The Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State University says 220 top nuclear scientists from around the world are coming to the East Lansing campus for a three-day meeting starting Thursday.

The university says it's the first joint user meeting of researchers who work at four of the nation's leading nuclear science facilities.

Those are Michigan State's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and its upcoming Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, and the Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility at Oak Ridge National laboratory in Tennessee.

The meeting runs through Saturday at the Biomedical and Physical Sciences building.

The university says scientists are coming from 48 institutions in 23 states and nine countries.

Tractor Dave Crosses America / Facebook

LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan man has wrapped up a more than 4,100-mile tractor ride through the Midwest to raise money for charity.

The Ludington Daily News reports 66-year-old Dave Wolfsen arrived Monday in Ludington from Wisconsin aboard the S.S. Badger car ferry.

He's also known as "Tractor Dave." He began the ride in June and traveled on a red 1937 tractor with a 25 mph top speed.

Wolfsen had planned to ride 9,300 miles through 48 states. The Muskegon Chronicle reports time and bad weather cut short his plans.

Wolfsen owned an agricultural equipment dealership in Fremont before selling it six years ago. He also drives a road commission truck. He used the trip to raise awareness and money for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and Food Resource Bank.

Pobrecito33 / Flickr

The United Auto Workers' lead negotiator with Ford Motor Co. says talks with the Dearborn-based automaker are ahead of schedule and says the union is asking its locals to hold routine strike authorization votes by Sept. 2.

Jimmy Settles tells the Detroit Free Press the votes are "nothing unusual" and are a normal part of every contract cycle with Ford.

Settles and UAW President Bob King announced the decision to hold a strike authorization vote Tuesday at a UAW meeting in Chicago. The union started negotiations with Ford late last month to replace a four-year contract that expires Sept. 14.

Contracts also are up at General Motors Co. and Chrysler, of which Fiat is the majority owner.

The military says a 34-year-old Navy SEAL from Michigan was one of 30 American military personnel killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by insurgents in Afghanistan.

The Defense Department released Heath Robinson's name Thursday, listing his hometown as Detroit.

The special warfare operator chief petty officer and others aboard the helicopter died Saturday in Wardak Province while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He is the only Michigan resident listed among the fatalities.

Of those killed 17 were SEALs and five were Navy special operations troops supporting them. Three Air Force airmen, a five-member Army air crew, seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter also were killed.

The crash, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul, was the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year Afghan war.

There will be no presidential primaryelection for Michigan Democrats in 2012.

Chairman Mark Brewer said Wednesday that national convention delegates will be picked through party meetings around the state, starting next May.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is expected to run unopposed for a second term next year.

Brewer says Michigan Democrats will hold caucuses in May at approximately 200 locations. He says more than 200 people will be delegates or alternates at the national convention.

Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton just issued the following statement:

“The Budget Control Act made a modest down payment on our debt in the short term and called on Congress – through a Joint Select Committee – to build on those savings with meaningful spending controls and program reforms that will continue the process of putting our fiscal house in order over the long term. I am humbled by the trust Speaker Boehner and our leadership team have placed in us, and I stand ready to serve on the Joint Select Committee alongside Chairman Camp and Chairman Hensarling on behalf of all House Republicans.

“Being from Michigan where families have endured 31 consecutive months of double-digit unemployment, I know how important it is to get our economy back on track and get Americans back to work. As someone who worked on the federal budget for President Reagan, I saw firsthand that sound economic policy is the bedrock of job creation and fiscal responsibility. And as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I know the exploding cost of health care is at the root of our long-term fiscal challenges; it's why our committee has already produced legislation to save taxpayers $90 billion, and that was just the beginning. Much more needs to be done to bring down health care costs, promote economic growth, and begin to tame runaway government. No one believes this is going to be easy, but working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both Chambers of the Congress, we will work to address our fiscal challenges and get America back to work.”

The Associated Press reports:

House Speaker John Boehner has named GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas to co-chair a powerful new committee that will try to come up with a bipartisan plan this fall to reduce the federal budget deficit by more than $1 trillion.

