Today is Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, and we saw President Barack Obama bid farewell to the nation last night. It was an emotional speech that sought to comfort a country on edge over rapid economic changes, persistent security threats and the election of Donald Trump.
Forceful at times and tearful at others, Obama’s valedictory speech in his hometown of Chicago was a public meditation on the many trials the U.S. faces as Obama takes his exit.
As for Trump, he is giving his first official press conference as president-elect. It's coming at an interesting time: Hours before the news conference, Trump blasted U.S. intelligence agencies, blaming them for leaking unsubstantiated reports on his relationship with Russia and demanding, “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin denied allegations that the Kremlin has collected compromising information about Trump, deriding the claim as a “complete fabrication and utter nonsense.”
Stick with us at detroitnews.com for more as this story develops. Otherwise, here's what else is making news today:
Restoring the power
High winds overnight have left some 28,000 homes and businesses in Southeast Michigan without power this morning, according to DTE Energy. Some 70,000 customers were affected in totality, the company said, but power had been restored to 42,000 by 9 a.m. Thursday. The rest should have power "by the end of the day," the company said in a statement.
Also this morning, a DTE Energy worker guarding a downed power line on Detroit’s west side was the victim of an armed robbery. DTE spokesman Michael Lynch that the company is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. Which would be $998 more than the $2 the suspect left with.
- Facing a week of high-profile tests for his administration-in-waiting, Trump predicted Monday that all of his Cabinet picks would win Senate confirmation, while insisting there is a “very simple, very easy” way to disentangle himself from his global business empire before he takes office. Will it be that easy? We will have to wait to see.
- Arguing America must reassert its interests, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, tried to allay concerns today that a Trump administration will pull back from the world or ignore threats from rivals. He said Russia poses a “danger” to the nation.
- Ahead of her Senate confirmation hearing next week, sparring has intensified over the credentials of Education Secretary-designee Betsy DeVos — a choice advocate from West Michigan who has come under fire for her lack of experience as an educator or administrator.
- Trump's pick for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, used strong words in the first day of his Senate confirmation hearings to deny any hints of a racist past. On day two, a group of black lawmakers will speak out against his nomination — including New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker, who will take the rare step of testifying against a current Senate colleague.
Portal to the future
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plans to build what it calls the “fifth generation” of family haulers. The automaker expects to produce the Chrysler Portal concept or something like it after 2018, CEO Sergio Marchionne told the automotive press this week at the Detroit auto show. He declined to provide exact timing.
Flint water update
- A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official says Flint’s water system is improving amid efforts to address the city’s lead-tainted water crisis. Robert Kaplan, the EPA’s acting regional administrator, says “What was a crisis is now looking much like other cities.”
VW wins and losses
It’s ironic: Volkswagen spent 2016 battling a huge scandal over cars it rigged to cheat on emissions tests. And now stands a decent chance to pass Toyota for the title of world’s biggest carmaker for the year.
Booming business in China helped Volkswagen increase its sales to 10.31 million vehicles last year across all its brands, which include Audi, Porsche and Skoda, the company said Tuesday.
Some context: The federal government’s pending agreement to fine Volkswagen AG $4.3 billion for rigging hundreds of thousands of diesel cars to cheat U.S. emission standards would be the largest penalty levied on an automaker doing business in the United States.
Previewing the Charity Preview
- Attendees of the Charity Preview, one of the most exclusive and high-profile social events in Detroit, spend $400 per ticket (the money goes to Michigan children’s charities) and much more to get dolled up for the black-tie event at Cobo Center. Here's what to expect for the evening's styles.
- A British TV network has offered the first glimpse of actor Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson in an upcoming comedy series. Disturbing? Take a look and let us know what you think?
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