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Transportation
3:39 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

New technology at Detroit Metro Airport to reduce travelers' wait times

Credit J. Miguel Rodriguez / Flickr

International travelers may soon experience shorter wait times at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

New technology at the airport aims to make the U.S. customs process a little easier.

Thirty new Automated Passport Control kiosks will allow travelers to enter their information at computers, instead of filling out declaration cards.

Kris Grogan is with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He says the new system will help the agency's officers be more effective at their jobs.

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Politics & Government
1:28 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Detroit water dept: Our mistake was being "naive" about furor

Credit Michigan Green Party / Facebook

"Saying you work for the (Detroit Water and Sewerage) department these days is a bit like professing you molest children," wrote reporter Peter Rugh in his recent Vice article, "Who bled Detroit dry?"

OK, that's a tad much. 

But there's certainly a besieged feeling in the city's water department building these days.

For instance, getting into last week's Board of Water Commissioner's meeting, as a reporter, involved three security officers and approval from multiple public relations staff.

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Stateside
11:54 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Understanding Michigan's Proposal 1

The Michigan primary election is on Aug. 5, and one of the things you’ll be looking at is Proposal 1. It asks voters to approve a tax policy change, but the proposal is very confusing.

To help us clear this up a little, Bob Schneider joined us today. Schneider is with the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The organization is a nonpartisan non-profit group that objectively analyzes policy issues like Proposal 1.

*Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
11:12 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Dirty tricks on Michigan campaign trail get less entertaining, more depressing

“One person can make a difference,” President Kennedy used to say, “and everyone should try.”  That was the spirit that inspired a lot of people to get into politics, once upon a time.

Well, there are still idealists out there trying to make a difference, and there have been no-goodniks running for office since George Washington’s day.

But in the final days before Michigan’s statewide primary, two things have depressed me about this year’s campaign.

One is the amount of money involved, and I’ll talk about that later. But the other is the below the belt tactics.

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10:41 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Violence is everywhere, and these young people in Flint have had enough.

Lead in text: 
Crime is down in Flint, but the city has still seen more than 800 violent crimes since the beginning of the year. State of Opportunity has the story of two young people trying to deal with the effects of all that violence, and the mentors trying to help them.
The Haskell Youth Center is on the front lines of violence prevention in Flint. They don't use a complicated formula; there are just plenty of positive activities and positive adults. On any given day there are about 200 kids spread throughout the game room, the cafeteria, and a gym where the basketball games never seem to stop.
Politics & Government
10:30 am
Wed July 30, 2014

The week in Michigan politics

Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss what races and issues to follow before next week's primary election, how Detroit's emergency manager has shifted responsibilities of the city's water department to Mayor Mike Duggan after controversies for water shut offs, and recent developments with the new international bridge from Detroit to Windsor, ON.

Week in Michigan politics interview for 7/30/14

Stateside
9:04 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Detroit's brightly lit history

Motor City lights
Credit Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Technology is changing rapidly, but the changes that we see today – in phones, cars, and computer software – are not as life-changing as electricity. We went from water wheel power and candles to electric motors and light bulbs in no time at all.

In a recent article in Model D, Amy Elliott Bragg wrote that “by the late 1880s, Detroit was widely considered one of the best-lighted cities in the world.” Now, about 40% of the city’s streetlights are broken and many of the rest are old and dim.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Truth Squad calls "fouls" on 4th Congressional District TV ads

Bridge magazine’s Truth Squad has been reviewing political TV ads in Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District Republican primary.

Paul Mitchell’s campaign ran an attack ad against Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, which included this claim:

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Candidates from different GOP factions vie for 4th District nomination

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Mid-Michigan congressman Dave Camp’s decision to step down from the seat he’s held for two decades sparked a battle between different factions of the Republican Party.

Next Tuesday, voters will likely decide which one will hold the seat.

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Auto
12:01 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Many cars still having trouble with IIHS small overlap crash test

Result of small overlap crash test for Hyundai Sonata. Note how the passenger compartment remains largely intact.
Credit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

A year after the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety introduced it, many automakers are still having trouble designing cars that can do well on the "small overlap" crash test.

A small overlap crash happens when just the corner of the front of a car hits something, like another car, or a tree or a pole.

That kind of a crash can bypass the "crumple zone" of the front of the car, which is meant to absorb the force of the crash, protecting the people inside the passenger compartment from death or injury.

IIHS recently tested 12 small new cars for small overlap protection; only one, the Mini Cooper Countryman, received the highest grade of "Good."

Five others, the Chevy Volt, the Ford C-Max Hybrid, the Mitsubishi Lancer, the Scion FR-S, and the Subaru BRZ, got the next highest mark of "Acceptable."

Because the Chevy Volt also offers buyers the option of a front collision warning, the Institute gave the car its Top Safety Pick Plus award.

Four cars got a "Poor" rating, including the Fiat 500-L, the Nissan Juke, the Nissan Leaf, and the Mazda 5.

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Politics & Government
9:57 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Schauer economic plan includes bigger clean energy mandate

Credit markschauer.com

Democratic candidate Mark Schauer says he would come up with a road funding solution where Governor Rick Snyder and the Republicans failed. Schauer did not give specifics, but said he would do it without raising fuel taxes. It was part of an economic platform he outlined today.

It also includes boosting the state’s renewable energy, repealing the right to work law, and restoring the tax break for pension income.

Schauer said his economic plan would create tens of thousands of new jobs.

“By rebuilding our infrastructure, raising our renewable energy standard, tough ‘buy Michigan’ standards, by cutting taxes to retirees and working families,” Schauer said, “I think tens of thousands is a conservative estimate.”

