Category: Breaking News Written by Hillary Crosley , The Root
Though President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner seemed on the verge of a fiscal-cliff agreement, the deadline continues to loom as both Congress and the POTUS have departed Washington, D.C., for the holidays, according to CBS News.
How did things fall apart? Here's the short(ish) version: Mr. Obama and Boehner went back and forth with offers and counteroffers until they got pretty close to each other. In their most recent offers, depending on how you count it all up, Mr. Obama was offering roughly $1.2 trillion in revenue and $800 billion in spending cuts; Boehner was offering $1 trillion in revenue and $1 trillion in spending cuts.
Then Boehner decided to put forth his "Plan B," the most notable component of which was where he set the threshold for tax rates to rise when the Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of the year. Mr. Obama campaigned on allowing the rates to revert to Clinton-era levels on income over $250,000, a position that a majority of Americans support; in "cliff" negotiations, he offered to set it at $400,000. Boehner's "Plan B" set that rate at $1 million.
The White House said it had been told by House Republicans that Boehner had decided to pursue "Plan B" because he realized his own latest "cliff" offer couldn't pass the House. The speaker's office dismissed that claim, but it was hard not to conclude that it had the ring of truth after what took place Thursday night. That's when Boehner's "Plan B," which he had repeatedly cast as evidence that the GOP was putting forward a plan to avert the "cliff," fell apart.
Last Updated on Monday, 24 December 2012 10:40
Category: Breaking News Written by Hillary Crosley , The Root
On Friday, President Obama officially nominated former Sen. John Kerry for secretary of state. If confirmed, the Massachusetts Democrat, whom the POTUS described in the Washington Post as someone who "is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training," will replace current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the position.
Kerry, 69, has tempered the approach he adopted as a freshman firebrand. But he has continued to practice personal, face-to-face diplomacy, often in the service of President Obama's foreign policy. In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and elsewhere, he has used his stature as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to carry messages, gather information and smooth ruffled feathers for the president.
"In a sense, John's entire life has prepared him for this role," Obama said Friday in nominating Kerry to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. "I think it's fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry. And this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead."
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Last Updated on Monday, 24 December 2012 09:33
Category: Breaking News Written by Hillary Crosley , The Root
On Saturday, the Rev. Al Sharpton announced his plans to protest the NRA in support of stronger gun control laws. A nod to his Occupy the Corner campaign earlier this year, during which locals gathered at some of New York's most violent intersections to exhibit solidarity against rising gun violence, Sharpton referenced the shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and called for action, reports the Daily News.
"We need to get a real movement against those who get rich off the perpetuation of killing," said the civil rights leader ...
He urged Congress to pass meaningful gun control legislation, ripping its inaction after the mass shooting at Virginia Tech or the one in Tucson that gravely wounded then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six others.
"They shot one of their legislators in Tucson and they still didn't put a new bill on the table," he said.
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Last Updated on Monday, 24 December 2012 09:17
Category: Breaking News Written by Zack Burgess
To say that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has had a busy year is an understatement, as he has worked to put the state back on track. Despite some very tough decisions, for example, signing right to work legislation, he still has a very favorable approval rating.
This morning the governor held a media roundtable where he talked about what he thinks has been a very progressive 2012, where he has signed numerous bills into law, campaigned against ballot proposals and navigated a plethora of controversial issues.
“I think 2012 was a very active year,” said Snyder. “I think we accomplished a lot. The goal is to reinvent our state. If you step back and look…I don’t think any Michiganders want to return back to the Michigan of 2008-2009 – we were at the bottom. So we stepped up and have taken a new approach.”
The governor said he was very proud of creating what he calls a customer service government. He also said he was particularly proud of a deal on a new bridge to Canada and repealing an equipment tax paid by businesses.
Of course he talked about Detroit and where he stands on the city’s current troubles. He said, "The crisis is getting worse every day." Snyder reiterated that he is waiting on a report by a review team before deciding whether to appoint an emergency manager.
