The Associated Press

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he's recommending $14.7 million in federal aid to build a 9.6-mile bus rapid transit line in Grand Rapids.

LaHood said in a statement Tuesday that the line will offer fast and efficient access to the western Michigan city's central business district and relieve congestion.

LaHood says the project is part of President Barack Obama's budget for the 2013 fiscal year. The budget sent to Congress on Monday includes $2.2 billion in funding for 29 major rail and bus
rapid transit projects in 15 states.

LaHood says the budget would fund the Grand Rapids Interurban Transit partnership for a new Silver Line BRT system. It would run along Division Avenue from the Grand Rapids central business
district to 60th Street at Division Avenue.

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) - The 19-year-old niece of a Congressman from southwestern Michigan is on the cover of the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Kate Upton was born in Michigan but raised in Florida. Her uncle is Republican U.S. Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph.

The magazine cover was unveiled Monday.

Asked Tuesday about her selection as cover model, Fred Upton's office says it doesn't comment on family.

DSO

DETROIT (AP) - The Max Fisher Music Center will reopen for business after Orchestra Hall was damaged in a weekend methane gas explosion that sent several manhole covers flying into the air.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra says the Music Center will be open for business at 9 a.m. Tuesday and all events and concerts will resume as scheduled.

DSO officials say damage from the Sunday morning blast triggered by an underground cable failure was contained to a basement restroom of the original Orchestra Hall structure just north of downtown.

No injuries were reported.

The explosion forced Sunday's Sphinx 15 Finals Competition to be moved to the University of Michigan.

Tickets for Friday evening's Paradise Jazz Concert featuring Gretchen Parlato and Vijay Iyer, and this weekend's concerts featuring piano virtuoso Emanuel Ax, remain available.

Michigan State University wants the world to know that evolution science pioneer Charles Darwin was a rock star first.

The MSU Museum on Sunday afternoon presents its annual Darwin Discovery Day and this year's theme is "Darwin rocks!" It also marks the opening of a new exhibit entitled "It Started with a Rock Collection: Charles Darwin, Geologist."

Officials at the East Lansing museum say they have received a rock collection from the Shropshire Geological Society in England, where the young Darwin started his collection and scientific investigations.

Mark Brush / images from YouTube

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Donors have poured more than $150,000 into Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow's campaign in response to an ad run this week by GOP rival Pete Hoekstra.

The Hoekstra ad featured a young woman bicycling past a rice paddy and speaking in broken English as she thanks "Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow" for helping an unnamed Asian nation's economy improve.

The ad was criticized by Asian-American groups and others who found it racially insensitive.

Hoekstra's campaign began running a different ad Thursday that featured the U.S. Capitol and a
voiceover by Hoekstra.

Stabenow's campaign asked donors to help her raise $144,000 in response to Hoekstra's first ad, the amount his campaign planned to spend airing it.

Stabenow campaign officials report raising more than $150,000 as of Friday morning.

Michigan's archery season began this morning.
Charles Dawley / flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's new hunting program for children will start this year, with licenses on sale starting March 1.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced Friday that the Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved the program aimed at introducing children under the age of 10 to hunting and fishing.

It's called the Mentored Youth Hunting program.

A recent law eliminated the minimum hunting age, allowing kids under 10 to hunt with an adult who's at least 21 years old. Under the rules for the new youth program, the adult must have previous hunting experience and possess a valid Michigan hunting license.

A Mentored Youth Hunting license will cost $7.50. Details about hunting rules are posted on the DNR's website.

Federal safety regulators are investigating reports of fires in the driver's side doors of 2007 Toyota Camry sedans and RAV-4 crossover SUVs.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the problem could affect 830,000 vehicles.

The safety agency says in documents on its website that the fires appear to start in the power window switch on the door. Six fires have been reported to the agency. No one has been hurt.

The Camry is the top-selling car in the U.S., and the RAV-4 also is a consistent top seller for Toyota. The probe also includes the Solara, which is a coupe version of the Camry.

The investigation was opened Monday. It could lead to a recall, but there isn't one yet.

Michigan says it expects to get $790 million as part of a landmark $25 billion settlement with the nation's top mortgage lenders.

The office of Michigan's attorney general announced Thursday that the estimate is up from the about $500 million it said Tuesday was expected for joining the settlement. The deal was reached over foreclosure abuses that occurred after the housing bubble burst.

