The Associated Press

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Politics
6:54 pm
Sun April 29, 2012

Levin visits Afghanistan & Turkey

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee says Chairman Carl Levin and member Jack Reed are visiting Afghanistan, Turkey and NATO headquarters in Belgium starting this weekend.

The committee announced the trip Sunday by the two Democratic lawmakers. Levin is from Michigan and Reed is from Rhode Island.

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Education
2:56 pm
Sun April 29, 2012

New anti-bullying book

Students at Michigan State University have published a book about bullying in the age of social media. The book is a project of an advanced undergraduate journalism course on the East Lansing campus.

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Arts/Culture
3:39 pm
Sat April 28, 2012

Detroit students' work on exhibit at art institute

(courtesy of the DIA)

DETROIT (AP) — Paintings, prints, drawings, photography, ceramics and other pieces of art created by Detroit Public Schools students are on display in an exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The 75th annual exhibition began Saturday. It runs through June 3. Viewing is free with regular museum admission.

The artists and their parents attended an opening reception Saturday afternoon.

Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts said at the reception it was "incredible" to "see these young people express themselves and find their voices."

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Economy
1:26 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

Michigan tells 13,000 low-income families they still could qualify for benefits

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan officials are sending letters to 13,000 low-income families who have lost cash assistance because they hit a five-year federal limit telling them they may still qualify for benefits under state law.

The notices will explain how families can reapply for monthly checks.

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Geoffrey Neithercut ruled last month that recipients can't be cut off once they reach the five-year federal limit if they haven't also reached the state limit.

Michigan's four-year limit doesn't include months where a parent is needed at home to care for a disabled child or other family member. Those months count under the federal limit.

The Michigan Supreme Court declined to immediately hear an appeal. The state Department of Human Services has asked the Michigan Court of Appeals to reverse Neithercut's decision.

Flint
7:48 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Flint emergency manager imposes contract changes

Sean Marshall Flickr

Flint's state-appointed emergency financial manager has imposed concessions on two union contracts and pushed through a new city budget for the city.

The Flint Journal reports the changes were among a dozen orders issued Wednesday by Michael Brown.

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Business
2:09 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

Groups protest outside GE shareholder meeting in Detroit

user Bubba73 wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) - About two dozen people chanting "pay your fair share" were escorted from the General Electric Co. shareholder meeting in Detroit's Renaissance Center as more than 1,000 others picketed outside the downtown building.

Organizers said Wednesday morning's protest was part of the "99 percent" movement and a call for GE and others in corporate America to pay a fair share in taxes.

The crowd later marched onto nearby Jefferson Avenue, where traffic was temporarily blocked. Detroit police, including some on horseback, monitored the demonstration. No arrests were reported.

GE spokesman Gary Sheffer has said GE's 2011 U.S. income tax rate of 25 percent has been paid.

Politics
7:12 am
Wed April 25, 2012

Michigan Air National Guard Bases may not be losing jobs

U.S. Air Force personnel from 110th Air Lift Wing boarding a C-130 prior to their departure in support of the Operation Readiness Training, Air National Guard base, Battle Creek, Mich., June 6, 2011.
(courtesy of the Michigan Guard)

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Sander Levin says he's hopeful that a Pentagon decision to add 24 C-130 air transport planes will offset sharp job cuts planned at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recommended Tuesday that the military budget the Air National Guard planes and the 2,200 personnel needed to support them.

Levin says the announcement "is a positive step in the battle for equitable treatment of the guard." The Royal Oak Democrat says he'll press to see that the C-130s are based at Selfridge, 20 miles northeast of Detroit in Macomb County's Harrison Township.

The Obama administration budget for fiscal year 2013 now calls for cutting a net 450 part-time and 200 full-time jobs at Selfridge with the relocation of two-dozen A-10 Thunderbolt II air-to-ground attack aircraft.

Science/Medicine
6:34 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Michigan State University physics project gets a boost

(courtesy of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow say a Senate subcommittee has significantly increased the recommended annual funding for a planned $600 million physics research facility at Michigan State University.

