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    Fresh water from Midwestern floods has killed oysters along the coasts of three states and cost Mississippi half of its blue crabs. Water that came through a Louisiana spillway killed 95% of the oysters in Mississippi's share of the Mississippi Sound and fed toxic algae blooms that closed the state's beaches, said Joe Spraggins, executive director of the state Department of Marine Resources. Seafood and tourism businesses, from bait shops and seafood processors to restaurants and hotels, have lost $120 million to $150 million, he said Friday. The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama asked months ago for U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to declare a fisheries disaster, a designation needed to secure federal grants for those whose livelihoods were affected in the Gulf region's vital seafood industry. Alabama canceled its oyster season. It will be months before all the figures are in and the analysis completed to tell which Louisiana fisheries qualify, said Patrick Banks, assistant secretary for fisheries in the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Floodwaters from the Midwest and rains elsewhere poured down the Mississippi and into the Atchafalaya River. They wound up in the Gulf of Mexico — both through the rivers and via the huge, normally brackish lake that borders New Orleans, because a major spillway was opened twice for a total of more than four months to protect New Orleans' levees. A full 12 months' data is needed to compare losses to averages for the previous five years, with a 35% loss qualifying a fishery as a disaster. 'We're analyzing every fishery, every portion of the state, every species ... It's going to take some time to put all that information together,' Banks said recently. He said losses appear to have begun in November but analysts may find that the earliest effects didn't greatly damage catches until December or January, adding another month or two to the process. Oysters continue among the worst-hit fisheries, with brown shrimp, crab and finfish catches also down from a year ago, department figures indicate. 'You would always expect oysters to take the hardest hit just because they can't move out of harm's way,' Banks said. The mollusks can tolerate a wide range of salinity, but a long spell of fresh water coupled with high temperatures can be lethal. Spraggins said oysters need at least five years to recover. 'If you put a juvenile oyster in the water today it takes two years for the oyster to get to market size. They start spawning after about a year, so you lose two to three seasons of spawning per oyster. It multiplies from that point,' he said. Fresh water killed anywhere from three-quarters to all the oysters on several of Louisiana's public reefs, according to a state report. It said statewide oyster landings were down 28% on private reefs and 91% on public reefs from March through May. Louisiana produced 13.3 million pounds of oysters in 2017 — 54% of the nation's harvest, while Mississippi contributed about 2% and Alabama about 1% of the total, according to federal figures. The take from Louisiana's public reefs has made up less than 10% of Louisiana's total for the last decade or so, Banks said. He said mortality figures are likely to be the basis of a disaster application for public oyster reefs, where an estimated $20 million worth of the mollusks died. State officials said brown shrimp, crab and finfish catches are down significantly in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya river basins. Statewide brown shrimp landings are down 34% in volume and their value is down 44% over the five-year average. Commercial blue crab landings are down 26%, with drops ranging from 14% to 84% in individual basins, according to state figures. Salinity in most areas is returning to normal, according to the state report. But it said water in some coastal areas is low on oxygen and fish kills may become more common until the water cools down Spraggins was interviewed by telephone from Washington, D.C., where he said he will testify about Mississippi's problems next week before the Senate Commerce Committee. 'The first thing is to get them the facts of what's happening to Mississippi,' he said. 'The second thing would be to ask them to expedite any funding they may be able to give us.
  • The money-losing Three Mile Island, the 1979 site of the United States' worst commercial nuclear power accident, was shut down Friday by its energy giant owner. The end of the 45-year electricity-producing career of Three Mile Island Unit 1 came after Chicago-based Exelon Corp. tried and failed to get financial aid from Pennsylvania in the spring. Three Mile Island's Unit 1 opened in 1974 and was licensed to operate through 2034, but Exelon complained the plant was losing money in competitive electricity markets. Three Mile Island also faced particularly difficult economics because the 1979 accident that destroyed Unit 2 left it with just one reactor. Decommissioning Unit 1, dismantling its buildings and removing spent fuel could take six decades and cost more than $1 billion, Exelon estimates, although companies specializing in the handling of radioactive material are buying retired U.S. nuclear reactors and promising to do it in under a decade. The destroyed Unit 2 is sealed, and its twin cooling towers remain standing. Its core was shipped years ago to the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory. What is left inside the containment building remains highly radioactive and encased in concrete. Work to dismantle Unit 2 is scheduled to begin in 2041 and be completed in 2053, its owner, FirstEnergy, has said. No nuclear plant proposed after the 1979 accident has been successfully completed and put into operation in the United States.
