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Environment
12:49 pm
Sun September 25, 2011

Michigan Attorney General: More states favor Asian carp barrier

Asian carp leaping out of a river.
glfc.org

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says a coalition that favors physically separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds has grown to 17 states.
Schuette tells The Associated Press that attorneys general from 11 states have joined the campaign, which he and counterparts from five other Great Lakes states began last month.
They're pushing Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to decide quickly on a plan for cutting the man-made connection between the drainage basins near Chicago.

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Politics
10:28 am
Sun September 25, 2011

Romney gets solid win in Michigan straw poll

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney Central

Michigan native Mitt Romney trounced his Republican presidential rivals in a Michigan straw
poll even though he isn't participating in straw polls.

As expected, Romney won the poll of GOP activists Sunday during the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference. He won 51 percent of the 681 votes cast, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry earned 17 percent.

Both candidates spoke at the conference Saturday.

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Economy
11:15 am
Sat September 24, 2011

Agencies look for new funding to help poor pay for heat

About 95,000 Michigan residents needed help to pay their home heating costs last year.
uppermichigansource.com

LANSING -- Social services groups are scrambling to

prevent thousands of low-income Michigan residents from having

their heat cut off after a program that helped pay overdue utility

bills for the poor lost its funding.

 

A court struck down the financing system used by the program in

July, and lawmakers haven't enacted a new one. With the aid money

running out as winter arrives, officials are temporarily drawing on

other funds to tide over needy families.

 

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Crime
9:12 pm
Fri September 23, 2011

Michigan State Police stop criminal plot against state lawmaker

State Rep. Barb Byrum, see here at her swearing in ceremony in 2009, with her son Blake.
(courtesy Barb Byrum's facebook page)

A state prisons spokesman says a potential kidnapping or murder-for-hire threat from an inmate targeting a Michigan state lawmaker has been detected and stopped.

Authorities said Friday that the case remains under investigation and no charges have been filed. They say the plot was being developed by a prisoner in a state correctional facility who has since been isolated from other prisoners. It wasn't immediately known why the prisoner was targeting the lawmaker.

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Auto/Economy
12:09 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

Moody's considers GM credit rating upgrade

GM might get a credit upgrade from Moody's.
user paul (dex) Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - Moody's Investors Service is considering upgrading General Motors Co.'s credit ratings based on improvements in its finances and the expected ratification of a new contract
with the United Auto Workers union.

GM currently has a Ba2 corporate family rating and a Baa3 secured credit rating from Moody's. Both are several notches below investment grade. GM lost its investment-grade ratings in 2005,
when it was losing billions of dollars.

GM and the UAW reached a tentative agreement on a new contract last week. Workers are expected to finish voting on it by next Thursday.

Moody's said that after an initial review, it expects the contract would let GM remain competitive in North America. The deal would pay workers a $5,000 ratification bonus and profit-sharing
checks, but it helps GM lower costs by not giving annual raises to most workers and offering buyouts to clear out older, more expensive workers.

"A critical issue in our review is whether the new contract will preserve's GM's new-found  competitiveness and support its ability to contend with increasing volatility in the global economy," said Bruce Clark, a senior vice president at Moody's.

Moody's review also will consider GM's long-term commitment to the discipline it has adopted since its 2009 government bailout and bankruptcy. Moody's said it will look at whether GM will continue
to limit production and incentives, improve quality and limit acquisitions and shareholder returns in order to strengthen liquidity.

GM's stock fell 72 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $20.56 during a broader-market selloff. The Standard & Poor's 500 was down 3 percent in late morning trading.

Economy
8:42 am
Thu September 22, 2011

New census data: More Mich. residents in poverty

New census data show more Michigan residents are living in poverty.

The 2010 numbers from the American Community Survey released Thursday show the poverty rate rose from 16.2 percent in 2009 to 16.8 percent in Michigan. The percent of children under 18 in poverty in Michigan rose from 22.5 percent to 23.5 percent.

In Detroit, 37.6 percent were in poverty and 53.6 percent of children.

Median household income fell more than 1 percent from 2009 to $45,413 as more people worked in the lower-pay service industry than in manufacturing.

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Politics
2:29 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Expert to examine Michigan Humane Society practices

The Michigan Humane Society will have an outside expert review its practices.
user ak_rus Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Humane Society's board is bringing in an outside expert to evaluate how the organization decides which dogs go for adoption and which dogs are killed.

The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press report the board voted Monday. Kelley Bollen, director of behavior programs for the Maddie's Fund Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, will evaluate "canine evaluation protocols."

A broader examination could be considered later.

