The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Friday, April 10, 2009 - 3
" Layoffs, closures
planned for Detroit
The state financial overseer of
the Detroit Public Schools yester-
day proposed closing 23 schools
and laying off 600 teachers as part
of an effort to consolidate facilities
in a shrinking district that's facing
a projected $303 million deficit.
Robert Bobb said he also asked
the state for $200 million in federal
stimulus funds to improve schools
where about 7,500 displaced stu-
dents would be sent, strengthen
safety and security, and improve
"We have the professional staff
in place to ensure that students are
placed in the optimal educational
environment, where safety and
security is at the forefront both on
the school campus as well as in the
community," Bobb said at a news
The first of a series of town hall
meetings for the public on the re-
structuring plan is scheduled for
April 28, and a final decision on the
plan is expected May 8. Bobb said
some of the laid-off teachers could
return, but another round of po-
tential school closings will be an-
nounced this summer.
can save money by
President Barack Obama says
millions of Americans can save
money by refinancing their homes
and takingadvantage of record low
rates on fixed mortgages.
Speaking at the White House,
Obama yesterday emphasized
that that average rates on 30-year
fixed-rate mortgages have dropped
to 4.78 percent. That is the lowest
rate on record.
Said the president: "People can
really take advantage of this."
Obama touted an increase in
refinancing nationwide as a sign
that federal programs to help hom-
eowners are working.
But he warned people to watch
out for scam artists. He said if peo-
ple offering to help people stay in
their homes ask for money upfront
then "it's probably a scam."
FORT WORTH, Texas
* Winds drive fires
scorching parts of
Gusting winds and dry condi-
tions fueled wildfires across Texas
and Oklahoma yesterday, destroy-
ing or damaging homes, forcing
evacuations and shutting down
parts of a major highway in Okla-
Firefighters were battling a
12.5-square-mile wildfire in Wil-
barger County that scorched sev-
eral businesses west of Electra,
Texas Forest Service spokesman
Bill Beebe said. The fire also forced
schools in Montague and Callahan
counties to evacuate.
Montague County Judge Ted
Winn said as many as 10 fires were
raging across northern Texas,
where winds were reported at
about*60-mph. A fire at Lake Min-
eral Wells State Park in Parker
* County that destroyed one home
andthreatened SO otherswasbeing
spread by 40 mph winds, county
spokesman Joel Kertok said.
Kertok said crews didn't have
control of the fire and firefight-
ing efforts by air were grounded
"because the winds are so high."
U.S. warship keeps
close eye on Somali
Somali pirates and their hos-
tage American sea captain were
adrift in a lifeboat Thursday off the
Horn of Africa, shadowed by a U.S.
destroyer with more warships on
the way in a U.S. show of force.
The U.S. brought in FBI hostage
negotiators to work with the mili-
tary in trying to secure the release
of Capt. Richard Phillips of Under-
h bill, Vt. An official said the bandits
were in talks with the Navy about
resolving the standoff peacefully.
As the high-seas drama
stretched into a second day, the
freighter that was the target of the
pirates steamed away from the life-
boat under armedU.S. Navyguard,
with all of its crew safe - except
for the captive captain.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports
Obama seeks $83.4B for wars
Increase would push
cost of wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan to
almost $1 trillion
WASHINGTON (AP) - Presi-
dentBarack Obamaasked Congress
yesterday for $83.4 billion for U.S.
military and diplomatic operations
in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressing
for special troop funding that he
opposed two years ago when he
was senator and George W. Bush
Obama's request, including
money to send thousands more
troops to Afghanistan, would push
the costs of the two wars to almost
$1 trillion since the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks, according to the
Congressional Research Service.
The additional money would cover
operations into the fall.
Obama is also requesting $350
million in new funding to upgrade
security along the U.S.-Mexico
border and to combat narcoterror-
ists, along with another $400 mil-
lion in counterinsurgency aid to
"Nearly 95 percent of these
funds will be used to support our
men and women in uniform as
they help the people of Iraq to take
responsibility for their own future
- and work to disrupt, dismantle
and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan
and Afghanistan," Obama wrote
in a letter to House Speaker Nancy
tedt U.S. assets and personnel and
conduct anti-terror operations.
The official request was sent
early Thursday evening.
The requestwould fund an aver-
age force level in Iraq of 140,000
U.S. troops. It would also finance
Obama's initiative to boost troop
levels in Afghanistan to more than
60,000 from the current 39,000.
