Auto/Economy
1:22 pm
Tue May 24, 2011

Japanese manufacturing base growing in Battle Creek

Governor Rick Snyder (third from the left) joins local elected officials and Japanese business executives in cutting the ceremonial ribbon dedicating the new Toda America facility in Battle Creek

A Japanese company that makes a key component for lithium batteries formally opened its new manufacturing plant in Battle Creek today.  It’s just the latest Japanese firm to set up shop in Battle Creek. 

Local dignitaries joined Japanese business executives in cutting a ribbon outside Toda America’s new facility in Battle Creek.  Toda America is a consortium of Japanese companies. 

Tetsuo Ozaki is the president of Toda America.   He says the company plans to expand its operations in Michigan, as the electric car industry in the United States grows.  

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Politics
12:54 pm
Tue May 24, 2011

Report: Thaddeus McCotter considers presidential run

Michigan U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-11th District) told Politico he's mulling over a run for the White House.
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter U.S. House of Representatives

The man President George W. Bush once dubbed "that rock and roll dude" is considering a run for the White House.

In a interview with POLITICO, McCotter said he thinks the Republican electorate is not happy with the choices they have "and want to take a look at new people."

McCotter said his party must address four big issues:

  • "the challenge of globalization
  • the war for freedom against terrorists
  • the rise of Communist China
  • and whether moral relativism erodes a nation built on self-evident truth"

When asked how he thinks he can become a viable candidate for the Republican nomination, McCotter said it's easier for candidates to get their word out these days. From POLITICO: 

McCotter said the revolution in communication and media has made it easier for aspiring politicians who don’t have the sort of name identification or personal wealth that traditionally determined who could mount a national campaign.

“It’s easier to get your message out today, and people will take a look at it — and if they like it, maybe they vote for you,” he said.

Pressed further, the Michigander quipped: “I’m from Detroit — we live to prove the doubters wrong.”

McCotter plays lead guitar in the Second Amendments, a rock and country band made up of members of Congress. He was in the national spotlight recently when he had a little "Led in the Head" during the government shutdown debate: 

 

McCotter says he'll decide within the next two weeks whether he'll make a run for the White House.

Commentary
11:55 am
Tue May 24, 2011

Chrysler Resurgent

What goes around comes around, and if you live long enough, you get to see it come around more than once.  I’ve now been through two Chrysler near-death experiences in my adult life.

That includes two controversial loan or loan guarantee cycles, two cases of triumphant resurgence, and as of today, two triumphant moments in which the loans were paid back early.

Wasn’t it just the other day that Lee Iacocca was standing on a stage, grinning from ear to ear, and presenting a huge signed check to pay off the last of his generation’s loan guarantees?

Actually, that was 1983. We were still worried about the Soviet Union and there wasn’t any World Wide Web, but it wasn’t all that long ago. Today, it will be Sergio Marchionne pushing buttons to execute wire transfers to pay off loans.

But it feels pretty much the same. In between, we had interludes in which Chrysler sold itself first to the Germans, then the Italians. I hope somebody realizes that they are running out of former Axis nations to partner with. The only one left has its hands more than full with Toyota and the aftermath of the tsunami.

Seriously, what will happen today is good news. It is also a stinging rebuke to those who argued in 2009 that the government should just let General Motors and Chrysler die. That would have plunged us into deep depression.

Now the company is back on its feet - or almost. One thing that is important to remember is that Chrysler is not really an independent company any more. There is no more Chrysler Corporation. It is now the Chrysler Group, LLC. And to all intents and purposes, it is a division of the Italian automaker Fiat.

Fiat, which already has a controlling interest in Chrysler, will be majority owner by the end of the year. The Italian automaker’s stake in Chrysler may eventually rise to about three-quarters, with the remaining share sold as stock to the general public.

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Investigative
11:15 am
Tue May 24, 2011

No state help to bury the poor

A cloth-covered fiberboard casket. However, a cardboard box is also available at most funeral homes for about $50. The State of Michigan is eliminating emergency funding to bury the indigent, except for unclaimed bodies.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

UPDATE 11:13 a.m.:

At the request of Michigan Watch, the Michigan Department of Human Services retrieved data regarding the number of unclaimed bodies during the calendar year 2010.  The DHS reports State Emergency Relief (SER) payments were made to help 7,099 indigent burials.  Of that number, 125 were unclaimed bodies.    Since the new budget will limit (SER) funds to unclaimed bodies only, this will mean the amount of funds used for indigent burials will drop from about $4-million to an estimated $4-thousand.