Even with the city in crisis, the Snyder said he was very proud of this week’s press conference where he signed several bills that will create the Detroit Lighting Authority as well as create a rapid regional transit system. One of the bills will also permit the city’s Downtown Development Authority to capture funds that will be used to help Mike Ilitch, owner of the Tigers and Red Wings, with his proposed $650-million sports and entertainment complex. There is also a bill that will help the Eastern Market to get funding to expand Shed 5, which will help them give assistance to those who make food products locally.
Snyder said he was particularly proud of the new Pathways to Potential program, where social workers will support the neighborhood's families with job placement assistance and connections to both public and nonprofit resources.
“I’m fired up for another year,” Snyder said. “I have learned a lot. This is my state, this is my home. There is a very small window here and this is really about helping people. And you when have the opportunity…you do all that you can do.”
Last Updated on Friday, 21 December 2012 13:40
Category: Breaking News Written by Mike Feld, WWJ
Lions fans who have been looking for answers this season finally have some good news: Calvin Johnson has an explanation for you.
Megratron told Stoney and Sara during their weekly chat that the Lions’ woes this season are centered around one simple hiccup that has plagued the team through the first 14 games of the year.
“The lack to be able to come up with that one more play,” Johnson said. “I can just talk about the offense; coming up with that one more play to seal the game or to prolong a drive. Things like that. Those little things.”
The little things have quickly added up in a big way as the season’s conclusion nears. For a team that had expectations of another playoff berth and hopes of an NFC North division title, the thought of celebrating yet another April Super Bowl – the NFL draft – is disheartening.
But is it worse than the infamous 0-16 season of 2008? Johnson can’t answer that, but he can see why some people feel that way.
“That 0-16 hurt,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to compare the two, but [it’s] the fact that we had the expectations for ourselves and not what everybody else put on. The expectations that the guys on the team had … we didn’t come close.”
There may not be a bigger metaphor for how far the team actually was than last Sunday’s blowout loss to Arizona.
The 38-10 defeat was not only the first time the Lions faced a true blowout, but it was perhaps the worst game of Matthew Stafford’s career.
It makes sense that the franchise quarterback would come out after the dismal performance – one that included to pick-sixes – and blame himself for that loss.
Johnson, however, believes it wasn’t on him.
“I went up and told him that afterwards,” he said. “‘It’s not just you. It’s a team thing. It takes 11 to get this thing done. We’re all in it together.”
The [Honolulu Blue and] Silver lining on this season is that No. 81 has accomplished quite a bit individually – including 1,667 receiving yards and a shot at breaking Jerry Rice’s single-season yardage mark.
Johnson is still coy about the potential of breaking the record, but he can’t help but admit it’s still on his mind.
“I’ll have to honestly say, maybe as you get real close to it,” Johnson said. “[But] you just want to go out, get the play. You can’t really be worried about it at the time. If it happens, it happens.”
It’s not just CJ who has something to play for, however. Usually, a disappointing season results in a high turnover rate, meaning many guys are playing for their jobs right now.
“We need, for the remainder of this season, playmakers to step up so you can be here next here, or they’re going to make some moves,” Johnson said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Asked what area he’d like to see improve during the offseason, Johnson’s answer was simple.
“If we solidify the X position,” Johnson said. “Somebody that could receive some favorable coverage for the majority [of plays]. That’s going to be an opportunity for that person to easily solidify that position by beating those one-on-one matchups.”
For those unaware, the X position was occupied by none other than Titus Young during the 2012 season.
And given the holiday season, no one could blame Johnson for making an offseason wish list just days before Christmas. But Megatron’s requests go outside of football, too. He has one appeal for Santa this season: move that impending winter storm away from Southeast Michigan this week.
“Christmas in the South, I was praying for snow,” Johnson said. “Now that I’ve come up here, I pray that we don’t get snow.”
Last Updated on Friday, 21 December 2012 10:50
Category: Breaking News Written by WWJ
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – While he doesn’t look much like a jolly old elf, the Lions Mikel Leshoure will play one in real life Thursday evening as he makes holiday wishes come true for youngsters at the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan.
