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Polar vortex shuts down 11 GM auto plants in Michigan

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General Motors Co said late on Wednesday it will temporarily suspend operations at 11 Michigan plants and its Warren Tech Center after a utility made an emergency appeal to users to conserve natural gas during extreme winter cold.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV also said it had canceled a shift on Thursday at both its Warren Truck and Sterling Heights Assembly plants and was considering whether it would need to cancel additional shifts.

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GM said it had been asked by Consumers Energy, a unit of CMS Energy Corp, to suspend operations to allow the utility to manage supply issues after extreme cold temperatures and a fire at a compressor station.

It said workers were told not to report for the shifts at its Orion Assembly, Flint Assembly, Lansing Delta Township Assembly and Lansing Grand River Assembly plants, as well as other stamping and transmission plants on Wednesday evening and early Thursday. GM said it was still assessing when employees could return to work.

Workers at its Warren Tech Center were also told to stay home on Thursday.

In a video message posted on Facebook, CMS Energy Chief Executive Patricia Poppe said large companies, including Fiat Chrysler, Ford Motor Co and GM, had agreed to “interrupt” production schedules through Friday to tackle the issue prompted by a fire at a Michigan facility and the record-breaking cold.

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Poppe said the usage cuts by large businesses were not enough, and urged 1.8 million Michigan customers to turn down thermostats as much as they could to cut natural gas use in order to protect critical facilities like hospitals and nursing homes. “I need you to take action right now,” she said.

Ford Motor said it had also taken steps to reduce energy use at its four Michigan plants supplied by Consumers Energy, but added the situation remained fluid.

A spokeswoman said it had reduced heating levels at Livonia Transmission and Van Dyke Transmission, stopped heat treatment processes at Sterling Axle and shut down the paint process at Michigan Assembly.

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Consumers Energy sent an alert to mobile phones in Michigan asking residents to reduce natural gas use.

In a Twitter message, Consumers Energy warned that “without additional reductions, we run the risk of not being able to deliver natural gas to families and critical facilities across Michigan – a scenario none of us want to encounter.”

Consumers Energy said a fire at a gas compressor station in Michigan’s Macomb County Wednesday forced it to halt gas flow from the compressor station until safety and damage assessments could be completed.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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White House spokesperson ridiculed for ‘pathetic’ spin on Trump’s trade war admission: ‘Does she think we believe that?’

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Hours after Donald Trump blithely admitted that he had "second thoughts" about his trade war with China that has damaged the U.S. economy and helped set the stage for a possible recession, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham was forced to issue a clarification about the president's comments.

Addressing Trump's G7 response about his tariffs, widely interpreted by the press as expressing some regret, Grisham issued a statement saying the president meant that he wished he had increased his market-destroying tariffs even more.

"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'" White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham relayed. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

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Here is why Trump is obsessed with Greenland

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They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Remember that President Harry Truman tried to purchase Greenland in 1946; now, in 2019, President Donald Trump is trying to do the same thing.

This article first appeared in Salon.

To be clear, Trump’s farcical, “absurd” idea — to borrow the adjective used by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen — is not happening, and was never going to happen. As Frederiksen pointed out, Greenland is “not for sale." Trump, for his part, has not backed down from the idea.

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2020 Election

Iowa’s Steve King facing ouster because his campaign is broke and his allies have fled: report

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Iowa Republican Steve King is facing losing his seat representing his district in the U.S. House of Representatives as his campaign finds itself broke and the Republican Party has turned its back on him after his latest round of controversial comments.

According to a report from the Daily Beast, his campaign is struggling to bring donors -- who once wholeheartedly supported him --back into the fold.

Even worse, his colleagues in Congress have also abandoned him.

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