May 23, 2011, 9:33 a.m.:

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Environment
10:39 am
Tue May 24, 2011

Who's inspecting pipelines in Michigan? (Part 1)

Dick Denuyl and his neighbor, Tom Philp, live along the St. Clair River. Philp is a pipeline inspector.
Photo by Suzy Vuljevic

The pipeline break that spilled more than 840,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River last summer is still being cleaned up. It has left some Michigan residents with questions about the safety of sending heavy crude oil through those lines.

Dick Denuyl is a retired school teacher in Marysville. When he bought his home along the St. Clair River, he loved the beautiful setting. And he wasn’t worried about the pipelines running under the water.

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News Roundup
9:03 am
Tue May 24, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Chrysler to Repay Government Loans

Chrysler is expected to pay back its federal loans in full today. Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton reports:

Chrysler will wire-transfer nearly $6 billion to the U.S. Treasury and $1.5 billion to the governments of Canada and Ontario. Chrysler used some cash from Fiat for the transaction - and refinanced the rest with loans from private banks and investors.The U.S. Treasury still holds about eight and a half percent of Chrysler stock. Fiat could end up buying that stock in the future. As of today, Fiat owns forty-six percent of Chrysler

Crime in Michigan's Largest Cities

The FBI released its preliminary Uniform Crime Report yesterday. The report lists crimes reported in cities with more than 100,000 people. The report shows a decrease in violent crimes in Detroit from 18,000 in 2009 to 17,000 in 2010. Flint, however, had the highest violent crime rate in the nation last year, according to the data. Flint set a record for homicides in 2010.

Plan to Stop the Carp

A new plan has been released by federal and state officials on how to deal with the threat of Asian Carp, an invasive species that many worry could destroy the Great Lakes’ eco-system. Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports:

The plan includes stepping up tracking of the invasive fish species and contracting with Illinois fishermen to catch the carp before they can reach Lake Michigan. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says the best way to prevent Asian Carp from reaching Lake Michigan is to close man-made canals linking the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River. Illinois business interests and politicians are opposed to closing the canals.

Al-Qaida Bomber Leaves a Fingerprint

The FBI has a fingerprint and forensic evidence linking al-Qaida's top bomb maker in Yemen to both the 2009 Christmas Day airline attack and the nearly successful attack on cargo planes last year, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Investigators have pulled a fingerprint of Ibrahim al-Asiri off the bomb hidden in the underwear of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day. Counterterrorism officials say the explosives in that bomb are chemically identical to those hidden inside two printers that were shipped from Yemen to the U.S. last year.

Economy
7:04 am
Tue May 24, 2011

Chrysler set to pay back federal loans today

Chrysler is set to pay back its federal loans in full today.
Ricardo Giaviti Flickr

Chrysler will pay back its federal loans in full today. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports:

It's another milestone in the company's long struggle to recover from bankruptcy. Chrysler will wire-transfer nearly $6 billion to the U.S. Treasury and $1.5 billion to the governments of Canada and Ontario. Chrysler used some cash from Fiat for the transaction - and refinanced the rest with loans from private banks and investors.

The move will save Chrysler $300 million a year in interest and is one more step towards independence from the government.

The U.S. Treasury still holds about eight and a half percent of Chrysler stock. Fiat could end up buying that stock in the future. As of today, Fiat owns forty-six percent of Chrysler.

The news is making headlines this morning:

Crime
7:49 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

Flint tops FBI's most violent cities list

Flint mayor Dayne Walling (right) at a news conference, flanked by public safety chief Alvern Lock
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint mayor Dayne Walling is not disputing new FBI data that shows his city had the highest violent crime rate in the nation in 2010.  Flint set a record for homicides last year.   The city’s arson rate also soared topping the FBI’s list in that category too.

