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Arts & Culture
5:21 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Funk Brothers bass player Bob Babbitt dead at 74

Bob Babbitt with Joan Baez
Bob Babbitt bobbabbitt.com

DETROIT (AP) - Prominent Motown studio musician and Funk Brothers member Bob Babbitt has died. He was 74.

Motown Museum chief curator Lina Stephens says the bassist died Monday in Nashville, Tenn.

Babbitt's son Joe Kreinar tells The Detroit News his father had been in a hospice and had brain cancer.

Babbitt was born Robert Kreinar in Pittsburgh. He and the Funk Brothers provided a rhythmically and melodically rich background for many Motown hits.

Babbitt laid down bass lines on Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," the Temptations' "Ball of Confusion," "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye and Edwin Starr's "War."

Well-known for decades among musicians, Babbitt gained wider public recognition through the 2002 film about the Funk Brothers, "Standing in the Shadows of Motown."

Business
2:38 pm
Sun July 15, 2012

Michigan losing $242M in untaxed online sales

New books
Flickr/Sarah Sosiak

Michigan's Treasury Department says the state will lose about $242 million in tax revenue from Amazon and other online retailers.

States have trouble collecting sales taxes from sellers that don't have a physical presence within their borders. Amazon owns Grand-Haven-based audio book publisher Brilliance Audio, but Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says Michigan considers it a separate entity.

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Law
10:47 am
Sun July 15, 2012

Hutaree militia member to be sentenced on weapons charge next month

Joshua Clough (mug shot)
US Justice Department

DETROIT (AP) - Prosecutors agree that a man who was a member of a southern Michigan militia shouldn't be sent to prison when he returns to court for his sentence next month.

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Politics & Government
5:05 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

Health care legislation may be on the agenda for state lawmakers

State Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and his fellow Republicans could find themselves knee-deep in health care issues Wednesday when lawmakers briefly return after a five-week break.

Snyder needs to get reluctant House Republicans on board with his efforts to create an online site where individuals and small businesses can comparison shop for private health insurance.

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Politics & Government
5:00 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

Remembering President Gerald Ford

President Gerald R. Ford
Official White House portrait

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - An annual wreath-laying ceremony has been held to remember former President Gerald Ford at a West Michigan museum bearing his name.

Relatives and friends of the Ford family attended Saturday's ceremony at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, where Ford and his wife are buried.

Gerald Ford died in 2006. The ceremony also was to include a remembrance of former first lady Betty Ford, who died last year.

The wreath-laying is held each year to mark Gerald Ford's birthday. He would have been 99 on Saturday.

Environment & Science
2:14 pm
Sat July 14, 2012

2 sturgeon found washed ashore off Lake Huron

Lake Sturgeon
MI DNR website

The Times Herald in Port Huron reports that a Lakeport resident found a 3-foot-long sturgeon this week on a beach.

 The newspaper reports that a 4-foot-long sturgeon also washed ashore in Fort Gratiot, northeast of Detroit.

Michigan Natural Resources fisheries biologist Mike Thomas says it's not unheard of for small numbers of the fish to wash up in one week, but he is "kind of watching what's going on."

Politics & Government
11:39 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Detroit financial board OKs plan for union cuts

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
Mayor Dave Bing Facebook.com

A board created to help Detroit Mayor Dave Bing repair the city's broken finances has approved his plan to make more than $100 million in cuts to the unionized workforce.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press report the financial advisory board took its first major steps toward restructuring the city's finances yesterday. The plan calls for putting in place savings that include a 10 percent wage cut and significant changes to health care and work rules.

Most are similar to tentative agreements reached earlier this year with unions.

The City Council is expected to consider the plan next week, but the financial board can implement the actions without council's approval.

The nine-member board was formed under a consent agreement between the city and state.

Economy
3:23 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Report: Black unemployment down in metro Detroit

Shawn Wilson Wikimedia Commons

A new report says African American unemployment fell last year in metro Detroit, even as it remains well above the unemployment rate for white workers in the same region.

The Economic Policy Institute says African Americans in the Detroit area had an 18.1 percent jobless rate in 2011, down from 25.4 percent the year before.