And it would provide $2.2 billion
to accelerate the Pentagon's plans
to increase the overall size of the
U.S. military, including a 547,400-
person active-duty Army.
Some Democrats were not
"This funding will do two
things - it will prolong our occu-
pation of Iraq through at least the
end of 2011, and it will deepen
and expand our military pres-
ence in Afghanistan indefinitely,"
said anti-war Rep. Lynn Woolsey,
D-Calif. "Instead of attempting to
find military solutions to the prob-
lems we face in Iraq and Afghani-
stan, President Obama must
fundamentally change the mission
in both countries to focus on pro-
moting reconciliation, economic
development, humanitarian aid,
and regional diplomatic efforts."
But House GOP 'leader John
Boehner of Ohio predicted that
Republicans would overwhelm-
ingly support the request, provid-
ed congressional Democrats don't
seek to "micromanage" the war by
adding a timeline or other restric-
tions on the ability of military offi-
cials to carry on the fight.
President Barack Obama is applauded by military personnel during his visit to Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq,
Robert Gibbs, the White House
press secretary, acknowledged
that Obama has been critical of
Bush's use of similar special legis-
lation to pay for the wars. He said
it was needed this time because
the money will be required by
summer, before Congress is likely
to complete its normal appropria-
"This will be the last supple-
mental for Iraq and Afghanistan.
The process by which this has
been funded over the course of the
past many years, the president has
discussed and will change," Gibbs
Last June, Congress approved
$66 billion in advance 2009 fund-
ing for military operations. All
told, the Pentagon would receive
$142 billion in war funding for the
budget year ending on Sept. 30.
The request is likely to win easy
approval from the Democratic-
controlled Congress, despite frus-
tration among some liberals over
the pace of troop withdrawals and
Obama's plans for a large residual
force of up to 50,000 troops -
about one-third of the force now
there - who will train Iraqis, pro-
After six-month decline,
economy is leveling off
FDA reversal OKs
Wells Fargo forecasts
strong profit, Dow
Jones rises nearly
WASHINGTON (AP) - At last,
after a nerve-racking six-month
descent, the economy appears to
be leveling off.
But don't assume the bumps
Stock investors, shoppers
and home buyers are less jittery.
Once-frozen credit markets are
slowly thawing. And economic
indicators that had been going
from bad to worse are showing
signs of stabilizing - though still
at distressed levels.
There were fresh signs yester-
day thatthe full force of the reces-
sion may be petering out: a strong
profit forecast from Wells Fargo,
a drop in unemployment benefit
filings and several retailers pre-
dicting solid April sales. On Wall
Street, the Dow Jones industrials
rose nearly 250 points.
Still, with unemployment ris-
ing, it will be at least several
months before the country's eco-
nomic engine pops into a growth
gear. Job losses - and the fear of
them - act as a headwind against
consumer confidence and spend-
ing, which account for more than
two-thirds of the U.S. economy.
"The sense of a ball falling off a
table, which is what the economy
has felt like since the middle of
last fall, I think we can be reason-
Drug will remain on
market until replaced
by equivalent therapy
NEW YORK (AP) - A liq-
uid morphine painkiller given
by family caregivers to dying
patients can remain on the mar-
ket, federal regulators have
decided after hearing protests
over their decision to remove it.
The Food and Drug Adminis-.
tration had announced last week
that it was ordering manufactur-
ers to stop making 14 medications
including the liquid morphine.
All were developed so long ago
they had never received FDA
But yesterday, the FDA's Dr.
Douglas Throckmorton told The
Associated Press the morphine
liquid will remain on the market
until it's replaced by an approved
version or some equivalent ther-
The reversal was welcomed by
experts in hospice care and pain
relief. One doctors group had told
the FDA that last week's order
would "cause extreme suffering
for many patients who are near-
ing the end of life."
The order has not changed
for the other painkillers, at least
for now, said Throckmorton,
deputy director of the agency's
Center for Drug Evaluation and
The agency said last week that
the unapproved drugs might be
unsafe, ineffective or poor qual-
ity. The order gave manufactur-
ers 60 days to stop making those
The liquid morphine is highly
concentrated. Other approved
forms of liquid morphine are
more dilute, and Throckmorton
said the FDA had thought the
other forms could take the place
of the concentrated form.
But reaction from hospice
experts and others "helped us
understand" that some patients
need the unapproved version,
In interviews, experts said
they didn't have firm numbers on
how many patients use the con-
centrated liquid. But Dr. Diane
Meier, director of the Center to
Advance Palliative Care at the
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
in New York, estimated that it
may be at least 2 million Ameri-
cans a year.
