Barack Obama

screen shot / ESPN.com

President Obama, known as the first basketball fan in the White House, filled out his brackets for the NCAA men's basketball tournament yesterday.

He picked Michigan State to win it all.

"It's been awhile since Izzo won one," he said.

From ESPN.com:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A big-ticket construction project on the Michigan State University campus is in President Barack Obama's proposed budget.

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or F-Rib for short, may turn MSU into a destination for advanced nuclear science research. But its $730 million price tag has raised questions about whether it will get the funding it needs to get built.

The president’s fiscal year 2015 budget calls for investing $90 million in the project.

Mark Burnham is the vice president of government affairs at MSU.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago and the Detroit area stand to reap millions of dollars in federal grants and private sector investment as part of White House initiative to boost innovation in manufacturing and create jobs.

The White House says President Barack Obama will announce Tuesday the creation of two manufacturing institutes. The Detroit-area institute will focus on lightweight metals, while the Chicago hub will push innovation in digital manufacturing and design.

Rick Pluta / MPRN

About 500 people packed a Michigan State University campus hall Friday to witness President Barack Obama sign the new federal farm bill.

The event capped years of negotiations and some tough compromises with Congress on the complex legislation. President Obama said he’s always glad to return to Michigan to cheer the auto industry recovery. Now, he says, it’s time to do the same for agriculture and rural America.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Obama was doing more today in Michigan than talking about farm policy.

The president also met with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.  

Over a lunch of salmon and rice, Duggan says the two men talked about improving Detroit’s economy.

“The conversation was very fast-paced. We exchanged a number of ideas on a number of strategies,” says Duggan. “You are going to see a continued partnership between the Obama administration and the city of Detroit.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Obama called the farm bill "a jobs bill” before he signed it into law today in East Lansing.

The president says the nearly $1 trillion package of farm subsidies and food assistance spending will benefit rural communities in Michigan and around the country that have struggled in recent years.

White House

President Obama travels to Michigan today where he will sign the nation’s new farm bill into law.

The new law will change the way the federal government aids the nation’s farmers.

The president is signing the nearly $1 trillion farm bill into law on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Obama will sign the nearly $1 trillion federal farm bill into law when he visits Michigan State University on Friday.

The U.S. Senate passed the farm bill today, ending years of wrangling in Washington over the legislation that provides federal aid to farmers and the nation’s poor.

The sweeping $100-billion-a-year measure won Senate approval Tuesday on a 68-32 vote after House passage last week. The bulk of its cost is for the food stamp program, which aids 1 in 7 Americans.

White House portrait

President Obama will pay his first visit to Michigan in 14 months.

The White House will release details next week on the president's scheduled Friday visit to East Lansing.

He is expected to promote elements of the economic program he rolled out in his State of the Union address. Among other things, the president called for an increase in the federal minimum wage.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s auto industry figured prominently in President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night.

He started by talking about a hard-working auto worker building fuel-efficient vehicles and helping America wean itself off foreign oil. 

The president then introduced the new CEO of General Motors, who was sitting with the First Lady.  

Official White House portrait

President Barack Obama will issue a call for expanding economic opportunity in his State of the Union address. He'll press a divided Congress to help shrink the income gap between the rich and poor, while asserting that he will take action on his own if lawmakers don't.

whitehouse.gov

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - The White House greeting card being sent throughout the country has Michigan fingerprints all over it.

The Grand Rapids Press reports that President Obama's 2013 card was designed by graphic artist Chris Hankinson of Hilltop Studios in Grand Rapids, Champion Die Inc. of Comstock Park made the die and Admore Inc. of Detroit made the card. Even the hand folding of the cards was done in state at Handy Bindery Co. in Clinton Township.

NPC / screen shot from YouTube

Outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson spoke to the National Press Club this afternoon cataloging all the changes the company has made to make it profitable once again.

The U.S. Treasury sold the last of its holdings in the company earlier this month. The government said they lost about $10 billion on its bailout of over $49 billion.

Akerson said over the last four years, the company has invested more than $10 billion in its U.S. operations, including $1.27 billion announced today.

"There's that $10 billion again. But we're investing it - that will keep paying dividends to the American public that supported this company in its darkest hour," said Akerson. 

Akerson said the company is still in the early chapters of the comeback story and that they still have a lot to prove to people who left the brand for other car companies.

Akerson will step down as CEO on January 15, 2014. Akerson was with the Carlyle Group prior to taking the helm at GM in 2010. The global auto industry will see its first female CEO when Marry Barra takes over in January.