This 7.3 percent decline in Detroit, Warren and Livonia's  collective unemployment rates was by far the largest decrease in African American unemployment by percentage in any of the 19 metropolitan areas the report studied. 

However, the report found last year's lowered African American unemployment rate in metro Detroit still sat 2.2 percent above the respective national rate of 15.9 percent.

In fact, the region has the fourth highest African American unemployment rate nationally, trailing metropolitan Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The report also says the gap between white and black unemployment was smaller in Detroit than the nation as a whole. It says African Americans were 1.8 times more likely than whites to be unemployed in the Detroit area, while they were 2.2 times more likely nationwide.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics & Government
11:47 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Grand Rapids lawyer Miles is new US prosecutor

Patrick Miles Jr., the newly appointed U.S. prosecutor for west Michigan
Pat Miles for Congress Wikimedia Commons

Western Michigan has a new top federal prosecutor.

Patrick Miles Jr. took the oath of office today at the federal courthouse in Grand Rapids. He's a 44-year-old Grand Rapids lawyer who was nominated by President Barack Obama and recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate. 

The U.S. attorney's office in western Michigan has not been led by a White House appointee for more than five years. Obama first nominated Michigan lottery chief M. Scott Bowen for U.S. attorney, but the Senate never acted and Bowen remains in state government.

The office has been in the hands of Don Davis since fall 2008. He's been a federal prosecutor in Grand Rapids for more than 35 years.

The Western District of Michigan consists of 49 counties, including all of the Upper Peninsula.

Education
10:04 am
Sat July 7, 2012

Teachers face uncertain futures in three Michigan school districts

DETROIT (AP) - Teachers in three school districts run by the state are laid off with many not knowing if they'll have jobs when classes begin.

Charter operators have yet to be selected to run new systems in Muskegon Heights and Highland Park.

State-appointed emergency managers have shopped Muskegon Heights in West Michigan and Highland Park near Detroit to charter operators as part of plans to pull the cash-strapped districts from near-fiscal ruin.

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Environment & Science
10:00 am
Sat July 7, 2012

Hunt for Asian Carp resumes near Lake Michigan

Juvenile silver carp, seen here, can grow up to weigh 100 pounds.
user MirkoB Wikimedia Commons

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Authorities plan another intensive search for Asian carp next week after repeatedly detecting DNA from the invasive fish in Chicago's Lake Calumet.

Officials said Friday that genetic material from silver carp was found in samples taken in May and June. Policy requires stepped-up efforts to find the fish whenever their DNA turns up during three consecutive rounds of sampling in the same area.

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Offbeat
9:59 am
Sat July 7, 2012

Another hot day without electricity for many Michiganders

DETROIT (AP) - Utility workers are battling high temperatures as they work to restore electricity to tens of thousands of Michigan homes and businesses without power following thunderstorms this week.

DTE Energy said early Saturday about 45,000 of its customers were without power, mostly in Oakland and Wayne counties. Consumers Energy reported about 23,700 of its customers without power.

Most of those without electricity lost service after storms late Wednesday and Thursday. DTE says most of its customers should have power back by Saturday night.

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Transportation
11:18 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Acid spill snarls traffic on M-14

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Authorities say a truck hauling acid rolled over in the Ann Arbor area, prompting a response by hazardous materials crews and closing a highway.

The driver was taken to a hospital following the Friday morning crash with shoulder and ankle injuries. No other injuries were reported.

The crash on westbound M-14 closed the highway in both directions as hazardous material crews worked to clean up the spill, prompting traffic backups.

Education
3:58 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Union chief: new Detroit teachers' deal is 'farce'

The head of the Detroit Federation of Teachers has sent a memo to members saying union leadership wants the public school district's emergency manager to present a contract - imposed without negotiations - to the rank and file.

The memo by union president Keith Johnson calls the agreement "a farce" and that it makes deeper cuts into benefits and working conditions.

Emergency manager Roy Roberts announced the new deal on Sunday.

Johnson says Roberts used "the full power" of the state's year-old emergency manager law in crafting the deal.

He says teachers have to pay more for dental coverage and generic prescription co-pays. Life insurance has been cut by $5,000, and teachers now only get unemployment compensation for time off of work as a result of assaults from students or parents.

