Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 6, 2013

Michigan in Brief: 02/06/2013


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Group calls for removal of Nazi-inspired sign

DETROIT — A Jewish civil rights group is denouncing placards posted at a deteriorating former Detroit car plant that spell out words that were part of a metal gate at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Tuesday that the posting of "Arbeit macht frei" at the defunct Packard plant is "an intentional and malicious act" and requested its quick removal.

The German phrase meaning "Work makes free" greeted Jews and other prisoners the Germans sent to Auschwitz during World War II. An estimated 1.1 million to 1.5 million people died there.

It's unknown who put up the signs, and the plant's ownership is in dispute.

Senate panel debates DNA collection

LANSING — Michigan could expand the collection of DNA samples to include people arrested on suspicion of all felony charges, under a package of bills considered by a Senate panel Tuesday.

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, a Lawton Republican who introduced the bills, told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday the proposed law change would "solve crimes and save lives." But critics say putting people in a DNA database before they are convicted of a crime could violate their legal rights and overburden the state's identification system.

Since 2009, Michigan has required the collection of DNA samples at arrest on suspicion of murder, rape, kidnapping and other violent felonies. treated as if it were a fingerprint.

Key Democrats back challenger

LANSING — For the first time in a decade, the longtime leader of Michigan Democrats is at risk of losing his job after union leaders and the party's best-known lawmakers decided a new chairman is needed to help wrest back control of state government from Republicans.

All seven members of the state's Democratic congressional delegation on Tuesday endorsed challenger Lon Johnson over incumbent Mark Brewer, who is believed to be the longest-serving state Democratic Party chairman in the country. Delegates will vote at the party's state convention on Feb. 23 in Detroit.

Though President Barack Obama and Sen. Debbie Stabenow easily won re-election in Michigan in 2012, Democrats did not win control of the state House or Supreme Court, or pick up any U.S. House seats.