Michigan has begun sending out notices to some families receiving welfare benefits to notify them that their federal assistance is running out. The Detroit Free Press reports the change may affect nearly 14,000 families who had passed a five-year federal limit but got the time extended. Notices began going out Tuesday that include contact information for caseworkers who will try to help families find other assistance programs.

Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan says the notices come at the same time the state is revamping how it hands out assistance. It's also planning to put into effect a four-year limit in most cases for families receiving welfare benefits.

The limit could begin Oct. 1. Critics say such a limit would boot some needy families off public assistance.

Eleanor Josaitis, a community leader who co-founded the social services organization Focus: HOPE in the wake of Detroit's 1967 riots, has died. She was 79.

Her son Mark Josaitis tells The Associated Press that she died Tuesday morning at Angela Hospice in Livonia after being diagnosed last year with cancer.

Mark Josaitis says his mother "really believed in human dignity and helping people develop skills to be proud of."

Eleanor Josaitis and the Rev. William Cunningham founded Focus: HOPE in 1968 following the race riots that widened a rift between Detroit's black and white residents. The group offers job training, as well as food programs for the poor and elderly. Cunningham died in 1997.

Survivors include Josaitis' husband of 55 years, Donald. The couple had five children and several grandchildren.

The memoirs of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick are expected to go on sale at four small Detroit area bookstores.   A media company run by Kilpatrick's sister says in a release Monday that "Surrendered! The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick" will be available Tuesday. 

Wikimedia Commons

Honda is recalling about 1.5 million vehicles in the U. S. to update the software on the automatic transmission to decrease the possibility of transmission damage.

The recall affects certain 2005-2010 4-cylinder Accord,2007-2010 CR-V and 2005-2008 Element vehicles.

The company said Friday that without the change, the transmission's secondary shaft bearing can be damaged when the car is shifted too quickly. Honda said that can happen when a driver tries to get the vehicle dislodged from mud or snow.

Three unions representing about 10,000 Detroit Public Schools employees have sued over a 10 percent pay cut and 20 percent contribution to health insurance imposed by the district.

Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson tells The Detroit News the cuts are "an unprecedented power grab." Secretary's union President Ruby Newbold tells the Detroit Free Press employees will fight them any way they can.

The federal court suit seeks an injunction to block the changes, which were made under new state legislation expanding emergency financial managers' power.

The suit is against emergency financial manager Roy Roberts and state Treasurer Andy Dillon, who approved the cuts.

Roberts declines comment on the suit but says he's encouraged by the "overall attitude of the unions" in showing willingness to work with him.

After seeing lawmakers cut their funding and give financial managers sweeping new powers, half of local government leaders say they think Michigan is on the wrong track while a third saying it's headed in the right direction.

The survey released Thursday by The Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan also shows 37 percent give Gov. Rick Snyder a positive job rating while just 21 percent give that rating to the Legislature.

Eighty-six percent say their own governments are going in the right direction.

The biannual survey was conducted from April 18 to June 10 and is based on responses from 69 percent of the 1,856 local government units in Michigan. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

User jamieca / Flickr

Michigan officials say a fish virus may have contributed to a June fish kill of 300 to 500 common carp in
Kent Lake.

The state Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday that samples taken from the lake in Livingston and Oakland counties detected the presence of koi herpesvirus.

State officials say it's the first time the virus has been found in wild fish samples in Michigan. It was detected in a private koi pond near Grand Rapids in 2003.

The DNR says the virus has been seen before in large-scale common carp die-offs in Ontario, Canada, in 2007 and 2008.

The virus affects common carp, goldfish and koi. The state says there are no human health effects.

The Michigan president of the American Family Association says he's running for the Republican nomination
in the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Gary Glenn issued a statement Tuesday saying that federal election law requires him to file a formal declaration of candidacy this week.