The Michigan Democrats said Tuesday that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water has budgeted $30 million in the 2013 fiscal year for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

That's up from $22 million that President Barack Obama recommended Feb. 13 in his budget proposal. About $55 million in funding was stipulated by the original agreement.

Michigan State won a national competition to land the project in December 2008, and design work is under way.

Levin and Stabenow say construction of the facility will create about 5,000 construction jobs, with 400 permanent jobs after completion.

Medicine
3:51 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Health care group wants to reopen parts of Cheboygan Memorial Hospital

Cheyboygan Memorial Hospital

CHEBOYGAN, Mich. (AP) - A spokesman for McLaren Health Care Corp. says the health care system has to go before a bankruptcy court judge before it can reopen the emergency room and most outpatient services at Cheboygan Memorial Hospital in northern Michigan.

Kevin Tompkins said Tuesday that Flint-based McLaren has reached an agreement with the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services - a first step in reopening portions of Cheboygan Memorial.

McLaren could go before the bankruptcy court next week. If approved, the reopening process and hiring of staff will start immediately.

The hospital closed unexpectedly April 3 after a sale to McLaren fell through. The Michigan Nurses Association said Monday night that McLaren has formed a partnership with Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey to obtain tentative federal approval.

Auto/Economy
10:14 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Ford Motor Company's credit rating gets an upgrade

(file photo)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. says its credit rating has been restored to investment grade by the Fitch Ratings agency.

The automaker's debt has been at junk status since 2005. The company had to mortgage its factories and other assets to borrow billions in order to stay out of bankruptcy.

Ford issued this statement:   

“We are very pleased with today’s decision by Fitch. It is an important proof point of the continued progress the Ford team is making with our One Ford plan. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on driving profitable growth for all of our stakeholders. In fact, our One Ford plan includes achieving strong investment grade ratings and maintaining investment grade throughout an economic cycle."

Company spokesman Jay Cooney says Ford's assets will be released as collateral once a second ratings agency boosts the company's credit rating.

Detroit
10:33 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Detroit mayor wants to layoff 2500 city employees

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Dave Hogg Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has laid out a budget proposal that would cut more than 2,500 jobs and shave $250 million from the city's annual expenses.

Bing's Chief Operating Officer Chris Brown told City Council members Monday the layoffs would be in addition to 1,000 job cuts Bing sought earlier. Brown says the city's general fund revenues will decrease from $820.5 million to $739 million.

Detroit has an accumulated budget deficit of $265 million and $13.2 billion in long-term, structural debt and is trying to fix its finances after agreeing to state oversight Bing's budget proposal also calls for privatizing the city's bus system and transferring its lighting department to an independent authority.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press say $75 million would go toward the city's accumulated deficit.

Politics
6:37 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Gov. Snyder set to talk about Detroit's economic future

Michigan Municipal League Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder is coming to Detroit to discuss the economic future of Michigan's largest city. Snyder is participating in an event Monday sponsored by Crain's Detroit Business and being held at the Max Fisher music center, home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Snyder's office says the governor will participate in a "working group session," then deliver public remarks.

Snyder and Detroit officials recently reached a deal that created a joint oversight panel to monitor the city's efforts to close its budget deficit. The panel was a compromise that froze the state's move toward appointment of an emergency financial manager.

Detroit has lost most of its population and jobs over six decades, going from 1.8 million residents in the 1950 U.S. Census to 713,000 in 2010.

Detroit
2:02 pm
Sun April 22, 2012

Detroit fire boss: Let vacant buildings burn down

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit's fire boss suggests his department could adjust to a looming 15 percent budget cut by letting some abandoned buildings burn to the ground and using firefighters and even Navy Seabees to demolish vacant structures.

Executive Fire Commissioner Donald Austin says he's creating three proposals for Mayor Dave Bing to consider in making deep reductions from the current budget year's $183 million spending plan.

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Environment
2:13 pm
Sat April 21, 2012

EPA accepting Great Lakes grant applications

Flickr user/I'm Such a Child

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will award $20 million in grants this year for projects to help the Great Lakes.