  • Microsoft said Friday it will offer free security updates through the 2020 election in the United States — and in other interested democratic countries with national elections next year — for federally certified voting systems running on soon-to-be-outdated Windows 7 software. An Associated Press analysis previously found that the vast majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions in the U.S. use Windows 7 or an older operating system to create ballots, program voting machines, tally votes and report counts. Windows 7 reaches its 'end of life' on Jan. 14, meaning Microsoft stops providing free technical support and producing 'patches' to fix software vulnerabilities, which hackers can exploit. Cash-strapped election officials are scrambling to address this issue and what's essentially a one-year extension on additional costs. The promise of free updates does not address the cost of putting them in place or the time and cost of certifying such changes to a voting system. Fixing a new vulnerability requires that the companies resubmit the voting system for recertification, which can take weeks or even months. At a U.S. Election Assistance Commission forum last month, Microsoft's Ginny Badanes, who heads its Defending Democracy Program, said that election administrators should not be forced to make the difficult choice of 'using election systems with known vulnerabilities or applying security patches and, in so doing, taking their systems out of certification.' The commission develops voting system guidelines. In a blogpost Friday, Microsoft's vice president for security and trust, Tom Burt, said the company is working with government officials to try to streamline the lengthy certification process. Even if that happens, making the fixes is still difficult because election systems cannot legally be changed, for example, while administering military absentee ballots 45 days before the election. 'If an important patch comes out three to four weeks before an election, it causes us to wait to implement because we can't interfere in the election process that is already in motion,' said Louisiana's top election official, R. Kyle Ardoin, at the commission forum. The commission, in a statement, praised Microsoft's move. 'Election administrators and advocates had rightly voiced concern that budget limitations would hinder their ability to pay for extended Windows 7 support and could lead to election security challenges,' the commission said. 'Voters can now cast their ballots with confidence.' Maria Dill Benson, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Secretaries of State, said in an email that 'receiving this support will be a huge help to many.' Critics say the situation is an example of what can happen when private companies, with commercial interests, ultimately determine the security of election systems with a lack of federal requirements or oversight. Kevin Skoglund, chief technologist for Citizens for Better Elections, said the extension of support was helpful, but did not address the larger issues of the slow certification process and eventual labor costs. Nor, he said, does it 'change the fact that scarce federal, state, and local dollars are being spent on nearly-expired software.' ES&S, the nation's largest voting systems vendor, does not have a federally certified voting system with the latest, Windows 10 operating system on the market. Such a system was recently submitted for federal certification. Spokeswoman Katina Granger said in a statement that the company was pleased by the free security updates and 'will be communicating soon with our customers on the distribution of any updates.' ___ Follow Tami Abdollah at https://twitter.com/latams
  • The Federal Reserve will keep pumping cash into a vital but obscure corner of U.S. financial markets in coming weeks. The New York Federal Reserve Bank, which handles the central bank's interactions with financial markets, said Friday that it will offer daily repurchase, or 'repo,' operations of at least $75 billion through Oct. 10. The aim is to maintain the Fed's key policy rate within its target range. For the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed this week conducted a series of major repo operations, injecting $278 billion into the market to deal with a jump in short-term interest rates. Officials say this week's spike in rates is not a precursor of the type of underlying troubles that preceded the 2008 market meltdown. In addition to the daily overnight operations of $75 billion, the New York Fed said it would conduct longer 14-day repo operations of at least $30 billion on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of next week. The Fed said that it would be ready to conduct further operations as needed after Oct. 10 but the amount and timing of those auctions has not been determined. In the fourth operation on Friday, banks asked for $75.55 billion in reserves, only slightly higher than the $75 billion limit set by the Fed. The Fed began conducting these operations to calm money markets. Rates on short-term repo agreements had briefly spiked to nearly 10% earlier this week as financial firms scrambled to find short-term funding. The Fed seeks to manage its operations to keep the repo rate near the target it has set for its key policy rate, the federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other for overnight borrowing. The Fed announced on Wednesday that it was cutting