National Security
2:41 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

'Spillover' Violence From Mexico: Trickle Or Flood?

Mike Vickers runs the group Texas Border Volunteers, which patrols his ranch, and others in south Texas, that complain of illegal immigrants trespassing. Vickers says he has found bodies of immigrants on his land.
John Burnett NPR

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 3:29 pm

Note: This is the second of a two-part series.

Read more
Changing Gears
1:52 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Who Cares About Great Lakes Dredging? These Guys. (slideshow)

Engineer Tom O'Bryan says dredges like this one are basically big vacuums, chewing up sand.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

We brought the story of the Great Lakes dredging backlog to your radio and computer screen.

But sometimes, you need more of a visual. (Even more than my 18 million ovens post.)

So click through to my slideshow to meet some of the people affected by sediment buildup in regional shipping channels.

Auto/Economy
1:07 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Youngstown mayor will lead President's office for auto communities

Jay Williams
(courtesy of the city of Youngstown, Ohio)

The mayor of Youngstown, Ohio  is the new head of a government office that helps communities hurt by cutbacks in the auto industry.  Mayor Jay Williams starts as head the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers in August.  

Read more
Politics
12:57 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Ex-Detroit mayor's book covers affair, legal saga

From the website kwamekilpatrickbook.com. Kilpatrick says he's ready to "talk about everything."
kwamekilpatrickbook.com

DETROIT (AP) - Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick takes responsibility in his upcoming book for an affair with an aide and lies told during a civil trial that sent him from leading one of America's largest cities to a prison cell. But he also blames others for his downfall.

The former politician bills "Surrendered! The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick" as his side of the tale. He claims in the book that when it was clear criminal charges tied to a sex scandal would not go away, his political allies and adversaries, some Detroit business leaders and an aggressive media formed an unspoken alliance. He says they worked to "get rid" of him.

The Associated Press obtained an advance copy of the book. Its release date is Aug. 1.

Auto/Economy
11:27 am
Wed July 6, 2011

Dow Chemical teams up to make battery electrolytes

Midland, Mich. (AP) - Dow Chemical Co. and Japanese chemical company Ube Industries Ltd. said Wednesday they've agreed to form a joint venture to manufacture electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries
which are increasingly being used in cars among other things.

The 50-50 joint venture, named Advanced Electrolyte Technologies LLC, is expected to be finalized later this year pending regulatory approval.

Dow said the joint venture will allow it to expand its alternative energy offerings.

"The growing demand for alternative energy production and energy storage systems places technologies such as advanced batteries for electric/hybrid vehicles and power generation at the very center of the global mega-trends," said Heinz Haller, Dow executive vice president and chief commercial officer.

The joint venture's first manufacturing facility is expected to be built at Dow's home base in Midland, Mich. for startup next year.

Commentary
11:23 am
Wed July 6, 2011

Casey Anthony Verdict: Rushing to Judgement

Last night I was filling up my car in western Wayne County, when a woman next to me, a perfect stranger, said “Isn’t it horrible?”  I thought she meant the price of gas.

But no. She meant the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial. “Can you believe it?"

I thought of sincerely telling her that I wasn’t surprised at all. Of telling her that what happens during a full-length trial in a courtroom is often far different than what you see on TV.

Additionally, our system - though not our media - still operate under something called the presumption of innocence. This means, in criminal trials, that your guilt has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and there seemed to be plenty of that here.

I also was tempted to suggest that she get a life, and become interested and involved in things that mattered to her family, community and state which she actually could do something about.

But of course I did none of that, mostly because I didn't want to get into a fight. So I merely mumbled that I hadn’t really followed the trial much, which also happens to be true.

I haven’t followed it, except to the extent that it was unavoidable. I usually watch CNN for a few minutes in the morning, a network which lately seems to be all Casey Anthony, all the time. If you are trying to discover proof that a large country named Russia actually still existed, you’d be out of luck here.

Read more
Economy
10:43 am
Wed July 6, 2011

When an inch means a ton (or 267 tons, to be precise)

Chart courtesy of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

Who knew an inch could make such a difference?

In our piece this week on the Great Lakes dredging backlog, we introduced you to Mark Barker, president of The Interlake Steamship Company.  I called him “a man who measures revenue with a ruler.”

To see what that really means, check out the nifty chart from the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (above).

It shows how much cargo a ship can hold for every inch of water it occupies. For the biggest vessels – the “thousand- footers” – one inch of draft corresponds to 267 tons of cargo. That’s why every bit of clearance matters to shippers trying to get the most bang from every trip.

Read more
News Roundup
8:55 am
Wed July 6, 2011

In this morning's news...

In this morning's news, Wednesday, July 6th
Brother O'Mara Flickr

MEA to Support Recall Efforts

The state’s largest teachers union says it will help efforts to recall some Republican state lawmakers. “The Michigan Education Association’s main complaints are cuts to school funding and new tenure rules… Members of the MEA say they’re also angry at efforts to force them to pay more for their benefits... The MEA has 157,000 members and a large political action fund,” Rick Pluta reports. Doug Pratt, spokesman for the MEA, says the union has made a strategic decision not to name the lawmakers who will be targets of their recall efforts.

