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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Commentary
11:25 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Snyder Endorsing Romney

Last night we all learned that today would be the day when Governor Rick Snyder endorsed Mitt Romney for president.

This is a time-honored ritual, not all that different in some ways from waiting to see if Billy will ask Katie to the prom. But what nobody ever seems to ask is, what effect this all has?

I mean, will Joe Sixpack or Susie Salarywoman come home tonight, throw open the door and say, “Honey, did you hear the news?   Snyder endorsed Romney.  I guess that settles it for us.“

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GM profit
10:25 am
Thu February 16, 2012

GM makes record profit of $7.6 billion despite losses in Europe

General Motors posted a record profit of $7.6 billion in 2011, although its losses in Europe were very high -- $700 million.

In a conference call with analysts, GM CEO Dan Akerson  called Europe a "rather challenging market, not only for GM and Opel, but also for our competition."

GM also lost $100 million in South America.

Most of the money GM made came from sales in North America.  GM made $7.2 billion before taxes in the region.

GM plans to make major structural changes in Europe to reduce its persistent losses there.  

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Environment
10:23 am
Thu February 16, 2012

A pig ban gets muddy

A Mangalitsa pig at a farm in McBain, Michigan.
Peter Payette/Interlochen Public Radio

Wildlife officials took aggressive action last year to keep pigs from running wild on the landscape. Certain kinds of pigs were declared an invasive species. But farmers and ranchers say the move was too extreme. They’re challenging the science of the ban.  On today's Environment Report, Peter Payette explains that distinguishing between pigs can be complicated. 

Peter visited Stuart Kunkle at his small farm south of Traverse City.  He has ten pigs.

“We have a mix and some purebreds here. We have two mulefoots which are the black pigs. That’s Rosabelle and down there is Trinity at the end… then we’ve got a mixture of what we believe is Russian boar and Mangalitsa.”

All these pigs are hairy and the Mangalitsas are almost as dark as the mule foots.

Kunkle got into pigs for a few reasons. One is: he has a day job and pigs are less work than other animals. And he says the market for pastured pork is growing and chefs have become interested in some of the unusual breeds.

But his pigs might soon be illegal. Kunkle isn’t certain but he has the list of characteristics the state will soon use to identify illegal pigs.

“They have erect ears, which I have heard that the erect ear is something associated with the Russian boar. But you know, I want to say except for certain breeds, I want to say a lot of the pigs I’ve ever seen have erect ears.”

Stuart Kunkle is not exactly who the state was targeting when it banned feral swine.

Wildlife officials have been talking for years about the dangers posed by hunting ranches that sell wild boar hunts. They say the animals sometimes escape and there are now thousands living in the wild.

One top official has referred to them as four-footed Asian carp.

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Environment
9:30 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Dow Chemical agrees to clean dioxin-tainted properties in Midland, Michigan

A map of the properties in Midland, Michigan eligible for Dow's voluntary purchase program.
Dow Chemical

John Flesher of the Associated Press reports Michigan environmental regulators have reached a deal with Dow Chemical to clean up around 1,400 residential properties in Midland. The soil in these areas is contaminated with dioxin.

From the AP:

The state Department of Environmental Quality said Thursday it agrees with the company on cleanup plan framework. Dow will fill in the details and submit them to the state for review next month.

Dow has acknowledged polluting 50 miles of rivers and floodplains in Michigan with dioxin for much of the past century. Negotiations and studies with state and federal agencies on how to fix the damage have dragged on since the mid-1990s.

The Midland agreement follows a deal reached last fall on cleansing a three-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River near the plant.

The company issued a statement about the agreement noting they will also offer a land purchase program to around 50 land owners near its Michigan Operations manufacturing site in Midland.

The properties are in the area where Dow and the state agreed to the clean-up and remediation deal.

A map of the affected properties is show above.

From Dow's press release:

Dow is offering this incentivized property purchase program to give property owners in the immediate area north and east of Michigan Operations (see map) the option to move out of an industrial/commercial area to a residential area, if they so choose. The program will also offer relocation support for those who rent their homes, if the property owner participates in the program.

"We see this as an opportunity to address land use near our manufacturing site and give people still living in this industrial/commercial area the choice to move elsewhere," said Rich A. Wells, vice president and site director for Dow's Michigan Operations.

Dow says they will donate the acquired the properties to Midland Tomorrow, a "nonprofit economic development entity serving Midland County."

News Roundup
8:53 am
Thu February 16, 2012

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

Governor Snyder endorses Romney, but will it help?

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder officially endorsed Mitt Romney for president. In an opinion piece in the Detroit News, Governor Snyder wrote:

The American economy as a whole remains in difficult straits. Our next president must understand how markets work and know how to get our nation back on track. Mitt Romney is the man for the job.