She called Thursday's deci-
sion "fabulous.... It's incredibly
refreshing and makes me hopeful
about our government."
The high morphine concen-
tration is crucial, she and others
said. It allows caregivers to rap-
idly relieve pain by placing just a
few drops in the mouth of a per=
son who has trouble swallowing,
perhaps because of confusion,
lethargy or other conditions.
The more dilute morphine
requires much more liquid, which
could make an impaired person
choke or sputter, or refuse to take
the medication, experts say.
Caregivers can administer the
concentrated solution at home,
where - morphine shots often
aren't a good option.
Shown is the headquarters of Wells Fargo & Co., in San Francisco, yesterday. Wells
Fargo & Co. said yesterday it expects record first-quarter earnings oft$3 billion.
ably confident that that is going to
end within the next few months,
and we will no longer have that
sense of a free-fall," President
Barack Obama's top economic
adviser, Lawrence Summers, said
But Summers, who spoke at the
Economic Club of Washington,
said it was too soon to forecast
how strong the rebound would be
and when it would take hold.
The economy shrank at a 6.3
percent rate in the final three
months of 2008, thef worst show-
ing in a quarter-century.
Judge blocks effort
to turn over Cobo
Motion to appeal
DETROIT (AP) - A judge yes-
terday blocked Cobo Center from
being turned over to a regional
authority that would have brought
a $288 million upgrade and expan-
sion of the downtown convention
But a motion to appeal already
has been delivered to the Michi-
gan Court of Appeals.
Wayne County Circuit Judge
Isidore Torres ruled that Mayor
Ken Cockrel Jr. had no author-
ity to veto Detroit City Council's
rejection of the plan. The council
filed a lawsuit last month chal-
lenging the veto.
"The act (to create the authori-
ty) does not permit a mayoral veto
of a resolution disapproving the
transfer of a qualified convention
facility, and ... the mayor's veto of
the City Council's resolution dis-
approving the transfer of Cobo is
null and void," Torres wrote in the
A motion to appeal Torres'
ruling was delivered yesterday
afternoon to the Michigan Court
of Appeals, mayoral spokesman
Anthony Neely told The Associ-
ated Press via e-mail.
The filing may not be official
until Friday morning, Neely said.
Cockrel told reporters Thurs-
day afternoon that the future of
the city and the North American
International Auto Show, which
is held each year at Cobo, are at
stake: He said he believes Torres
"made the wrong decision," and
said a viable alternative hasn't
been put forward.
"There is no plan that council is
offering," Cockrel said.
City Council President Monica
Conyers, who led opposition to the
Cobo deal, said in a statement she
was pleased with Torres' decision,
which she called a "victory for
the citizens of Detroit." She said:
"We must continue our attempt at
regional cooperation with every-
one at the table."
The North American Interna-
tional Auto Show, which brings
in an estimated $500 million to
the region each year, is Cobo's
highest-profile event. Under state
legislation, the authority is to take
Exterior view of Cobo Center in Detroit yesterday. A judge yesterday blocked Cobo Center from being turned over to a regional
authority that would have brought a $288 million upgrade and expansion of the downtown convention center.
charge df Cobo on April 20.
Doug Fox, senior co-chairman
for the 2010 show, said he was
disappointed with the judge's rul-
ing but remains hopeful a com-
promise can be reached. He said
if all options become exhausted,
organizers may have to consider
whether the show can continue at
"In order to protect the status
of this show, the stature of this
show, we will have to explore any
or all options," Fox said when
asked about whether organizers
would consider a move to a subur-
ban Detroit location.
Oakland County Executive L.
Brooks Patterson, who had sup-
ported the Cobo deal, released a
statement after the judge's deci-
sion saying he planned to work to
see whether the auto show could
be held in the suburbs.
Patterson said hehas no interest
in negotiating a deal that would be
satisfactory to Conyers.
"What City Council has done is
overturn five years of hard nego-
tiation that was Detroit's last best
chance to secure long-term fund-
ing for Cobo Hall and frankly the
North American International
Auto Show," Patterson said.
Torres heard arguments in the
case March 26, but had delayed
issuing a ruling while trying to
facilitate an agreement between
the mayor's office and council. The
act was signed into law in January
by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Granholm still believes a revi-
talized and expanded Cobo is
critical, her spokeswoman Liz