Ford Sued

A technology company has sued Ford Motor Company over patent infringements related to some of Ford’s hottest new products, including Sync, Tracy Samilton reports. From Samilton:

The lawsuit says Eagle Harbor Holdings met with Ford starting in 2000 to discuss using Eagle Harbor’s voice command software and other patented technology. Eagle Harbor's General Counsel, Jeff Harmes, says Ford’s hands-free phone system, Sync, uses some of that technology. But he says Ford broke off talks with Eagle Harbor in 2008… A spokeswoman says Ford hasn’t had the chance to review the lawsuit yet and it would be premature to comment.

August Release for Kilpatrick?

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is expected to be released from prison in early August to give authorities time to arrange transfer of his parole to Texas, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The Michigan parole board voted last month to release Kilpatrick from state prison and he was expected to be freed no earlier than July 24. The Michigan Department of Corrections tells The Detroit News for a Wednesday story that details needed to be worked out… He's facing federal charges. Kilpatrick quit office in 2008 when he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. He was sent to prison in May 2010 by a judge who said the ex-mayor failed to turn over certain assets toward his $1 million restitution.

Crime
8:50 am
Wed July 6, 2011

Ingham County judge orders medical marijuana patient jailed

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A medical marijuana patient in Ingham County is facing three days in jail for testing positive for marijuana. Livingston Thompson uses medical marijuana as a treatment for epilepsy.  Judge Richard Garcia ordered Thompson to stop using marijuana as part of a child custody case.    

But Thompson recently tested positive for marijuana, and the judge Tuesday ordered Thompson to be jailed for contempt for three days.  Matt Newburg is Livingston Thompson’s attorney.  Newburg plans to ask the Michigan Court of Appeals to stay the judge’s contempt order.  

 “The judge said…on the record…that he felt that (medical marijuana) card was a fraud…and it did not protect him.”   

Newburg says Michigan’s marijuana law protects medical marijuana patients from criminal and civil penalties.

Culture
6:30 am
Wed July 6, 2011

What’s next for anti-discrimination laws in Holland? Lots...

Tyrone Warner Creative Commons

Last month Holland City Council voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to their local anti-discrimination laws. But the fight over gay rights continues in the generally conservative town.

The debate surrounds the City of Holland adopting local laws. These laws would protect people from getting fired or kicked out of their houses because they are gay or transgender. Federal and state laws protect people from discrimination – but not based on a person’s sexuality or gender identity.

The debate is not technically about the morality of homosexuality. But in a community known for having a church on almost every corner – for many people in Holland that is definitely part of the conversation.

Read more
Auto/Economy
5:39 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

Car leasing makes comeback

The availability of car leases practically disappeared during the recession.

But LeaseTrader.com says customer credit is recovering - and so is car leasing. 

John Sternal is Vice President of Marketing Communications for LeaseTrader.com.  He says more than 20 percent of new vehicles are now leased, including many small cars.

He says car leasing is more popular than ever before, because of a shifting attitude toward car ownership.

"Gone are the days when the majority of people will buy a car and hold onto it for fifteen years," says Sternal.

Read more
Ford sued over Sync
5:33 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

Company sues Ford Motor, alleges Sync patent infringement

A technology company has sued Ford Motor Company over patent infringements related to some of Ford’s hottest new products, including Sync.

The lawsuit says Eagle Harbor Holdings met with Ford starting in 2000 to discuss using Eagle Harbor’s voice command software and other patented technology. 

Eagle Harbor's General Counsel, Jeff Harmes, says Ford’s hands-free phone system, Sync, uses some of that technology.   But he says Ford broke off talks with Eagle Harbor in 2008.    

Read more
Auto/Economy
5:09 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

Lawsuit says GM failed to fix thousands of Impalas

The AP reports that the class-action lawsuit against GM says the automaker authorized repairs and reimbursements to 2007 and 2008 Chevy Impala police cars (like this police car in Montreal), but not to others.
user bull-doser wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) - A lawsuit claims General Motors Co. fixed a defective part on police versions of the Chevrolet Impala but didn't correct the same problem in hundreds of thousands of other
Impalas.

The class-action lawsuit, filed last week in Detroit, says 2007 and 2008 model-year Impalas have defective spindle rods, which connect the suspension to the rear wheels. The defect misaligns the wheels, which makes the tires wear out faster.

According to the lawsuit, GM told dealers to replace the spindle rods and tires on affected police vehicles. It also authorized dealers to reimburse police who had purchased replacement tires.

But the suit says GM didn't offer the same remedy to non-police owners. The company sold 423,000 Impalas from those model years.

A GM spokesman was not immediately available to comment Tuesday.

Politics
4:49 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

Michigan teachers union to back recall efforts aimed at some Republicans

A rally held by the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, in Lansing last May. The MEA is putting its support behind some recall efforts.
screen grab from YouTube video

The state’s largest teachers union says it will put its organizational muscle and money behind efforts to recall some Republican lawmakers.

