Election 2012
10:29 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Snyder to endorse Hoekstra

Governor Rick Snyder will endorse former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra as the GOP's nominee against Debbie Stabenow in the 2012 U.S. Senate race, according to Rick Pluta. A date for the official announcement is unknown.

The back-story:

Yesterday, three high-profile Republicans endorsed a candidate for the 2012 U.S. Senate race. Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis (who, at one point earlier this year, was thought to maybe want to throw his hat into the Senatorial race himself), former U.S. Senator Spence Abraham (who lost his Senate seat to Senator Stabenow in 2000), and ex-Michigan Republican Chairwomen Betsy DeVos announced that they will back Clark Durant in the GOP race against Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow. Durant, however, has not yet entered the race.

I called Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio's Lansing Bureau Chief, to get a little bit more information about the endorsement. We got to talking about what the endorsement will mean for the perceived front-runner in the race, former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Pluta let me know that Governor Snyder intends to endorse Hoekstra. Interestingly enough, Governor Snyder ran against Hoesktra in the GOP gubernatorial primary in 2010.

For all of you politicos, you can take a listen to my conversation with Pluta about yesterday's endorsement and Governor Snyder's decision to back Hoekstra below:

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Commentary
10:28 am
Fri August 12, 2011

A Senate Surprise

Well, yesterday was not a great day for Pete Hoekstra, the former congressman from Holland. Two days ago, he was seen as the all-but-certain Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate next year.

With the nation’s economic crisis continuing, and more and more voters worried about the future, there seemed to be a growing chance that incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow may be vulnerable. Hoekstra, who got into the race last month after initially declining to run, thought he had a clear shot.

There were a few minor candidates, but they lacked funding or name recognition. But then yesterday, three longtime Michigan GOP heavyweights staged a coup of sorts. Two former state party chairs, Betsy DeVos, wife of Amway heir Dick DeVos, and Saul Anuzis, joined former U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham in endorsing a candidate.  And it wasn’t Pete Hoekstra.

Matter of fact, it wasn’t even someone who is formally in the race yet, though that will quickly change. The Big Three came out strongly for Clark Durant, a Grosse Pointer who is the founder of Cornerstone Schools, a group of charter schools in Detroit.

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Animals
7:57 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Officials Enlist Geese To Patrol Brazilian Prison

Originally published on Fri August 12, 2011 6:59 am

In Brazil, prison officials needed to goose up their alarm system at an overcrowded prison. They could have done many things, but instead they turned to geese. According to the warden, geese will honk loudly when they sense strange movements — like someone escaping over a wall.

Around the Nation
7:57 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Halloween Prop Frightens Young Fisherman

Originally published on Fri August 12, 2011 6:55 am

A boy in Illinois was fishing when something caught his hook. He got a look at the terrible sight only briefly before it fell off the hook again. He alerted authorities that he had found a severed foot. A search and rescue team spent eight hours looking for what turned out to be a Halloween prop.

Europe
7:57 am
Fri August 12, 2011

A Different Wall Divides Berlin These Days

Originally published on Fri August 12, 2011 6:50 am

Writer Hogler Teschke talks to Renee Montagne about his thoughts on the divisions that remain in Germany 50 years after the Berlin Wall was built. He says the financial crisis has created a new "invisible wall," and he believes it will take at least one more generation before identities aren't attached to the ideas of East and West.

Europe
7:57 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Berlin Neighborhood Remembers Wall's Construction

Originally published on Fri August 12, 2011 6:47 am

It will be 50 years ago Saturday that construction began on the Berlin Wall. The barrier that divided East and West Berlin eventually grew to be 27 miles long. In one area in the center of the city, a section of the wall still stands.

Around the Nation
7:57 am
Fri August 12, 2011

'Bad News Bears' Kid Runs For Congress

Originally published on Fri August 12, 2011 5:22 am

David Pollock played one of the kids in the movie made famous in the 1970s. He played Rudi Stein, the nervous kid with glasses who got on base by intentionally getting hit with a pitch. Pollock is running as a Democrat in the new 26th Congressional district in California.

