12.18.14:  University honored for environmental practices


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Western Michigan University has received a “Best of Green Schools” designation from a national organization that supports environmentally friendly buildings and communities.


The U.S. Green Building Council selected the university in Kalamazoo as its winner in the higher education institution category for this year.


Western Michigan was honored for two decades of efforts to operate more sustainably, beginning in the 1990s when it stopped using coal and began recycling.


The council says that since then, the university has been a leader through efforts such as conserving energy and reducing waste. It also supports research of green manufacturing practices and has 20 campus buildings that are certified or registered under the LEED program, which encourages sustainable design and construction.


12.18.14:  Michigan road funding talks down to final day


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Talks over raising taxes to repair deteriorating Michigan roads have come down to the last day of voting in the Legislature this year.

Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders plan to resume negotiations Thursday morning in hopes of brokering a minimum $1.2 billion deal. A solution may be done through legislation only, a ballot measure proposed for a statewide vote or a combination of both.

Legislators are planning for a marathon session that may stretch into Friday.

Snyder says talks are centered on a number of principles. They include generating an extra $1.2 billion a year for transportation funding, not harming K-12 and municipal budgets, making sure taxes at the pump go to roads, keeping fuel taxes in check and preventing a tax hike from disproportionately affecting lower- and middle-class residents.

He says lawmakers are “heading in a direction where it may be possible to check those boxes.”

12.18.14:   Michigan teen shot near high school


WYOMING, Mich. (AP) — Police are searching for whoever shot a Grand Rapids-area high school student in the leg as he left basketball practice.

Superintendent Dave Britten says the Godfrey-Lee High School student was shot Wednesday night as he was leaving the Wyoming school. The teen and three other varsity basketball players heard multiple gunshots and ran back into the school. The victim realized in the gym that he had been shot in the leg.

Officers set up a perimeter around the school and searched the area with a police dog. School officials are reviewing security camera footage.

Britten says the victim was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive.

Britten says the basketball players aren’t kids who get into trouble.

12.18.14:  “The Interview” release cancelled 


NEW YORK (AP) — In the showdown over “The Interview,” Sony has blinked. The studio has taken the unprecedented step of pulling the movie from theaters — a little more than a week before it was supposed to make its debut. The move was made in the wave of a huge data hack at the studio and threats from the hackers that there’d be 9/11 type attacks at theaters that show it. The U.S. government says it has traced the hacking attack to North Korea. The movie depicts a planned assassination attempt against that country’s communist leader. As the threat of a possible attack continued, Sony told theater chains they would allow them to pass on showing the film. And yesterday, as a number of chains decided to take Sony’s hint, the studio announced it was pulling the release.

12.18.14:  UN seeks $8.4 billion to help Syria refugees


BERLIN (AP) — The United Nations wants more than $8.4 billion for next year to help nearly 18 million people affected by the war in Syria.

The U.N. high commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres, says people who have been displaced within Syria “have exhausted their savings and resources” while nearby countries faced with a refugee influx “are at breaking point.”


12.18.14:  Havana residents celebrate new deal between US & Cuba


In Cuba, bells pealed and school children interrupted lessons to mark the historic news.  Havana residents gathered around television sets in homes, schools, and businesses to hear the historic national broadcast in with President Raul Castro announced that Cuba was restoring relations with the United States.


Castro said, “We should learn the art of living together in a civilized manner in spite of our differences.”  In his address, he called on Washington to end its embargo against Cuba, saying it had caused “enormous human and economic damage.”


Some Cuban exiles in Miami are outraged.  Others are ecstatic that President Obama secretly arranged prisoner exchanges with Cuba as part of an effort to normalize relations.  Some say they are happy that former U-S AID subcontractor Alan Gross is out of a Cuban prison, but are dismayed that 3 convicted Cuban spies were being released in exchange.

12.18.14:  Pistons fall to Dallas but MSU beats EMU


AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Chandler Parsons scored a season-high 32 points as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Detroit Pistons 117-106 last night. Parsons fell two points short of a career high as he helped the Mavericks win a second road game in two nights. Dirk Nowitzki contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds. Andre Drummond had 19 points and 24 rebounds.


EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Bryn Forbes scored 14 points as No. 25 Michigan State dispatched Eastern Michigan 66-46 last night. Eastern Michigan beat Michigan in Ann Arbor last week. Eastern Michigan shot 23 percent from the field. Raven Lee led the Eagles with 12 points.

12.17.14:  Firefighting equipment stolen


A volunteer firefighter with the Oakfield Fire Department of Kent County, had over $2,000 worth of equipment stolen.

Ryan Ford said when he went to fight a fire Sunday night, he found that his gear was gone.  It had been stolen from his vehicle during the night.


The Oakfield Fire Department says the money it will cost to replace Ford’s gear will take away from some urgent repairs that they were hoping to make before the end of the year.

12.17.14:  Grand Rapids giving police body cameras a look


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A pilot project is being discussed in Grand Rapids that could include the use of body cameras as part of a broader effort to improve police relations with the public.

Most city leaders say they support giving body cameras a try and many residents at a Tuesday hearing reiterated their desire to see that happen.

Other changes called for at the hearing include a racial profiling study, psychological testing to determine any underlying racial bias that police officers may have, a task force to study how to improve public attitudes toward police and targeted recruitment of black police officers.

Andy Bingel, president of the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association, says they’re not opposed to the cameras, but they worry about the cost. Roughly $1 million could be spent on cameras and Bingel says that same money could add eight to 10 officers to the department.

President Barack Obama has promoted the use of body cameras by police in the wake of the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.


12.17.14:  Michigan road funds deal in doubt this session


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders are still talking about how to raise taxes to improve Michigan’s roads, as chances rise that no deal will be struck before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

The Republican governor says negotiators are trying to balance at least five priorities by Thursday’s deadline. They will meet again Wednesday after days of talks.

Top legislators’ main concerns include generating at least $1.2 billion more a year for transportation infrastructure but not harming schools and local governments also funded in part by a sales tax on fuel. Other priorities range from ensuring taxes at the pump go to road repairs and that they aren’t too high.

Snyder says that negotiators are “in the hunt” to strike a deal and “we are not just going in circles.”