the benchmark rate by a quarter-point to a new range of 1.75% to 2% as it seeks to cushion the U.S. economy from various threats, ranging from a slowing global economy to shocks from President Donald Trump's trade war with China. The repo market covers billions of dollars of daily operations in which one party lends out cash in exchange for a roughly equivalent value of securities, usually Treasury notes. The market allows companies that own lots of securities to get the cash they need at cheap rates. The borrower of the cash agrees to repurchase the securities it has loaned as collateral at a later date, often as soon as the next day. The turbulence this week has been attributed to various factors, including corporations needing to come up with cash to settle quarterly tax payments. Analysts do not believe the rate spike this week is similar to the troubles seen as the nation was heading into the 2008 financial crisis. They believe banks are much better capitalized now due to the reforms put in place after the crisis.
  • The head of the House Intelligence Committee said Friday he has been assured by the CEO of Facebook that the company is working on ways to prevent foreign actors from disrupting next year's elections. Rep. Adam Schiff of California met with Mark Zuckerberg and said the Facebook CEO showed a deep awareness of the threat to the elections from so-called 'deep fake' videos and other technically advanced tools. Schiff told reporters Facebook is 'in the process of developing what I hope will be very strong policies on this. ... I think he (Zuckerberg) fully appreciates the gravity of the situation.' It was Zuckerberg's third day of private meetings in Washington, following other sessions with top lawmakers and President Donald Trump. Zuckerberg also met Friday with the leader of a House antitrust investigation into the big tech companies and pledged to cooperate. The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, led by Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., is investigating the market dominance of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. The lawmakers recently asked the companies for a detailed and broad range of documents related to their sprawling operations, including top executives' internal communications. Cicilline and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the full Judiciary Committee, met in a separate session with Zuckerberg. Cicilline told reporters afterward that 'Mr. Zuckerberg made a commitment to cooperate with the investigation, and we look forward to his cooperation.' That cooperation would cover 'a whole range of things,' Cicilline said, including providing the requested documents. As he did when making the rounds on Capitol Hill Thursday, Zuckerberg left the meetings without answering reporters' shouted questions. The conciliatory tone from lawmakers on Friday stood in contrast to declarations the day before from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a conservative who is the Senate's most vocal critic of the tech industry. Hawley said he challenged Zuckerberg in their meeting to sell his company's WhatsApp and Instagram properties to prove that Facebook is serious about protecting data privacy. 'The company talks a lot. I'd like to see some action,' Hawley told reporters. Congress has been debating a privacy law that could sharply rein in the ability of companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple to collect and make money off users' personal data. A national law, which would be the first of its kind in the U.S., could allow people to see or prohibit use of their data. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said Friday that Zuckerberg and lawmakers discussed data privacy in another meeting and that Facebook 'is engaging to find solutions.' Collins also assured Zuckerberg that in their bipartisan antitrust investigation, the lawmakers were not taking 'an adversarial role.' Facebook, a social network behemoth with nearly 2.5 billion users around the globe, is under heavy scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators following a series of privacy scandals and amid accusations of abuse of its market power to squash competition. In addition to the House probe, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are conducting antitrust investigations of the big tech companies, and a bipartisan group of state attorneys general has opened a competition probe specifically of Facebook. Schiff said he also discussed with Zuckerberg cooperation between the tech industry and U.S. intelligence agencies to combat foreign interference in the 2020 elections. The government isn't looking for companies' confidential information other than that related to efforts by foreign powers to intervene in the elections, he said. Cooperation between the industry and intelligence agencies has improved, 'but there's still more to be done,' Schiff said. U.S. intelligence officials determined that Russia carried out a sweeping political disinformation campaign on U.S. social media to influence the 2016 election, with especially heavy use of Facebook. Officials are especially concerned about so-called 'deep fake' videos, which are altered using artificial intelligence and facial mapping to appear legitimate, and posing a threat to national security and the 2020 election. Some officials have called on companies such as Facebook and Twitter to take action against false videos.