State Legislature
7:45 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Claims tax awaits lawmakers’ return

A new tax on all health insurance claims waits for approval from lawmakers in the state House. As Michigan Public Radio’s Laura Weber reports, the tax is essential to balance the budget for the coming fiscal year.

Lawmakers must approve the health insurance claims tax in order to replace the existing tax on Medicaid HMOs. The federal government is expected to rule later this year that the existing Medicaid tax is illegal. To continue to receive funds from the federal government to help pay for Medicaid the state must approve the new tax on insurance claims.

Some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said they do not like the new tax proposal – Republicans saying they will not vote for a new tax, and some Democrats arguing that it would disproportionately affect some seniors who had their pensions taxed earlier this year.

The House is expected to approve the tax changes when lawmakers return in a couple weeks.

Education
7:23 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Detroit Residents Monitor Fate Of Local Schools

Originally published on Fri August 12, 2011 6:28 am

Detroit Public Schools will continue closing schools this year, in an effort to keep up with a steady decline in the number of students. Neighbors fear that a closed school will add to the city's rapid decline in population.

Election 2012
6:21 am
Fri August 12, 2011

High profile endorsments change things up in GOP Senate race

Well, this changes things. Since former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra announced he would run for the Republican nomination to try and unseat Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow in 2012, he was considered by many to be the GOP race’s frontrunner.

But, yesterday, three high-profile Republicans endorsed a candidate who isn’t really even a candidate yet. Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis (who, at one point earlier this year, was thought to maybe want to throw his hat into the Senatorial race himself), former U.S. Senator Spence Abraham (who lost his Senate seat to Senator Stabenow in 2000), and ex-Michigan Republican Chairwomen Betsy DeVos have announced that they will back Clark Durant in the GOP race.

Durant, however, has not yet entered the race. From the Associated Press:

Durant is a charter school executive. He tells The Associated Press he hasn't yet declared his candidacy, but the endorsement "makes it so much easier to make that decision." Durant lost a Senate primary bid in 1990.

Anuzis, Abraham, and DeVos announced their support for Durant in an open-letter posted on Anuzis' website. An excerpt:

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Education
6:51 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

First board meeting for statewide school district held in Detroit

Roy Roberts

The board that will run the statewide district for Michigan’s lowest-performing schools met for the first time in Detroit Thursday.

Governor Snyder says the Education Achievement System will eventually take on the bottom 5% of schools across the state, starting in Detroit in 2012.

Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts is also heading the EAS. That’s a concern for some, including Detroit Federation of Teachers Vice President Mark O’Keefe.

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Auto/Economy
5:46 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

President Obama talks economy, political gridlock in Holland

Obama toured a Saft-Johnson Controls joint venture in Holland before speaking to an invitation-only crowd of about 200 people.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

President Obama toured an advanced battery manufacturing plant in Holland Michigan this afternoon. The newly retooled plant will produce batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The facility is one of two new advanced battery plants in Holland that recieved money from president Obama’s stimulus package. The president called the plant “one the most advanced factories in the world.”

He says the new plant is leading the way in the advanced battery industry.

“That just doesn’t mean jobs in Michigan you’re buying equipment and parts from suppliers in Florida and New Mexico and Ohio and Wisconsin and all across America.”

Listen to Obama's full 25 minute speech here.

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Politics
5:38 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

The politics of Michigan's redistricting plan

New congressional district maps. Close up of southeast Michigan. Click on image to see another map.
Michigan House of Representatives

Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation that sets new congressional district boundaries. The maps were designed and passed by the Republican legislature earlier this year.

Today we take a closer look at the implications of the new district boundaries with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow for Public Sector Consultants.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Demas and Sikkema about who wins and who loses with these changes, as well as what voters should know before they head to the polls in November. 

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Auto/Economy
5:12 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

A-123 may hire more in Livonia after getting big GM contract

More jobs building batteries could be on the way at A-1-2-3’s factory in Livonia.  The company just won a big contract with General Motors. 

A-123 builds batteries for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.  

The company recently hired its thousandth employee at the Livonia plant, and the new contract will likely mean more jobs in the future, perhaps hundreds more jobs.   

