. 

The Associated Press reports:

Redevelopment projects in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hamtramck and Lansing are getting a boost with statetax incentives. 

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday the projects are in line for brownfield redevelopment assistance from the state. Granholm, who leaves office at the end of this year, made the announcement at her last scheduled meeting with the Michigan Economic Growth Authority board.

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Health
12:13 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Lice boutique tackles parasites (audio slideshow)

Most animals get some form of lice. We get these little beauties. A lice nit attached to hair.
Gilles San Martin - wikimedia

It's something a lot of parents dread. Lice in your kid's hair.

Pesticides in shampoo form is one way to tackle the problem, but some people go pesticide-free.

Kyle Norris filed a report on Rapunzel's Lice Boutique in Ann Arbor for the Environment Report. I tagged along with her with a camera when she visited a family getting a treatment and we put together this slide show:

Federal Courts
12:01 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Help Wanted: Federal Judge

There are two unique job openings in Detroit. How would you like to be a federal judge? The Associated Press reports:

 

Applications are available for people who want to become a federal judge in Detroit. 

Michigan

Sens

. Carl Levin and Debbie

Stabenow

are asking a committee to advise them on two openings. It will be chaired by Detroit lawyer Eugene Driker. 

There are openings at the federal court in Detroit because judges Bernard Friedman and Arthur Tarnow have chosen to take senior status, which can reduce their caseloads. 

Wayne County Judge David Allen recently withdrew his name after more than a year of delay. Levin and

Stabenow

had recommended him to President Barack Obama but he was never formally nominated.  

Allen says the confirmation process in the

U.S

. Senate is "broken."   

Applications from Levin's office are due Jan. 24.

Winter Weather
10:56 am
Tue December 14, 2010

Winter blast causing headaches for truck traffic between Michigan & Ontario

Whiteout conditions blanket Highway 402, OPP issue "red alert"

The blast of artic air that has enveloped the Great Lakes is causing major problems for truck traffic between Michigan and Ontario. Canadian officials have been forced to close Highway 402 which connects with the Blue Water bridge. Here are two reports on the situation in Ontario and in Port Huron:

Digital Journal reports:

A "red alert" issued by Emergency Management Ontario for the stretch of Hwy. 402 between London and Sarnia has been canceled but a state of emergency remains in force.

 680 News is reporting that three Canadian Forces military helicopters are now taking part in the rescue effort as hundreds remain stranded between the two cities.

 The radio station quotes OPP Const. Chrystal Jones: 

"Some of our OPP four-wheel drive vehicles were experiencing difficulties in the snow because again, the plows have not been out. And of course, vehicles have been abandoned in the middle of roadways, so they've become impassable."

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Arts/Culture
10:29 am
Tue December 14, 2010

Detroit Symphony Orchestra cancels concerts through end of the year

Zuu Mumu Entertainment/Creative Commons

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has announced that it is canceling concerts through the rest of the year because of the continued strike by the orchestra's musicians.

The Associated Press reports:

The orchestra on Monday announced that the Home for the Holidays concerts scheduled for Thursday through Sunday as well as a December 21st concert featuring Canadian Brass had been cancelled. A Manhattan Transfer Christmas concert at Orchestra Hall still is scheduled for Tuesday night.

The DSO musicians have been on strike since October 4th due to a dispute over pay cuts with the DSO management.  Last week, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra reported a $6.7 million budget shortfall for the 2010 fiscal year.

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Auto/Economy
10:03 am
Tue December 14, 2010

GM offering buyouts

A view from GM's Renaissance Center
Santosh Krishnan

GM is offering some of its employees a buyout this Christmas. The buyout offer will target at 8 assembly plants in Michigan. 

The Associated Press reports:

General Motors is offering buyouts to several thousand skilled trades workers at 14 plants around the U.S. 

The automaker will pay eligible workers $60,000 to retire with full benefits. Younger workers will have the option to take the $60,000 in exchange for giving up retiree health care and other benefits.   GM spokesman Chris Lee didn't know how many workers will get the offers.

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News roundup
7:46 am
Tue December 14, 2010

In this morning's news...

Lawmakers to Make Unexpected Trip Back to Lansing

It appears that this year’s lame duck legislative session isn’t done after all.  Though lawmakers declared an end to session on December 3rd, it turns out both the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate will return to the Capitol tomorrow.  But, as the Associated Press reports, neither chamber are expected to take up any controversial measures including teacher-tenure reform and insurance coverage for autism treatments.

Flint Crime Hits Horrible Statistic

The city of Flint recorded its 62nd murder of the year on Monday, that broke Flint’s previous record of 61 murders in one year set back in 1986, Steve Carmody reports. To make matters worse, the city has issued layoff notices to about a hundred employees, including 20 police officers. The layoffs are intended to help reduce the city’s projected $5 million budget deficit.  

Snyder Appoints Familiar Name to Head MEDC

Govenror-elect Rick Snyder announced Doug Rothwell will lead the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in his new administration.  It’ll be a familiar job for Rothwell as he headed the MEDC in the 1990’s when then Governor John Engler created the agency.  Rothwell is currently President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of 75 CEOs in the state.  In a show of bipartisanship support, outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm stood by Snyder’s side when he made the announcement.