In the statement, Glenn praises U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township, the only Republican in Michigan's congressional delegation to vote against the debt ceiling bill that President Barack Obama signed Tuesday. Stabenow voted for the bill.

Tuesday also saw another prominent Republican say he won't join the U.S. Senate field. Ypsilanti cardiologist Rob Steele says his work is too demanding for a statewide race.

Ex-U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra recently declared his candidacy for the Republican Senate nomination.

Spacing Magazine / Flickr

Update:

GM sales rose almost 8% in July, while Ford sales rose 8.9% and Chrysler sales increased 20.1%.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The Detroit Three saw U.S. sales increase in July and gained market share, as a troubling economy and weeks of worries about the U.S. debt ceiling continued to hamper a recovery in auto sales.

Chrysler had its best July since 2007 to lead Detroit’s automakers with a 20.1% surge, off a 33% gain in sales to individual customers. General Motors’ U.S. sales rose 7.6% last month and Ford’s grew 8.9%. Japanese automakers continued to lose share to their American rivals as they recovered from the March earthquake and tsunami in their country.

GM forecast July industrywide sales of light cars and trucks were flat from the previous year and slightly better than June. Consumers stayed out of showrooms amid news of climbing unemployment and bitter debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling to prevent the country from defaulting on its loans tonight. President Barack Obama signed legislation today to prevent that scenario after the Senate approved the bill.

*

Original post:

From the Associated Press:

General Motors says its U.S. sales rose nearly 8 percent last month, led by fuel-efficient vehicles such as the
Chevrolet Cruze car.

(Flickr Wysz)

The Princeton Review is out with its annual list of the best colleges and universities for those who put more of an emphasis on 'party' than 'school' .    No Michigan colleges or universities made the dubious list this year.   Though Calvin College in Grand Rapids did land a spot on the list of schools that have more students in the library on a Saturday night than in a local bar. 

 

Here are the lists:

Party schools

1. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio

Woodley Wonderworks / Flickr

The amount of money Michigan has to spend in its general fund for everything from prisons to health care dropped by nearly 25 percent over the past four fiscal years amid the recession and shrinking tax revenues. Yet the state's school aid fund remained relatively healthy, protected by earmarks for public schools.

State budget director John Nixon thinks those earmarks merit another look.

"It's not that I'm saying we need to cut the school aid fund ... (but) a lot of this stuff was put in place 15, 20 years ago when Michigan looked totally different," he said during a recent interview with The Associated Press. "We just need to strip things down and say, `This is the money we're bringing in, this is where it's going. Is it lining up appropriately?"'

Nearly three-quarters of the sales tax collected annually goes to the $13.3 billion school aid fund, as well as nearly a fourth of the income tax revenue, 42 percent of cigarette tax revenue and a third of the money raised by the use tax and the Michigan Business Tax. The school aid fund also receives all of the money raised through a statewide 6-mill education property tax, the real estate transfer tax, the state casino wagering tax and the net proceeds from lottery sales.

DETROIT (AP) - Wayne State University is cutting 200 jobs, including 80 that are currently filled due to a loss of $32 million in funding from the state.

The Detroit Free Press reports Friday that an email about the layoffs and cuts was sent Thursday to all university employees by school President Alan Gilmour.

Gilmour writes that the school has "notified most of the affected employees."

The Detroit university looked at each of its schools, colleges and divisions for cost savings and hiked tuition for undergraduate and graduate students to keep its budget balanced.

It says no additional job cuts are planned.

Another round of thunderstorms packing heavy rains has prompted flash flood warnings in Michigan's Lower
Peninsula.

The National Weather Service on Friday morning had flash flood warnings in effect in Barry, Eaton, Ingham and Allegan counties. Flood watches or advisories were in effect in other parts of southern Michigan.

The latest rains followed storms that moved through the state Thursday, bringing several inches of rain in places. Those storms left roadways under water and forced families from their homes.

The Lansing area was among those hard hit by Thursday's storms, with flooding prompting rescues and damaging homes.

Sam VarnHagen / Ford Motor Co.

