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Walter Reuther, the United Auto Workers union’s greatest leader, has been dead for forty-five years now, killed in a plane crash outside Pellston, a few years before oil shocks and a flood of foreign imports began to drastically change the industry.

Several years ago, soon after the union agreed to accept a two-tier wage system in which new hires would be paid less, I asked Doug Fraser, perhaps the last of his successors to know Reuther well, what Walter would have thought about that? I expected he’d say Reuther would be rolling in his grave.

But instead, Fraser said it was impossible to know. We are living in a different world from the one Reuther helped build. And Walter Reuther was adept at adjusting to new realities. When the union agreed to accept a two-tier system eight years ago, they hoped it would create more jobs.

flickr/michigancommunities / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

When I was ten years old, Kalamazoo was voted the All-American city by the National Civic League. We deserved it. We made the greatest guitars, the finest fishing rods and reels, and the best medicines, truck transmissions and automobile chassis in the world. Our downtown mall was featured in Look Magazine like it was a fabulous resort in Europe.

By the time I was 20 things had changed considerably. The venerable companies that had prospered for 100 years and given Kalamazoo its celebrated reputation began to wane, leave or fail altogether. There were cheaper, warmer and newer places to relocate. Many businesses did just that, and many people followed them.

DonaldJTrump.com

A Republican Party fundraiser in Michigan featuring Donald Trump is still scheduled despite his controversial remarks about a former prisoner of war.

The billionaire businessman-turned-presidential candidate angered many when he questioned whether U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is actually a war hero.

McCain was captured by the North Vietnamese and spent five years as a POW. He says Trump owes an apology to  POW's

Carolyn Gearig / Michigan Radio

Michigan has a serious opioid problem. A new task force is looking for public input on how to fix it.

In 2013, more than 400 people in Michigan died from drug overdoses – mainly heroin and prescription painkillers like OxyContin. At least 3,000, at the very least, have died since 2005.

Tijl Vercaemer / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg says he can't support a new deal negotiated between Iran and six world powers – the U.S., the U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany – because it gives Iran too much freedom to continue developing weapons and does not include a provision for the release of four U.S. citizens currently in Iranian prisons. One of those Americans is Amir Hekmati, a marine from Flint, Michigan, who has been in prison in Tehran for over three years on spying charges.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state House is scheduled to meet one day this week to try and reach a compromise on road funding.

If a deal doesn’t get done on Tuesday, talks may have to wait until the fall. The House is scheduled to begin a month-long break on Wednesday.

Michigan National Guard

Starting today, parts of northern lower Michigan will thrum and boom to the sounds of military exercises.

More than 2,000 soldiers and airmen will take part in what’s being called Operation Northern Strike.

The 12-day exercise will combine live ground fire and aerial training at Camp Grayling and other sites.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan celebrates the completion of "MCity" in a grand opening ceremony on Monday.

MCity is a 32-acre autonomous vehicle test track, designed to resemble a real city and suburb, with stoplights, artificial pedestrians that can be launched suddenly in front of a driverless car, and movable buildings.

Atlanta Jeep Ram Dodge

Earlier this year, Fiat and Chrysler cars ranked at the very bottom of  the 2015 Initial Quality Survey by J.D. Power.

That survey rates brands based on how many problems new car owners experienced in the first 90 days of ownership.

Now, turn that survey on its head, and you'll basically have the results of the 2015 Total Quality Index by Strategic Vision.

Fiat Chrysler was the number-one automaker in the survey, with six vehicles that were rated best for total quality:  The Fiat 500, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Durango, and Ram truck.

Propane prices in the U.S. are at a 13-year low. So, state officials and propane suppliers are urging residents who use propane to heat their homes to lock in contracts or get their tanks filled up now.

“We think that it could save Michigan residents at least hundreds, if not even more than that to be able to get a contract now in some cases,” said Valerie Brader, who heads Michigan’s Agency for Energy.

“There could be gigantic savings by filling it early,” she said.

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U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell won't support a free-trade deal she says will harm the auto industry and Michigan's economy.

She's criticizing the Obama administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership on the basis that it doesn't address currency manipulation that keeps foreign currencies artificially low compared to the U.S. dollar. 

Today we  will be discussing pooh and all its forms. Not Winnie the Pooh or the other type of pooh you are thinking. No, no. We are talking all about exclamations of today and yesteryear.

Although many of us do not shout out “pooh” when faced with something shocking or aggravating, University of Michigan English professor Anne Curzan does.

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The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory that will be in effect from noon across the region from noon until midnight today. 

High temperatures combined with high humidity will create a heat index of around 100 degrees this afternoon.

West Michigan is also under an air quality alert, which means pollutants are expected to be in the unhealthy range for people with respiratory problems. Weather officials say delaying things like using gas-powered lawn mowers or filling up your car can help lessen pollution.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State officials say a second mid-Michigan deer has tested positive for a fatal neurological disease.

“Finding this second positive deer is disappointing, however, not unexpected,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. 

