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Newsmaker Interview
11:18 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Senator Stabenow talks currency manipulation

The U.S. Senate will soon vote on a bill that would punish China, and other countries, for manipulating their currency. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, has been leading the charge on the legislation.

Selling cars in China different than U.S.
10:59 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Detroit automakers shift approach to sell cars in China

General Motors now sells more cars in China that it does in the United States. In a few years, it’s likely that will be the case for Ford Motor Company, too.   

But selling cars in China takes a different approach than it does in the U.S.

There's much that's familiar at Shanghai Dongchang Fude Auto Sales and Service. There’s the piped in music -- the salespeople hanging out near the front entrance, waiting to grab the next walk-in customer., and the lineup of shiny new cars on the floor. 

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Commentary
9:43 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Expanding Charter Schools

We usually think of Franklin D. Roosevelt today as the quintessential liberal, big government president -- and in today’s polarized politics, both sides look back at his New Deal as the time when things either started going right or wrong, depending.

However, FDR didn’t think of himself that way. Once, when asked about his ideology, he said something like, “I try something, and if it doesn’t work, I try something else." Those who were really on the far left in his day mainly hated him. They understood what he was trying to do better than the right wing did.

As author Gore Vidal put it, “He saved capitalism. Whether it should have been saved or not is a different question. But he saved it, all right.”

I was reminded of this today by the ongoing, ferocious debate going on in Lansing over charter schools, which are independent, for-profit, public schools. A new package of bills would lift virtually all restrictions on charters, which are now limited to areas where public school performance is below average.

What bothers me is that so much of the ongoing debate over these schools is ideological or self-serving. And too few of the lawmakers debating these proposals are asking any version of FDR’s classic question, which in this case should be put this way:

What is the best way to make sure these children are being educated? Common sense means that we should all be in favor of any system that gets that job done, by any means necessary.

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News Roundup
8:42 am
Tue October 11, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

‘Underwear Bomber’ Trial Begins

Opening statements are set today for the trial involving Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man accused of trying to detonate a bomb in his underwear on a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009. Abdulmutallab is, “acting as his own lawyer but is relying on attorney Anthony Chambers to handle the courtroom work. Chambers will grill witnesses and give an opening statement after Abdulmutallab dropped plans to give his own statement. Chambers is promising to ‘challenge everything’ at trial,” the Associated Press reports. Michigan Radio’s Sarah Hulett will be in the courtroom today and report on the proceedings during All Things Considered.

Obama to MI

President Barack Obama travels to Michigan on Friday. Mr. Obama and the President of South Korea will tour the General Motors Orion Assembly plant. They’ll speak about the South Korean trade agreement that the White House says, “will open up economic opportunities and support jobs on both sides of the Pacific.” Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden will be in downtown Flint tomorrow to talk about the President’s jobs plan.

Snyder Wants Immigrants Ready to Start Businesses

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to attract more foreign entrepreneurs to the state, Lindsey Smith reports. From Smith:

Snyder told a gathering of “The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan” he’d like to leverage a federal immigration program to attract new jobs and investments. Under the program, immigrants who’ve invested at least $500,000 in a business that creates at least 10 full-time jobs can apply for green cards. That allows them to live and work in the United States permanently. Snyder says he realizes there are a lot of people who are against inviting more immigrants into the U.S. Snyder says Dow Chemical and the Meijer retail chain are examples – both were founded by immigrants.

Lansing
1:01 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Mayor says Oliver Towers saga is turning into a 'debacle'

The Oliver Towers haved sat empty for a decade since a serious fire. Suddenly, the empty apartment building is the focus of a tug of war between two local colleges, both of which want the land for future expansion.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero calls it a ‘debacle’.    

The battle between two local colleges over an empty apartment building is in a holding pattern.   

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Politics
1:01 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Stabenow hopes US Senate will move the President's Jobs Bill forward

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks duing a news conference at Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, MI
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says she doesn’t know if the president’s jobs bill will clear its first legislative hurdle later today.    That’s when the U.S. Senate is scheduled to take a procedural vote on the $447 billion ‘American Jobs Act’.   

Stabenow, a Democrat, says she’d like to see the legislation move forward.  

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Environment
12:08 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Beekeepers still struggling with colony collapse disorder

Some of Ted Elk’s hives are buzzing with bees and honey.
Photo by Julie Grant

By Julie Grant for The Environment Report

Michigan beekeepers are continuing to lose huge numbers of bees. They join beekeepers from around the country – and the world – who have been dealing with what’s called Colony Collapse Disorder. It’s been around for five years now. Julie Grant visited with some beekeepers, and reports that scientists and the government don’t agree on what should be done to help them.  Here's her story:

Ted Elk is checking out some of his hives. They’re on the backside of a corn field, tucked away in the brush. The colorful boxes are stacked on top of each other.

