Crime
5:07 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

State Police still struggling with Detroit rape kit backlog

Michigan State Police say it will take millions of dollars to process thousands of rape kits found in an abandoned Detroit crime lab.

John Collins is State Police Director of Forensic Science. He says Michigan State University researchers are helping to identify the kits but the procedure takes time and money:

“What we hope to have eventually is some federal support to help us supply resources to test as many of these kits as possible, and to assist with the prosecutions that we think will come later on down the road,” said Collins.

Collins says about a thousand rape kits will be analyzed for DNA in the next year.  The results will be submitted to a national database to look for matches from other cases.

That leaves a backlog of another 10,000  kits .

The Detroit Police crime lab was shut down in 2008 after it was learned that firearms cases had been improperly handled.

Education
5:00 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan school district decides not to ban "Waterland" novel

user mconnors morgueFile

The Plymouth-Canton school district will not ban Waterland from its Advanced Placement English curriculum.

Graham Swift’s novel is the second book this year the Plymouth-Canton school district put on trial. The district considered banning Toni Morrison’s Beloved last month, but decided against it.

A committee voted anonymously in a closed meeting not to ban the books after hearing from teachers, students and parents during public meetings. (Since their votes are anonymous, we do not know if it was a unanimous vote.)

AP English teacher Brian Read, who has taught Beloved and Waterland for 10 years, says both books deal with the effects of trauma, and contain some mature content of a sexual nature. He says he and his colleague don't choose books because they're sensational, or because there's offensive material in it.

"We choose them because they’re really great works of literature and they really work well in our curriculum, they work well with other pieces that we’re teaching. So I’ll absolutely teach it again and I’m glad that I have that opportunity to teach it again."

Read says both books are worth fighting for, and he’ll continue to defend the books if they come under fire again.

Read more
Politics
4:45 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan ACLU fights anti-begging law

Annie Green Springs Flickr

Michigan’s law against peaceful begging in public was challenged in federal court this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman says peaceful begging is protected speech under the First  Amendment.

“Begging is not a crime, asking for help is not a crime, being poor is not a crime. There’s been so much economic turmoil, and penalizing poor people because they need help is wrong….and unconstitutional.”

James Speet says he’s been arrested at least eight times in the Grand Rapids area for holding up a sign that reads “Need job… God bless.”

Speet, who’s often homeless, says he never hassles people.

“I don’t approach anybody unless I’m called over to them, by them. That way there’s never no people feeling like I’m being aggressive toward them, or anything like that. I let them come to me.”

The ACLU of Michigan says the Grand Rapids Police Department has arrested nearly 400 people for peaceful begging since 2008.

Politics
4:29 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Richardville latest to take on Michigan grad student unionization

courtesy of Richardville's office

The drama over University of Michigan graduate student research assistants and whether or not they can unionize continues to unfold, this time with State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville weighing in.

Read more
Amtrak
3:28 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Lansing motorist killed in crash with Amtrak train

user smaedi Creative Commons

DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Officials say the driver of a car who was killed in a collision with an Amtrak train near Lansing drove around lowered gates at a road crossing.

The Eaton County Sheriff's Office continued to investigate the accident Friday.

The driver of the car who was killed was identified as Hermes Fernandez-Lopez. The 39-year-old was from Lansing.

No one on the train was reported injured in the Thursday night accident.

The train was travelling from Chicago to Port Huron with about 145 passengers when it struck the vehicle shortly after 9:10 p.m., authorities said. Train passengers left the scene on buses.

Politics
12:42 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Santorum touts candor and consistency to Michigan voters

wikimedia commons

Republican candidate for president Rick Santorum says he thinks he would appeal to Democrats and independents in Michigan if he is on the November ballot.

Appearing on public television’s “Off the Record,” Santorum said he was able to attract votes when he ran for the US Senate in his Democratic-leaning home state of Pennsylvania. And he said, if he is the Republican nominee for president, independent voters will appreciate his honesty.

“You know what policies I’m going to be out there advocating for, I’m someone you can trust, I’m someone who is open to listening but who has a very clear vision for where I want to take the country,” Santorum said.

Read more
Commentary
10:27 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Wayne County’s Agony

Some years ago, there was a scandal involving fiscal improprieties at Michigan Public Media, which operates this radio station. When the then-director discovered the suspicious financial practices, he immediately told the University of Michigan about them.

Then, though he was in no way implicated in the wrongdoing, he resigned, saying the irregularities happened under his watch, and therefore he was ultimately responsible for them.

Read more
Your Family Story
9:58 am
Fri February 17, 2012

The cannoli assembly line is efficient and delicious

Michelle Guevara

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

My great-grandfather migrated from Sicily. He was one of the first Fanfalones to settle in the Detroit area. Like a lot of Italian migrants, he was poor but carved a name for himself and ended up having a large family.

Read more
Changing Gears
9:30 am
Fri February 17, 2012

The next phase in protests: Get ready for the "99% Spring"

The "Occupy" movement in Detroit. Will the movement sprout again this spring?
user k1ds3ns4t10n Flickr

UAW President Bob King referred last week to a “new movement for social justice” this spring, and now we know what he’s talking about. The UAW’s Facebook page on Thursday features a big photo promoting the 99% Spring, sending its readers to a new Web site called The99Spring.com.

Read more
Sports Commentary
7:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Hockey from different sides of the rink

The Hamline University Women's Hockey team. Commentator John U. Bacon writes about his experiences assisting a women's hockey team.
Hamline University

I’ve coached high school boy’s hockey teams for almost a decade.  But a few years ago, I spent two years helping out the Michigan women’s hockey team – and I learned a lot more than they did.   

