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News Roundup
8:49 am
Mon March 5, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, March 5th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Santorum Rally

It's been almost a week since Michigan's presidential primary but Rick Santorum’s campaign is organizing a rally today in front of the state Republican Party headquarters in Lansing. Rick Pluta reports:

The rally is to protest how state GOP leaders awarded both of Michigan’s at-large delegates to Mitt Romney for winning a majority of the statewide vote. Santorum says the vote was so close that he and Romney each would have gotten a delegate – until GOP leaders friendly to Romney changed the rules after the election last Tuesday. The Santorum campaign has also asked the Republican National Committee to investigate the Michigan GOP.

MSU Nuclear Science

Scientists from across the country are in Washington D.C. today to ask Congress to support Michigan State University’s $600 million nuclear science facility. Rina Miller reports:

The scientists want lawmakers to declare MSU’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams a national priority, and to keep funding intact. Brad Sherrill is chief scientist of what’s called F-RIB. He believes the facility will bring $1 billion into Michigan – including hundreds of new jobs and thousands of scientific visitors. The primary research at F-RIB will be to understand the basic forces that hold atoms together. MSU was expecting $55 million from the federal government for the project, but the Obama administration budgeted only $22 million.

Stormy Weather

Tens of thousands of Michigan homes and businesses are without power after a winter storm brought up to 15 inches of snow and blacked out more than a quarter-million electricity customers, the Associated Press reports. “The storm that hit Friday also triggered deadly tornadoes across the Midwest. CMS Energy Corporation says about 51,000 customers remained without service at 4 p.m. Sunday, down from 147,000. DTE Energy Company says about 5,000 of 120,000 customers remained powerless at 4 p.m. Sunday,” the AP notes.

Election 2012
7:48 am
Mon March 5, 2012

One week after the MI primary, Santorum continues to dispute results

Gage Skidmore Flickr

Though the state's primary was almost a week ago, the Rick Santorum campaign is continuing to dispute the primary's results. The campaign has taken their fight over the way the Michigan Republican Party apportioned two of the state's at-large delegates to the Republican National Committee.

The campaign is also organizing a rally to be held later today in front of the Michigan Republican headquarters in Lansing. Santorum supporters will call on Michigan GOP leaders to reconsider their decision to award both the party’s statewide delegates to Mitt Romney.

They say party leaders changed the rules to avoid awarding one apiece to Romney and Santorum, who ran a close second in last week’s Michigan primary and won half of the state’s congressional districts.

Last week, after the committee voted in favor of giving the two at-large delegates to Romney, Mike Cox, the state's former Attorney General - and Romney supporter - called the decision, "kind of like third world voting."

A state Republican spokesman says that decision is now in the hands of the national GOP and calls the rally a needless distraction from the focus on helping Republicans win in November.

We took a closer look at the controversy over so-called "dele-gate" on Friday. You can take a listen at the link above.

Seeking Change
7:06 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Helping children deal with grief

Nick See Flickr

The loss of a loved one is difficult enough for an adult. For a child, it can be overwhelming. A group in Lansing and Ann Arbor is trying to help children manage their feelings after someone close to them has passed away.

As we continue our Seeking Change series, we speak with Laurie Strauss Baumer, president and CEO of Ele's Place, an organization that is trying to help children deal with their grief.

Investigative
7:00 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Money Talks: Out-of-state influence on Michigan voters

Michigan’s Republican presidential primary elections are over.  But, primary elections for federal and state legislators are in August.

Already out-of-state groups are spending tons of money to influence Michigan voters.

Big money often buys votes. Usually, that includes a lot of big money from out-of-state groups.

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Science/Medicine
1:00 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Scientists lobby Congress for MSU nuclear science facility

Brad Sherrill, chief scientist of MSU's Facility for Rare Isotope Beams
Courtesy MSU

Scientists from across the nation are in Washington today. They’re asking Congress to support Michigan State University’s $600 million nuclear science facility.

The scientists want lawmakers to declare MSU’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams a national priority, and to keep funding intact.

Brad Sherrill is chief scientist of what’s called F-RIB. He believes the facility will bring $1 billion into Michigan – including hundreds of new jobs and thousands of scientific visitors

Read more
Transportation
5:26 pm
Sun March 4, 2012

Campaign targets distracted drivers

Flickr user poka0059

Organizers of a new campaign want to educate people about the dangers of distracted driving. The project is called "Remembering Ally: Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign." It was named in honor of Ally Zimmerman. She was sixteen when she was killed by a distracted driver.

Jim Santilli is executive director of the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan. He says one simple mistake made by a distracted driver can change the lives of many people.

On Tuesday TIA will hold a conference at Zimmerman’s former high school in Romeo. The speakers will include members of her family as well as government and safety officials. A new, graphic video that details what happens in a car crash will also be shown.

The campaign is geared toward teens and young adults, but Santilli says older adults are also guilty of distracted driving.