Some hives are buzzing with activity. He pulls out a comb and scrapes the side:

“And that is all goldenrod honey. See how yellow that is?”

I want to eat it. It’s almost irresistible. But not all the hives look this good.

“Here’s one that’s not gonna make it through winter. It’s light, there’s no bees, there’s no weight to it.”

There’s honey on the comb. But almost no bees.

Elk suspects this hive has colony collapse disorder. There aren’t dead bees around. They’re just gone.

Elk has seen this before. Last winter, he lost 250 hives – and thousands of dollars. When Elk first started keeping bees, he might lose five or six percent in the winter. But nationwide, a 30 percent winter bee loss is average nowadays.

Researchers still aren’t sure exactly what’s causing Colony Collapse Disorder. But they do know there’s a lot of stress on bees. Beekeepers take their hives all over the country – to Florida to pollinate oranges, to California for almonds, to New York for apples, and elsewhere. The beekeepers take the bees honey, and often feed them cheap high fructose corn syrup, or nothing at all. Plus, they can have mites and bacteria. And there are 28 viruses that can affect bees.

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Auto/Economy
10:16 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Gov. Snyder wants to attract immigrants ready to start businesses

Governor Rick Snyder tells the 'World Affairs Council of Western Michigan' he wants immigrants with talent and money who are willing to invest in the United States to come to Michigan.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to attract more foreign entrepreneurs to the state. Snyder told a gathering of “The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan” he’d would like to leverage a federal immigration program to attract new jobs and investments.

The EB-5 immigration program

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Politics
6:26 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Levin: Unwillingness to compromise threatens U.S. political system

Carl Levin

Michigan Senator Carl Levin says the U-S Congress is facing fundamental questions about whether it can continue to function.

Levin spoke at the Detroit Economic Club Monday.

Levin spoke in spoke in personal terms about “the dilemma that I and other members of Congress face.”

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Politics
5:24 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Vice President Joe Biden coming to Michigan on Wednesday

Vice President Joe Biden
(Official portrait)

Vice President Joe Biden will visit Flint and Grand Rapids on Wednesday.   He’ll promote the Obama administration’s efforts to spur jobs growth.  

 The Vice President is scheduled to make two public stops on Wednesday.   Biden’s first stop will be in Flint, where he’ll talk about how the President’s jobs plan would spend $5  billion to hire and retain firefighters and police officers.   Flint’s police and fire departments have seen deep cuts as the city has struggled with a rising budget deficit.  

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Politics
5:04 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Lawmakers take another stab at funeral protest law

Lester Graham Michigan Radio

About a month after a federal judge struck down a Michigan law banning protests at funerals, state lawmakers are taking another go at the issue.

 “We need this protection," said state Representative Bruce Rendon. "And yet everybody does have the freedom of speech in this country and that’s one of the greatest things about America – is we all have the right to express ourselves. But now we’ve defined what we can do within that.”

Legislation before a state Senate panel would specify what protest behaviors would be unlawful. Its aim is to keep protestors from the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church from disrupting funerals in the state. The group has taken its anti-gay protests to military funerals nationwide.    

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support survivors domestic violence
5:01 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Safe at Home (Part 1): Support for survivors of domestic violence

October is domestic violence awareness month. At Michigan Radio, we are taking a look at how domestic violence impacts our communities.

We are also looking at the support and intervention programs in place to assist those impacted by domestic violence.

Safe House Center is one such support organization. It provides assistance to those affected by domestic violence or sexual assault.

Jenn White, host of Michigan Radio’s All Things Considered, talks with Barbara Niess, director of Safe House Center in Ann Arbor.

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Auto/Economy
4:59 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Chrysler and UAW to resume talks Tuesday morning

Contract talks between the United Auto Workers union and Chrysler resume Tuesday morning.  That’s after after negotiators were unable to reach a deal over the weekend. 

The UAW has asked its local presidents to come to Detroit on Wednesday.  That could mean an agreement is imminent. 

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Arts/Culture
4:43 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Mobile video booth lets anyone be an arts critic

Art studio
Dani Davis

A new form of “grass roots” arts journalism could soon be in store for Detroit.

Jennifer Conlin lives in Michigan and is one of the finalists in the Community Arts Journalism Challenge, a national competition to get more people engaged with the arts.

Her idea is called iCritic Detroit, and it would allow arts patrons to record their own reviews of an exhibit or event by hopping into a mobile video booth.

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Politics
3:37 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Legislation would block local protections for gays, lesbians

Republican state Representative Tom McMillin has proposed a law that would forbid civil rights protections that are more expansive than Michigan’s civil rights law.

The measure would apply to local governments, school districts and state agencies. Its aim is to block ordinances that offer legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Right now at least 18 Michigan communities have such laws on the books.

Critics say the measure appears to violate the rights of local governments to conduct their own affairs. 

