FBI probes report of fireworks igniting aboard jet at Metro Airport

Romulus — A passenger aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam set off fireworks as the plane landed at Metro Airport Friday afternoon, according to CNN.

The FBI has dispatched agents to investigate the incident, according to agency spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold.

The flight, with 178 passengers aboard, landed safely. The man reportedly received minor injuries when other travelers aboard the flight attempted to subdue him.

http://detroitnews.com/article/20091225/METRO05/912250391/FBI-investigates-report-of-hijacking-attempt-at-Metro-Airport

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Retailers Head for Exits in Detroit

DETROIT — They call this the Motor City, but you have to leave town to buy a Chrysler or a Jeep.

Borders Inc. was founded 40 miles away, but the only one of the chain’s bookstores here closed this month. And Starbucks Corp., famous for saturating U.S. cities with its storefronts, has only four left in this city of 900,000 after closures last summer.

Fabrizio Costantini for the Wall Street JournalLochmoor Chrysler Jeep on Detroit’s East Side has stopped selling Chrysler products, one of the 789 franchises Chrysler is dropping from its retail network.

There was a time early in the decade when downtown Detroit was sprouting new cafes and shops, and residents began to nurture hopes of a rebound. But lately, they are finding it increasingly tough to buy groceries or get a cup of fresh-roast coffee as the 11th largest U.S. city struggles with the recession and the auto-industry crisis.

No national grocery chain operates a store here. A lack of outlets that sell fresh produce and meat has led the United Food and Commercial Workers union and a community group to think about building a grocery store of its own.

One of the few remaining bookstores is the massive used-book outlet John K. King has operated out of an abandoned glove factory since 1983. But Mr. King is considering moving his operations to the suburbs.

Last week, Lochmoor Chrysler Jeep on Detroit’s East Side stopped selling Chrysler products, one of the 789 franchises Chrysler Group LLC is dropping from its retail network. It was Detroit’s last Chrysler Jeep store.

“The lack of retail is one of the biggest challenges the city faces,” said James Bieri, president of Bieri Co., a Detroit-based real-estate brokerage. “Trying to understand how to get it to come back will be one of the most important keys to its resurgence — if it ever has one.”

Detroit’s woes are largely rooted in the collapse of the auto industry. General Motors Corp., one of downtown’s largest employers and the last of the Big Three auto makers with its headquarters here, has drastically cut white-collar workers and been offered incentives to move to the suburbs. Other local businesses that serviced the auto maker, from ad agencies and accounting firms to newsstands and shoe-shine outlets, also have been hurt.

The city’s 22.8% unemployment rate is among the highest in the U.S.; 30% of residents are on food stamps.

“As the city loses so much, the tax base shrinks and the city has to cut back services,” said Margaret Dewar, a professor of urban planning at the University of Michigan. That causes such hassles for retailers as longer police-response times, as well as less-frequent snow plowing and trash pickup.

While all of southeast Michigan is hurting because of the auto-industry’s troubles, Detroit’s problems are compounded by decades of flight to the suburbs.

Hundreds of buildings were left vacant by the nearly one million residents who have left. Thousands of businesses have closed since the city’s population peaked six decades ago.

Navigating zoning rules and other red tape to develop land for big-box stores that might cater to a low-income clientele is daunting.

The lack of grocery stores is especially problematic. The last two mainstream chain groceries closed in 2007, when The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. sold most of the southeast Michigan stores in its Farmer Jack chain to Kroger Corp., which declined to purchase the chain’s two Detroit locations, causing them to close.

A 2007 study found that more than half of Detroit residents had to travel twice as far to reach a grocery store than a fast-food outlet or convenience store.

Michelle Robinson, 42 years old, does most of her shopping at big-box stores in the suburbs. When visitors staying at the hotel near her downtown office ask where to shop, she sends them to a mall in Dearborn, 12 miles away.

A few retailers are thriving. Family Dollar Stores Inc. has opened 25 outlets since 2003. A handful of independent coffee shops and a newly opened Tim Horton’s franchise cater to workers downtown.

Discount grocer Aldi Inc. opened stores in the city in 2001 and 2005. A spokeswoman said the chain is “very bullish” on Detroit. Farmer’s markets draw crowds looking for fresh produce.

Olga Stella, an official at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, works to persuade businesses to move to the city. She says companies have underestimated Detroit’s economic potential and that Aldi and Family Dollar are proof there’s money to be made here.

