Environment
10:26 am
Thu August 11, 2011

White House issues first ever fuel economy standards for biggest trucks

Medium and heavy duty trucks built in 2014 through 2018 will have to meet new fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards.
Photo courtesy of EPA

When you’re on the highway, you see all those big 18-wheelers... the cement trucks and trucks hauling logs... the refrigerated trucks heading to the grocery store... pretty soon, all these kinds of trucks will be seeing some changes.

David Friedman is with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He says these trucks are cleaner than they used to be.

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News Roundup
8:59 am
Thu August 11, 2011

In this morning's news

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, August 11th
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Obama to Holland

President Obama travels to West Michigan today to tour a plant in Holland that makes Lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles.  The plant that the President is visiting received a nearly $300 million federal grant. This marks the second time that the President has visited Holland to bring attention to the area’s investment in battery technology. After his stop in Michigan, the President heads to New York City for a fundraiser for his 2012 re-election campaign.

Seniors Challenge Pension Tax

Groups representing seniors and public employees filed briefs yesterday with the state Supreme Court challenging Michigan’s new tax on pension income, Rick Pluta reports. From Pluta:

Extending the income tax to pensions was part of Governor Rick Snyder’s budget proposal that was adopted earlier this year by the Legislature’s Republican majorities.

Eric Schneidewinde, with the AARP of Michigan, says the tax violates a part of the state constitution that protects the pension income of teachers and other retired public workers.

Republicans say the tax treats everyone the same, so it does not specifically target public employee pensions.

Governor Snyder asked the state Supreme Court to rule on the pension tax before it officially takes effect in January. The court will hear arguments in the case early next month.

Michiganders Represent on Debt Commission

Two Michigan Congressmen, U.S. Representatives Dave Camp and Fred Upton, have been selected by U.S. House Speaker John Boehner to a powerful committee that will work out a plan to reduce the nation’s budget deficit. Considering there will only 12 members, six Democrats and six Republicans, on the so called “super-committee”, it’s a pretty big deal for the state. Rep. Camp told Michigan Radio he believes if the panel takes a common-sense approach, it will be able to work together without the rancor that marked the debt-ceiling debates. The committee has until November 23rd to come up with a plan.

Election 2012
7:32 am
Thu August 11, 2011

State GOP to decide this weekend on "closed" primary or caucus

Cle0patra Flickr

The Michigan Republican Party State Committee will decide this weekend whether to hold a “closed” primary or caucus to choose the state’s Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election. Last month, the party’s policy committee recommended a “closed” primary. From the Detroit News:

Many Republicans from the party's conservative tea party wing, who support candidates such as Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota or Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, prefer a caucus — based on party meetings at the precinct level — to determine the presidential delegates and believe a primary favors frontrunner Mitt Romney, who appeals to a broader political spectrum.

But the prospect of holding a handful of recall elections for GOP and Democratic state lawmakers at the same time as a presidential primary expected to draw far more Republicans than Democrats is a recent development that's making the primary more attractive…

Still, the primary — paid for by taxpayers at an estimated cost of $10 million — will be "closed" in name only. Nothing would stop Democrats from requesting a Republican ballot and meddling in the GOP presidential selection process. That meddling could be significant if an effort to recall Republican Gov. Rick Snyder makes it to the Feb. 28 ballot.

And, as Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry notes, the state knows a thing or two about so-called meddling in presidential primaries. “There would be the chance that Democrats and independents might show up in Michigan’s GOP primary, “ Lessenberry explains. “That happened in the year two thousand, when they helped John McCain give George W. Bush a whipping. If you have any kind of primary, stuff like that is pretty hard to prevent, since we have no party registration in Michigan. A Democrat can vote Republican or vice-versa, with no penalty. The alternative is some kind of closed convention, or caucus, but that limits public participation, which also could hurt the GOP, since primary campaigns help introduce the candidates to the voters.”

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Economy
1:01 am
Thu August 11, 2011

Foreclosure filings down in Michigan, analyst gives some credit to government programs

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan’s foreclosure rate continues to fall. A new report shows another month with a sharp decline in foreclosure filings in the state. RealtyTrac reports home foreclosure filings in Michigan declined by 15% from June to July. The filings were down 42% compared to July 2010.   

A foreclosure industry analyst says one reason for the decline is banks are taking advantage of government programs designed to keep people from losing their homes. Government anti-foreclosure programs have been the target of critics who say the programs have not kept people from losing their homes.  

But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says this year’s downward trend in home foreclosure filings is probably due at least in part in part to the much maligned anti-foreclosure programs.  He says banks and other lending institutions are becoming more interested in taking part in those programs. 

“A short sale…a loan modification….is looking a lot better in their eyes than it was even last year.   It’s looking like a much better alternative than foreclosure to them.”

Bloomquist says the glut of repossessed homes will continue to depress home sale prices through probably 2015. He says keeping more homes from being repossessed may help reduce the glut of homes clogging the housing market.