DETROIT (AP) - Two people familiar with the matter say Ford Motor Co. can't build as many hot-selling Focus cars as it wants because of equipment problems at a parts factory.

The people say machinery that makes a key dashboard part doesn't work all the time and has slowed production at the Focus factory near Detroit. The company has taken the unusual step of flying in
parts from Europe. But the people say Ford is still running short on dashboards.

The problem has forced dealers to put customers on waiting lists. The redesigned Focus was Ford's top-selling U.S. passenger car last month.

The people didn't want to be identified because they aren't authorized to speak about the matter. A Ford spokesman would not comment.

Thunderstorms packing heavy rains left some roadways under water, prompted flash flood warnings across much of southern Michigan and knocked out power to more than 21,000 homes and businesses.

The National Weather Service on Thursday morning had flash flood warnings, flash flood watches or flood advisories in effect. The weather service says storms brought 2 to 4 inches of rain in places within a few hours, and up to 5 inches was forecast in places.

The Grand Rapids Press reported numerous instances of cars stuck in water on streets throughout Grand Rapids and surrounding Kent County.

WWJ-AM reports officials in Washtenaw County reported heavy rains prompted flooding that blocked a number of roadways.

DTE Energy Co. reports about 15,000 outages. CMS Energy Corp. tells WOOD-TV it has about 6,500 outages.

Andrey Belenko / Flickr

Delta Air Lines says some 2,000 workers have taken voluntary buyouts. In a cost-cutting move in response to high fuel prices, it will scale back its flight schedule more than planned this year.

The high cost of jet fuel was the main reason Delta's second-quarter net income fell by 58 percent compared to a year ago. It earned $198 million, or 23 cents per share. Fuel costs were up 36 percent.

At the same time, revenue rose 12 percent as Delta raised fares to try to pay the increased fuel costs.

Delta would have earned 43 cents per share if not for one-time items including severance costs and reducing its facilities. On that basis, profit was below forecasts.

U.S. Congress

DETROIT (AP) - Former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer of Battle Creek says he won't run for Congress next year.

The Democrat made the announcement in an email sent to supporters on Wednesday.

The decision means Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg will get a new Democratic opponent after facing Schauer for the past two elections.

Last year, Walberg beat the then-incumbent Schauer in a contentious rematch of their 2008 race that saw Schauer unseat Walberg, who was then a freshman in Congress.

In the email, Schauer writes that, despite his decision, he still sees south-central Michigan's 7th District as "winnable for a Democratic candidate in 2012."

Schauer currently serves as national co-chair of the BlueGreen Alliance Jobs 21! Campaign.

Scott Ableman / Flickr

The Obama administration says it's close to a deal with automakers to boost fuel economy.

Officials familiar with talks between the White House and automakers say recent changes to make it easier for light trucks to become more fuel efficient have lowered the proposal to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Last month, the administration floated a 56.2 mile-per-gallon target.

Michigan lawmakers in a letter to the president last week called the higher proposal "overly aggressive." Automakers have said they'd work to get vehicles averaging 42.6 to 46.7 miles per gallon.

An administration official not authorized to speak about the negotiations said feedback from many manufacturers is positive and discussions are wrapping up.

In 2009, automakers agreed to raise fuel economy standards to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

user anonymonous / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is giving $1.59 million for programs helping homeless Michigan veterans and their families.

Department Secretary Eric Shinseki said Tuesday that two Michigan nonprofit agencies will help about 545 homeless veteran families.

The program is called Supportive Services for Veteran Families, and the nationwide initiative is awarding about $60 million to 85 agencies in 40 states and the District of Columbia.

The government is giving $999,559 to Southwest Counseling Solutions in Detroit and $590,928 to the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency in Wyandotte.

Under the program, the agencies will be able to provide a range of services to eligible very low-income veterans and their families. That can include some financial aid for rent, utilities, deposits and moving costs.