You can watch Akerson's address to the National Press Club below:

We’re into the 2013 winter holiday season, which means we’re just a few weeks away from 2014 and a new round of big statewide elections.

That includes Governor Rick Snyder’s reelection bid -- which isn’t quite “official” yet, despite an active campaign committee, ads, and political consultants.

Still, it’s good to be a Republican governor these days. The presidential race is in the rearview mirror, the economy’s ticking up slowly, and people are looking at Washington and seeing nothing but gridlock and dysfunction.

But Democrats still see opportunity for putting one of their own into the governor’s office in Michigan, as well as eight other states that President Obama carried in 2008 and 2012. Politico says the Democratic Governors Association has secured a commitment from President Obama to fundraise, campaign, and provide material support to help pick up those states.

Well, it was quite a week for our state’s largest city. Voters elected a white mayor for the first time since 1969.

Had you gone to Lloyds of London 10 years ago and bet that within a decade, America would have a black president and Detroit a white mayor, today you would be very rich indeed.

But in the city Cadillac founded, attorneys today will offer closing arguments in a trial to determine whether the city will be allowed to file for bankruptcy. While everything in Federal Judge Steven Rhodes’ courtroom is by the book, there is an element of Kabuki-theater unreality about it all.

Nobody really believes the application will be denied. If it were, creditors would tear what remains of Detroit apart with the efficiency of a pack of wolves with a lamb.

White House

President Obama is conditionally endorsing a Russian offer for international inspectors to seize and destroy chemical weapons in Syria. It's an effort to avert U.S. missile strikes.

President Obama addressed the nation last night amidst the continued erosion of support in Congress for military strikes. The President's speech drew mixed reactions from Michigan's Congressional delegation.

Todd Spangler, D.C. based reporter for the Detroit Free Press, joined us today from Washington.

Listen to the full interview above.

White House press office

The president’s speech last night on Syria is drawing mixed reactions from Michigan’s Congressional delegation.

Senator Carl Levin says the president “made a forceful and persuasive case” for confronting the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.    The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee says Congress should approve a resolution authorizing the use of force against Syria as a way of supporting diplomatic efforts.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week, Congress may act on President Obama’s request for authorization to bomb Syria.

Yesterday, a small group of protesters in Detroit rallied against military action.

They chanted “Money for Detroit, Not for War” as the roughly one hundred peace protesters walked down Woodward Avenue.

They want President Obama to drop his plan to bomb Syrian targets to punish the Syrian government for allegedly using chemical weapons on its own people.

http://www.house.gov/levin/

Speaking in Sweden today, President Obama said responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria's government is the "moral thing to do."

The President is on a three-day trip in Sweden and Russia for the G-20 summit as senior officials in his administration are working to get support for intervention in Congress.

So, let's continue to get the view from Michigan's Congressional delegation.

Yesterday on Stateside we heard from Republican Congressman Justin Amash and Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Today, we turned to Democratic Representative Sander Levin.

Listen to the full interview above.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Michigan’s congressional delegation is weighing in on the President’s call for congressional authorization for military action in Syria.

Michigan’s senior U.S. Senator says he’s glad the President is seeking congressional approval for a military strike against Syria.

In a written statement, Democratic Senator Carl Levin says “A congressional vote to authorize the use of force would strengthen the President’s decision to take military action.” Levin adds the President should also use this time to help the Syrian people “defend themselves”.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash says he wants the House to go back into session to address potential military action against Syria.

A U.S. military strike is expected in the next few days in response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Amash told a group at a Battle Creek coffee shop today that the president must consult with Congress first.

“If the president intends to use force, we expect to be called back into session,” says Amash, “We demand we be called back into session to have a vote.”

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

State Senate passes Medicaid bill

Yesterday, the Michigan state Senate passed a bill to expand Medicaid.  The legislation is now headed for the state House.  However, Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports that the bill may be delayed because the Senate did not vote to put the bill into immediate effect.

State will re-tabulate some Detroit ballots

The state elections department will recount some of the ballots from Detroit's mayoral primary.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that "state elections director Chris Thomas says they won’t discount any votes because of how they were marked."  Thomas says "you can’t disenfranchise voters because election workers make a mistake, or don’t do what they’re supposed to do.”

Michigan congressmen request collaboration between President Obama and Congress on Syria

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and Upper Peninsula Representative Dan Benishek joined seventeen other representatives requesting that President Obama consult Congress before taking action against Syria.  Many countries, including the U.S., are considering military action against Syria in light of recent chemical attacks against civilians.  Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that "isolationists in Congress oppose another U.S. military intervention in the Middle East."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Two Michigan Congressmen have signed a letter demanding the White House consult with Congress before taking military action against Syria.