At 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus, he’ll sign autographs, share gifts for the club and bring a special guest – Santa! Leshoure, a running back, partnered with Kmart to grant the club 25 Christmas wishes.
As he wears the number 25 on the field, he is excited to grant 25 wishes off the field as well. “I grew up attending the Boys and Girl Club and I know how it can play a big role in kids’ lives. It was like a second home for me,” Leshoure explains in a press release.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan (originally the Boys’ Club of Detroit) provides high quality youth development programs, sporting activities, and a safe place where youth (ages 6-18) can spend their after-school hours engaged in supervised, structured activities that keep them out of trouble and on the path toward a bright future and successful adulthood. Over the years, more than 300,000 youth have been served by B&GCSM. For more information, visit http://www.bgcsm.org.
The Club’s wish list includes:
Wii games and accessories
PlayStation 3 games
Redecorating the ‘Teen Room’
Sports equipment for the gym
Refurbishing the pool tables
A color printer for the computer lab
In addition to granting the above wishes, Leshoure will also provide: a red velvet pancake breakfast catered by Hudson Café, a chicken and macaroni and cheese dinner catered by Fishbone’s Greektown, and of course, photos of each child with him and Santa.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 December 2012 10:04
Category: Breaking News Written by Jenée Desmond-Harris , The Root
In recent years we've heard plenty about the most obvious selling point of "Obamacare" -- its extension of health insurance coverage to 30 million people.
But Slate's Matthew Yglesias says a much less noticed provision of the law -- the federal rule requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus starting in 2013 -- is already motivating chains to make strategic business decisions to develop healthier menus that could have a real impact on what we eat. Here's how:
That corporate decision-making is the key to whether the new rule drives meaningful gains in public health. If chains continue to emphasize maximum fat at minimum cost, eating habits probably won't change much. But if the labeling regulations really emphasize the dangers of high-fat foods and the benefits of fruits and vegetables, it could encourage healthier eating.
... Many people, myself included, enjoy cooking as a hobby. And it's common for mass production to coexist indefinitely alongside artisanal methods or hobbies. Neither knitting nor custom-built furniture has vanished from the landscape, but home production of these items isn't economically significant. Living standards improve because mass producers get better at making things, not because people turn backward to inefficient small-scale methods.
Eating is no different. If the worst of fast food is replaced by anything, it will be better fast food. Companies are out there trying to make it happen, and so far they're succeeding in niche markets. Policies forcing more and more obvious disclosure of nutritional information should help the process along by at least creating a situation where firms that succeed in designing more healthful options have a way to credibly turn that into a business advantage.
It very well might not work. But diet and nutrition are arguably more important drivers of health than health care per se, and almost all of us eat more often than we see the doctor. So if a changing regulatory environment does encourage shifts in business models, this relatively undebated element of the new health care law could end up being one of the most significant.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 December 2012 09:28
Category: Breaking News Written by CNN
(CNN) -- Across the nation Friday morning, church bells will toll. Flags will fly at half-staff. Many websites will go silent. And office workers and homemakers, students and nursing home residents, Americans in at least 29 states will stop whatever they're doing to remember the lives snatched when a gunman burst into a Connecticut elementary school exactly a week ago and rained hell.
Alaska, Massachusetts and South Carolina are among states that have declared a moment of silence for 9:30 a.m., marking the hour one week ago that the gunman forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot 20 students, six adults then himself dead in Newtown.
Adam Lanza had killed his mother before arriving at the school.
A little over an hour later, one group that has kept mum through all the calls for gun control will break its silence: the National Rifle Association.
The NRA news conference with executive director Wayne LaPierre will begin at 10:45 a.m.
The gun rights organization had initially deactivated its Facebook page, stopped tweeting on its Twitter account and had been issuing a "no comment" to any media outlet, including CNN, seeking a response.