  • Registered nurses staged a one-day strike against Tenet Health hospitals in Florida, California and Arizona on Friday, demanding better working conditions and higher wages as the nation's labor movement has begun flexing muscles weakened by decades of declining membership amid business and government attacks. About 6,500 National Nurses United members walked out at 12 Tenet facilities after working toward a first contract for a year in Arizona and under expired contracts in California and Florida, the union said. They plan to resume working Saturday. Members passed out leaflets in Texas, where contracts at two Tenet hospitals in El Paso expire later this year. The Tenet walkout is one of several strikes and organizing efforts nationwide as unions work to rebuild from a steep membership decline that began 50 years ago. Many are focusing on white-collar, female-dominated and service-sector industries such as health care, teaching and the media, not just blue-collar, male-dominated industries like manufacturing, where the United Auto Workers is striking against General Motors. A recent Gallup poll showed Americans support unions by 2-to-1, up from a near split 10 years ago and nearly the highest level since the 1960s. About 30 nurses picketed outside Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah, Florida, during intermittent rain Friday. They waved red flags with a white N and carried signs with such slogans as 'Happy RNs = Healthy Patients.' Yajaira Roman, a union leader and neurological intensive care nurse at Palmetto, said while Tenet nurses want higher wages — the company is offering raises of about $12 a week at Palmetto — they particularly want a lower patient-to-nurse ratio to avoid burnout and improve care. 'We are really proud of what we do and we're happy that we're serving the community, but we want to do it in a way where when patients leave the hospital they are extremely satisfied,' Roman said. In Tucson, Arizona, Fawn Slade said she and her colleagues want Tenet to work on nurse retention and lessen their workload so patients get optimal care. 'It's more important that our community recognizes that the nurses are here advocating for their safety,' Slade said. Tenet, which has 65 hospitals and 115,000 employees nationwide, said it has negotiated in 'good faith' and it is disappointed the union chose to strike. 'While we respect the nurses' right to strike, patients and their loved ones can be assured that our patients will continue to be cared for by qualified replacement registered nurses,' the Dallas-based company's statement said. According to the U.S. Labor Department, almost 3 million registered nurses are employed nationally, with an average annual salary of $75,510. Florida's average RN salary is $66,210, Arizona's is $77,000 and California's is $106,950, tops in the nation. Union membership has plummeted in the U.S. since the 1970s. About 10% of American workers are unionized today and only 7% in the private sector, down steeply from 40 years ago when a third of workers were represented, as jobs shifted from manufacturing to the service sector. When adjusted for inflation, the average American's wage has remained stagnant during those decades, according to the Pew Research Center. Government actions have also hurt unions. With support from business groups, Wisconsin and Michigan, both states with strong union histories, adopted 'right to work' laws this decade that prevent private-sector companies and unions from requiring employees to pay union dues or fees. Twenty-seven states , including Texas, Florida and Arizona, have such laws. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last year that government workers nationwide can't be forced to contribute to the unions that represent them in collective bargaining. Jeffrey Hirsch, a University of North Carolina law professor who specializes in labor issues, said such losses may spur unions to be more aggressive, but it also helps that unemployment is low. That makes workers more confident that a strike won't cost them their jobs. 'If the job market is better, they have more leverage because they aren't as easy to replace,' he said. Almost 50,000 General Motors workers went on strike this week as the UAW demands higher wages. It's the first U.S. auto industry work stoppage in a decade. In health care, 80,000 Kaiser Permanente workers plan a one-week strike next month to protest the hospital chain's wages and labor practices. Organizers say it might be the biggest U.S. walkout since 185,000 Teamsters struck United Parcel Service in 1997. Teachers walked out in several states over the last few years demanding higher salaries and more school funding, including in Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky and West Virginia. Unions have also organized at several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, and at websites such as BuzzFeed, Slate, HuffPost and Fusion. Mary Anne Trasciatti, chair of Hofstra University's labor studies program, believes unions will experience a growth period because of their improving public support, particularly among younger workers. She said people are realizing the manufacturing jobs of the 1950s and 1960s paid well because they were unionized. 'You've got people who are really struggling who are saying, 'Look our 'leaders' and our 'status quo' is not serving our needs' and they are pushing back,' she said. __ AP writer Astrid Galvan in Phoenix contributed to this report.
