The Associated Press

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Environment
9:27 pm
Wed August 24, 2011

Federal Court says "no" to closing Illinois canal to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan

A federal appeals panel has rejected a request by five Great Lakes states for an immediate order to close shipping locks on Chicago-area waterways and take other steps to prevent Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan. 

The three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday against the request by Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  The states were appealing a decision by a federal district judge in Chicago last December. 

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Politics
3:33 pm
Wed August 24, 2011

Michigan Legislature approves new welfare limits

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Residents involved in roughly 12,500 welfare cases in Michigan could lose benefits under a stricter, four-year lifetime limit that has received final approval in the Michigan Legislature.

The Republican-led House passed the legislation with 73-34 votes Wednesday mostly along party lines.

The measures will go to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The welfare limit already has been approved as part of the state budget that kicks in Oct. 1. Lawmakers plan to put the cap in a separate state statute to help implement the budget plan. The state's current four-year limit on welfare benefits would expire Sept. 30 unless the Legislature revises or extends the limitations.

The revised welfare limits have fewer exemptions than the four-year limit now in state law.

State Legislature
7:38 am
Wed August 24, 2011

Michigan lawmakers could vote today on welfare limits

Inside the Captiol Building, Lansing, MI
Cedar Bend Drive Flickr

Michigan lawmakers are expected to resume votes to impose a stricter, four-year limit on receiving welfare benefits.

The votes could come Wednesday with the Michigan Legislature scheduled to meet for full sessions.

The welfare limit already has been approved as part of the state budget that kicks in Oct. 1. Lawmakers plan to put the cap in a separate state statute to help implement the budget plan.

Michigan already has a four-year cap on welfare benefits but the new version of the limit would grant fewer exceptions.

Critics say the tougher limits would boot roughly 12,000 families off public assistance.

Lawmakers might also continue votes aimed at requiring many public employees to pay more for their health insurance coverage.

Election 2012
7:04 am
Tue August 23, 2011

Conyers not saying if he's swapping seats with Clarke

U.S. Representative John Conyers (D)
Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

U.S. Rep. John Conyers is remaining mum on whether he'll run for re-election in the redrawn 13th District now that fellow Democratic incumbent Hansen Clarke says he'll run in Conyers' new district.

The two congressmen currently represent districts made up mostly of Detroit. Both were drastically redrawn by Republicans to add minority voters outside Detroit to make up for the city's shrinking population.

Democrats have said the new districts are examples of gerrymandering and are threatening to sue in federal court.

But Clarke spokeswoman Kim Bowman said Monday that Clarke had decided to switch districts rather than waiting. She says the 14th District includes more of the voters Clarke now represents.

Conyers' office is declining comment on whether the 82-year-old will swap districts with the 54-year-old Clarke.

Politics
11:14 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Michigan voters remain disenchanted with governor

Governor Rick Snyder. 33 percent of those polled gave the Governor a positive job rating.
Russ Climie Tiberius Images

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A poll indicates Michigan voters remain disenchanted with the job being done by Gov. Rick Snyder.

In the survey released Monday by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, 33 percent gave the GOP governor a positive job rating while 62 percent gave him a negative rating and 5 percent were undecided.

The results were virtually unchanged from EPIC-MRA's July poll.

Forty-two percent of those polled last week said they have a favorable opinion of the governor, while the same percentage have an unfavorable opinion.

Thirty-one percent say the state is headed in the right direction, while 54 percent say it's on the wrong track and 15 percent are undecided, similar to July's findings.

The Aug. 13-16 poll of 600 likely voters had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Air Show
10:52 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Feds probe wing walker death at Michigan air show

DETROIT (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are at Selfridge Air National Guard base in southeastern Michigan investigating the death of stunt wing walker who fell to his death at an air show.

The FAA says Monday that the agency can't release any details yet surrounding the death of Todd Green.

The experienced stunt man fell 200 feet to the ground Sunday afternoon while trying to move from a Stearman plane to a helicopter.

Technical Sgt. Dan Heaton says Green hit the ground about 1,500 feet from the crowd line. An estimated 75,000 spectators were on hand for the show.