But late Tuesday, the group broke that silence with a statement:
"The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters -- and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown. ... The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again," the group said. Both its Facebook and Twitter presences became active again.
Despite the relative silence early on from the powerful lobbying group's offices in Fairfax, Virginia, the organization is regrouping in anticipation of a massive legislative push for gun control legislation, a gun policy expert said.
Kristin Goss, an associate professor of public policy and political science at Duke University and author of "Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control in America," said that strategy is part of the organization's playbook after an incident such as this one.
After such a terrifying event, when there is a national outcry, the NRA typically lays low, Goss said.
"They're used to seeing this cycle, express condolences and hope the attention will shift to a new issue."
Last Updated on Friday, 21 December 2012 09:20
Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
DETROIT—In a press conference Wednesday afternoon Mayor Dave Bing announced ten cost saving and revenue collection measures estimated to save the city $50 million annually.
Chief Financial Officer Jack Martin and Finance Director Cheryl Johnson joined Bing on Wednesday as they rolled out a plan to collect on delinquent debts, sell assets, and slice city payroll.
The “revenue enhancement initiative” calls for amnesty on delinquent taxes and fines paid in full during a 30-day window for each amnesty program. Unpaid balances will be referred to an outside collection agency with penalties.
“There are a lot of people who think we haven’t done anything, that we’re just sitting around twiddling our thumbs but we’ve already collected over $11 million year to date and I think we’re going to reach that dollar amount of $50 million,” Bing said.
Martin said the city would likely save more than the estimated amount.
“These are conservative estimates. We hope that we will do much better than we are projecting in thee charts,” Martin said.
Officials estimated the city would collect nearly than 20 million in delinquent property and income taxes, parking judgments, miscellaneous receivables and other debts through “aggressive collections.”
The City plans to collect another $7.2 million through asset sales.
“We are currently negotiating to sell the Veteran Memorial building,” Martin said. “We are in process of identifying … other property that will be sold to raise additional revenue.”
A recent review of delinquent taxes found politically powerful groups owed the city millions in taxes, including the prominent Illitch family that reportedly owes $1.5 million.
Bing vowed to go after all of the city’s debtors no matter what their background.
“It doesn’t matter about the politics for me. If you owe the money we expect you to pay it or we’ll come after you,” Bing said. “We want to be right and our responsibility from this administration is to make the hard choices and do what’s right for the city of Detroit.”
Another $10 million is expected to be saved though 500 layoffs in the coming year. While Bing said he hoped to be able to spare public safety jobs, no city department of off limits.
“It’s across the board, nobody is exempt at this point,” Bing said.
Martin noted that much of the layoffs will “occur through retirement and other attrition.”
The ten-point revenue plan comes days after State officials implemented a panel to review the city finances. The result of the State’s fiscal review could lead to the appointment of an emergency financial manager to take over city finances under Public Act 72.
Bing said Wednesday’s announcement was not in response to the state finance review.
“I think there’s way too much attention given to what we’re trying to do to stave off a financial manager,” He said “I doubt somebody else could come in and do a better job than we.”
The city savings plan is the first in what could be a series of cost saving and collection measures, according to officials. The city’s financial crisis is nothing new, Bing said. The current debt collection process uses archived data to cash in on long-owed bills, some dating decades back.
“I said from day one that the city is in crisis. It hasn’t changed. What we’ve had to do is go in and build a foundation and that’s not an easy thing to do when you’re going back 15, 20 years,” Bind told reporters on Wednesday. “This is the first phase. We may go five, ten different phases as we continue to peel back the onion.
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 December 2012 12:15
Category: Breaking News Written by Michigan Chronicle
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today signed several bills that will help spur long-term economic growth in Detroit and enhance the quality of life for residents.
“The reinvention of Michigan will not be complete without a strong Detroit,” Snyder said. “These significant steps will help to energize the community by encouraging job creation and improving neighborhoods. We’re working in partnership to ensure a prosperous future for the city and all of southeast Michigan.”