Officials say 49 states joined the settlement with five of the nation's biggest lenders. The deal will reduce loans for a fraction of those Americans who owe more than their homes are worth. It will also send checks to others who were improperly foreclosed upon.

user Alaskan Dude / Flickr

INDIAN RIVER, Mich. (AP) - A northern Lower Peninsula sled dog race has been cancelled because of a lack of snow.

The Cheboygan Daily Tribune reports the 2nd annual Indian River Sprint Dog Sled Race has been cancelled. Race Committee President Jane Schramm says it originally was set for Jan. 28-29 before being postponed until this Saturday and Sunday.

The original postponement was made because there was too much ice.

Warmer than usual weather and a lack of snow have led to the postponement or cancellation of several winter events recently in Michigan.

wikimedia commons

LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) - Federal regulators will let operators of the passenger ferry S.S. Badger apply for a permit to continue dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan.

The Badger typically puts more than 500 tons of waste ash into the lake every year during its crossings between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis. The Environmental Protection Agency previously set a December deadline for the company to stop the practice.

The Ludington Daily News reports that EPA on Tuesday told Badger operators they could apply to continue the dumping as they study ways to convert the ship to burn natural gas.

Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga tells The Muskegon Chronicle that the Badger is a historic vessel that provides jobs on both sides of the lake.

Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan also praised the EPA decision.

Cedar Bend Drive / Flickr

Legislation introduced in the Michigan House would generally prohibit doctors from performing abortions after a woman's 20th week of pregnancy.

The legislation introduced last week by Republican Rep. Eileen Kowall of Oakland County's White Lake Township is similar to laws approved in a handful of other states in the past few years. Supporters say the proposals are based on the premise that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, a claim that opponents dispute.

Opponents also say the proposals are a departure from Roe v. Wade, which lets states limit abortions in cases where there's a viable chance the fetus could survive outside of the womb. That's generally considered to be 22 and 24 weeks.

The Michigan proposal would provide exceptions for when the mother's life is at risk.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers are continuing votes aimed at reducing the number of probate, district and circuit court judgeships statewide through attrition.

The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a series of bills that would make some of the reductions. The measures return to the House.

Overall, the Legislature plans to trim an estimated 36 judgeships statewide. That includes legislation already signed by Gov. Rick Snyder that eliminates eight judgeships across the state.

Lawmakers originally had sought to reduce about 45 judgeships. The plan largely follows recommendations made last year by the State Court Administrative Office.

David Markland / Flickr

The Detroit Economic Club says Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to address the group a few days before Michigan's primary.

The club says in a posting on its website that Romney is scheduled to appear at a midday event Feb. 24 at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel.

Michigan's presidential primary is Feb. 28.

The club says a limited number of tickets will be available to attend the Michigan native's speech. Details are posted on the club's website.

washjeff.edu

DETROIT (AP) - A trial is getting under way in Detroit in a corruption case involving the repair of mail trucks.

Four U.S. Postal Service employees have pleaded guilty, but Greg Gorski of Canton Township is going to trial Monday. He's accused of accepting cash, sports tickets, a minivan and other payoffs from the owner of Metro Diesel in exchange for sending mail vehicles to the Detroit garage.

The indictment also accuses Gorski of receiving $500 in monthly gift cards for restaurants and gas stations.

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DETROIT (AP) - State Rep. Lisa L. Howze plans to run for Detroit mayor in 2013.

The Democrat announced Friday that she wouldn't seek reelection to her House seat this year and instead would run for mayor of Michigan's largest city.

Howze says her experience as a certified public accountant and finance professional would be key for the financially struggling city. She says her legislative experience in Lansing would be pivotal in gaining support that the city needs from the state.

The office of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing had no comment Friday on the announcement.

screen grab from YouTube video

DETROIT (AP) - Factory workers at Chrysler are getting $1,500 profit-sharing checks next month, a sign the automaker's turnaround is succeeding.

About 26,000 union-represented workers in the U.S. should get the payments, according to Chrysler's contract with the United Auto Workers union. The profit-sharing figure is based on an Associated Press analysis of company earnings, and the labor contract formula for profit-sharing.

Chrysler would not say how much the workers will get. But the formula in its new four-year contract with the UAW shows that the checks will be about $1,500. The checks are based on Chrysler's $2 billion operating profit for 2011, reported on Wednesday.

Chrysler reported full-year net income of $183 million, its first since 1997.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is questioning the approach of his fellow Republican governors in the upper Midwest.

He said in an interview with The Associated Press that their efforts to push through divisive legislation may make governing more difficult in the long run.

Snyder says he sees large protests in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana about anti-union laws as unfortunate. He says pushing the contentious legislation means those states will have overcome
divisiveness and hard feelings in the future.