Meanwhile, the former Lochmoor Chrysler Jeep is now Lochmoor Automotive Group, a used-car dealership and repair shop. Gina Russo, daughter of the dealer’s longtime owner, is being groomed to take over the family business. She has agreed to start selling small pickup trucks made by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124510185111216455.html#printMode

Detroit School Lacks Toilet Paper, Light Bulbs

*Welcome to the new America. Hang the bailout supporters for the crime of treason. Maybe congress dems and reps can spare a roll? They did get a pay raise!*

DETROIT — A Detroit elementary school is asking for donations of toilet paper and light bulbs to keep their school functioning.

The principal of the Academy of Americas sent a letter to staff, parents and partners asking for donations of items “that are of the utmost importance for proper school functioning and most importantly for student health and safety.”

In the letter, Principal Naomi Khalil cited budget constraints within the district as the reason why the school could no longer stock the items.

The district is grappling with a more than $400 million budget deficit and is on the verge of being assigned an emergency financial manager by the state.

The letter asks for toilet paper, paper towel rolls, trash bags and 60, 100 or 150-watt light bulbs.

“We realize that the economic situation is stressful for our entire community, but we are asking for your collaboration,” wrote Khalil. “We thank you for your cooperation and we hope that as a school community we can pull together to guarantee the best possible educational environment for our children.”

Parents said a letter went out asking for supplies at the start of the school year.

“They sent out a letter for pencils, pens, they put Kleenex on there,” said parent Danny Huddleston.

A spokeswoman for the district said the school is not running out of supplies but instead is asking for them to ensure they have sufficient supplies to what they already have.

But at least one parent said he doesn’t mind helping out the school no matter the circumstance.

“I’m all about helping the school. If that’s what they need then that’s what we need to see what we can do to help the out,” said Juan Oroczo.

Donations are being accepted at the school’s front office, beginning Jan. 12.

The school is located at 5680 Konkel St. in Detroit.

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/18430596/detail.html#-

Detroit papers drop home delivery to 3 days a week

DETROIT (AP) — Beset by falling revenue, Detroit’s newspapers announced Tuesday that they plan to offer only three days of home delivery and will push their online editions instead, making the city the largest in the nation to undergo such a makeover.

The Detroit Media Partnership, which runs the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News, expects to cut about 9 percent of its work force but “hopefully” less, and there will be no job reductions in the newsrooms of either paper, said David Hunke, Free Press publisher and chief executive of the partnership.

“We’re here because we’re fighting for our survival,” Hunke said at a news conference. “We’re also here because we have an absolute resolve to not only save but rethink and rebuild two of the greatest newspapers in this country.”

Hunke described the moves as “a geometric leap forward.”

The calculation made by the Detroit papers reflects a decision facing newspapers across the country. With circulation dropping as readers increasingly get their news online, several publishers have tried ending delivery to costlier outlying areas and publishing on only some days of the week. By curtailing home delivery, the papers reduce printing, fuel and labor expenses.

The key question, though, is whether the cost savings from producing fewer print editions are worth the resulting loss of print advertising. What makes the decision difficult is that while print advertising is being clipped by the recession anyway, significant ad revenue online is not easy to come by either.

“Our decision to limit home delivery to three days a week reflects the reality that major newspaper markets are facing daunting economic challenges,” Hunke said in a statement. “Advertising in this economy is down and costs are up. We can’t live in the past.”

He added: “Today consumers are more empowered then ever before. … That means we have to change the way we deliver that news — not just in subtle ways, but in fundamental ways.”

The Detroit Media Partnership, which includes business and editorial operations for the newspapers, has 2,151 employees.

Ron Renaud, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 372, which represents delivery personnel, said after he and other union leaders met with Detroit newspaper officials that the executives “took a long hard look. They feel they need to do something to maintain two newspapers.” Renaud said he fears drivers and other members of his union “will be hardest hit.”

Beginning in March, the Free Press will be delivered on days that are among the busiest for advertising: Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, while the News will be delivered Thursdays and Fridays. The News does not have a Sunday paper.

Roughly 32-page editions of both newspapers will be sold at newsstands on other days and be available online. Both papers will maintain their free Web sites, freep.com and detnews.com.

Detroit would be the largest metro area to have its daily papers changed so thoroughly.