The air show at the base in Harrison Township, about 20 miles northeast of Detroit, began Friday and ended Sunday.

Politics
4:41 pm
Fri August 19, 2011

Schuette plans review of Blue Cross Medicaid deal

Blue Cross Blue Shield building on Lafayette in Detroit.
Wikipedia

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says his office is reviewing Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's plans for a joint venture involving a Medicaid coverage company.

The Detroit-based Blue Cross and Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross are purchasing AmeriHealth Mercy, which has Medicaid managed-care contracts in states including Pennsylvania, Indiana, and South Carolina.

Schuette said Friday he wants the Michigan-based Blue Cross to provide his office with documentation related to the transaction.

Blue Cross officials said they welcome the inquiry and will work with him to clarify questions about the transaction.

The joint venture could provide an opportunity for Blues insurers nationwide to expand into Medicaid coverage just as states are seeking ways to save money in the program and the ranks of Medicaid enrollees is poised to grow.

Economy
11:10 am
Fri August 19, 2011

Group seeks to create Detroit Jewish neighborhood

The Ellington Lofts in Midtown Detroit. The AP reports a rent program is aimed at bringing young Jewish professionals back to Detroit's Midtown area or to the downtown area.
user dig downtown detroit Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A group of young Jewish professionals attracted to the vitality of Detroit's evolving downtown wants to bring others into the city decades after their parents and grandparents left.

CommunityNEXT Director Jordan Wolfe says the 25 people targeted through a rent program would help return Jewish culture to Detroit and contribute to the city's revitalization.

Subsidies of $250 per month for a year will be offered. Wolfe says he is seeking to bring in people "who get a kick out of building a community."

The rent program piggybacks offers major corporations and businesses are making to entice their employees to relocate downtown or to Detroit's growing Midtown area.

A dodgeball tournament fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday in Detroit and will be followed Sunday by a kickball tournament in Los Angeles.

Environment
9:26 am
Thu August 18, 2011

3 adults, 6 kids rescued from Partridge Island

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) - Authorities rescued three adults and six children from Partridge Island in Lake Superior who had been on the water in a 12-foot boat.

The U.S. Coast Guard says the boat was "beset by weather" on Wednesday afternoon and they got a call for help via cell phone.

A crew from Coast Guard Station Marquette and rescuers from the Marquette County sheriff's department responded. A Coast Guard rescuer swam to the beach and helped the nine onto a sheriff's
department boat, and they were transferred to the Coast Guard boat.

No injuries were reported. All nine were transported to Coast Guard Station Marquette.

Education
4:02 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Michigan State hosts top labs' nuclear scientists

MSU's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory in East Lansing.

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.

Culture
2:53 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Long, slow haul: Man makes 4,100-mile tractor ride

"Tractor Dave" returns home in Ludington, MI after a 4,100 mile tractor ride through the Midwest. His grandchildren sit on the tractor and his wife "Mrs. Tractor Deb" welcomes him home.
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.

AUTO
8:02 am
Wed August 17, 2011

UAW: Ford talks ahead of schedule, strike vote set

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.

Afghanistan
1:04 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

SEAL from Mich. among dead in chopper crash

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.

Politics
2:12 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

AP: Michigan Dems say no presidential primary here in 2012

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.

Politics
11:35 am
Wed August 10, 2011

Speaker Boehner names two Michigan congressmen to supercommittee

House Speaker Boehner speaks with reporters last month
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.

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Economy
7:44 am
Wed August 10, 2011

State lets some families know aid is running out

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.

Obituary
6:34 am
Tue August 9, 2011

Focus: HOPE co-founder Eleanor Josaitis dies at 79

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.

Politics
4:12 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

'Surrendered' hits bookstore shelves Tuesday

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. 

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Auto/Economy
2:59 pm
Fri August 5, 2011

Honda recalling 1.5 million vehicles in U.S.

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.

Lawsuit
6:25 am
Fri August 5, 2011

Detroit school unions sue over pay cut

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.

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