Snyder spoke to the AP on Wednesday, while in Washington to a congressional committee about job creation.

Snyder says he prefers a consensus approach to governing. He says government should do what it can, find areas of agreement and get that done rather than focus on potentially divisive legislation.

Protestors outside the Indiana Capitol building when the "right-to-work" legislation passed earlier this year.
screen grab from video / The Statehouse File

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana is the first Rust Belt state to enact the contentious right-to-work labor law prohibiting labor contracts that require workers to pay union representation fees, after Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate approved the measure a few hours earlier Wednesday, following weeks of discord that saw House Democrats boycott the Legislature and thousands of protesters gather at the Statehouse.

(JTV)

Update 3:15 p.m. - Workers hope to reopen rail line tomorrow

10 people were injured today when an Amtrak train collided with a semi-truck between Ann Arbor and Jackson.   None of the injuries were life-threatening.

The accident derailed the train’s engine and two passenger cars.   The collision also heavily damaged the tracks and the crossing. 

But a company spokesman says they hope to reopen the line by tomorrow morning.

David Pidgeon is a spokesman for Norfolk-Southern, which owns and operates the railroad that runs across southern Michigan.

 “Six passenger trains a day use that particular line…and another four to five trains of freight (a day) also use that line," says Pidgeon, "So we need to get that line open…as safely and efficiently as possible.”

While the section of track is being repaired, passengers are making part of their trip by bus.

2:17 p.m. - 10 injured

MLive.com reports that "a total of 10 people were injured" in this morning's Amtrak derailment in Leoni Township.

Blackman-Leoni Township Public Safety Director Mike Jester said all were taken to Allegiance Health with non-life threatening injuries. Authorities had previously reported six injured.

11:50 a.m. - Passengers re-routed

A westbound Amtrak train collided with a truck this morning between Jackson and Ann Arbor.

There were no life-threatening injuries. The collision left the train’s engine on its side and knocked two passenger cars off the tracks.    

Marc Magliari is an Amtrak spokesman. He says  Amtrak will bus passengers around the crash site while repairs are under way. 

“Passengers who are ticketed …let’s say eastbound passed Jackson…would be taken by chartered motorcoach…to the Ann Arbor station where they’ll meet another train and continue on," says Magliari.

 It’s unclear how long it will take to remove the derailed train and repair the damage done to the rails. 

About a half million passengers rode on Amtrak’s Wolverine line last year. 

Here's video from the Jackson Citizen Patriot speaking with Blackman-Leoni Township Public Safety Director Mike Jester:

Photo courtesy of the Snyder Administration

Gov. Rick Snyder is heading to Washington to talk about jobs. He's scheduled to testify Wednesday morning before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce on ways to promote job creation.

Snyder and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy have been invited to talk about what's happening in their states and offer policy recommendations.

In December, Snyder unveiled a new state website aimed at matching residents with jobs by offering workers and employers one-stop shopping for career planning, job openings and education and training.

He's expected to recommend Wednesday that the federal government allow more foreign students to remain in the country after they obtain degrees from American universities. President Barack Obama also wants to lift some visa caps so more high-skilled foreign workers can stay and work.

Richardo Giaviti / Flickr

President Barack Obama is expected to visit the Washington Auto Show on Tuesday.

Obama sometimes calls his decision to rescue General Motors and Chrysler a tough choice that saved jobs in an important industry.

The auto show will give him another forum to talk about GM and Chrysler, along with the administration's attention to manufacturers and efforts to boost fuel efficiency standards.

The president's advisers view the auto bailout as a potential point of contrast with Republican Mitt Romney, who opposed Obama's decision to pour billions of dollars into the companies.

During his State of the Union address last week, Obama said the auto industry has hired tens of thousands of workers, and he predicted the Detroit turnaround could take root elsewhere.

ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP) - Oakland University says a donor who has requested anonymity is giving $21 million to the school to help enhance students' academic experiences.

The Rochester school said Monday that university President Gary Russi announced the donation in an email to the campus community. Russi says it's the largest single planned and cash gift from an individual in Oakland University history.

Russi says the gifts "will touch the lives of hundreds of student and faculty for generations to come."

DETROIT (AP) - Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert says his venture capital firm is buying downtown Detroit's historic Federal Reserve Building.

Gilbert said Monday that he hasn't landed a tenant for the 176,000 square-foot building but believes it's ideal for one occupant. The original building was constructed in 1927 and an eight-story annex was added in 1951.

The purchase price wasn't disclosed for the building, which has been vacant since 2004.