Economy
2:57 pm
Sun March 4, 2012

Betting on more casinos in Michigan

(Courtesy of scalesonfire.com)

Fights are getting under way between groups that are proposing at least 22 new casinos in Michigan and opponents seeking to protect the business of existing gambling halls or simply opposed to more of them.

The Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/AArZwC ) says it has reviewed confidential documents on proposals for opening new casinos besides the three now operating in Detroit and others charted by Indian groups around Michigan.

Four tribes are working to expand off-reservation gambling, while two investor groups are seeking to amend the Michigan Constitution to allow more casinos.

There are four proposals for casinos in Romulus and two each in Detroit and Port Huron.

Michigan State University tribal law expert Matthew Fletcher calls it a "fantasy" and questions if people want that many casinos in lower Michigan.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

Arts/Culture
1:38 pm
Sun March 4, 2012

Museum records Arab American stories

Flickr user Ian Kath

The Arab American National Museum wants to become more than “a building filled with stuff.” That’s why it’s recording the stories of everyday people as part of an on-going project.

The museum just released three interviews it did in conjunction with Storycorps, about profiling and stereotyping after 9-11. The interviews are posted on the website arabstereotypes.org. But the museum regularly posts other recordings and podcasts on i-tunes & YouTube

Matthew Stiffler is a researcher at the museum.  He says one way to counter Islamaphobia is when people who don’t know Arab Americans or Muslim Americans listen to these recordings. “Listening to stories and having these personal connections is the best way to overcome this sort of bias and bigotry that is rampant right now.”

This summer the museum plans to record Arab American kids talking about how the Arab Spring has affected their lives and their ideas about democracy.

Science/Medicine
10:21 am
Sun March 4, 2012

State of Michigan buying new printer for medical marijuana cards

The state of Michigan has ordered a new printer that will allow it to produce 4,000 medical marijuana cards a day.

Rae Ramsdell, who oversees the program, says 40,000 people who don't have cards have been given a tamper-proof letter to show they're qualified to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

More than 131,000 people have been approved for marijuana. Thousands more serve as caregivers, who are allowed to grow marijuana for up to five people.

Sports
4:05 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

Michigan gymnast wins major prep event for the London Olympics

Jordyn Wieber of Dewitt (file photo)
(courtesy of TeamUSA.org)

Reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber captured her third straight American Cup at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, finishing with a score of 61.032 to beat teammate Aly Raisman by two-tenths of a point in the first major prep for the London Games.

Yet it was Gabrielle Douglas who stole the spotlight.

Competing as an alternate, making her ineligible for the all-around title, Douglas outperformed her more celebrated teammates, putting up a combined score of 61.299 points, nearly two-tenths ahead of Wieber.

American Danell Leyva roared back from a slow start to win the men's event, surging from fourth to first in the final rotation with a thrilling high bar performance. Leyva finished with a score of 90.664, just ahead of Ukraine's Mykola Kuksenkov.

Arts/Culture
3:00 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

Lansing gallery lets patrons lease original artwork

Photo courtesy of Lansing Art Gallery

An art gallery in Lansing lets patrons lease original works of art, much like you would a car or a truck.

For nearly five decades, the Lansing Art Gallery has let folks lease select pieces of art from their gallery. Now with the gallery's new Lease/Purchase Exhibit people can lease any of the 43 original pieces of art on display for about ten percent of the sticker price:

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Election 2012
2:01 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

The primary's over, but the campaign TV ads continue

Michigan’s presidential primary may be over, but the political TV ads keep on coming.

President Obama and a pro-Obama Super Pac together spent about a three-quarters of million dollars to promote the president’s re-election during the recent primary campaign.  A primary in which the president wasn’t running.

Rich Robinson is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.    He says the pro-Obama ads were intended to counter, not just his Republican opponents, but non-profit groups attacking the president.

Robinson says two groups have spent more than $1 million attacking the president’s ties to Wall Street and a failed solar energy business.   

“These are not…electioneering communication," says Robinson,  "There will be no reporting of these particular ads to the federal election commission…because they fall outside the window of an election.”

Robinson expects third-party groups will outspend the candidates, by a wide margin, in this year’s TV ad war.

Environment
9:10 am
Sat March 3, 2012

Strong winds leave 80,000 Michigan customers without power

Strong winds overnight caused power outages throughout the region.

A Consumers Energy spokesman says about 10,000 customers lost service, with the majority in Genesee, Livingston and Oakland Counties and scattered outages elsewhere.

About 70,000 DTE customers are without power this morning.

"The winds covered our entire service territory, so we do have outages pretty much everywhere," says DTE spokesman John Austerberry. "The concentrations are in Oakland County, with 29,000 out, Wayne County with about 18,000 out, and Washtenaw County with 13,000."

Read more
Education
9:28 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Agreement lets Highland Park schools stay open through the school year

The Detroit school district has stepped in to help make sure the Highland Park public schools stay open for the rest of the school year.

But there are still plenty of questions about what happens after that.

The state had to advance Highland Park money last week, or the district would have gone broke.