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Politics
5:46 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

Democrats say budget deal kicks off next phase of fight about Michigan's future

The budget should be wrapped up soon. Democrats say the fight will continue.
user aunt owwee Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder and legislative Republicans are expected to wrap up work this week on the budget. If they succeed, they will meet the governor’s target of finishing the budget four months ahead of the constitutional deadline.

Democrats, who are in the minority in the House and the Senate, have some objections, but expect to lose this week’s budget battle.

That won’t stop them from calling for using a revenue windfall to make sure schools don’t lose any money in the new budget.

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Politics
5:33 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

State unions call for cost-saving measures in budget

State employee unions are calling on lawmakers to approve government reforms that the unions say would save the state tens of millions of dollars.

A labor organization report says Michigan government has too many managers compared to workers who directly deliver services to the public. It also says the state spends more on outside contracts than it does on its civil service workforce.

Phil Thompson, with union SEIU 517M, says he knows time is running short to influence lawmakers on the current budget.

"Realistically we understand that the elements in this report aren’t going to be able to be handled in the next week or so. What we want to do is set the foundation for an intelligent, in-depth discussion that will generate savings in fiscal 2012, but more importantly to generate millions of dollars in savings in future years."

The state employee unions say efficiencies could save the state about $185 million dollars in the coming year, if lawmakers approved the changes before October.

Crime
5:24 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

FBI report shows drop in violent crime, Flint and Detroit still top list

The FBI released a preliminary Uniform Crime Report today that lists reported crimes in cities with more than 100,000 people.

Comparing this year's report with last year's - crime is down.

In the Midwest, violent crimes fell by 5.9%. From the FBI's report:

Preliminary figures indicate that, as a whole, law enforcement agencies throughout the Nation reported a decrease of 5.5 percent in the number of violent crimes brought to their attention in 2010 when compared to figures reported for 2009. The violent crime category includes murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Each city's law enforcement agency submits the number of reported crimes to the FBI. Each year, the agency compiles that data and releases it to the public.

When looking at the cities with the highest number of reported violent crimes per capita, Flint and Detroit are at the top. St. Louis, Missouri and New Haven, Connecticut follow the two Michigan cities.

The Detroit News reports:

Detroit enjoyed declines in murder, robbery and aggravated assault but bigger declines in large cities elsewhere pushed it second only to Flint in the overall violent crime rate. However, the FBI estimates Detroit's population at 899,447, while the 2010 Census put the city's population at 713,717. If the latter figure is used, Detroit's per capita rate exceeds Flint's, with 2,378 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Flint's 2010 rate was 2,210.

The FBI cautions against making judgments about a city's law enforcement agency based on these statistics, "since crime is a sociological phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors."

Education
4:55 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

13-year-old to represent Michigan in 2011 National Geographic Bee

Jacob Tanner, National Geographic Bee finalist

Jacob Tanner, 13, from Saline, Michigan will go to Washington D.C. to participate in the 23rd annual National Geographic Bee. He’s a student at Saline Middle School. He recently spoke with Michigan Radio’s Jenn White. Here’s the interview.

This week, 54 of the nation’s brightest young people will compete for a top prize of a $25,000 in college scholarship money and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

The finalists are all winners of their state-level geographic bees. Tanner says winning the competition would be the biggest accomplish of his life so far.

Tanner prepares for the GeoBee with his teachers and parents and says making up rhymes helps him retain information.

"A couple days ago I was studying the geography of Germany, so I just made all the cities that I needed to remember into a rhyme."

In addition to knowing the names of cities and countries, Tanner says he also has to know a lot about science and economics.

In his free time, Tanner says he likes to "read books, play video games, go on the internet, those kinds of things." And when he grows up, Jacob says he wants to be a professor.

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Environment
4:11 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

Stepping up the fight against Asian Carp

Asian carp at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago
flickr Kate Gardiner

Federal and state officials have a new plan for dealing with the threat of Asian Carp invading Lake Michigan.    There are fears that the carp may destroy the Great Lakes fishing industry. 

The plan includes stepping up tracking of the invasive fish species and contracting with Illinois fishermen to catch the carp before they can reach Lake Michigan.

