2.20.17:  Traffic study ranks Los Angeles as world’s most clogged city




DETROIT (AP) — When it comes to getting stuck in traffic on the way to and from work, Los Angeles leads the world.

Transportation analytics firm Inrix says drivers in the car-crazy California metropolis spent 104 hours last year in congestion. That beat second-place Moscow at 91 hours and third-place New York at 89.

Inrix says the U.S. had half of the top 10 most congested cities in the world. The U.S. was the most traffic-clogged developed country with drivers nationwide averaging 42 hours stuck in traffic last year. San Francisco was the fourth-most congested city, while Bogota, Colombia, was fifth. Sao Paulo, London, Atlanta, Paris and Miami rounded out the top 10.

Traffic jams cost drivers in the U.S. nearly $300 billion last year, or an average of $1,400 each, Inrix said.


2.20.17:  Parents join Kalamazoo district’s plan to sue Michigan




KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Several parents are joining a planned lawsuit against Michigan’s School Reform Office over its threats to close low-performing Kalamazoo schools.

Kalamazoo Public Schools and nine parents say the state office lacks the legal authority to determine if schools should close.

Superintendent Michael Rice tells the Kalamazoo Gazette he plans to file the lawsuit this week in the Michigan Court of Claims.

The district school board gave Rice authorization last week to sue the state office for its threat to close two of Kalamazoo’s elementary schools.

Parent Brianna Wolverton plans to join that suit. Her son attends one of schools the Michigan office says are at risk of closure due to poor performance.

Wolverton says her son is thriving and “the school is not a failure at all.”


2.20.17:  School budget: more for at-risk, less for cyber/private kids




LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Faced with discouraging test scores, Gov. Rick Snyder is proposing a shift so much more state money is spent on academically at-risk students and less goes toward educating private and home-schooled students or those attending online charter schools.

He also wants to continue closing the gap between Michigan’s lower- and higher-funded districts — to $668 per pupil.

Snyder’s plan would increase overall spending by 1 percent and hike basic per-student aid by between $50 and $100.

It is largely being embraced by traditional school interests. But Republicans who control the Legislature and school-choice advocates oppose some facets, and negotiations will shape just how much each district can expect for next school year.


2.20.17:  Atlanta, other cities eye test tracks for self-driving cars




ATLANTA (AP) — Self-driving vehicles could one day begin tooling down a bustling Atlanta street full of cars, buses, bicyclists and college students, as the city vies with other communities nationwide to test the emerging technology.

City officials say they aim to demonstrate such a vehicle on North Avenue as early as September.

Atlanta would be among the largest urban areas testing so-called autonomous vehicles if its plans come together.

Nationwide, 10 sites last month were designated as “proving grounds” for automated vehicles by the U.S. Department of Transportation. They include North Carolina turnpikes, the eastern Iowa prairie and a vehicle testing site in Michigan.

Atlanta isn’t on the list, but city officials nevertheless hope to make an impact.


2.20.17:  Michael Moore seeks manager for historic Michigan theater




TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Filmmaker Michael Moore is looking to cast a manager to oversee Traverse City’s historic State Theater.

The Academy Award winner announced the job opening in a weekend Facebook post.

The Flint native says he’s looking for a spirited film-lover who believes in the importance of experiencing movies in a theater atmosphere.

Moore was heavily involved in efforts to reopen the northern Michigan theater following a 2005 renovation. The century-old downtown theater closed in 1991 and reopened in 2007 following a renovation.

The theater was given to the Traverse City Film Festival by Grand Traverse Rotary Charities.

Moore founded the Traverse City Film Festival and continues to serve as the head of its board of directors and selects the theater’s programming every week.


2.20.17:  Candlelight vigil to remember Kalamazoo shooting victims




KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A candlelight vigil will be held for the one-year anniversary of a shooting rampage in southwestern Michigan that killed six people and wounded two others.

Details about a permanent memorial to honor the victims and survivors will be released after Monday’s vigil at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.

Organizers say the multiyear project will include a physical monument.

The random shootings occurred last February at an apartment complex, a car dealership and outside a restaurant.

Authorities have said they were carried out by an Uber driver in between rides picking up passengers. Jason Dalton faces six counts of murder.

His attorney has said Dalton is expected to plead insanity in his defense.


2.20.17:  MSU prohibits whiteboards after anonymous bullying



EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University has decided to no longer allow whiteboards as an acceptable item on dorm room doors as of the coming fall semester because of bullying through the boards.

While the whiteboards were commonly used for friendly messages and inspirational quotes, they’ve recently been a tool for anonymous bullying.

A Facebook post by the Lansing NAACP says a student recently had a racial slur written on her whiteboard, and that’s just the latest incident reported at the East Lansing school.

University Residential Services Communications Director Kat Cooper says the boards have become “more of a distraction than a helpful tool.”

Some students say banning whiteboards from the allowed items is unnecessary. University freshman Sofia Sokansanj says “people are going to say things no matter what.”


2.20.17:  Storm aiming for California renews flood fears




SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The first outer rain bands from a storm headed to Northern California are bringing light rain, wind and renewed warnings of possible flooding.

Forecasters say a powerful Pacific storm will reach the San Francisco Bay Area on Sunday night and move to the already soggy Central Valley.

San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services spokesman Tim Daly said Sunday afternoon the San Joaquin River at a measuring station near Vernalis remains at “danger stage,” meaning it keeps approaching the top of levies.

Daly says residents of low-lying areas have been told to be ready to evacuate, especially those in San Joaquin River Club, a private neighborhood of 800 homes by the river.

Resident Paula Martin says the community has organized itself, and residents have been patrolling levies for signs of danger.

Meanwhile, around San Antonio, Texas, a severe storm system spawned a possible tornado that caused minor injuries and damaged as many as 150 or more homes.


2.20.17:  Strong storms cause minor injuries, damage in San Antonio




SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A severe storm system spawned a possible tornado that has caused minor injuries and damaged more than 150 homes in the San Antonia area.

National Weather Service meteorologist Yvette Benavides says they’ve received reports that a possible tornado touched down in different parts of San Antonio, damaging more than 150 homes, late Sunday night and early Monday.

San Antonio Fire Department public information officer Joe Arrington tells San Antonio station KABB-TV that many structures were damaged but only minor injuries have been reported so far.


2.20.17:  Drugs vanish at some VA hospitals




WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities are stepping up investigations at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals due to a sharp increase in opioid theft, missing prescriptions or unauthorized drug use by VA employees since 2009.

That’s according to government data obtained by The Associated Press.

Doctors, nurses or pharmacy staff at federal hospitals siphoned away controlled substances for their own use or street sales, or drugs intended for patients disappeared.

Aggravating the problem is that some VA hospitals have been lax in tracking drug supplies. Congressional auditors said spot checks found four VA hospitals skipped monthly inspections of drug stocks or missed other requirements. Investigators said that signals problems for VA’s entire network.

Both the inspector general’s office and the Drug Enforcement Administration say they have increased scrutiny of drug thefts from the VA.