The second deer was discovered about a mile from where the first deer was found in Ingham County. Wildlife officials are genetically testing the two deer to determine if they are related.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Dow Chemical is making changes to its corporate footprint in Michigan.

Dow Chemical officials say the company plans to build a new building on its corporate headquarters campus in Midland. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

I sure would.

"Mean Tweets" is a popular segment on the Jimmy Kimmel late-night TV show.

Kimmel has convinced famous movie stars and even the president of the United States to read mean tweets about themselves in front of a camera.

Now, John Dingell has a bet with his wife, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, that she can't get 5,000 Twitter followers by Sunday.

But if she does, he'll read mean tweets about himself, Jimmy Kimmel-style, and post the video online.

Catherine Shaffer / Michigan Radio

A  veterans fair in Washtenaw County today offered one-stop shopping for employment, counseling, health, and other services. About 20 groups participated in the event at Scio Township Hall. Michigan U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg and Debbie Dingell hosted the event. 

Organizations on hand to offer help included the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, the VFW Department of Michigan Service Office, the Washtenaw County Department of Veterans Affairs, Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program, Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors, and many more. 

Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office

Authorities say more work remains after DNA testing has been done on thousands of sexual assault kits discovered in a Detroit police property storage facility in 2009.

The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News report Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who has championed efforts to get the kits tested, recently gave an update.

James Fassinger Stillscenes

U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-Michigan, has introduced legislation with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin to require a study of the health effects of petroleum coke, along with best practices for storage and disposal.

Peters says both Chicago and Detroit have had problems with open piles of pet coke, which is a byproduct of processing heavy tar sands oil.

I am, perhaps unfortunately, old enough to remember life in Michigan half a century ago. The Detroit Tigers were a much more exciting team than the current lot, on their way up instead of down, a team whose members actually functioned and played as a team.

Their entire payroll, I believe, was about two percent of what it is today. There was also a statewide spirit of optimism and belief in a better future that is lacking today. Oh, in many ways life was worse then. Twice as many people smoked, and poisonous clouds of tobacco smoke were everywhere, from restaurants to airliners.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

  

Alarms are going off. People are checking gauges, trying to determine what's wrong.

We’re in a large simulator of a nuclear reactor control room at the DTE Energy Fermi 2 power plant on Lake Erie near Monroe. Employees are being trained to deal with just about any foreseeable problem a nuclear power plant might face. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A union-sponsored poll shows little support for the city of Lansing to sell its electric utility.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero suggested studying the idea of selling the Lansing Board of Water & Light as part of a potential solution to the capitol city’s hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded health care and pension liabilities. The idea was first raised by a commission formed by the mayor to examine the city’s financial issues.

Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

From the very beginnings of the modern auto industry, working on an assembly line has been physically demanding, and dangerous. 

But ergonomics experts at Ford Motor Company say an assembly line worker today experiences a lot less physical strain and stress – and is a lot less likely to be injured on the job – in part because of advanced ergonomics tools.

At Ford's new virtual ergonomics lab in Dearborn, 23 infrared cameras can capture every movement of an employee wearing special motion-capture markers. 

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  A Democrat in the state House plans to introduce a bill that would decriminalize and regulate marijuana in Michigan.

State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, says public support for legalization has reached critical mass.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he hasn’t given up on getting a deal for more than a $1 billion in new road revenue through the Legislature. Lawmakers adjourned this week without voting on a roads package.

But, at an event in Detroit, the governor said he’s still confident a deal can come together in 2015.

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The city of Detroit emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history last year. Now, Wayne County, where Detroit is located, finds itself facing about a $50 million structural deficit and unfunded pension liability estimated at $850 to $940 million.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent. Enbridge performs inspections, but won't share what they find.
Credit an Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

People in Michigan are naturally concerned about the thousands of miles of pipelines crisscrossing the state. After all, Michigan suffered through the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history.  

And there's one pipeline in particular that people are quite concerned about: Enbridge's Line 5 moves more than 500,000 barrels of oil and other liquid petroleum products (like propane) a day under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.

There’s now no real doubt that the new Gordie Howe International Bridge over the Detroit River will become reality. There are still a few parcels of land to be assembled on the Detroit side, and site preparation work needs to be done.

The Canadians tell me they still think the bridge will be open to the public five years from now. However, this has not stopped Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun from trying to twin or eventually replace his own bridge.

The ArduCopter from DIY Drones can take pictures in the sky.
DIY Drones

Legislation in Lansing would make it a crime to fly a drone around the state Capitol building without a permit.

The Michigan State Capitol Commission is responsible for maintaining the Capitol grounds, and it voted unanimously on Monday to ban remote-controlled aerial vehicles from flying over the building.

Michigan Oil and Gas Association

Amid all the discussion of the pros and cons of the proposed Iranian nuclear deal announced this week, there’s one Michigan industry that may be affected.

Michigan’s oil industry isn’t very big, but it has been growing.

The growth has been spurred by high world crude oil prices.  Or at least, had been spurred.  After reaching nearly $110 a barrel last summer, world crude prices crashed under $50 in January.  After a brief rise to around $60 in the spring, the price is back down in the lower $50’s. 

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