Ruthanne Reid / Flickr

NEW YORK (AP) - Bookstore chain Books-A-Million Inc. says its last-minute talks to buy the leases and assets of 30 Borders bookstores out of bankruptcy have fallen through.

Borders Group Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in February, received court approval last week to liquidate its 399 stores. The chain said at the time it was talking to Books-A-Million about buying 30 store leases and inventory.

But Books-A-Million said Tuesday those talks were unsuccessful.

A group led by liquidation firms Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Group are now holding going-out-of-business stores at all Borders stores.

Birmingham, Ala.-based Books-A-Million operates 231 stores in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Borders is based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

State and federal officials are expected to announce that Michigan will be the first place eligible for loans to small businesses investing in clean energy or located in economically distressed areas.

U.S. Small Business Administration head Karen Mills, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Dow Chemical Co. chief Andrew Liveris and others are scheduled to announce the impact investment program in a Tuesday afternoon conference call.

The initiative will work with private institutional investors to help identify and provide money to private equity fund managers who invest in targeted companies. Federal funds also will be offered to small businesses that get a share of the private investments.

The program is part of President Barack Obama's Start-Up American initiative aimed at spurring high-growth entrepreneurship and the creation of more jobs.

user thienzieyung / Flickr

Update 1:58 p.m.

In a press release, the Federal Aviation Administration says they had to order contractors at airports around the country to stop working after Congress failed to pass legislation that reauthorized funding on 'critical airport modernization projects.'

The deadline for the FAA funding extension passed last Friday night.

U.S. Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood is quoted in the press release:

“Construction workers across America will lose their jobs and local communities will be hurt the longer this goes on. Congress needs to pass an FAA bill to prevent further economic damage,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”
 
“Unless Congress acts quickly, more work on projects critical to our nation’s aviation system will come to a halt. Work is stopping on construction and planning projects, NextGen system testing, and airport certification.  The list goes on and on and this is just the beginning,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.
 

Here's a list of airports affected by the stop work orders.

The FAA says "nearly 4,000 FAA personnel, many needed to oversee various aspects of these projects, were furloughed on Saturday" and that the work-stoppage could "significantly increase the ultimate costs of construction for taxpayers."

12:21 p.m.

KALAMZOO, Mich. (AP) - Obama administration officials say contractors have been told to stop work on airport modernization projects across the country including the Kalamazoo, Traverse City and Flint areas because Congress has failed to pass legislation necessary for the work to continue.

Officials said Monday that stop-work orders have been issued for dozens of major projects.

The Federal Aviation Administration says they include a $14.4 million tower construction project at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, an $11 million tower construction project in Traverse City and a $1.9 million tower fire remediation project in Flint.

The House and Senate are at a stalemate over air service subsidies for rural communities and a Republican proposal that would make it more difficult for airline workers to unionize, among other issues.

U.S. Reps. Dan Benishek and Hansen Clarke of Michigan have announced plans to tour together in each other's districts. The joint tours will be focused on ways to promote job creation in northern Michigan and Detroit.

Both are freshmen in Congress.

Benishek is a Republican from Crystal Falls whose district encompasses parts of the northern Lower Peninsula and all of the Upper Peninsula. Clarke is a Democrat from Detroit, and his district includes a portion of his home city and a number of its suburban communities.

Benishek and Clarke's offices say the lawmakers are planning to embark on the first joint tour in the U.P. on July 29. Benishek then will travel with Clarke in Detroit on Aug. 12.

Officials in Flint have been asked to produce documents and audio and video recordings as part of a federal probe into at least $1.3 million in grant spending by the city.

The Flint Journal is reporting through a Freedom of Information Act request that it has learned federal officials have subpoenaed the records from four city departments.

Documents, check stubs and e-mails from the past two years are being sought. Federal authorities also conducted a May 25 raid at Flint City Hall.

Many of the records requested pertain to city economic development workers and personnel files of two administrators. The newspaper says both administrators cited the investigation and declined to comment.

A federal grand jury was convened July 6.

Mayor Dayne Walling says the city is cooperating in the probe.

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