In the past year, Gilbert's Rock Ventures LLC has bought nine buildings, three parking structures and one lot with an aim to create an entrepreneurially focused, technology district.

The Cleveland Cavaliers owner made the announcement from the M@dison Building, a five-story structure Rock Ventures bought and spent $12 million renovating. Other holdings include the Chase Tower and First National Building.

WASHINGTON (AP) - One of the nation's largest consumer debt buyers will pay a $2.5 million civil fine to settle deception allegations.

The Federal Trade Commission says Michigan-based Asset Acceptance agreed to the penalty and to changes in the way it collects debt.

The company buys unpaid debts from credit card companies, health clubs and others. The FTC alleged that Asset tried to collect debt in some cases that wasn't even owed. In other cases, the FTC says the company told consumers they owed a debt that may have been too old to collect because it was past the statute of limitations.

As part of the proposed settlement, Asset Acceptance will have to tell consumers that their debt may be too old to be legally enforceable and that it won't sue to collect.

DETROIT (AP) - Federal safety regulators have stepped up their investigation into Jeep Liberty air bags after 50 people reported they were hurt when the air bags inflated without a crash happening.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started investigating Liberty SUVs from the 2002 and 2003 model years in September. It was upgraded to a full engineering analysis last week.

Documents on the agency website say Chrysler and regulators have gotten 87 complaints of air bags going off by surprise. Nearly 387,000 vehicles are under investigation.

Drivers reported burns, cuts and bruises.

Safety regulators say the air bag computer may fail due to an electrical voltage spike.

The company says no incidents have happened in vehicles made after March 19, 2003. But regulators say Chrysler can't explain that.

A poll says voters are about evenly divided over whether Michigan should keep or repeal its new law extending the use of state-appointed emergency managers for communities and school districts facing financial problems.

The poll released Sunday shows 45 percent of the Michigan voters questioned say they would vote to repeal the new law, while 42 percent would vote to keep it.

The state is considering whether to name an emergency financial manager for Detroit. Fifty percent of those questioned say Michigan should negotiate with Detroit officials, while 31 percent say it should appoint a manager.

Lansing-based EPIC-MRA polled 600 likely voters by phone Jan. 21-25 for the Detroit Free Press  and WXYZ-TV. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

DETROIT (AP) - A Veterans Affairs conference this summer in Detroit is expected to bring $3 million of spending to the area.

The National Veterans Small Business Conference will be held June 25-29 at Cobo Center. Organizers say more than 6,000 veterans, business owners and federal employees are expected to attend.

Nearly 5,000 people attended the conference last year in New Orleans.

Mayor Dave Bing and Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff John Gingrich announced the conference  Wednesday. Gingrich says the conference and a hiring fair "will provide veterans with on-the-spot job opportunities and interviews" in the public and private sectors.

A partnership of federal agencies and private industry attracted more than 4,100 veterans and resulted in over 2,600 on-the-spot interviews and more than 500 tentative job offers earlier this month in Washington D.C.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Attorney General Bill Schuette wants Michigan to use part of its expected state government budget surplus to hire at least 1,000 law enforcement officers.

The Republican says that communities across the state need more police staffing. He was holding an event Wednesday in Lansing to promote the idea.

The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards says the state has lost more than 3,000 law enforcement positions since 2001.

State budget officials say there's an unanticipated surplus of $457 million left over from the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

There will be competition for the money. Democrats want the cash to offset some recent cuts to public education funding, while Republicans say much of it should be put in savings or used to pay off long-term financial obligations.

Ifmuth / Flickr

A published report says state law requires the cash-strapped city of Detroit to cut its income tax rates starting July 1 unless the Legislature steps in.

The Detroit Free Press reports Wednesday the requirement is from a 1998 law that was part of a deal to preserve a state revenue-sharing payment and would total about $8.5 million.

The newspaper cited an analysis from the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

Detroit sought a waiver from a state administrative board in December but was denied. Mayor Dave Bing says he will seek legislative help again because the city needs to keep "every
dollar" it can get.

A state-appointed review team is working to determine whether a financial emergency exists in Detroit, a step that could lead to an emergency manager.

Plans call for a $245 million American Indian casino in downtown Lansing that backers say could create about 2,200 jobs.

The Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News report that the Kewadin casino would be built near the Lansing Center and owned by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Mayor Virg Bernero says it would improve the viability of the convention center and fund scholarships for Lansing public school students. The 125,000-square-foot facility would offer up to 3,000 slot machines and 48 gambling tables.

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