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January 28, 2014 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-28

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6 - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Cold front washes
over the Midwest
causes road issues

Artic weather system
could lead to major
delays for commuters
CHICAGO (AP) -Anotherwin-
ter day, another below-zero high
temperature for many parts of the
Midwest - at least, it seems that
way. The deep chill has returned,
bringing with it wind chills rang-
ing from the negative teens to 40s,
school cancellations and sighs of
resignation from residents who
are weary of bundling up.
A persistent weather pattern
that's driving Arctic air south was
forecast to force temperatures
to plummet for about 21/2 days,
starting overnight Sunday. Actual
temperatures will range from the
teens in northern Kentucky to
double-digits below zero in Min-
nesota, but even colder wind chills
were expected - minus 43 in
Minneapolis, minus 23 in Chicago,
minus 18 in Dayton, Ohio, minus
14 in Kansas City, Mo., and minus
3 in Louisville, Ky.
Before sunrise Monday at a
24-hour drugstore in Omaha,
Neb., where wind chills were at
21 below, Amy Henry said she was
longing for warmer weather.
"I just look at my (apartment)
pool every day and say, 'Oh, come
on, summer,"' the 36-year-old
store clerk said.
National Weather Service
Meteorologist Scott Blair stopped
short of calling the latest round of
cold part of the polar vortex, a sys-
tem of winds that circulate around
the North Pole.
"There's really nothing abnor-
mal about the air that's coming
into the area," he said. "It's just
been a very persistent pattern" of
cold air.
Blair said it's an amplified pat-
tern of the jet stream, with cold air
filtering in behind a large trough
of low pressure. Simplifying, he
explained: "Troughs are typically
associated with unstable or unset-
tled weather, and, at this time of
the year, much colder air."
Frigid temperatures are expect-
ed to hold into Tuesday. If Chicago
makes it to 60 hours below zero, it

will be the longest stretch since
1983 - when it was below zero for
98 hours - and the third longest in
80 years.
"I'msick of it," Chicago resident
Matt Ryan, 19, said Sunday on his
way to his family's home in the
suburb of Oak Park. Chicago tem-
peratures are expected to peak at
a mere minus 4 degrees on Mon-
day with wind chills as low as 40
Chicago Public Schools called
off Monday's classes for its nearly
400,000 students, as did suburban
districts. Earlier this month, when
it was below zero for 36 straight
hours, CPS closed for two days.
Amtrak canceled more than a
dozen trains into and out of Chi-
About 90 miles north of Chi-
cago, Ray Fournelle lamented the
weather's ability to keep him from
his normal routine of jogging 4
miles a couple of times a week.
During bad weather in the past,
the 72-year-old engineering pro-
fessor at Marquette University in
Milwaukee has walked instead.
But he hasn't tried to exercise
outside since last weekend. Mon-
day's forecast predicted a high of
5 below.
"With all the snow and ice
on the sidewalks, you just slide
around out there. It's just rotten,"
he said Sunday.
In the northern U.S., North
Dakota and South Dakota resi-
dents dealt with dangerous cold
and wind gusts Sunday that
reached up to 60 mph - blow-
ing snow to the point where it
was nearly impossible to travel
in some spots. On Monday, snow
drifts kept Interstate 29 closed
from Sioux Falls to the Canadian
border. In Indiana, where 50 mph
gusts were recorded early Mon-
day, officials recommended only
essential travel in more than half
of its counties.
In Michigan,which has in parts
experienced its snowiest January
on record, expressways closed as
snow and subfreezing tempera-
tures played a role in multiple
crashes Sunday; at least three peo-
ple died over the weekend because
of weather-related accidents.

As seen from the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama works at his desk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday.
For Obama, State of the Union
pragmatic goals trump idealism

Administration seeks
to avoid mention of
sweeping reforms
longer about bold ambitions, this
year's State of the Union address
will focus more on what's actually
For the White House, that
dose of realism is aimed at avoid-
ing a repeat of 2013, when a long
list of unfulfilled policy goals
- including gun control and an
immigration overhaul - dragged
President Barack Obama down
like an anchor. Tuesday's prime-
time address will focus instead
on redefining success for Obama
- not by what he can jam through
Congress but rather by what he
can accomplish through his own
presidential powers.
He is expected to announce
executive actions on job training,
retirement security and help for
the long-termunemployed in find-
ing work. All are part of the White
House focus this year on boosting
economic mobility and narrow-
ing the income gap between the
wealthy and the poor.
Another action Obama is