And the state did—but with the provision that the money couldn’t go to the Highland Park school district, per se.

Read more
Auto/Economy
7:43 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Chevy Volt production temporarily shuts down due to low demand

General Motors will temporarily suspend production of its electric car with extended range, the Chevy Volt, to manage excess inventory on dealer lots. 

The decision puts about 1,200 employees at GM’s Detroit Hamtramck plant on layoff. 

The Volt assembly line will shut down between March 19th and April 23rd, to give dealers time to sell the Volts they already have.    

Demand for the Volt has been lower than GM anticipated. 

The car has been highly praised, but it’s expensive.  Even with a $7,500 federal rebate, the Volt still costs about $32,000.  

Read more
Environment
5:20 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Michigan Court upholds exotic swine ban

opencage.info

Update 5:20 p.m.

A Michigan Court of Appeal ruling today upholds a ban on exotic swine breeds. It was adopted in an effort to halt the spread of feral swine that are tearing up farms and woodlands.

Opponents of the state’s new ban on about 130 swine breeds said they are not giving up their fight as April 1 approaches.

That’s when the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment will start to enforce the ban.

Scott Everett represents breeders and hunting ranches that are regulated by the order. He predicted there will be unintended consequences once it takes effect.

“The DNR is using the invasive species act to define certain animals that are invasive species and you can’t just say it’s only those animals that are on the hunting preserve operations – it’s all the swine that the DNR  thinks are invasive species," said Everett.

He said it will also affect hundreds of boutique farms in Michigan that raise animals for specialty meats for high-end restaurants.

There are still other legal actions pending challenging how the order will be enforced, and whether the state is illegally seizing property.

10:10 a.m.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the order that outlaws raising and possessing some breeds of exotic swine.

Hunting ranch operators and breeders challenged the order by the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The state will start enforcing the ban in less than a month.

Environment
5:08 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Recycling jumps 80% in Grand Rapids with single-stream carts

My single stream recycle bin.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Recycling is up 80-percent since the City of Grand Rapids instituted a new single-stream recycling program. With single-stream people can put all kinds of stuff - glass, plastic, cardboard and paper - into a single cart (no sorting needed). The city picks up the recyclable stuff at the curb for free.

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Breaking
4:25 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Santorum campaign requests investigation of Michigan GOP

Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign has formally asked the Republican National Committee to investigate the actions of Michigan GOP leaders following Tuesday’s presidential primary.

The Santorum campaign delivered a letter to the Republican National Committee requesting the inquiry.

Santorum says it appears supporters of Mitt Romney engineered a rule-change after Tuesday’s vote to ensure Romney got more delegates than he deserved following a very-thin victory in the overall Republican primary vote.

The letter offers a list of six questions that were raised concerning how the Michigan Republicans decided to award 16 delegates to Romney and 14 to Santorum.

The letter says the issue is not who should get a delegate, but the openness and transparency of the process.

Michigan Republican leaders say the rules were not changed after the fact, but the party did a poor job of explaining its plan on how delegates would be allocated.

Education
4:09 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Highland Park schools will remain open, teachers will be paid

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

The cash-strapped Highland Park schools will get help so schools in the district can remain open until the end of the school year, the Michigan Department of Treasury announced today. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is covering this story and will have an update later.

From a press release sent by Michigan's Treasury Department:

Highland Park Schools Emergency Manager Jack Martin, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts, and State Treasurer Andy Dillon today signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that provides temporary assistance and support to Highland Park Schools from Detroit Public Schools. The MOA, which will be in place for the remainder of the 2011- 2012 school year, allows current Highland Park students to remain in their current classrooms with their current teachers, if they so choose, despite the district’s financial crisis.

Plans to reform the finances at Highland Park schools hit a snag when a judge ruled the state violated the open meetings act when a state financial review team appointed emergency manager Jack Martin to oversee the school system.

Martin was temporarily taken off his post and re-appointed to his post by Governor Snyder this morning.

In the press release, Martin said their goal is to "ensure that students face as little disruption as possible." He thanked DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts:

“I want to thank Mr. Roberts for his willingness to assist Highland Park Schools through such trying times. I would also like to thank the teachers and staff who have been in class and working all week despite not getting paid last Friday. They will be receiving paychecks later today.”

Detroit Public Schools, which has its own financial troubles, will receive "distressed district student transition grants" worth $4,000 per pupil.

State officials say Detroit Public Schools "will support personnel-related functions on behalf of Highland Park Schools."

Environment
3:38 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Michigan maple syrup producers say season is extra early this year

mi-maplesyrup.com

The mild winter has Michigan’s maple sugar producers keeping a close watch on their trees.

Larry Haigh’s family has been making maple syrup since 1958 on their farm near Bellevue, northeast of Battle Creek.

"Some of the soft maples and those in people's yards and along the roads may have started to bud," Haigh says. "And when the buds come out, it changes the sugar content and carbohydrates in the sap, and it doesn't make good syrup."

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