But General Motors is not revealing anything about the kind of vehicles it will put the A-123 batteries in, or where those vehicles will be sold. 

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Economy
4:25 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

Port Huron parachute maker to hire 275 people

GMA Cover Corp. of Port Huron is has an urgent military contract to make about 20,000 parachutes, and needs workers who know how to sew.
jusben MorgueFile

Business is about to get much better for a Port Huron Company -- and it needs about 275 workers, fast.

GMA Cover Corp. makes cargo netting and parachutes.

The company just got a big military contract to make about 20,000 parachutes in the next six months, so GMA needs people with sewing experience.

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Arts/Culture
4:08 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

New "Be Me" project champions black men in Detroit, Philadelphia

A new initiative in Detroit focuses on the role black men and teens play in the city’s revival.

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Environment
1:30 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

No Asian carp found in search of Illinois lake

Bighead Asian carp caught in Lake Calumet last year
(courtesy of the Illins Department of Natural Resources)

State and federal wildlife officials say their latest search has turned up no Asian carp swimming in an Illinois lake close to Lake Michigan, though they admit they can’t say there are no carp in the lake. 

“We’re saying if there are fish there…they’re there in very low abundances," says Kevin Irons,  the head of the state of Illinois’ office of Nuisance Aquatic Life.   He says no Asian carp were found during a recent four day search of Lake Calumet.   Carp DNA was found in the lake recently.  

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Commentary
1:10 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

Parents: The Forgotten Element

The world will probably little note nor long remember a meeting a legislative committee held in Lansing yesterday. But it should.

The subject was education reform, something that’s been a hot topic for the last few years - especially perhaps in Michigan.

What everybody agrees is that for many students, our schools no longer seem to work. In some places, notably Detroit, many fail to graduate from high school. Others graduate, but lack the skills to make a living or to get more education.

We don’t really like to think about the implications of that. But the bottom line is that we are turning out hundreds of thousands of  young people who have essentially no chance at legitimate jobs that will pay enough to allow what we think of as a decent lifestyle. Think about what that means for society.

In the modern economy, these folks’ future would be pretty hopeless even when times are good. Our politicians have been focusing on what’s wrong with the schools.

But what gets discussed too seldom is something that has little to do with what happens in the schools themselves. Even the best educators are terribly handicapped if they don’t have solid support from the students’ caregivers at home.

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Afghanistan
1:04 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

SEAL from Mich. among dead in chopper crash

The military says a 34-year-old Navy SEAL from Michigan was one of 30 American military personnel killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by insurgents in Afghanistan.

The Defense Department released Heath Robinson's name Thursday, listing his hometown as Detroit.

The special warfare operator chief petty officer and others aboard the helicopter died Saturday in Wardak Province while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He is the only Michigan resident listed among the fatalities.

Of those killed 17 were SEALs and five were Navy special operations troops supporting them. Three Air Force airmen, a five-member Army air crew, seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter also were killed.

The crash, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul, was the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year Afghan war.

Presidential Visit
11:06 am
Thu August 11, 2011

President Obama to Holland

President Obama visits Holland, MI this afternoon
The U.S. Army Flickr

President Obama is visiting West Michigan this afternoon for a tour of an advanced battery facility at the Johnson Controls plant in Holland. The president takes off from D.C. at 11:45 a.m. and is scheduled to touch down in Grand Rapids at 1:15 p.m. and then head to Holland by 2:25 p.m..

Of course, any presidential visit tends to warrant heavy media coverage. Here’s what news-outlets across the state, and around the nation, are saying about the President’s trip to the mitten state:

Politico.com: Obama’s visit draws mixed reviews

The Washington Post: Obama tries to change subject back to green jobs

The Grand Rapids Press: As President Obama visits Holland battery plant, should government be betting on technology?

MichiganRadio.org: Holland hopes to become leader in advanced battery manufacturing

The Grand Rapids Press: President Barack Obama's visit to Holland will be light on prominent Republicans

HollandSentinel.com: COMMENTARY — What about jobs, Mr. President?

The New York Times: Obama team turns its focus to tough re-election fight

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