expected to announce is the cre-
ation of a new retirement sav-
ings plan geared toward workers
whose employers don't currently
offer such plans. Because com-
mercial retirement accounts
often have fees or high mini-
mum deposits that are onerous
for low-wage workers, this pro-
gram would allow first-time sav-
ers to start building up savings
in Treasury bonds. Once the sav-
ings grew large enough, a worker
could convert the account into
a traditional IRA, according to
two people who have discussed
the proposal with the admin-
istration. Those people weren't
authorized to discuss it ahead of
the announcement and insisted
on anonymity.
"Tomorrow night, it's time
to restore opportunity for all,"
Obama said Monday on the vid-
eo-sharing site Vine, part of the
White House's broad social media
promotion of the speech.
"I think the way we have to
think about this year is we have
a divided government," White
House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer
said. "The Republican Congress
is not going to rubber-stamp the
president's agenda. The president
is not going to sign the Republi-

can Congress' agenda."
The address, delivered before a
joint session of Congress and mil-
lions of Americans watching on
television and the Internet, typi-
cally garners a president his larg-
est audience of the year. It also
provides perhaps his best oppor-
tunity to try to persuade skepti-
cal Americans that he still wields
substantial power in Washington,
even if he can't break through a
divided Congress.
The risk for Obama in cen-
tering his agenda on his own
executive actions is that those
directives often are more lim-
ited in scope than legislation that
requires congressional approval.
And that raises questions about
how much impact he can have.
For example, Obama can col-
lect commitments from busi-
nesses to consider hiring the
long-term unemployed, as he'll
announce Tuesday night, but
without the help of Congress he
can't restore expired jobless ben-
efits for those Americans while
they look for work.
White House officials con-
tend executive actions should not
automatically be pegged as small
bore, pointing in particular to
steps the president can take on

climate change, including stricter
regulations on power plants and
new car efficiency standards.
And some Democrats are cheer-
ing the strategy, saying it's time
for Obama to look beyond Capi-
tol Hill after spending more than
half his time in office mired in
congressional gridlock.
"They spent far too much time
actuallytrying to think they could
negotiate with House and Senate
Republicans," said Jim Manley, a
longtime adviser to Senate Major-
ity Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "I,
for one, am glad that they finally
decided to go around Congress to
the extent possible."
Not surprisingly, Republicans
have been dismissive of the presi-
dent's go-it-alone approach.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., suggest-
ed that some executive actions
might run up against legal chal-
lenges, saying Congress should
insist Obama "find the Constitu-
tion and follow it." And House
Speaker John Boehner's office
said the strategy was simply a
rehash of earlier Obama efforts
to focus on executive authority
when action in Congress stalled,
including a 2011 effort that the
White House branded, "We Can't

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Early groundwork
paves path for
statewide campaign
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -
Groups backing an increase
in Michigan's minimum wage
laid the groundwork Monday
for a statewide ballot drive in
November, forming a committee
that is very likely to commence
with collecting hundreds of
thousands of signatures needed
to qualify.
"Our politicians in Lansing
and D.C. have failed workers.
There are a lot of people who
work hard who've been waiting
for a raise," said Frank Houston,
treasurer of the Raise Michigan
ballot committee.
Michigan's $7.40-an-hour
minimum wage last went up
in 2008 and is slightly higher
than the $7.25 federal hourly
minimum. Republicans have not
embraced calls by both Presi-
dent Barack Obama and Michi-
gan Democrats to raise the
minimum wage to $10 at the fed-
eral and state levels. Democrats
are planning to make income
inequality a top issue this elec-
tion year.
"All indications are that we're
highly likely to move forward,"
said Houston, who also is chair-
man of the Oakland County
Democratic Party. "We fully
expect Michigan to be the No. 1
place in the country where we're
having a conversation around
economic dignity and inequal-
The coalition involved
includes labor unions, commu-

nity organizers, a restaurant
worker center, and faith-based
and civil rights groups. The
groups sent out statements
Monday from low-wage moth-
ers who said their income is not
enough to get by.
"If you work full-time you
shouldn't live in poverty," said
Rebecca Hatley-Watkins, 23, of
A final decision to proceed is
expected within days. The pro-
posal would likely aim to change
a state statute, not change the
state constitution. The mini-
mum wage would rise to the
"ballpark" of between $9 and
$10.10 an hour and be indexed to
inflation, Houston said.
Republicans have said hik-
ing the minimum wage would
hurt employers' ability to hire
people. The restaurant industry
says it already operates on thin
margins and argues sharply
higher wages would lead to
steeper prices.
"If Michigan increases the
cost of employing entry-level
workers, lower-skilled work-
ers will see less job opportuni-
ties because employers will be
forced to hire higher-skilled job
applicants to fill multiple roles or
cut jobs to absorb the costs asso-
ciated with the increase," said
Wendy Block, director of health
policy and human resources for
the Michigan Chamber of Com-
The group said businesses
already are grappling with costs
associated with the federal
health care law and that govern-
ment should focus on helping
people get jobs, not make it more
expensive to hire them.

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