“Both the Regional Transit and Public Lighting legislation are major initiatives within my Restructuring Plan for transforming Detroit,” said City of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. I am extremely pleased with the votes of approval by the legislative body on these two actions, which will lead to improved services for our citizens. In addition, the Eastern Market Bill will increase economic development in the city and enable non-profits to better serve the community and its needs. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am encouraged by this major step.”
Senate Bills 909, 911, 912, 967 and 445 establish the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties to efficiently integrate all modes of public transportation under one authority and leverage hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private investment. Enhanced mobility throughout the region will also help to create a new regional identity and culture.
In addition to creating the regional transit authority, SB 909, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Casperson, provides for local control in the Authority’s decision making and finances. Under SB 911, sponsored by state Sen. Bert Johnson, the Authority will be able ask local voters to approve a vehicle registration fee to support transit within the region. SB 912, also sponsored by Johnson, makes technical changes to the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act in support of the Authority.
SB 967, sponsored by state Sen. Virgil Smith, authorizes the Michigan Department of Transportation or a local road agency to enter into an agreement with the Authority to dedicate a portion of right of way for public transportation. SB 445, sponsored by state Sen. Rebekah Warren, provides a streamlined mechanism for managing funding between MDOT and the Authority.
“Today we are ushering the region into a new era,” Snyder said. “Metro Detroit, including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties, is home to nearly half of Michigan’s population. Connecting people with safe, reliable and efficient transit will be instrumental to our ongoing economic comeback. It will provide opportunities for job providers, working families and our young people.”
SBs 909, 911, 912, 976 and 445 are now Public Acts 387, 388, 389, 390 and 391 of 2012.
Snyder also gave approval to three bills creating a Detroit Lighting Authority. The Authority will help revitalize the tens of thousands of lighting fixtures near major population areas and schools throughout the city that are not operational. The city estimates $160 million is needed to repair or replace the lighting system.
House Bill 5688, sponsored by state Rep. Maureen Stapleton, gives the city the power to create the Authority. Its Board will be composed entirely of Detroit residents, the majority of which are professionals. It will consist of two members appointed by the Detroit City Council, as well as two members appointed by Mayor Dave Bing and one chosen by the council from a list prepared by the Mayor. HB 5705 and SB 970, sponsored by state Rep. John Walsh and state Sen. Bert Johnson, respectively, will allow existing Detroit utility taxes to be used to pay back bonds that will fund repairs, while ensuring income tax revenues can support policing in the city.
“It’s simply unacceptable that much of Detroit’s light fixtures don’t work,” Snyder said. “This is a long-overdue solution that will get those lights turned back on while maintaining local control and protecting taxpayers, which is important.”
HBs 5688 and 5705 and SB 970 are now PAs 392, 393, and 394 of 2012.
House Bill 5926, now PA 395, sponsored by state Rep. Brad Jacobsen, allows nonprofit organizations like Detroit’s Eastern Market the ability to apply for grants and loans under the Community Revitalization Program. The Michigan Strategic Fund works within the program to issue grants and loans to businesses that go toward building renovations, additional machinery and equipment, architectural or engineering surveys and improving the overall quality of existing business sites. In addition, it allows numerous nonprofit organizations to match federal grant dollars to advance their facilities and accessibility.
“This will help Detroit’s Eastern Market and other nonprofits with growth opportunities so they can continue to serve communities in a positive way,” Snyder said.
A measure also signed allows the Detroit Downtown Development Authority to continue receiving funds to support a proposed $650 million investment project by Olympia Entertainment, which is owned by the Mike Ilitch family. The development project will bring a new home to the Detroit Red Wings as well as residential, office and retail space. The project will have an expected total economic impact of $1 billion in the state. House Bill 5463, now PA 396, and sponsored by state Rep. John Walsh, authorizes the continued use of funding by the DDA for the project and does not require additional revenues.
“This is an exciting project that will create thousands of short and long-term jobs and will help further revitalize downtown Detroit,” Snyder said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 December 2012 10:42
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