The Daily Tribune in Royal Oak, a Detroit suburb, recently cut its print edition to four days a week from six. In Arizona, the East Valley Tribune near Phoenix next year plans to have print editions on four days instead of seven. The afternoon newspaper in Madison, Wis., shifted to being an Internet publication this year, except for twice-weekly free print editions.

The Christian Science Monitor recently said it would become the first national newspaper to drop its daily print edition and focus on publishing online.

“I’m skeptical. This is a sea change. No one has done it on this scale in North America,” said Lou Mleczko, president of Local 22 of the Detroit Newspaper Guild, which represents 350 newsroom employees at the papers. Mleczko said not all readers will be able to change their habits and read the paper online.

The Free Press is the nation’s 20th-largest daily newspaper, with a weekday circulation of 298,243, double on Sunday. The News had circulation of 178,280 at the end of September. The News saw a 10 percent reduction in circulation over the past year, while the Free Press had a 6.8 percent drop.

The Free Press is owned by Gannett Co. and the News by MediaNews Group Inc., whose chief executive, William Dean Singleton, is chairman of the board at The Associated Press.

Mleczko said newspaper executives told union leaders “their current business model is unsustainable.”

“They say they’re losing money,” Mleczko said. “They didn’t say how much.”

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/081216/detroit_newspapers.html?.v=8

Great Lakes Danger…WHAT THEY DO NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW!!!!!!

For more than seven months, the nation’s top public health agency has blocked the publication of an exhaustive federal study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states, reportedly because it contains such potentially “alarming information” as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates.

The 400-plus-page study, Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern, was undertaken by a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the request of the International Joint Commission, an independent bilateral organization that advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on the use and quality of boundary waters between the two countries. The study was originally scheduled for release in July 2007 by the IJC and the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

The Center for Public Integrity has obtained the study, which warns that more than nine million people who live in the more than two dozen “areas of concern”—including such major metropolitan areas as Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee—may face elevated health risks from being exposed to dioxin, PCBs, pesticides, lead, mercury, or six other hazardous pollutants.

In many of the geographic areas studied, researchers found low birth weights, elevated rates of infant mortality and premature births, and elevated death rates from breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.

Since 2004, dozens of experts have reviewed various drafts of the study, including senior scientists at the CDC, Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies, as well as scientists from universities and state governments, according to sources familiar with the history of the project.

“It raises very important questions,” Dr. Peter Orris, a professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health in Chicago and one of three experts who reviewed the study for ATSDR, told the Center. While Orris acknowledged that the study does not determine cause and effect—a point the study itself emphasizes—its release, he said, is crucial to pointing the way for further esearch. “Communities could demand that those questions be answered in a more systematic way,” he said. “Not to release it is putting your head under the sand.”

In a December 2007 letter to ATSDR in which he called for the release of the study, Orris wrote: “This report, which has taken years in production, was subjected to independent expert review by the IJC’s Health Professionals Task Force and other boards, over 20 EPA scientists, state agency scientists from New York and Minnesota, three academics (including myself), and multiple reviews within ATSDR. As such, this is perhaps the most extensively critiqued report, internally and externally, that I have heard of.”

Last July, several days before the study was to be released, ATSDR suddenly withdrew it, saying that it needed further review. In a letter to Christopher De Rosa, then the director of the agency’s division of toxicology and environmental medicine, Dr. Howard Frumkin, ATSDR’s chief, wrote that the quality of the study was “well below expectations.” When the Center contacted Frumkin’s office, a spokesman said that he was not available for comment and that the study was “still under review.”

De Rosa, who oversaw the study and has pressed for its release, referred the Center’s requests for an interview to ATSDR’s public affairs office, which, over a period of two weeks, has declined to make him available for comment. In an e-mail obtained by the Center, De Rosa wrote to Frumkin that the delay in publishing the study has had “the appearance of censorship of science and distribution of factual information regarding the health status of vulnerable communities.”

Some members of Congress seem to agree. In a February 6, 2008, letter to CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding, who’s also administrator of ATSDR, a trio of powerful congressional Democrats—including Representative Bart Gordon of Tennessee, chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology—complained about the delay in releasing the report. The Center for Public Integrity obtained a copy of the letter to Gerberding, which notes that the full committee is reviewing “disturbing allegations about interference with the work of government scientists” at ATSDR. “You and Dr. Frumkin were made aware of the Committee’s concerns on this matter last December,” the letter adds, “but we have still not heard any explanation for the decision to cancel the release of the report.”