Auto/Economy
8:58 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Holland hopes to become leader in advanced battery manufacturing

Graphic demonstrating Michigan's 'smart coast'.
Michigansmartcoast.com

LISTEN HERE

Thursday President Obama heads to Holland, Michigan. Mr. Obama will tour a new plant that will make lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid cars.

Michigan’s newly-branded “smart coast” welcomes Obama for the second time in 13 months. Last summer he came to the ground breaking of a different battery plant.

Randy Thelan is president of the non-profit, economic development group in the region, The Lakeshore Advantage.

“We are the advanced energy storage capital of all of North America and we see this as a great opportunity going forward.”

Advanced energy storage is a fancy phrase for long-lasting lithium-ion batteries.

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Crime
6:22 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Detroit Police credit citizen group, anonymous hotlines with arrest

Detroit Police say they’ve made an arrest in a murder case that sparked what the police chief calls an “unusual level of outrage” in the community.

3-year-old Aarie Berry died after someone shot at her house last month. Police have arrested a neighbor they say was part of an ongoing dispute in the neighborhood.

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Politics
5:57 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Seniors challenge pension tax

seemann MorgueFile

Groups representing seniors and public employees filed briefs Wednesday with the state Supreme Court challenging Michigan’s new tax on pension income. The court will hear arguments in the case early next month .

Extending the income tax to pensions was part of Governor Rick Snyder’s budget proposal that was adopted earlier this year by the Legislature’s Republican majorities.

Eric Schneidewinde is with the AARP of Michigan. He says the tax violates a part of the state constitution that protects the pension income of teachers and other retired public workers.

“They cannot be taken away by just a law,” Schneidewinde says.

Republicans say the tax treats everyone the same, so it does not specifically target public employee pensions. Schneidewind says the AARP and other senior advocates are plotting ways to repeal the pension tax altogether.

Governor Snyder asked the state Supreme Court to rule on the pension tax before it officially takes effect in January.

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Politics
5:48 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Attorney general wants medical marijuana law changes

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says opportunists have hijacked the state's medical marijuana industry.
kconnors MorgueFile

State Attorney General Bill Schuette is backing proposed changes to Michigan’s voter-enacted medical marijuana law. He says it’s been “hijacked” by people trying to make money, rather than offering relief to people facing terminal disease or a painful chronic illness.

Schuette says the result of a poorly written ballot initiative is the proliferation of shops that make a business of selling marijuana to people with easy-to-acquire medical cards.

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Arts/Culture
5:45 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Sphinx founder Aaron Dworkin to serve on National Council of the Arts

Aaron Dworkin is President Obama's first confirmed appointment to the National Council on the Arts
Bruce Giffin Courtesy of the Sphinx Organization

Aaron Dworkin, founder of  the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the National Council on the Arts. Dworkin is President Obama's first appointment to the Council.

The National Council on the Arts advises the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, currently Rocco Landsman, about policies and programs.

Dworkin founded the Sphinx Organization in 1996 with the goal of "building diversity in classical music."

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Politics
5:36 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

State deals another blow to Kilpatrick's book profits

Kwame Kilpatrick

A Wayne County judge has added the cost of prison time to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s mounting restitution tab.

The State Attorney General’s office convinced Judge David Groner that Kilpatrick should pay the state just over $15,000—the price for his 166 days in state prison.

Groner is the same judge who sentenced Kilpatrick to prison time, after ruling the former mayor violated his probation.

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Education
5:21 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Former students sue Cooley Law School for misrepresentation

Michael Tam Flickr

The legal battle between Lansing-based law and some of its former students has deepened. Cooley Law School has been sued by four of its former students for claiming false job placement statistics. They say Cooley is misrepresenting data to improve the school’s image and get more students. Cooley sued the law firm representing the students last month for defamation. Kurzon Strauss law firm in New York had several online advertisements looking for information about Cooley and other law schools misrepresenting job placement numbers.

Jesse Strauss is a lawyer at Kurzon Strauss. He says their posts requesting information about Cooley were not defamatory.

“We regard the Thomas Cooley suit as a pure intimidation tactic – to sort of make us go away and stuff our investigation,” he said. “The whole suit is about our investigation. The postings that they point out were made when this firm was seriously contemplating litigation against them. We believe they are well aware of that.”

James Thelen is an associate dean at Cooley. He says in an email that the students’ allegations are “completely baseless.”

“We will vigorously defend this lawsuit and continue to pursue the defamation and other legal claims we filed against the Kurzon Strauss firm last month," Thelen said.

A similar lawsuit has been filed against New York Law School by three former students with Kurzon Strauss.

- Amelia Carpenter – Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
5:18 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Upton, Camp named to debt panel

imelenchon Morguefile

Two Michigan lawmakers have been named to a powerful committee that will work on a plan to reduce the nation’s budget deficit.

Michigan Congressmen Dave Camp and Fred Upton -- both Republicans -- will be on the 12-member bipartisan panel charged with creating tax and spending policies.

The panel was created from a compromise reached by last week’s debt-ceiling legislation, and it has to come up with a plan by November 23.