It’s COLD Out There

Parts of Lower Michigan will get hit with single-digit temperatures today.  National Weather Service officials say the wind chill could make it feel like 10 degrees below zero in parts of the state.  The cold temps come after Sunday and Monday’s severe winter storm that left more than 150,000 people without power.  At least eight deaths in the state are being blamed on the storm.

Governor-elect
7:20 am
Tue December 14, 2010

Snyder names key members of jobs team

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Republican Governor-elect Rick Snyder continues to name new members of his incoming administration. 

Yesterday, Snyder announced that Doug Rothwell would lead the Michigan Economic Development Coporation.  As Rick Pluta reports, it will be Rothwell’s second turn at the job. He was the MEDC’s first director after Governor John Engler created the agency in the 1990s. Rothwell is currently the President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of the state's top 75 CEO's.

In a show of bipartisanship, outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm stood next to Snyder as he made the announcement.

State Legislature
7:00 am
Tue December 14, 2010

They're back... Lawmakers to make a (quick) trip back to Lansing

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston/Flickr

Well, it appears that state lawmakers aren't quite done with this year's lame duck legislative session.

It's been announced that both the Democrat-led House and Republican-led Senate will convene at the state Capitol tomorrow.  The news comes after lawmakers declared their two-year session was done on December 3rd.

However, the Associated Press reports, that neither chamber is expected to take up any controversial issues:

The House is expected to deal with legislation cracking down on human trafficking and a few other issues. The Senate will deal with bills that can't be sent to GovernorJennifer Granholm because they didn't get an immediate effect vote or because they were changed by the House. Lawmakers aren't expected to take up insurance coverage for autism, teacher tenure rules or other sensitive subjects that were left unaddressed before adjourning earlier this month.

Detroit
6:40 am
Tue December 14, 2010

Financial Manager of Detroit Public Schools to stay on job until June

DPS Financial Manager Robert Bobb
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Robert Bobb, the state appointed Emergency Financial Manager of Detroit Public Schools, will stay on the job through the end of the school year.  Bobb was appointed to the position by outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm.  Bobb's one-year contract ends in March.

According to a spokesman for Governor-elect Rick Snyder, a deal has been worked out to keep Bobb on the job through June.

The Associated Press reports:

Detroit Public Schools spokesman Steve Wasko says the extra 120 days gives Bobb more time to work out a "fully smooth transition" to the next emergency manager or a new superintendent.

Transportation funding
6:20 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

MDOT officials not sweating matching funds for rail, yet

Picture of an AVE Spain High Speed Rail Train at Cordoba Railway Station, Spain.
Creative Commons

Efforts to raise enough money to bring a high speed rail project to Michigan aren’t over just because this legislative session is. Bills were introduced last month to sell bonds in order to raise $45 million in support of the project. The matching money is needed to secure a little more than $161 million in federal grants. But state senate did not take action on the bills before ending the lame duck session last week.

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Sports
6:07 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Football fans swarm Detroit

Downtown Detroit is abuzz with Monday night football fever this evening. But they’re not talking about the Lions.

 

Ford Field is hosting a game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings.

 

Their game was cancelled when snow collapsed the roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome Sunday.

 

Fans lined up for free tickets beginning early Monday morning, but the crowd was so big the box office stopped giving them away around mid-morning.

 

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Auto/Economy
6:03 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Thousands seek utility assistance in Detroit

Thousands of DTE Energy customers came to Detroit’s Cobo Hall looking for help today (Monday). The utility hosted its third “customer assistance day” there.

DTE Vice President Joyce Hayes Giles says the event is a “one-stop shop” to match customers with government and non-profit utility assistance programs.

Hayes Giles says the high turnout isn’t surprising. 

“It speaks to the need in our community. But it also speaks to the fact that we’re going to help a number of customers and we’re really pleased to be able to do that.”

 

Hayes Giles says DTE also raised more than a million dollars for its own customer assistance program. That money will be refunded to qualified DTE customers as credits on their monthly bill.

Flint Struggles with Violent Crime
5:47 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Flint moving ahead with police layoffs, after city breaks murder rate record

Flint has set a new record for murders in the city in a single year.   


This comes at a time when the city plans to lay off 20 police officers later this week. 


Flint recorded its 62nd murder of the year on Monday.  That broke Flint’s previous record of 61 murders in a year set back in 1986, when the city of Flint was much larger.  There are no suspects in Flint’s 62nd homicide of the year. 


And beginning Friday, there will be fewer police officers in Flint. 

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Economy
4:48 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

More Michigan residents seek help at homeless shelters this winter

More Michigan residents are seeking help at homeless shelters and warming centers this winter.
SamPac creative commons

More Michigan families are seeking out homeless shelters and warming centers this winter. And the need will likely continue to increase as temperatures fall below zero.

The HOPE Hospitality and Warming Center in Pontiac is a place people can go for a warm meal, a blanket and a spot on the floor to sleep during the winter months.

Elizabeth Kelly is HOPE's executive director. She says in addition to the core group of chronically homeless the shelter usually serves, she’s also seen an increase in the number of families seeking shelter: 

"These are people finding themselves in a homeless condition for the first time in their lives or its just not something that’s typically happened to them before."

 

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