Economy
2:46 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Feds to auction Lafayette Towers in Detroit

Mies van der Rohe Residential District. The foreclosed Lafayette Towers, seen on the right, will be auctioned off later this month.
user Mikerussell Wikimedia Commons

The Detroit landmark Lafayette Towers has fallen into foreclosure and is set to be auctioned by federal authorities in two weeks.

The Detroit News says financial details were not immediately available in the notice posted by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.

Successful bidders on the luxury high-rise will need to post more than $2.5 million in escrow for an estimated $10 million in repairs required to be completed in 18 months.

The apartment towers were constructed in the 1960s. The two 22-story, river-view buildings contain 584 units located on nearly 10 acres in the Mies van der Rohe Residential District.

The auction is set for 10 a.m. July 18 in the first floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

Politics & Government
12:15 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Michigan campaign donation cap stands, appeals court says

user tobym Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A federal appeals court won't upset a decision that keeps limits on campaign contributions for Michigan House and Senate races.

The court says a federal judge in Grand Rapids made the right call when she refused to issue an injunction. Republican political strategist Greg McNeilly says the limits hurt his free-speech rights. He's challenging the $500 cap for state House candidates and $1,000 maximum donation to state Senate candidates.

The appeals court said Tuesday that Michigan's restrictions still don't seem to stop challengers from running competitive campaigns.

In 2010, Judge Janet Neff refused to issue an injunction two months before the general election. She says the law has been in place for decades.

Health
2:39 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Health care law already has had effect in Michigan

user mconnors MorgueFile.com

Hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents already have benefited from the health care law passed in 2009, according to the federal government. Some examples:

  •  More than 23,000 Michigan seniors and people with disabilities have saved $17.6 million this calendar year on prescription drugs because of the law, an average of $757 per person. The money goes to help residents with medical costs after they hit the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap, the so-called "doughnut hole."
  • More than a half-million Michigan seniors have received a free preventive health care service so far this year.
  • Around 1.8 million residents now receive preventative services with no co-pay.
  • Around 57,000 more young adults in Michigan under the age of 26 are on their parents' health insurance plans.
  • Around 7,000 small businesses get federal tax credits for offering health insurance to their employees.
  • Six Michigan health centers have been awarded $3.7 million from the federal government to help expand access to care for 59,431 additional patients.
  • Around 114,000 Michigan residents will get $13.9 million in rebates from insurance companies this summer because of a rule that requires insurance companies give rebates if they don't spend at least 80 percent of consumers' premiums on medical care and quality improvement. The rebates will average $214 for 65,000 Michigan families.
Law
2:01 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Appeals Court says Mich. 5-year welfare limit OK

The Michigan Court of Appeals
Mike Russell Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Court of Appeals says state officials can take away welfare benefits under a five-year federal limit even if recipients still qualify for cash assistance under state law.

The ruling released today overturns a Genesee Circuit Court decision that state Human Services Director Maura Corrigan lacked authority to enforce the five-year limit.

Michigan has its own four-year limit, but it doesn't count months where someone with a disability can't work or where family members are caring for a disabled spouse or child and can't hold an outside job.

The Appeals Court also says Corrigan violated the Administrative Procedures Act where state funds were involved.

The Department of Human Services is reviewing the opinion. A message seeking comment was left for the Center for Civil Justice, which brought the suit.

Law
11:57 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Appeals court strikes down Michigan stun gun ban

user jasonesbain wikimedia commons

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan appeals court says the state can't stop people from owning stun guns.

A three-judge panel at the court says the Michigan and U.S. constitutions allow people to bear arms. The court says a total prohibition on stun guns can't stand.

The decision released Wednesday involved cases from Bay City and Muskegon. In Bay City, a store employee was carrying a stun gun while he worked behind the counter. In Muskegon, a stun gun was seized from a man at his home.

A new Michigan law that takes effect in August would allow people to have stun guns if they also have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. That law was not at issue in the cases at the appeals court.

Economy
7:16 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Gov. Snyder approves loans for weather-wracked Michigan farmers

Gov. Rick Snyder, (R) Michigan
governor's office

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has approved loans to Michigan fruit farmers who sustained an estimated $210 million in losses following rough spring weather. 

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