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Politics
12:47 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Vice President Biden to visit Flint on Wednesday

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Flint, Michigan on Wednesday
Barack Obama Photostream Flickr

Vice President Joe Biden will visit Flint on Wednesday. Biden will use the trip to promote President Obama's jobs plan, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Biden is scheduled to speak midday Wednesday at a fire department building in downtown Flint. The Obama administration says its American Jobs Act would pump $5 billion into supporting jobs for police and firefighters. Flint has laid off over 100 of its first responders over the past three years to deal with budget cuts. The city's seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate in August was 11.4 percent, higher than the state rate of 11.2 percent.

Late last month, Governor Snyder appointed an eight member panel to review the city's finances. "The financial review is the first step in a process created under the state's emergency manager law. Governor Snyder has said he hopes an emergency manager is not needed in Flint," Mark Brush reports. The Governor asked the review team to report their findings within 30 days which means we should find out what they have to say by late October.

Auto/Economy
11:43 am
Mon October 10, 2011

UAW and Chrysler temporarily halt contract talks

Top officials with the United Auto Workers are briefing local union leaders on contract talks with Chrysler today, after negotiators were unable to come to an agreement over the weekend.

A statement from Chrysler says talks ended this morning so the UAW could meet with its National Council.

Chrysler is the last of the Detroit Three to reach a tentative contract with the UAW.  General Motors workers last week ratified a new four-year contract by a margin of two-to-one.

Ford workers are voting this week on a new contract.

Both the contract at Ford and General Motors provide for a pay increase for the company's entry-level workers.

But Chrysler has many more of the entry-level workers than Ford and GM.  Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has called the pay increase at Ford and GM "overly generous."

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Arts/Culture
11:02 am
Mon October 10, 2011

DIA photo exhibit puts Detroit in spotlight

Southeast from Roof, Michigan Central, Scott Hocking, 2008 (printed in 2009), pigment print. © Scott Hocking, 2011. Detroit Institute of Arts

A new exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts looks at life in the Motor City over the past decade. 

The exhibit - Detroit Revealed - includes videos and photographs of city residents and community gardens. It also includes images of the city’s decline: abandoned buildings and empty, overgrown lots - what some call “ruin porn."

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Commentary
11:01 am
Mon October 10, 2011

Gary Peters, Gearing Up

When Gary Peters runs for Congress next year, there’s one vote he has no chance of getting.

His own. Thanks to redistricting, he lives just barely outside the district he plans to run in. Over coffee yesterday, he told me that his daughter will be a high school senior, and out of consideration for her, the family plans not to move until after she graduates.

There’s nothing illegal about that. Congressmen don’t have to live in their districts. But it highlights the general insanity of the redistricting process. Peters, who has served two terms in the House of Representatives, will be one of two candidates for Michigan’s biggest, toughest and most exciting race for Congress next year.

But that race won’t happen next November. Nor will Peters be facing a Republican. This battle will be fought out next summer, and settled by the August primary. There, the two youngest and most vibrant members of the Democratic delegation will be forced to try to end each other’s career.

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News Roundup
8:51 am
Mon October 10, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, October 10th, 2011
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Chrysler/UAW Talks Continue

Talks continue between negotiators for the UAW and Chrysler but no deal on a new contract has been announced. From the Associated Press:

Union leaders from all of Chrysler's factories are headed to the Detroit suburb of Warren for a meeting on the talks. Normally they don't meet until an agreement is ready. Both sides talked into the night Sunday. The union says in Internet postings that bargaining resumed around 4:30 a.m. Work has continued at Chrysler under a contract extension that expires Oct. 19. Chrysler's 23,000 workers cannot strike over wages under terms of the company's government bailout. Disagreements can be taken to binding arbitration.

Michigan Radio reporters are in Detroit monitoring the situation.

Bridge Vote

The state Senate is scheduled to vote on bills having to do with a new bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor this week. A state Senate committee will hold hearings tomorrow and Wednesday and vote on the legislation after  the hearings conclude, the Detroit News reports. Governor Snyder’s administration has been pushing for a new span across the Detroit River since January, when the Governor signaled his support for the new bridge during his first State of the State address.

Challenge to Redistricting Maps

A coalition of African-American and civil rights groups is expected to challenge Michigan’s new congressional and legislative district maps approved earlier this year by the Republican-controlled Legislature, Rick Pluta reports. From Pluta:

State Representative Fred Durhal chairs the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus. He says the new maps violate voting rights laws. He says that’s because they diminish the voting power of urban minority voters – and the evidence of that is how many Democratic incumbents from minority districts will be forced next year to run against each other. Republican leaders say a court challenge to any redistricting plan is normal, and was entirely expected. GOP leaders say the maps reflect population shifts, and that they were very careful to comply with the law.

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