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Environment
2:46 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

Wayne State University to track coyotes in southeast Michigan

Evidence of coyotes have been found throughout southeastern Michigan, including Detroit and Dearborn.
kakisky morgue file

A new study from researchers at Wayne State University will track coyotes in southeast Michigan. The study is meant to fill a gap on information about coyotes that live in highly populated areas.

Bill Dodge is the graduate student in charge of the project. He says reports of coyotes attacking pets are rare:

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Environment
2:42 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

Officials plan monitoring to keep carp from lakes

A boat load of Asian Carp. Asian Carp can make up a significant portion of the biota found in some river systems.
asiancap.org

 TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Federal and state officials are beginning a series of projects to pinpoint how close Asian carp are to the Great Lakes and reduce their numbers in Chicago-area waterways near Lake Michigan.

The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee released a $7 million monitoring and sampling plan Monday.

It uses a variety of techniques to determine how many of the invasive fish are in the Chicago waters, remove as many as possible, and detect any flaws in an electric barrier designed to block their path to Lake Michigan.

In addition to netting and electrofishing, officials say they'll add new tools, including an underwater camera that can help determine whether fish are getting through the barrier.

Biologists say if Asian carp become established in the Great Lakes, they could starve out other species.

Changing Gears
12:30 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

Feeling the bounce from the Oprah Winfrey Show

The Oprah bounce. Many small business owners have felt the boost when their product makes Oprah's Favorite Things list.
Alan Light Flickr

This week marks the last we’ll be seeing of new broadcasts of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

I’m someone who basically has grown up with the show (to be exact, the nationally syndicated show has run for 25 years).

It’s spawned the empire of all things Oprah – including her magazine and now her own cable network.

Over the years, Oprah’s singled out many products for her Favorite Things list.

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Commentary
11:29 am
Mon May 23, 2011

Not Guilty As Charged

How many of the forty-four thousand prisoners sitting in our state’s prisons do you think are actually innocent of the charges which put them there? None? A handful? Maybe … one percent?

I talked recently with a man who is an expert on this, and what he told me was absolutely shocking. Jim Petro was Ohio’s Attorney General for four years, until he left office to make an unsuccessful run for governor in 2006.

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Changing Gears
11:13 am
Mon May 23, 2011

Give Americans more authority, Toyota told

The Toyota North American Quality Advisory Panel found Toyota paid less heed to problems reported by its customers, regulators and outside experts, than it did to those inside the company.
user danielctw Flickr

Toyota’s reputation for quality suffered a significant blow the past two years in the wake of millions of recalls.

Now, a blue-ribbon panel of outsiders says the Japan-centric carmaker must give its managers and employees in North America more authority to jump on problems, in order to prevent another such crisis.

The Toyota North American Quality Advisory Panel also said it found Toyota paid less heed to problems reported by its customers, regulators and outside experts, than it did to those inside the company.

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Politics
9:42 am
Mon May 23, 2011

Recall petition moves forward against State Rep. Al Pscholka

Calls to "recall Pscholka" have been made for several weeks. This protestor carries a sign during a protest against Benton Harbor's emergency manager on April 27th, 2011. Pscholka introduced the bill that grants emergency managers broader powers.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

One of the four petitions Benton Harbor City Commissioner Dennis Knowles filed to recall State Rep. Al Pscholka (R-St. Joseph) was approved by Berrien County election officials this morning.

Knowles needs to collect 6,718 valid signatures in Pscholka's district before the November 18th deadline. But the signatures are only valid for 90 days, so he has until that deadline to collect that many signatures before they expire.

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What's Working
6:00 am
Mon May 23, 2011

Trying to turn indoor shrimp farming into a large-scale industry in Michigan

Russ Allen is trying to get indoor shrimp farming to be a large-scale commercial industry in Michigan
Rust Bucket Flickr

You know about agriculture, of course.  But what about aqua-culture, or seafood farming? Russ Allen worked in shrimp farming for twenty years in Latin America. When he returned to his home-state of Michigan, he decided he wanted to create a method of aqua-culture that could be used anywhere in the world. He’s working on his dream in Okemos, just outside of Lansing. He’s been farming shrimp there for several years using a special, environmentally friendly method.

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Christina Shockley spoke with Allen for Michigan Radio's What's Working series.

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