It’s worth noting that I’m comparing only high school boys and college women, based solely on my observations of two hockey teams.  Your mileage may vary. 

My education started on day one.

Read more
Politics
8:39 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Detroit Council districts: And the winner is ...Option 3

The Detroit City Council has approved a map that will be used to guide future Council elections.

The map divides the city into seven districts. Starting next year, Detroit will elect their Council members by district. Currently, all nine members are elected at large.

The Council chose “Option 3,” one of the four options the city’s Planning Commission created for them to choose from.

Read more
Education
8:37 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Lansing school superintendent given 'two weeks notice'

Lansing school superintendent Dr. T.C. Wallace (file photo)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing school board voted Thursday night to give the district’s superintendent two weeks notice.

Dr. T.C. Wallace has been the capitol city’s school superintendent since 2007.  

He agreed last year to leave the district at the end of this academic year. 

But the school board decided to speed up Wallace’s departure.  

The district is facing major restructuring questions  and an estimated budget deficit that could be as high as 20 million dollars.

Politics
8:14 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Wayne County Commissioner: Ficano should resign

screen grab from WJBK Fox 2

Wayne County Commissioner Laura Cox has publicly said that embattled County Executive Robert Ficano should resign.

Cox, the only Republican on the Wayne County Commission, has been one of Ficano’s most outspoken critics.

Ficano has been under fire for months after numerous revelations about huge severance payments to top aides, and other corruption accusations.

Read more
Politics
5:52 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Super-PAC boosts Santorum spending in Michigan

wikipedia.org

The candidates in Michigan’s Republican presidential primary are expected to pour a lot of money into advertising in the state.

Polls show Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are evenly matched in popular support.

Romney and his political action committee are expected to spend millions in Michigan.

But a super-PAC behind Santorum reportedly will spend $650,000 in the state.

Bill Ballenger is editor of Inside Michigan Politics.

Read more
Political Roundup
5:51 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Will Gov. Snyder's endorsment help Romney?

User: dailyfortnight / flickr

Governor Rick Snyder gave his endorsement to Mitt Romney today.  The question is whether or not that endorsement will help Romney.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Here’s what Susan Demas had to say about the Snyder endorsement:

Read more
Politics
5:41 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Santorum: autos would be doing better without bailout

Rick Santorum is campaigning in Michigan ahead of the state's primary.
user gageskidmore Flickr

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum told members of the Detroit Economic Club that he still thinks the federal bailout of the auto industry was the wrong move.

Santorum said he thinks auto companies should have been allowed to thrive or fail in the free market.

“Would the auto industry look different than it is today? Yes it would be. Would it still be alive and well? I think it would be equally alive and better,” said Santorum.

Read more
Politics
5:35 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Romney shows "love" for Michigan, autos as he stumps for votes

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is campaigning in Michigan ahead of the state's primary.
user gageskidmore Flickr

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney spoke to a business luncheon today not far from where he grew up in Oakland County as he stumped for Republican support in Michigan’s presidential primary.

Protestors outside carried a banner that said “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” -- a reminder of what Romney famously said in 2008 as he opposed the taxpayer-funded auto industry bailout.

Inside, Romney said he loves the auto industry and still drives a Ford Mustang – and defended his history as a venture capitalist to a chamber of commerce lunch largely filled with businesspeople.

Read more
Terrorism
3:45 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Nigerian underwear bomber gets life in prison

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Update 3:45 p.m.

DETROIT (AP) - A Nigerian who tried to blow up an international flight near Detroit on behalf of al-Qaida has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The mandatory punishment Thursday for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was never in doubt after he pleaded guilty in October. The 25-year-old says the bomb in his underwear was a "blessed weapon" to avenge poorly treated Muslims worldwide.

The bomb didn't fully detonate aboard an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight but caused a brief fire that burned Abdulmutallab.

He admitted afterward that the attack was inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born cleric and leading al-Qaida figure killed by a U.S. drone strike last fall.

Federal Judge Nancy Edmunds announced the sentence in a crowded courtroom that included some passengers from Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

2:22 p.m.

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit federal judge is refusing to set aside a federal law that requires a mandatory life sentence for a Nigerian who pleaded guilty to trying to blow up an international flight bound for Detroit on Christmas 2009.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds made her decision as the sentencing hearing began Thursday for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He tried to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 with a bomb in his underwear. It failed and he was badly burned.

Abdulmutallab's attorney claims a life sentence when there was no death or serious injury to passengers is unconstitutional.

Separately, the judge says she'll allow the government to show an FBI video demonstrating the power of the explosive chemical possessed by Abdulmutallab.

Arts/Culture
1:59 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Artpod: Songs from Seth & May

Photo courtesy of Seth Bernard and May Erlewine.

Today's Artpod features a live, in studio performance!

Michigan musicians Seth Bernard & May Erlewine dropped by Michigan Radio to talk about their new album inspired by their journey across Ethiopia.

Read more
Sports
12:20 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Across the Detroit River, hockey history shuts its doors

In recent years, Windsor Arena was home ice for the University of Windsor Lancers.
wikimedia commons

If you're a Detroit hockey fan, you're probably celebrating the Red Wings' recent record-breaking home win streak at the storied Joe Louis Arena---a bit of magic for a veteran team in an aging building---but across the river there's a piece of hockey history that make's "the Joe" look like the new kid on the ice arena block.

Read more

Pages