BC-MI–Michigan News Digest 6 pm, MI

Here’s a look at how AP’s general news coverage is shaping up today in Michigan. Questions about today’s coverage plans are welcome and should be directed to the AP-Detroit bureau at 800-642-4125 or 313-259-0650 or apmichigan@ap.org. Corey Williams is on the desk, followed by Herbert McCann. For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at newsroom.ap.org.

A reminder this information is not for publication or broadcast, and these coverage plans are subject to change. Expected stories may not develop, or late-breaking and more newsworthy events may take precedence. Advisories, digests and digest advisories will keep you up to date. All times are Eastern.

Some TV and radio stations will receive shorter APNewsNow versions of the stories below, along with all updates.

TOP STORIES:

REDRAWING AMERICA-REDISTRICTING LAWSUITS

As the 2019 state legislative sessions get underway, a busy year of legal battles also is beginning over lingering allegations that hundreds of electoral districts across the country were illegally drawn to the disadvantage of particular voters or political parties. First up was a court hearing Thursday in Virginia, where a federal judicial panel reviewed several proposals from an outside expert to redraw some state House districts. The court had previously determined that those districts were racially gerrymandered. Next on the schedule is a February trial in Michigan, where a lawsuit by Democratic voters alleges U.S. House and state legislative districts were illegally gerrymandered by Republican officials to dilute the voting power of Democrats. A similar partisan gerrymandering trial is scheduled for March involving Ohio’s congressional districts. By David A. Lieb. SENT: 2,000 words, photos.

HEALTH DIRECTOR-WHITMER

LANSING, Mich. _ A former Obama administration official who is an executive with the nonprofit that administers the SAT will lead the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which is the state’s largest agency. Robert Gordon was named director of the 14,400-employee department on Thursday by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who took office last week. The sprawling agency, which accounts for nearly 45 percent of the $56 billion state budget, handles welfare, food assistance, Medicaid, child protection and other services. Gordon, an education policy expert, has been senior vice president of finance and global strategy at The College Board for nearly four years. He previously held jobs in the federal Department of Education and the Office of Management and Budget during Barack Obama’s presidency. By David Eggert. SENT: 415 words.

BUSINESS:

FIAT CHRYSLER-AIR BAG RECALL

DETROIT _ Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 1.6 million vehicles worldwide to replace Takata front passenger air bag inflators that can be dangerous. Takata inflators can explode with too much force, hurling shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 23 people have died from the problem worldwide. The recall covers the 2010 through 2016 Jeep Wrangler SUV, the 2010 Ram 3500 pickup and 4500/5500 Chassis Cab trucks, the 2010 and 2011 Dodge Dakota pickup, the 2010 through 2014 Dodge Challenger muscle car, the 2011 through 2015 Dodge Charger sedan, and the 2010 through 2015 Chrysler 300 sedan. SENT: 420 words, photos.

EUROPE-AUTO WOES

FRANKFURT, Germany _ The headwinds buffeting the global auto industry made themselves felt in Europe as mass-market carmaker Ford and luxury-focused Jaguar Land Rover announced sweeping restructurings that will cost thousands of jobs. By David McHugh and Danica Kirka. SENT: 640 words, photos.

With:

_ FORD-EUROPE, from FRANKFURT, Germany _ Ford Motor Co. says it is cutting jobs in Europe in a wide-ranging restructuring as it focuses on its most profitable models and shifts production toward electric cars. In a statement, the company said Thursday that “structural cost improvements will be supported by a reduction of surplus labor,” both hourly and salaried. By David McHugh. SENT: 330 words, photos.

FORD-NEW EXPLORER

DETROIT _ Ford’s aging Explorer SUV is getting a major revamp as it faces growing competition in the market for family haulers with three rows of seats. The company unveiled the new version Wednesday night at Ford Field, home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. The Explorer gets a top-to-bottom update that includes a switch from front- to rear-wheel-drive, as well as upgraded engines and transmissions, some nice standard safety features and even high-performance and gas-electric hybrid versions. SENT: 410 words, photos, video.

AROUND THE STATE:

FORMER FUNERAL HOME-COLLEGE

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. _ A Michigan community college plans to hold classes next fall in a renovated former funeral home. The Grand Haven Tribune reports that Muskegon Community College purchased the Clock Life Story Funeral Home building for $378,000. Officials expect about $300,000 in renovations before classes begin in August. The college’s Grand Haven campus is currently located at the Grand Haven Community Center. SENT: 280 words, photos pursuing.

FILM-ARETHA FRANKLIN BIOPIC

DETROIT _ The Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” is going ahead with stage director Liesel Tommy set to direct. MGM announced Thursday that Tommy will helm the film, which is to star Jennifer Hudson. The “Dreamgirls” actress was cast as the late Queen of Soul in January 2018 after Franklin selected her for the role. At the time, Hudson performed a medley of Franklin’s songs at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy bash. Callie Khouri, who penned 1991’s “Thelma & Louise,” will write the script. SENT: 130 words, photos.

IN BRIEF:

_ SENIOR HOUSING-KILLINGS: A registered sex offender charged in the fatal shootings of two people and an attempted rape inside a low-income senior complex in Detroit has been referred for a competency evaluation.

_ CONVICTIONS VACATED: A man who spent more than 20 years in prison cried as a judge erased his conviction for sexually assaulting a child.

_ HEALTH DIRECTOR-WHITMER: An executive with the nonprofit that owns the SAT will lead the largest department in Michigan government.

_ INFORMATION BREACH-MICHIGAN: Officials say a security breach at a Michigan provider of HIV/AIDS care services and substance abuse treatment has compromised some patients’ personal and medical information.

_ HUMAN WASTE SPILL-FREEWAY: A freeway in southeastern Michigan just north of the state line with Ohio has been closed after a truck hauling human waste rolled over and spilled its contents along the roadway.

_ PET CEMETERY-FUTURE: Several people whose pets are buried at a shuttered Michigan pet cemetery are suing to make sure remains of an estimated 74,000 animals there won’t be disturbed.

_ SNOWMOBILER DEATH: Authorities say a snowmobiler who had been missing since the weekend in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has been found dead.

_ DRUG LISTING: Michigan is listing a drug commonly used to treat nerve pain and seizures as a controlled substance, a step intended to fight the opioid epidemic.

SPORTS:

BKN–PISTONS-KINGS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. _ The Sacramento Kings host the Detroit Pistons on Thursday. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts at 10 p.m.

BKC–MICHIGAN-ILLINOIS

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. _ Michigan makes a road trip to the State Farm Center to take on Illinois on Thursday. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts at 8 p.m.

BKC–GREEN BAY-DETROIT

DETROIT _ Green Bay plays Detroit at Calihan Hall. UPCOMING: 150 words, more on merits. Game starts at 7 p.m.

BKC–BIG TEN THIS WEEK

Purdue’s Carsen Edwards is arguably the best guard in the Big Ten. Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ may be the best frontcourt player. Those two face off when Wisconsin hosts Purdue on Friday night. The Badgers may be the team with the best chance to challenge No. 2 Michigan and No. 6 Michigan State at the top of the conference. By Noah Trister. SENT: 450 words, photos.

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