Four of 18 board members at the Michigan Humane Society have  resigned since June amid questions about the rate of euthanizing dogs and cats. The organization's overall euthanasia rate has been 70 percent for the past four years, including 17,000 in 2010.

The organization defends its practices, noting it takes in all types of animals, including abused ones.

Auto/Economy
10:24 am
Wed September 21, 2011

Moody's downgrades Fiat's credit rating

Fiat's credit was downgraded by Moody's.
Fiat USA

MILAN (AP) - The ratings agency Moody's has downgraded the credit rating Fiat SpA citing financial risks tied to the integration with Chrysler Group LLC.

Moody's on Wednesday downgraded the Italian automaker to Ba2 from Ba1.

The ratings agency said it expects integration of the two automakers will mean they will have "to support each other in the event of financial difficulty."

Fiat took an initial 20 percent stake in Chrysler in exchange for engine technology and management prowess. It currently holds a 53.5 percent share.

Moody's said it made the downgrade even though Fiat does not guarantee Chrysler's debt, and that the two companies' finances remain separate.

Economy
2:01 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

Michigan proposal targets taxes on Internet sales

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers are renewing a push to require more businesses selling items over the Internet to collect the state's 6 percent sales tax.

Legislation dealing with the issue was detailed Tuesday at the state Capitol.

The Michigan Retailers Association says some out-of-state, online-only retailers use legal loopholes that allow them to avoid collecting state sales tax at the point of sale. The retailers association says that gives the online retailers an unfair price advantage and hurts Michigan businesses that have storefronts and collect the sales tax.

Bills to be introduced by Republican Rep. Eileen Kowall of Oakland County's White Lake Township and Democratic Rep. Jim Ananich of Flint would move online-only retailers under the same sales tax collection laws under which brick-and-mortar businesses operate.

Environment
10:36 am
Tue September 20, 2011

2 Cass County deer diagnosed with viral disease

A DNR official says epizootic hemorrhagic disease outbreaks are happening more frequently in Michigan, possibly because the biting flies that transmit the disease are pushing further north.
Jerry Oldenettel Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan wildlife biologists say two deer in Cass County have been diagnosed with an often-fatal viral disease.

The deer tested positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD.

The Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday the disease is transmitted by a biting fly. It causes extensive bleeding. Infected deer lose their appetite and fear of humans, grow progressively weaker, develop a high fever and finally lose consciousness.

It's not believed that humans can get EHD.

DNR wildlife chief Russ Mason says there is no known way to treat or control the disease. Michigan has had several deer die-offs from EHD as far back as 1955. The latest covered six counties last year.

Mason says outbreaks are happening more frequently, possibly because climate change is driving the biting flies farther north.

Politics
7:33 am
Tue September 20, 2011

Flint getting more in-depth review of finances

Sean Marshell Flickr

Flint's finances are getting a more in-depth review by the state after what's described as probable financial stress was found in its finances.

The Flint Journal reports that the state treasury office told Mayor Dayne Walling last week about the finding. A panel is expected to report to Gov. Rick Snyder within about two months whether there's a financial emergency in Flint.

In August, Michigan officials ordered a preliminary review of Flint's finances, the first involving a Michigan city since the state revised its emergency manager law early this year. The process could lead to the state appointing an emergency manager.

Walling says he believes the appointment of an emergency manager can be avoided.

Michigan has emergency managers in place in the Detroit public school system and three cities.

Politics
2:20 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Sentence in illegal immigrant case splits Michigan Supreme Court

DETROIT (AP) - A robbery of illegal immigrants has exposed sharp differences at the Michigan Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. broke with the court's conservative bloc and joined three liberal justices in letting a minimum five-year prison sentence stand last week.

Jorge Ivan Torres-David pleaded guilty to armed robbery in 2009. A Wayne County judge added points to the sentencing formula after determining that Torres-David targeted illegal immigrants because he believed they would be reluctant to complain to police.

Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly agreed with the trial judge. She says illegal immigrants are "vulnerable victims" when criminals view them as "easy targets."

Justice Stephen Markman calls the decision "remarkable." He and two other Republicans on the court say illegal immigrants now have greater protections as crime victims than law-abiding residents.

Environment
1:30 pm
Sat September 17, 2011

Reactor shut down after cooling system issue

The Palisades Nuclear Plant in southwestern Michigan has been shut down due to a loss of water in a cooling system. WWMT-TV reports the facility in Covert Township was shut down just before 3 p.m. Friday.

The lowest of four emergency classification levels was declared. The classification means plant workers were notified and were resolving the problem. Officials say the shutdown poses no risk to the public and that no radioactive materials were released.