Schauer said he would also ban for-profit charter schools and rely less on outside contracts for state services.

Governor Snyder says his policies are at least partly responsible for 250,000 new private sector jobs since he took office.

Stateside
4:00 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Raymond Mullins speaks about his run for Congress

Ypsilanti attorney Raymond G. Mullins.
Credit www.attyraymullins.com / www.attyraymullins.com

Michigan's primary elections will be held on Aug. 5.

Congressman John Dingell is retiring, so the 12th Congressional District is an open seat. Yesterday we talked to Debbie Dingell, his wife, about her campaign.

Today we talked to her competition, Raymond G. Mullins, an Ypsilanti attorney.

*Listen to the full interview above

Stateside
4:00 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

GM recalls bring in revenue for dealerships

Credit GM

We’ve all heard about one recall after another from General Motors. But what does that mean for the dealer? Lester Graham stopped by Victory Chevrolet Buick in Milan and talked to salesperson Sean Johnson about the recalls.

“It’s a lot more business in the service end of it,” Johnson said. “Negative wise, I think people are kind of scared to buy a GM product.”

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Stateside
3:54 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

GM struggling to overhaul its corporate culture

General Motors has been in the news a lot, probably more than it wants to be. Daniel Howes, a business columnist at The Detroit News, wrote an article about the automaker's struggle to overhaul its culture in the wake of failed parts, recalls, government criticism, and more.

Howes described GM’s corporate culture in his article as “blame-shifting, lack of accountability, and a callous disregard for customers.”

He said changing the leadership and putting new people on the board of directors may be necessary, but is not enough to change the culture of the company.

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Stateside
3:52 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

How do you tank $9 billion? The Stroh family story

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Stroh family was one of the richest in America. Now, their fortune is all but wiped out.

How did they lose $9 billion?

Forbes reporter Kerry Dolan spoke with family members to find out what led to the loss in her article: "How to Blow $9 Billion: The Fallen Stroh Family." 

Bernard Stroh emigrated from Germany to the United States with a beer recipe and started delivering beer with a wheelbarrow. By the 1980s, fourth-generation family member Peter Stroh was CEO of a major brewery.

Peter Stroh wanted to expand the company and bought the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company of Milwaukee.

“It was like a minnow swallowing a whale,” Dolan said. “Stroh had one brewery in Detroit and Schlitz had six around the country.”

The business had a hard time competing with other companies such as Coors, Miller, and Anheuser-Busch.

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Stateside
3:50 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Blue-green algae spreading in Lake Erie

Swirling blue-green algae
Credit Lake Improvement Association / Flickr

The western end of Lake Erie, especially near Toledo, is seeing a lot of algae this year. It’s been worse, but this year's algal bloom is larger than average.

And we’re seeing a kind of blue-green algae that can produce a toxin. It can make you sick if you swim in it. It can make pets sick. And it’s a problem for water purification plants and drinking water, too.

Don Scavia is the director of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan. He’s also an aquatic ecologist.

When Lake Erie was considered “dead” back in the 1960s and '70s, these algal blooms were a contributing factor.

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Stateside
3:44 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Why our best and brightest candidates are not running

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Aug. 5 is primary election day in Michigan, and across all media channels, you can find criticism of who is on the ballot and who isn’t on the ballot. On Stateside today, Jack Lessenberry and Nolan Finley talked about why our best and brightest do not run.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. Nolan Finley is editorial page editor at The Detroit News.

“We really aren’t sending the best and brightest to our capitols, whether it’s Lansing or Washington,” Finley said.

He added that when he talks to some of the people running for office, and even those who may ultimately win, there is a great deal of mediocrity among the candidates. Finley says the leadership pool is really shallow, and the promising leaders don’t have enough time to develop with short term limits.

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The Environment Report
12:41 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Birding from the sky above southeast Michigan

Kensington Metropark from the sky
Dea Armstrong

Take a hot air balloon ride with ornithologist Dea Armstrong (story starts about a minute in).

Like most of us, Dea Armstrong has only seen birds from the ground. Today, she’s going to fly with them.

Armstrong is Ann Arbor’s city ornithologist, and watching birds from a hot air balloon is on her bucket list. I got a chance to tag along to find out what we’d see from the air.

“I’m so excited to see what it’ll be like to look from above and down. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to recognize the birds, of course, but it’ll be just so different,” she says.

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Opinion
10:47 am
Tue July 29, 2014

In race for governor, Schauer is the underdog, but Snyder won't have easy campaign

Mark Schauer will become the Democratic nominee for governor next week, after Michigan’s statewide primary.

That’s because he has no opposition. He will have all the opposition he can handle in November, however. He cheerfully concedes Governor Rick Snyder will outspend him by millions. Schauer is also attempting to buck history. The last time a Republican governor was defeated in this state was in 1948.

However, when I spent some time with Schauer last week, the former Battle Creek congressman seemed sincerely upbeat and optimistic. One poll shows the two candidates exactly tied.

Others have shown Snyder leading, but usually by no more than the three to four point margin of error. And there is something ominous for the governor in all these polls: None have shown Snyder with the support of fifty or more percent of the voters.

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Education
9:49 am
Tue July 29, 2014

State superintendent meets with charter authorizers

State Supt. Mike Flanagan says he's prepared to use his authority to shut down charters that don't perform well.
Credit MichigansChildren / YouTube

There was a lengthy meeting today between the Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction and some of the state’s largest charter school authorizers. Its purpose was to review the rules to ensure the independent academies are performing as promised.

The meeting went on for about three hours. It was closed to the public, and there were few details made public. Some of the state’s largest charter authorizers, including representatives of universities and community colleges, were invited.

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