ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Great Lakes research is in the spotlight in Ann Arbor next week as the University of Michigan hosts researchers, advocates and policymakers.
About 75 people are expected to participate Wednesday in the Great Lakes Futures Project.
The consortium of universities and institutions in the U.S. and Canada is developing plans for long-term research projects to help protect and restore the Great Lakes.
The meeting is being hosted by the U-M Water Center.
Participants will discuss the forces that have shaped the Great Lakes region in the past and those that will shape it over the next half-century, including climate change, energy, economics, water quantity, biological and chemical contaminants, invasive species and demographics.
Senior Taliban figure killed: An American drone strike in Pakistan has killed Maulvi Nazir, a top Taliban commander who sent money and fighters to battle the U.S. in Afghanistan but had a truce with the Pakistani military, officials said Thursday. While the death of Nazir was likely to be seen in Washington as affirmation of the necessity of the controversial U.S. drone program, it could cause more friction in already tense relations with Pakistan because Nazir did not focus on Pakistani targets.
To pump millions into recovery projects: A $1.4 billion settlement between the Justice Department and Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean Ltd. will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into projects designed to help the Gulf Coast recover from the nation's largest offshore oil spill. U.S. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said the settlement announced Thursday will dedicate $800 million of the civil penalty and $300 million of criminal penalty to coastal protection and restoration work. Other settlement funds will support spill-prevention research and training. U.S. Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana said he hopes it leads to "much bigger final action with BP, the main culprit in this horrible disaster."
Admit nodding off while driving: This could give you nightmares: 1 in 24 U.S. adults say they recently fell asleep while driving. And health officials behind the study think the number is probably higher. That's because some people don't realize it when they nod off for a second or two behind the wheel. "If I'm on the road, I'd be a little worried about the other drivers," said the study's lead author, Anne Wheaton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kerry prepping for confirmation: The State Department says Sen. John Kerry, who President Barack Obama has nominated to be the next secretary of state, has started meeting with diplomatic staff to prepare for his confirmation. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland says Kerry was at the department's Foggy Bottom headquarters Wednesday. She says he received, quote, "a huge pile of briefing materials." He will report to the State Department regularly starting today. Kerry is expected to easily win confirmation in the Senate, where he chairs the Foreign Relations Committee. Nuland says the department is working with committee to pick a hearing date.
Army major pleads guilty: U.S. Army Major Ulysses S. Hicks has pleaded guilty to accepting thousands of dollars in gratuities from contractors while in Iraq. Federal attorneys said the 40-year-old Hicks of Sumter, S.C., pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to conspiracy to accept illegal gratuities. Court documents say Hicks was a U.S. Army captain serving as a pay agent for money used to buy miscellaneous items and supplies from local vendors. Authorities said that from about March 2007-October 2008, Hicks and a co-conspirator sought, received and accepted illegal gratuities for helping Iraqi contractors get U.S. government contracts. Hicks faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and as much as three years of supervised release. He's agreed to pay $65,409 plus interest in restitution to the United States.
Cites endangering of public: A New York county clerk justified his refusal to release the names and addresses of handgun permit holders to a newspaper, saying it would give stalkers and thieves a convenient roadmap to target potential victims -- and determine whether they have a gun. "This certainly puts my public in danger," Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant said Thursday following a news conference in which he was backed by the county executive and other elected officials. The Journal News, which serves New York City's northern suburbs, sparked an outcry last month when it published clickable online maps with the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties.
Seek investigation of Shell barge: Members of Congress are calling for an investigation of Royal Dutch Shell PLC's Arctic offshore drilling operations as salvagers develop plans to move a company drill ship off rocks near an Alaska island, where it ran aground in a fierce year end storm. Shell incident commander Sean Churchfield said Thursday that the first salvage crew on board the Kulluk, a 266-foot diameter barge with a 160-foot derrick, reported back with details that will be used to begin planning. He would not speculate on when a salvage report might be ready. The vessel is upright and stable, with no indication of a fuel leak, Churchfield said.
Chavez coping with severe infection: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is being treated for "respiratory deficiency" after complications from a severe lung infection, his government said, pointing to a deepening crisis for the ailing 58-year-old president. Chavez hasn't spoken publicly or been seen since his Dec. 11 operation in Cuba, and the latest report from his government Thursday night increased speculation that he is unlikely to be able to be sworn in for another term as scheduled in less than a week.