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Detroit to close 44 public schools

DETROIT (AP) -- Doors are expected to shut on more than a quarter of Detroit's 172 public schools in June as the district fights through steadily declining enrollment and a budget deficit of more than $219 million, an emergency financial manager said Wednesday.

Three aging, traditional and underpopulated high schools would be among the 44 closures. Another six schools are to be closed in June 2011, followed by seven more a year later, emergency financial manager Robert Bobb said.

The closures are part of a $1 billion, five-year plan to downsize a struggling district while improving education, test scores and student safety in a city whose population has declined with each passing decade. The 2010 U.S. Census is expected to show that far fewer than 900,000 people now live in Detroit.

Other cities face similar woes. The Kansas City, Mo., school district announced plans last week to shut down nearly half its schools by the start of classes in the fall.

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Carter urges Obama to meet GOP leaders

ATLANTA (AP) -- Former President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday called the divide among Republicans and Democrats in Washington "unprecedented," and said President Obama should hold private meetings with GOP leaders to make sure the gap doesn't grow.

Carter said the biggest bipartisan breakthrough during his presidency was the Panama Canal treaty in 1978. Carter, a Democrat, had to work with then-Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker, a Republican, to get it ratified. "It was the right thing to do even though it negatively impacted my future in politics," said Baker, who was in Atlanta for the unveiling of his photo collection at the Carter Library and Museum.

Carter said that vote may have cost Baker the Republican nomination for president in 1980.

Baker said he still receives letters from voters saying they'll never forgive him for his vote. "But that's OK," he said with a smile, "because I haven't forgiven them either."

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EPA plans to make flea, tick products safer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Complaints of dogs and cats injured and sometimes killed by flea treatments have increased significantly, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

The EPA says it will develop stricter testing and evaluation requirements for flea and tick treatments that are applied to pets' skin. The agency also will begin reviewing labels to determine which ones need to say more clearly how to use the products.

The EPA's effort follows increasing complaints from pet owners that the "spot-on" products have triggered reactions in dogs and cats, ranging from skin irritation to neurological problems to deaths.

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