A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspection was held at the Van Buren County plant last month after a water pump component failed. The plant is owned by New Orleans-based Entergy Corporation.

Transportation
1:10 pm
Sat September 17, 2011

State budget woes mean fewer federal funds to help fix MI's roads

Orange barrels along I94 in Jackson County
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Road work in Michigan has become more quick fixes than long-term repairs as the state balances the scope of construction projects with the dwindling funds necessary to carry them out. A five-year report shows transportation officials expect a drop of more than $700 million annually from what's being spent now in highway program funds beginning October 1st and stretching into the 2015 fiscal year.

The report points to a drop in state revenue and predictions that Michigan will not be able to put up enough matching money to secure all available federal aid for transportation projects.

Michigan's Five-Year Transportation Program invests just over $6 billion into highway and other programs. But upward of $160 million more in state revenue is needed each fiscal year to match all available federal aid.

Education
12:57 pm
Sat September 17, 2011

Adrian College to improve gender equity in sports

Villa Julie College women's soccer
Flickr/go mustangs

Adrian College has agreed to changes after federal investigators found the small, liberal arts school has discriminated against female student athletes. The Detroit Free Press reports Saturday that the U.S. Department of Education cited the southern Michigan school for 11 violations of gender-equity rules.

Among the changes the school must make: add at least one more women's sport, build a women's locker room in its multipurpose stadium and increase pay for coaches of women's sports.

School spokeswoman Jennifer Compton says the school "has maintained the highest commitment to equality and respect for gender equity" during its 152-year history. She says the college believes it offers "a quality higher educational experience to all students."

The agreement caps a three-year investigation into Title IX violations at the school.

Auto/Economy
8:47 am
Sat September 17, 2011

GM, UAW agree to new contract

General Motors headquarters in Detroit
Andrea_44 Flickr

General Motors Co. and the United Auto Workers, sobered by the government bailout and bankruptcy at the automaker just two years ago, reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract without the public acrimony or strikes that have plagued the talks in the past.

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Crime
5:39 pm
Thu September 15, 2011

Feds get guilty plea in Michigan painkiller probe

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit man charged with ripping off Medicare and selling powerful painkillers has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and health care fraud.

George Williams admitted Thursday that people were paid $220 to get prescriptions filled and then return the drugs to him for sale, including Vicodin and Oxycontin.

The drugs were peddled in southeastern Michigan as well as in Kentucky and Alabama, from January 2007 through December 2008. A big break for investigators occurred in 2007 in Wood County, Ohio, when deputies discovered a doctor's name on 55 bottles of cough syrup with codeine.

People posing as patients were also taken to a Southfield hotel or a Detroit house for a phony exam. Williams admits his business billed Medicare and received $422,000.

Politics
4:32 pm
Thu September 15, 2011

Michigan House votes to ban domestic partner benefits

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Republicans who control the Michigan Legislature have started another attempt to block the offering of taxpayer-paid health insurance to domestic partners living with
public employees.

The House passed legislation by a 64-44, mostly party line vote Thursday aimed at prohibiting public employers from offering the benefits. The legislation advances to the Senate.

Minority Democrats say the bills are unconstitutional and would be challenged in court.

Republicans supporting the bills say they reflect the will of Michigan voters who decided in 2004 to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

The Michigan Civil Service Commission has voted to allow domestic partner benefits for some state employees starting in October. Republicans tried to overturn the decision but couldn't get the two-thirds majority vote needed in the House.

Politics
1:06 pm
Thu September 15, 2011

Special election planned for Michigan House seat

Tim Melton (D-Auburn Hills) is leaving the Michigan legislature. Gov. Snyder is calling for a special election to fill his seat.
screen grab from YouTube video

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is calling for a special election to fill a vacancy in the Michigan House left by the departure of Democratic Rep. Tim Melton of Auburn Hills.

Snyder set primary elections for Nov. 8, if they are needed. The general election will be Feb. 28 to fill the seat for the House's 29th District. Both dates already are scheduled election days in Michigan.

Melton resigned effective earlier this month to take a job with StudentsFirst, a national education group. The special election would fill his seat for the remainder of a two-year term that expires at the end of 2012.

Melton was term-limited and would not have been eligible to seek re-election to the House in 2012.

September 11
11:27 pm
Tue September 13, 2011

Ohio woman describes being detained after Detroit flight last Sunday

An Ohio woman said Tuesday that she endured nearly four hours in police custody that included being forced off an airplane in handcuffs, strip-searched and interrogated at Detroit's airport on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks _ all, she believes, because of her Middle Eastern appearance.

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