Polls show Romney trailing Santorum in Michigan. If Romney loses here, Matt Viser writes in Boston.com, it would be a big blow to his campaign:

A Romney loss in Michigan - the state where he grew up, the state his father governed, the state he says he loves - would not only breathe further life into Santorum’s campaign but could derail Romney’s.

Federal prosecutors charge top Wayne County employee

Tahir Kazmi, Wayne County's Chief Information Officer, has been charged with extortion and obstruction of justice.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that federal prosecutors charged Kazmi "with pressuring a county vendor to lie to FBI agents investigating possible corruption in Wayne County government."  Kazmi is also charged with extortion for allegedly demanding cash and expensive trips in exchange for awarding county contracts.

The federal investigation in Wayne County began after the Turkia Mullin severance scandal broke last October.

Detroit Mayor Bing wants to cut bus service from 1 to 4 a.m.

Detroit's beleaguered bus system is facing more cuts. Layoffs were recently announced, now Mayor Bing's office said it want to cut early morning service.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

Bing's office said it will propose ending bus service between 1 and 4 a.m. citywide and reduce service times and lengthen waits between buses on dozens of routes. The cuts would take effect March 3.

Coupled with the reductions, Detroit will institute a "truth in scheduling" pledge that buses will arrive at times posted on new city bus schedules as officials work to right the bus system as part of Bing's strategy to avoid a state financial takeover, Detroit Chief Operations Officer Chris Brown told the Free Press on Wednesday.

Politics
8:04 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Actress Lisa Chan apologizes for role in Hoekstra Super Bowl ad

Images from the Pete Hoekstra Super Bowl ad.
Mark Brush images from YouTube

The actress featured in Pete Hoekstra's Super Bowl ad that sparked charges of racism has apologized.

Hoekstra, who is vying for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, first attempted to defend the ad, but later pulled it down after the outcry.

Lisa Chan posted the apology yesterday on her Facebook page:

"I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities. As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions."

Hoekstra, the front runner for the Republican nomination, was hoping the ad would draw attention to his campaign. It did - just the wrong kind of attention. The Hill reports the  "Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling, shows Stabenow up 51 percent to 37 percent. That's an increase over the 9-point lead she held in their July poll."

Politics
7:10 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Romney gets Snyder's support

Wikipedia

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is backing Mitt Romney's bid for the Republican presidential nomination, calling the former Massachusetts governor "the man for the job."

Snyder announced his support for the Michigan native in an op-ed column published today by The Detroit News. Snyder says Romney "has what it takes to build a foundation for America's success in this global economy."

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Environment
6:44 am
Thu February 16, 2012

New Enbridge pipeline leak found in northern Michigan

A company responsible for a 2010 pipeline rupture that spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil in southern Michigan says it has discovered a small leak in an oil pipeline in the northern Lower Peninsula.

WOOD-TV reports that damage to the pipeline was discovered Tuesday in a section near the Arenac County community of Sterling. The pipeline runs through the eastern part of the state to the Upper Peninsula.

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Economy
1:01 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Michigan's home foreclosure rate improving

Home foreclosure filings in Michigan continued to slide last month.   

Realty Trac reports one in every 354 Michigan homes were in the foreclosure process in January.     That’s a 23% improvement over January, 2011.

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac.   He’s been expecting Michigan’s foreclosure numbers to get worse for more than a year, but instead the numbers have been getting better each of the last 15 months.

“You can’t complain about that trend," says Bloomquist,  "we’re headed in the right direction.”

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Politics
5:28 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Oakland County redistricting loses in court

A judge has overturned a state law that scrapped Oakland County’s new commission map and gave Republican elected officials the power to draw a new one.

The challenge was filed by Democrats who say the law was simply a GOP power grab.

The ruling is the latest chapter in a struggle for political power in the former Republican bastion that’s now a battleground county.

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Politics
5:11 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Top Wayne County employee charged with extortion and other charges

A top aide to Wayne County executive Robert Ficano is facing federal extortion and bribery charges

Tahir Kazmi is Wayne County’s Chief Information Officer.   He’s been in that job since 2008, though he is currently on leave.

Federal prosecutors charged Kazmi this week with pressuring a county vendor to lie to FBI agents investigating possible corruption in Wayne County government.   Kazmi also allegedly demanded cash and expensive trips in return for county contracts.  

Kazmi and another Wayne County employee are charged with obstruction of justice as well. 

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Science/Medicine
5:09 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

"New-car smell" could be hazardous to your health

bluescreen Morguefile

An environmental watchdog group has released a report about toxins found inside new cars. It says that “new-car smell” can be harmful to your health. 

The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor says the interiors of the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander, Chrysler 200 S and the Kia Soul had the highest level of hazardous chemicals.

The Honda Civic, Toyota Prius and Honda CRZ had the lowest level of chemical hazards.

Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor says flame retardants and chemicals in plastics generate gases that can cause health problems.

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