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and Upper Peninsula Representative Dan Benishek joined 19 other Republicans and one Democrat lawmaker in sending a letter to the president.

They want President Obama to get an authorization from Congress before taking any military action against Syria.

I was a college student almost forty years ago when the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Richard Nixon. I watched those proceedings and hung on every word.

Many, perhaps even most people did. I remember crowds clustered around television sets in department stores at particularly dramatic points in the testimony. When the members finally voted to recommend impeachment, many of them did in voices breaking with emotion. They knew this was an almost unimaginably huge step.

The congressmen knew that only one other President had been impeached in history – Andrew Johnson, more than a century before. They also knew that history had judged very harshly those congressmen and senators who supported removing that president, and praised those who managed to stop his conviction.

Impeachment, those congressmen knew, was the nuclear option in American constitutional democracy. In the end, President Nixon resigned before he could be impeached, convicted, and removed from office, as he surely would have been.

I thought that would be the only attempt at impeaching a president I would ever see, and I was, of course, wrong. Twenty-five years later, the house actually impeached President Clinton for what really amounted to lying about sex. The senate never came close to convicting him, and the entire episode was seen as low farce.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a dispute between President Obama and congressional Republicans which is directly affecting the lives of Michigan workers.

At issue is the president’s authority to make "recess" appointments.

Recess appointments are made when the president fills a governmental position while the Congress is in recess.

In this case, President Obama filled three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board without getting his appointees confirmed by Congress.

Lindsey Smith/Michigan Radio

President Obama has approved a disaster declaration for 16 Michigan counties hard hit by spring floods.   

Heavy rains in April and May inundated communities across the state. 

The president’s disaster declaration will help communities repair and rebuild roads, bridges and other public infrastructure damaged in the flooding. The disaster declaration does not include assistance for individuals or businesses.

Pablo Martinez Monsivai/Greenwichtime.com

President Barack Obama has had a briefing from two Lansing-area teenagers about their new technology for warning swimmers about dangerous off-shore currents.

19-year-old Spencer Ottarson and 17-year-old Julie Xu represented Williamston High School on Monday as of 12 teams that presented their science projects at the White House's third science fair.

Obama examined their Offshore Rip Current Alert System, which was on display in the East Garden.

Official portrait

Update 4:50 p.m.

Sen. Levin's office says as a precaution, the Saginaw office will remain closed until further notice. In a statement, Levin said: 

“Law enforcement officials are performing tests on the suspicious letter that was delivered to my Saginaw office. We do not expect to learn at least a preliminary result of those tests until late tonight or tomorrow. The staffer who discovered the letter is being kept overnight at a local hospital for precautionary reasons, but has no symptoms. We do not know yet if the letter has any connection to suspicious mail sent to other public officials. I want to repeat how grateful I am to local, state and federal authorities who reacted so quickly and professionally, and especially to my Saginaw staff for being so vigilant."

4:35 p.m.

An FBI spokesman says the incident is still under investigation, but that people were allowed to return to the building a little after 3 p.m.

1:15 p.m.

Senator Carl Levin's office in Saginaw was evacuated this morning after a staffer received a suspicious-looking letter.

The letter was unopened and authorities still don't know whether it presented a threat, Levin wrote in a statement.

"Earlier today, a staffer at my Saginaw regional office received a suspicious-looking letter," he wrote. "The letter was not opened, and the staffer followed the proper protocols for the situation, including alerting the authorities, who are now investigating. We do not know yet if the mail presented a threat. I’m grateful for my staff’s quick response and for government personnel at all levels who are responding."

Levin is in Washington, D.C. today. Two staffers work in the Saginaw office.

Authorities in Washington are investigating suspicious packages sent to President Barack Obama and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker (R) that contained traces of the poison ricin.

Capitol Police are also investigating other suspicious packages found in Senate office buildings surrounding the Capitol.

- Joseph Lichterman, Michigan Radio Newsroom

AARP

Next week, President Barack Obama will present his budget to Congress. 

There's a lot of speculation about what changes will be proposed for Medicare and Social Security.

Specifically, some analysts are focusing on something called 'chained CPI.'

Pure Michigan: President Obama's Petoskey stone

Jan 25, 2013
Pete Souza / The White House

Jennifer Granholm might not have found a place in Obama's second-term Cabinet, but at least there is a Petoskey stone in the Oval Office.

A photo of Obama tapping the stone on his desk was posted by White House photographer Pete Souza last week.

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