  • Facebook said Friday that it has suspended 'tens of thousands' of apps made by about 400 developers as part of an investigation following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The announcement came the same day that unsealed legal documents in Massachusetts disclosed that Facebook had suspended 69,000 apps. In the vast majority of cases, however, the suspensions came not after any kind of serious investigation but because app developers had failed to respond to emailed information requests. Starting in March 2018, Facebook began looking into the apps that have access to its users' data. The probe came after revelations that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten data from millions of Facebook users through an app, then used the data to try to influence U.S. elections. It led to a massive backlash against Facebook that included CEO Mark Zuckerberg being called to testify before Congress. The company is still trying to repair its reputation. Facebook said Friday its app investigation is ongoing and it has looked at millions of apps so far. The company said it has banned a few apps completely and has filed lawsuits against some, including in May against a South Korean data analytics company called Rankwave. In April, it sued LionMobi , based in Hong Kong, and JediMobi, based in Singapore, which the company says made apps that infected users' phones with malware. Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission for a record $5 billion this summer over privacy violations that stemmed from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company said the FTC agreement 'will bring its own set of requirements for bringing oversight to app developers. It requires developers to annually certify compliance with our policies' and that developers who don't do this will be 'held accountable.' Also on Friday, a judge unsealed a subpoena by the Massachusetts attorney general demanding that the social network disclose the names of apps and developers that obtained data from its users without their consent. It also asked for all Facebook internal communications about those apps. The state began investigating Facebook when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. But the company refused to identify any of the apps or developers, and the subpoena would have remained confidential under Massachusetts law had Facebook not insisted on keeping it and related exhibits secret. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's consumer protection division had sought data on apps from prior to 2014, when Facebook announced changes to the platform to restrict access to user data. Facebook tried to redact the subpoena in negotiations before Friday's ruling by state Judge Brian A. Davis. But Healey's office fought to limit the redacted sections. Facebook did disclose that it had identified more than 10,000 apps that 'show characteristics associated with higher risks of data misuse' but did not identify any of them. The state attorney general noted that Facebook had allowed developers to integrate at least 9 million apps into the platform as of 2014 and had, for many years, allowed developers to access user data, including photos, work history, birthdates and 'likes.' This applied not just from people who installed the apps but also to their Facebook friends who did not. The unsealed subpoena also says that Facebook informed the Massachusetts attorney general's office that it had identified about 2 million apps 'as warranting a closer examination for potential misuses of Facebook user data.' That suggests that, five years ago, more than one in four apps may have been accessing Facebook users' data without their knowledge or consent.