The Michigan Education Association’s main complaints are cuts to school funding and new tenure rules.

Tenure rules adopted last week by the Legislature will make it easier for school districts to fire teachers.

Members of the MEA say they’re also angry at efforts to force them to pay more for their benefits. Doug Pratt, MEA spokesman, says the union has tried to work with some lawmakers on spending and education reforms:

"Our members across the state as well as the middle class at large have been under attack for six months now," said Pratt. "And we’ve done what we think we can do through the legislative process to reasonably work with people to come up with solutions that move the state forward. That’s not happening."

The MEA has 157,000 members and a large political action fund.

Ari Adler is the spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger, one of the targets of a recall campaign:

"It’s not a surprise to hear the MEA is going public with its war on those who are fighting for change in Lansing," said Adler. "We have known for some time now that they’ve been working behind the scenes on recalls and it seems as though they wanted to go public before someone outed them."

MEA spokesman Pratt says some individual union members were involved early in recall campaigns. Pratt says the MEA has made a strategic decision to not name the lawmakers who will be union recall targets.

Economy
1:41 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

Gasoline prices heading higher

Gasoline prices are expected to take another big leap this week in Michigan.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan gasoline prices are getting closer to four dollars again.  GasBuddy.com predicts prices will increase by another 5 to 10 cents during the next few days.  That’s on top of a 20 cent jump the week before the Fourth of July holiday weekend. 

Jason Teows with Gas Buddy says increasing demand is fueling the price increase at the gas pump. 

Commentary
11:09 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Medical Marijuana

Three years ago, Michigan voters approved allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes by a margin of almost two to one.

Social conservatives weren’t happy, and feared that this would lead to the back door legalization of marijuana for everyone. However, the public was overwhelmingly sympathetic to its use for medical reasons. That’s largely because there is considerable evidence that marijuana can relieve suffering from diseases including cancer, glaucoma, and a host of other ailments. Yet there were problems from the start with the medical marijuana law.

For one thing, it wasn’t passed by the legislature, as most laws are, but was placed on the ballot by citizens who collected enough signatures to put it there. Legalizing marijuana for medical patients required setting up a complex new system.

This had never been tried before in Michigan, and it’s evident that the framework needs to be tweaked.  For one thing, there are clearly a handful of unscrupulous doctors all too willing to certify people for medical marijuana use.

The Detroit Free Press reported that only fifty-five doctors have authorized medical marijuana for more than seventy percent of all those now eligible. Whatever your feelings about marijuana, the voters did not intend to effectively legalize its recreational use.

Nor could Michigan legally do that. Technically, any marijuana use is still against federal law, and Washington could, if it chose, move against any of the sixteen states that authorize medical marijuana. They haven’t, and even allowed a medical marijuana statute to be enacted in Washington, D.C.. But if Michigan or any other state were to openly act as if the legalization of medical marijuana meant we could establish a marijuana industry for all, the odds of federal intervention would become much greater.

On the other hand, it is clear that people do want marijuana to be available to those with legitimate medical conditions.

Read more
Changing Gears
10:27 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Great Lakes harbors threatened by dredging backlog

The Great Lakes form a sprawling ecosystem of nature and industry.  In a strong economy, ships can transport up to 200 million tons of cargo across these waters each year.  But now the shipping industry has declared a state of emergency.  The cause is a region-wide dredging backlog.  Shippers worry sediment buildup threatens to choke some navigation channels.

Read more
Education
9:48 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Eliminating summer pell grant money

User: jollyUK Flickr

Undergraduate students won’t be able to rely on pell grant money for summer study starting next school year.  The pell grant program provides students with funds that do not have to be repaid.  Linda Grimshaw is with Financial Aid at University of Michigan-Flint. She says in 2009-2010, students could receive this additional pell grant funding for spring and summer study if they were enrolled in school at least half time.

Read more
Environment
9:42 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Karate farmers take back the neighborhood

Hakim Gillard works at the Harvesting Earth farm and he also works at King Karate in Flint.
Photo by Kyle Norris

King Karate is a martial arts studio that’s been in the Flint area for 22 years. But in the past few years, the couple who run the studio have broadened their definition of self-defense…and that’s why they’ve added farming to their arsenal.

18 year old Hakim Gillard has a lot on his plate today.

First he’s got to harvest vegetables for tomorrow’s farmer’s market...

Read more
Environment
9:29 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Finding out how Michigan residents feel about wind power

Residents in Manistee and Benzie counties are receiving surveys in the mail this week. The survey will ask questions about wind energy.

Christie Manning is a visiting professor at Macalester College in Minnesota. She’s supervising the survey.

“To understand what it is about wind energy development that creates a sense of pro or anti in individuals; what are the various factors that tip a person to feel one way or the other?”

Township officials will use the survey results to help them with future zoning decisions.

There’s also an online version of the survey that’s available to anyone who lives in Michigan.

Pages