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CONGRESS-FRESHMEN DEMOCRATS

Freshmen House Dems cut different paths across Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON (AP) — One group went to the White House with Republicans to talk about border security and reopening shuttered parts of the government.

Another, led by social media stars, marched around Capitol Hill in a widely-posted but futile search for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — hashtag #WheresMitch.

The Democrats’ two paths within a 12-hour stretch this week demonstrated the dramatic differences emerging among members of the historic freshman class of House Democrats that — together — helped flip the House from Republican control in November’s elections. The celebrity-studded group includes a record number of women, a new crop of veterans and diversity never before seen in Congress.

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REDISTRICTING-MICHIGAN

Michigan secretary of state wants deal on redistricting suit

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — New Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is seeking to settle a lawsuit that could upset districts in the Michigan Legislature and the state’s congressional delegation.

The Democrat on Thursday filed a brief seeking to halt a trial scheduled for Feb. 5. The move could potentially lead to the redrawing of the maps before the 2020 election.

Benson says it is “clear” that a federal judge in Detroit has found “significant evidence of partisan gerrymandering.” Democrats and others in 2017 sued to challenge the Republican-drawn seats.

Republicans involved in the case either declined to comment or could not be reached Thursday night.

The maps are in effect through the 2020 election.

Voters in November approved a plan to take redistricting away from lawmakers starting in the 2022 election.

AP-GYM-DOCTOR-SEXUAL-ASSAULT-MICHIGAN-STATE-THE-LATEST

The Latest: Faculty supports new Michigan State president

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University faculty members are supporting the appointment of a former dean to lead the university following the resignation of John Engler.

Engler was pushed to step down as interim president after making controversial comments about some victims of former sports doctor and convicted sex abuser Larry Nassar. Engler said Wednesday that he’d resign next week, but the Board of Trustees voted Thursday to make the resignation immediate .

The board appointed Satish Udpa to replace him. Udpa is the school’s executive vice president for administration and spent seven years as the dean of the College of Engineering.

Udpa is being praised by at-large members of Michigan State’s Steering Committee and Faculty Senate. They called Udpa “a respected member of the MSU community” and thanked him for accepting the challenge of leading the school.

The group says Udpa could count on them to “do everything possible” to make the transition to president successful.

SNOW WOES

UP community hurt by ailing snow removal equipment

CALUMET, Mich. (AP) — There’s a crisis in one snowy Upper Peninsula community: Calumet’s snow removal equipment is on the ropes.

Street department superintendent Marc Klein says a large snow blower that attaches to trucks doesn’t work. The Daily Mining Gazette says he told the Calumet Village Council that some replacement parts haven’t been made in nearly 30 years.

Klein says a backup purchased from the city of Houghton is in worse shape. Calumet is in Houghton County on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The region typically gets pounded by snow.

Klein says Calumet is at “the mercy of Mother Nature” unless it can borrow or buy something.

ROBOTICS COMPETITION

Thousands of students gather for robotics competition

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — Thousands of students from 10 states are gathering in northern Ohio for a regional robotics competition.

The Kalahari Classics VEX Robotics Competition began Thursday and continues through Saturday at Kalahari Resort Conference Center in Sandusky in northern Ohio.

The competitions involve 270 teams of students on the elementary, middle school and high school level from Ohio, California, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Teams compete in matches against each other using robots created before the competition in the hope of qualifying for the VEX World Championship in April in Louisville, Kentucky.

UPPER PENINSULA MINE

Tribe appeals rejection of its challenge to mining permit

KESHENA, Wis. (AP) — A native tribe is appealing a federal judge’s dismissal of its challenge to a state permit for a zinc and gold mine planned for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin contends the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrongly allowed Michigan to handle permitting for Aquila Resources’ Back Forty project. The mine would be located near the Menominee River and the Wisconsin line.

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality issued the final required permit in June.

U.S. District Judge William Griesbach in December rejected the tribe’s lawsuit. The tribe said Thursday it’s asking the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the ruling.

The tribe contends the project would harm the river and destroy burial grounds and cultural sites.

Aquila’s Chantae Lessard says the company will protect the environment and cultural resources.

MELISSA GILBERT-ESTATE AUCTION

Melissa Gilbert, Timothy Busfield sell items in estate sale

(Information from: Livingston Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com)

GENOA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — An estate sale in Michigan sold more than 200 items belonging to “Little House on the Prairie” star Melissa Gilbert and her husband, Emmy-winning actor Timothy Busfield.

The Livingston Daily Press & Argus reports that American Eagle Auction & Appraisal Company’s online estate auction held this month included a red wedding dress, signed memorabilia and awards Gilbert received.

Auction house owner Kenny Lindsay says interest in the sale exceeded expectations. The online auction catalog received about 58,000 views.

Redford resident Stacy Luoma was one of the bidders. The 45-year-old took home a nightgown, dresser, quilts and boots. Luoma says she grew up watching Gilbert, who is one of her favorite actresses.

Gilbert and Busfield had been living in Livingston County since 2013, but relocated this year to New York City.

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AUDI EMISSIONS-INDICTMENT

Grand jury charges 4 Audi managers in emissions case

DETROIT (AP) — A federal grand jury in Detroit has indicted four Audi engineering managers from Germany in a widening diesel emissions cheating scandal.

Richard Bauder, Axel Eiser, Stefan Knirsch and Carsten Nagel were named in a 12-count indictment alleging conspiracy, wire fraud and violations of the Clean Air Act.

The indictment alleges the men took part in nearly a decade-long conspiracy to deceive the Environmental Protection Agency by cheating on emissions tests for 3-liter diesel engines.

It’s not clear whether the men are in custody. Messages were left Thursday seeking comment from government and Audi spokesmen.

Audi is a luxury brand owned by German automaker Volkswagen. VW pleaded guilty in 2016 to criminal charges in the scandal and will pay more than $30 billion in penalties and settlement costs.

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