  • Walmart is getting out of the vaping business. The nation's largest retailer said Friday that it will stop selling electronic cigarettes at its namesake stores and Sam's Clubs in the U.S. when it sells out its current inventory. The nation's largest retailer said the move is due to 'growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity' regarding vaping products. It also comes after several hundred people have mysteriously fallen ill after vaping, and eight have died. Walmart's decision is the latest blow to the vaping industry, which has tried to position its products as healthier alternatives to smoking cigarettes, which are responsible for 480,000 deaths a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the industry has come under increased scrutiny after the deaths and illnesses — along with a surge in underage vaping. President Donald Trump has proposed a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products. Michigan banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes this week. In June, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes. The bulk of e-cigarettes are sold through vape shops, which number about 115,000 nationwide, with additional outlets including drug stores, grocery stores and tobacco outlets, industry experts say. E-cigarettes represent a very small part of Walmart's nicotine business, which also includes traditional cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and nicotine gum, so the impact on the retailer will be small. But, it will be difficult for vaping companies to replace that access to shoppers given Walmart's size, said Greg Portell, global lead partner in the consumer and retail practice of A.T. Kearney, a strategy and management consulting firm. Walmart operates more than 5,000 stores under its namesake and Sam's Club in the U.S. 'Walmart's size and scale makes their decisions about what products to carry meaningful for the impacted products,' Portell said. 'Vaping companies will be especially challenged given the lack of direct consumer access.' The Vapor Technology Association, a trade group, was quick to slam Walmart's move against vaping products while keeping cigarettes on its shelves. 'The fact that Walmart is reducing access for adult smokers to regulated vapor products while continuing to sell combustible cigarettes is irresponsible,' Tony Abboud, executive director of the association, said in a statement. 'This will drive former adult smokers to purchase more cigarettes.' More than 500 people have been diagnosed with breathing illnesses after using e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, according to U.S. health officials. An eighth death was reported this week. But health officials still have not identified the cause. In July, Walmart, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including all e-cigarettes, to 21. It also said then that it was in the process of discontinuing the sale of fruit- and dessert-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems. The moves come as Walmart is trying to become a better corporate citizen. It has adopted measures to become more environmentally friendly. It thrust itself in the country's gun control debate after a mass shooting at one of its stores killed 22 customers in August. Earlier this month it decided to discontinue sales of certain gun ammunition and requested customers no longer openly carry firearms in its stores, even where state laws allow it. 'Increasingly, consumer companies are blurring the line between business and social decisions,' Portell added. 'As the risks associated with new categories like vaping become more well known, we would expect retailers to make decisions on what role they want to play in those risks.' Target says it doesn't sell electronic cigarettes. CVS Health got out of the cigarette business five years ago, and says it doesn't sell any vaping devices. ___ Follow Anne D'Innocenzio: http://twitter.com/ADInnocenzio
  • The birthplace of General Motors has been on an economic roller-coaster ride for more than a century as the automaker rose, crashed and retooled for changing markets. Now, the city of Flint is again steeling for economic impact amid a nationwide United Auto Workers' strike against the automaker. Workers seeking job security and a bigger share of GM's profits have been surrounding the company's massive complex in Flint for days, marching and toting signs and U.S. flags at entrances. 'Vehicle City' — and many of the workers — have been here before. James Schneider, who operates a laser-guided forklift truck at the GM plant, participated in a 54-day strike at a Flint plant in 1998 that forced a companywide shutdown. 'Our motto then was: 'One day longer.' And that's what we're going to be. We're going to hold out one day longer,' said Schneider, 43. He described his hometown as 'rough-and-tumble' and 'a hard city.' 'It's kind of left over from when we had a lot of GM plants here and you had to be tough or you got walked over,' he said. There is resolution but also apprehension in Flint, where an estimated 45% of the city's 100,000 residents live below the poverty line, according to 2016 census data. Mayor Karen Weaver says she supports the striking workers, but she also doesn't want to see a long walkout. 'I don't know what this is going to mean for Flint ... but it needs to get resolved quickly,' Weaver said. She said she worries about the workers' livelihoods, as well as a tentative economic recovery that's included the arrival of an auto supplier plant on part of the site that once held GM's massive Buick City assembly center. The city is also hoping for another factory on a piece of the 390-acre plot on the city's north side. 'So we were looking ... for an expanded relationship and for things (with GM) to continue, and the strike happened,' she said. 