Rep. Camp admits it’s a huge undertaking:

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Economy
4:36 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

13,000 Michigan families to lose cash assistance

Andrew Magill Flickr

About 13-thousand Michigan families will stop getting money from the state on October 1st. That’s when the families will reach their five-year federal lifetime limit for cash assistance. The cash assistance program is designed to support low-income families with pregnant women or children until they find jobs.

Sheryl Thompson is with the Department of Human Services. She says people with no income who have children will no longer be able to extend the limit for cash assistance.

"This was never meant to be a long-term solution," she said. "It was always supposed to be a short-term solution as a safety net."

Thompson says Michigan will save about 77-million-dollars this year. Other services including job placement and food assistance are available for people who qualify.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Arts/Culture
3:37 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Detroit native Philip Levine named U.S. Poet Laureate

Philip Levine will start his poet laureate duties with a reading of his work at the Coolidge Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 17.
Frances Levine Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Detroit native Philip Levine is the country’s new poet laureate.

Levine was born in Detroit in 1928. As a student, he worked a number of jobs at Detroit’s auto plants, and he translated his experience into poetry. His poems depict life in Detroit and the working class in general.

"What Work Is" - introduction and reading by Philip Levine

"They Feed They Lion" - introduction and reading by Philip Levine

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Science
3:31 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Comcast announces Internet service for low-income families

laptop
User: whitakerc1985 flickr

Comcast has announced a new national program that provides discounted Internet service for low-income families. Families who live in a Comcast service area and have not been customers with the company for at least 90 days can get the service for $10 per month.

Mary Beth Halprin is with Comcast Michigan.    

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Politics
2:12 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

AP: Michigan Dems say no presidential primary here in 2012

There will be no presidential primaryelection for Michigan Democrats in 2012.

Chairman Mark Brewer said Wednesday that national convention delegates will be picked through party meetings around the state, starting next May.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is expected to run unopposed for a second term next year.

Brewer says Michigan Democrats will hold caucuses in May at approximately 200 locations. He says more than 200 people will be delegates or alternates at the national convention.

Religion
12:27 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Ousted Calvin College professor questions the existence of Adam and Eve

An engraving depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, by Albrecht Durer, 15th century.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 9, 2011 12:01 am

Let's go back to the beginning — all the way to Adam and Eve, and to the question: Did they exist, and did all of humanity descend from that single pair?

According to the Bible (Genesis 2:7), this is how humanity began: "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." God then called the man Adam, and later created Eve from Adam's rib.

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Lake Michigan
12:14 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Coast Guard warning Lake Michigan swimmers about rip currents

Rip current mechanism: breakers cross sand bars off the shore, the water travels back to sea through the gap in the sand bars, creating a fast "rip"
(courtesy of National Weather Service, Wilmington, NC)

Search efforts continue for two swimmers who were caught up Tuesday in rip currents off the coast of Saugatuck.     Lake Michigan’s eastern shore has seen strong rip currents this week. 

U.S. Coast Guard petty officer Lauren Jorgenson  says people swimming in the Great Lakes should be aware of the danger of currents that can pull swimmers away from the beach.  

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Education
11:41 am
Wed August 10, 2011

CMU contract talks may delay school year

Central Michigan University

Classes at Central Michigan University may be delayed because of contract disputes between the faculty union and administration. Without a contract, faculty may not show for class August 22. The two groups are at a standstill on a number of issues including salary increases, health care or who is allowed to be a union member.

Tim Connors is the former president of the faculty union at the university. He says the union is ready to get back to the table.

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Politics
11:35 am
Wed August 10, 2011

Speaker Boehner names two Michigan congressmen to supercommittee

House Speaker Boehner speaks with reporters last month
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton just issued the following statement:

“The Budget Control Act made a modest down payment on our debt in the short term and called on Congress – through a Joint Select Committee – to build on those savings with meaningful spending controls and program reforms that will continue the process of putting our fiscal house in order over the long term. I am humbled by the trust Speaker Boehner and our leadership team have placed in us, and I stand ready to serve on the Joint Select Committee alongside Chairman Camp and Chairman Hensarling on behalf of all House Republicans.

“Being from Michigan where families have endured 31 consecutive months of double-digit unemployment, I know how important it is to get our economy back on track and get Americans back to work. As someone who worked on the federal budget for President Reagan, I saw firsthand that sound economic policy is the bedrock of job creation and fiscal responsibility. And as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I know the exploding cost of health care is at the root of our long-term fiscal challenges; it's why our committee has already produced legislation to save taxpayers $90 billion, and that was just the beginning. Much more needs to be done to bring down health care costs, promote economic growth, and begin to tame runaway government. No one believes this is going to be easy, but working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both Chambers of the Congress, we will work to address our fiscal challenges and get America back to work.”

The Associated Press reports:

House Speaker John Boehner has named GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas to co-chair a powerful new committee that will try to come up with a bipartisan plan this fall to reduce the federal budget deficit by more than $1 trillion.

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