EPA officials recently invited states, cities, Indian tribes, universities and nonprofit groups to apply for the grants, which will come from money Congress appropriated under the Obama administration's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The projects will focus on issues such as invasive species, toxic pollution and runoff from farms and cities.

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Detroit
4:09 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Detroit Mayor Bing says he'll be back in the office by end of the month

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Dave Hogg Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he's at least 80 percent healed from major surgery and plans to return to city hall on April 30.

Bing had surgery for a perforated intestine in late March and then returned to the hospital on April 4 because of blood clots in his lungs. His health problems occurred while the city and the state of Michigan were working on an extraordinary deal to fix Detroit's finances.

The 68-year-old mayor said during a conference call Friday the only thing holding him back is the healing of his incision. Bing says he lost 12 pounds because of restrictions on what he could eat.

A deal between Detroit and the state calls for a chief financial officer, a program manager and a nine-member board to oversee spending.

Politics
10:56 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Michigan House debates proposed election law changes

The Michigan House of Representatives
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Lawmakers in the Michigan House are debating proposed election law changes, including one that would require a voter to present a photo ID when applying for an absentee ballot in person.

The bills have passed the Republican-led Senate but Democrats object to some provisions. Democrats and a representative of the League of Women Voters told the House Redistricting and Elections Committee on Tuesday the proposals would create a barrier to voting for some residents, such as those who don't have driver's licenses.

Absentee voters could sign affidavits saying they don't have the ID and still pick up ballots, but those ballots could be challenged.

Another bill would require a photo ID or a birth certificate when registering to vote.

Supporters of the proposals say the requirements would protect against fraud.

State Legislature
6:52 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Michigan lawmakers return; budget high priority

Cedar Bend Drive Flickr

Michigan lawmakers are headed back to the state Capitol after a two-week spring break, with the state budget remaining their top priority.

Legislative sessions resume Tuesday. Lawmakers say they hope to wrap up a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts in October within the next two months.

There are some differences between developing budget plans from Republican lawmakers who hold the majority in the state Legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's initial budget proposal.

Some Republicans want to spend less than Snyder proposed on the state prison system and some other state departments. They say they worry that state revenues won't come in as high as state economists projected earlier this year.

The House and Senate appropriations committees have meetings scheduled for this week.

Politics
10:24 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court lets Detroit Public Schools emergency manager stay

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has decided to let Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts remain on the job.

The court issued a unanimous decision Monday rejecting an appeal of a lower court decision upholding Roberts' appointment.

The case was brought by Robert Davis, an activist who has filed several suits challenging aspects of Michigan's emergency manager law.

Arts/Culture
1:59 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Michigan Opera Theatre needs $3 millon to pay debt

DETROIT (AP) - A spokesman for Michigan Opera Theatre says the organization needs to raise $3 million by May 31 to retire its debt.

Jeff Strayer said Monday the MOT actually needs to pay $11 million by that date, but already has raised $5 million and expects to rely on financing for another $3 million.

That means it's on the hook for $3 million, for which it currently is seeking donations.

Strayer says the situation is "not that dire," and he predicts the MOT will gather the money in time.

Offbeat
11:08 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Michigan pair lose appeal in John Stamos extortion

John Stamos. A Michigan pair tried to blackmail the actor.
user hyku wikimedia commons

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) - A federal appeals court has upheld the convictions of a man and woman from Michigan's Upper Peninsula who were accused of trying to blackmail actor John Stamos.

A three-judge panel in Cincinnati rejected challenges to the indictment Monday as well as claims that Allison Coss and Scott Sippola should have received a break at sentencing for accepting responsibility.

They were sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 after a jury convicted them of conspiracy and using email to threaten a person's reputation. Coss and Sippola threatened to sell old photos of Stamos with strippers and cocaine to the tabloids unless he paid $680,000. The FBI said the photos didn't exist.

Stamos met Coss in Florida in 2004 and had a friendship.

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