'Because we have made that kind of progress it is a chance for us to focus on other things. That's what was starting to happen.' GM employs roughly 10,000 people in Flint and surrounding Genesee County, the majority of which are at truck, engine and metal plants clustered on the city's southwest side. That's actually up by a few thousand workers since the early 2000s, as more jobs have been added and investments made to the profitable truck-making business. Still, it's a far cry from the manufacturing heyday of the 1950s and '60s, when GM boasted a workforce in Flint of upwards of 85,000. In later decades, jobs moved south or overseas, or just dried up. GM's dramatic job cuts and plant closings in Flint were chronicled in filmmaker and Flint-area native Michael Moore's 1989 film, 'Roger and Me,' a takedown of the company and its then-CEO, Roger Smith. Residents suffered another kind of blow in 2014 and 2015, when lead from old pipes leached into drinking water due to a lack of corrosion-control treatment following a change in the water source when the financially strapped city was under state emergency management. The switch also has been linked to a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak. Water quality has improved, and officials expect a citywide effort to replace the aging pipes to be finished this year. For the mayor, it was a sign of progress when GM last year resumed using the Flint-supplied water. Weaver says when she asks residents 'what recovery looks like,' the reply is simple: 'Jobs.' A strike lasting a couple of weeks or less shouldn't deliver a major economic blow to the area or state, said Chris Douglas, an associate professor of economics at University of Michigan-Flint. But a longer walkout would curb needed tax revenue — the state has fewer jobs now than in 2000 — and hobble GM, which never regained market share from the shutdown two decades ago, he says. 'Everyone is weaker now, compared to 1998 — the company, the city and even the statewide economy,' he said. Joe Duplanty Jr., 56, works on the assembly line making diesel engines. Duplanty, whose father was the president of a Flint UAW local decades ago, knows the history of GM and Flint — including how tough it can be on the city when the automaker scales back operations. 'When plants start leaving, the city's going to suffer,' he said. ___ Karoub reported from Detroit. ___ On Twitter, follow Jeff Karoub at https://twitter.com/jeffkaroub and Mike Householder at https://twitter.com/mikehouseholder
  • California sued Friday to stop the Trump administration from revoking its authority to set greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, enlisting help from 22 other states in a battle that will shape a key component of the nation's climate policy. Federal law sets standards for how much pollution can come from cars and trucks. But since the 1970s, California has been permitted to set tougher rules because it has the most cars and struggles to meet air quality standards. On Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withdrew California's waiver. The NHTSA action does not take effect for 60 days, but state leaders did not wait to file a lawsuit. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has clashed with President Donald Trump on several fronts, vowed the state 'will hold the line in court to defend our children's health, save consumers money at the pump and protect our environment.' The Trump administration's decision does not just affect California. Thirteen other states, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted California's standards. A spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declined to comment on the lawsuit. But Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the rules 'were making cars more expensive and impeding safety because consumers were being priced out of newer, safer vehicles.' 'We will not let political agendas in a single state be forced upon the other 49,' Chao said. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said its authority to set nationwide fuel economy standards pre-empts state and local programs. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra cited a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that rejected the NHTSA's argument that greenhouse gas emission standards under the Clean Air Act interfered with its ability to set fuel economy standards. 'The Oval Office is really not a place for on-the-job training. President Trump should have at least read the instruction manual he inherited when he assumed the Presidency, in particular the chapter on respecting the Rule of Law,' Becerra said in a statement. Federal regulators said the regulation would not impact California's programs to address 'harmful smog-forming vehicle emissions.' Joining California in the lawsuit are attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. The cities of New York and Los Angeles and the District of Columbia also joined the lawsuit. The lawsuit highlighted a day of climate-related action by California leaders, which included an executive order from Newsom directing state transportation officials to consider climate goals in their planning and direct money where possible to programs that will reduce reliance on cars. Newsom's order, issued Friday morning, also calls on pension funds for state employees and teachers to consider climate risk when making its investments. The pension fund already considers climate risk and the University of California has said it will divest its endowment and pension funds from fossil fuels. Alex Jackson of the National Resources Defense Council called the order welcome but said he'd like to see more action instead of goal-setting. ___ Associated Press reporter Michael Biesecker contributed reporting from Washington.