Canadian biologist Michael Gilbertson, a former IJC staffer and another of the three peer reviewers, told the Center that the study has been suppressed because it suggests that vulnerable populations have been harmed by industrial pollutants. “It’s not good because it’s inconvenient,” Gilbertson said. “The whole problem with all this kind of work is wrapped up in that word ‘injury.’ If you have injury, that implies liability. Liability, of course, implies damages, legal processes, and costs of remedial action. The governments, frankly, in both countries are so heavily aligned with, particularly, the chemical industry, that the word amongst the bureaucracies is that they really do not want any evidence of effect or injury to be allowed out there.”

The IJC requested the study in 2001. Researchers selected by the ATSDR not only reviewed data from hazardous waste sites, toxic releases, and discharges of pollutants but also, for the first time, mapped the locations of schools, hospitals, and other facilities to assess the proximity of vulnerable populations to the sources of environmental contaminants. In March 2004, an official of the IJC wrote to De Rosa to thank him for his role in the study, saying that he was “enthusiastic about sharing this information with Great Lakes Basin stakeholders and governments,” and adding, “You are to be
commended for your extraordinary efforts.”

Unlike his Canadian counterpart, however, the ATSDR’s Frumkin seems anything but thankful. De Rosa, a highly respected scientist with a strong international reputation from his 15 years in charge of ATSDR’s division of toxicology and environmental medicine, was demoted after he pushed Frumkin to publish the Great Lakes report and other studies. De Rosa is seeking reinstatement to his former position, claiming that Frumkin illegally retaliated against him. Phone calls to ATSDR seeking comment about the pending personnel dispute were not returned.

“I think this is really pretty outrageous, both to Chris personally and to the report,” Dr. David Carpenter, a professor of public health at the State University of New York at Albany and another of ATSDR’s peer reviewers, told the Center for Public Integrity.

Some members of Congress have also taken De Rosa’s side. That same February 6 letter to Gerberding, which was co-signed by Representative Brad Miller of North Carolina, chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Science and Technology Committee, and Representative Nick Lampson of Texas, chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, expressed concern that “management may have retaliated against” De Rosa for blowing the whistle on ATSDR’s conduct related to this investigation and another involving work on formaldehyde in trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “The public is well served by federal employees willing to speak up when federal agencies act improperly, and Congress depends upon whistle blowers for effective oversight,” the letter states. “We will not tolerate retaliation against any whistle blowers.”

Barry Johnson, a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service and a former assistant administrator of ATSDR, told the Center that before he left in 1999 he recommended that the agency investigate the dangers that chemical contaminants might pose to residents of the Great Lakes states.

“This research is quite important to the public health of people who reside in that area,” Johnson said of the study. “It was done with the full knowledge and support of IJC, and many local health departments went through this in various reviews. I don’t understand why this work has not been released; it should be and it must be released. In 37 years of public service, I’ve never run into a situation like this.”

http://www.publicintegrity.org/projects/entry/359/

Forbes.com list of ‘fastest-dying’ cities includes four in Ohio

*Living in Columbus made me feel EVERYTHING was dead*

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/business/stories/2008/08/05/forbes.html?sid=101

Four of America’s 10 fastest-dying cities are in the Buckeye State, according to a list produced by Forbes magazine.

Canton, Cleveland, Dayton and Youngstown get the dubious distinction, based on their anemic population growth and their sluggish gains in overall economic activity.

“Despite a decade of national prosperity, the former manufacturing backbone of the U.S. is in rougher shape than ever, still searching for some way to replace its long-stilled smokestacks,” said the Forbes article, published online today.

Ohio’s four cities are the most of any state on the list, followed by Michigan with two, Detroit and Flint.

The 10 cities are as follows in alphabetical order, with comments from the article about the Ohio cities.

– Buffalo, N.Y.

– Canton: “Like many cities on our list, the Canton-Massillon area has been victim to the decline of the so-called Rust Belt.”

– Charleston, W.Va.

– Cleveland: “Only Pittsburgh and New Orleans have seen sharper population declines this decade, and New Orleans was because of a natural disaster.”

– Dayton: “Dayton has suffered as manufacturing in the region has gradually tapered off. It has been particularly hard hit by the decline in automotive manufacturing.”

– Detroit

– Flint, Mich.

– Scranton, Pa.

– Springfield, Mass.

– Youngstown: “It’s been many years since the Republic Steel Company dominated the economy of Youngstown, Ohio, and nearby Warren and Boardman, Ohio.”