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Flint families welcome water crisis charges, seek healing

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Some Flint residents impacted by months of lead-tainted water are looking past expected charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder and others in his administration to healing physical and emotional damages left by the crisis. Corrosive water from the Flint River which caused lead to leach from pipes is blamed with causing learning disabilities in scores of children and other medical problems among adults in the majority Black city. A pediatrician who helped call attention to childhood health risks from exposure to lead in Flint’s water says “without justice, it’s impossible to heal the scars of the crisis.”


New Michigan House speaker calls for more accountability

LANSING, Mich (AP) — Michigan House Speaker Jason Wentworth says the GOP-led Legislature must change the way the state governs and holds elected officials accountable. On the first day of the new legislative session Wednesday, Wentworth said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has damaged public trust due to the strict measures imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic and that government must act to restore that trust and improve transparency. Michigan has imposed some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions in the country during the pandemic, a point of contention for many Republicans. 


Whitmer: Michigan restaurants likely can offer dining Feb. 1

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the plan is for Michigan restaurants to reopen for indoor dining on Feb. 1, two and a half months after an order to close amid a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The current order prohibiting indoor eating and drinking was extended Wednesday. Non-contact organized sports can resume starting Saturday. Michigan is among just a few states to allow no indoor restaurant dining and is the only one without a detailed plan on how and when reopening can occur, according to the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. The state is expected to release details on the reopening next week.


Defiance of virus dining bans grows as restaurants flounder

BORING, Ore. (AP) — A growing number of restaurants nationwide are opening for indoor dining in defiance of strict COVID-19 regulations in their states, saying they are targeted unfairly and are barely hanging on. In Oregon, a movement to defy an indoor-dining ban began quietly on Jan. 1 and is gaining steam despite warnings from state inspectors and surging COVID-19 case numbers. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has also threatened restaurants with the revocation of liquor and slot machine licenses in a standoff that’s increasingly attracting the attention of far-right groups such as the People’s Rights network. Similar revolts have also played out in places with strict COVID-19 rules, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington and California.


NTSB says vehicle battery fires pose risks to 1st responders

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety investigators say electric vehicle fires pose risks to first responders, and manufacturers have inadequate guidelines to keep them safe. The National Transportation Safety Board also said in an 80-page report Wednesday there are gaps in industry safety standards and research on high-voltage lithium-ion battery fires, especially in high-speed, severe crashes. The agency has no enforcement powers and can only make recommendations. It called for manufacturers to write up vehicle-specific response guides for fighting battery fires and limiting chemical thermal runaway and reignition.


Flint water crisis: Rooted in neglect, fallout continues

The Associated Press has learned that former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water crisis. It’s the latest twist in a scandal that began in 2014 when the source of the impoverished city’s water supply was switched to save money. It made Flint a symbol of the nation’s decaying drinking water infrastructure. The majority Black city’s water system was contaminated with lead in 2014-15. It was also blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.


Key moments in Flint, Michigan’s lead-tainted water crisis

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when the city began taking water from the Flint River without treating it properly, contaminating it with lead. Numerous developments have occurred in the aftermath. The disaster made Flint a nationwide symbol of governmental mismanagement, with residents lining up for bottled water and parents fearing that their children had suffered permanent harm. Lead can damage the brain and nervous system and cause learning and behavior problems. The crisis was highlighted as an example of environmental injustice and racism. At the same time, bacteria in the water was blamed for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.


Enbridge rejects Michigan’s demand to shut down oil pipeline

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Enbridge says it will defy Michigan’s demand to shut down an oil pipeline that runs through a channel linking two of the Great Lakes. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November moved to revoke a 1953 state easement that allowed Enbridge’s Line 5 to be placed along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. The Democratic governor said the company had violated the terms and put Lake Michigan and Lake Huron at risk. In a letter Tuesday, officials with the Calgary, Alberta-based company said the issues that Whitmer raised have been fixed and the pipeline meets the easement requirements. Line 5 runs between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario, traversing parts of northern Michigan and Wisconsin.


Detroit mayor: 600-700 calls per hour for vaccinations

Operators scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations for elderly Detroit residents were receiving 600 to 700 calls per hour Tuesday for appointments as people seek more vaccines than currently are available. Mayor Mike Duggan told reporters Tuesday that the city has started scheduled vaccinations for residents 75 and older and will begin offering them to people 65 and older once more doses are received from the federal government. Detroit received about 120,000 calls Monday, but many people were not eligible yet for the vaccine. Duggan said about 40,000 people in Detroit are 75 or older.


Drive-in coming amid efforts to boost Detroit amid pandemic

DETROIT (AP) — A 65-vehicle drive-in theater is coming to downtown Detroit amid efforts to boost the city amid the coronavirus pandemic. Detroit-based Bedrock real estate and Emagine Entertainment are scheduled to open the Monroe Street Drive-In Powered By Emagine later this month with 1993’s “Jurassic Park.” Family-friendly movies will be shown on a 60-foot-by-32-foot outdoor digital projection screen on the site of a future office, retail and residential development called the Monroe Blocks. The drive-in will feature outdoor seating, pedestrian paths, concession pavilions, lighting and warming areas. Mask-wearing, social distancing and other COVID-19 virus guidelines will be enforced while visitors are outside their vehicles.