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4:29 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Richardville latest to take on Michigan grad student unionization

courtesy of Richardville's office

The drama over University of Michigan graduate student research assistants and whether or not they can unionize continues to unfold, this time with State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville weighing in.

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Amtrak
3:28 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Lansing motorist killed in crash with Amtrak train

user smaedi Creative Commons

DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Officials say the driver of a car who was killed in a collision with an Amtrak train near Lansing drove around lowered gates at a road crossing.

The Eaton County Sheriff's Office continued to investigate the accident Friday.

The driver of the car who was killed was identified as Hermes Fernandez-Lopez. The 39-year-old was from Lansing.

No one on the train was reported injured in the Thursday night accident.

The train was travelling from Chicago to Port Huron with about 145 passengers when it struck the vehicle shortly after 9:10 p.m., authorities said. Train passengers left the scene on buses.

Politics
12:42 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Santorum touts candor and consistency to Michigan voters

wikimedia commons

Republican candidate for president Rick Santorum says he thinks he would appeal to Democrats and independents in Michigan if he is on the November ballot.

Appearing on public television’s “Off the Record,” Santorum said he was able to attract votes when he ran for the US Senate in his Democratic-leaning home state of Pennsylvania. And he said, if he is the Republican nominee for president, independent voters will appreciate his honesty.

“You know what policies I’m going to be out there advocating for, I’m someone you can trust, I’m someone who is open to listening but who has a very clear vision for where I want to take the country,” Santorum said.

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Commentary
10:27 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Wayne County’s Agony

Some years ago, there was a scandal involving fiscal improprieties at Michigan Public Media, which operates this radio station. When the then-director discovered the suspicious financial practices, he immediately told the University of Michigan about them.

Then, though he was in no way implicated in the wrongdoing, he resigned, saying the irregularities happened under his watch, and therefore he was ultimately responsible for them.

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Your Family Story
9:58 am
Fri February 17, 2012

The cannoli assembly line is efficient and delicious

Michelle Guevara

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

My great-grandfather migrated from Sicily. He was one of the first Fanfalones to settle in the Detroit area. Like a lot of Italian migrants, he was poor but carved a name for himself and ended up having a large family.

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Changing Gears
9:30 am
Fri February 17, 2012

The next phase in protests: Get ready for the "99% Spring"

The "Occupy" movement in Detroit. Will the movement sprout again this spring?
user k1ds3ns4t10n Flickr

UAW President Bob King referred last week to a “new movement for social justice” this spring, and now we know what he’s talking about. The UAW’s Facebook page on Thursday features a big photo promoting the 99% Spring, sending its readers to a new Web site called The99Spring.com.

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Sports Commentary
7:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Hockey from different sides of the rink

The Hamline University Women's Hockey team. Commentator John U. Bacon writes about his experiences assisting a women's hockey team.
Hamline University

I’ve coached high school boy’s hockey teams for almost a decade.  But a few years ago, I spent two years helping out the Michigan women’s hockey team – and I learned a lot more than they did.   

It’s worth noting that I’m comparing only high school boys and college women, based solely on my observations of two hockey teams.  Your mileage may vary. 

My education started on day one.

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Politics
8:39 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Detroit Council districts: And the winner is ...Option 3

The Detroit City Council has approved a map that will be used to guide future Council elections.

The map divides the city into seven districts. Starting next year, Detroit will elect their Council members by district. Currently, all nine members are elected at large.

The Council chose “Option 3,” one of the four options the city’s Planning Commission created for them to choose from.

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Education
8:37 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Lansing school superintendent given 'two weeks notice'

Lansing school superintendent Dr. T.C. Wallace (file photo)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing school board voted Thursday night to give the district’s superintendent two weeks notice.

Dr. T.C. Wallace has been the capitol city’s school superintendent since 2007.  

He agreed last year to leave the district at the end of this academic year. 

But the school board decided to speed up Wallace’s departure.  

The district is facing major restructuring questions  and an estimated budget deficit that could be as high as 20 million dollars.

Politics
8:14 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Wayne County Commissioner: Ficano should resign

screen grab from WJBK Fox 2

Wayne County Commissioner Laura Cox has publicly said that embattled County Executive Robert Ficano should resign.

Cox, the only Republican on the Wayne County Commission, has been one of Ficano’s most outspoken critics.

Ficano has been under fire for months after numerous revelations about huge severance payments to top aides, and other corruption accusations.

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Politics
5:52 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Super-PAC boosts Santorum spending in Michigan

wikipedia.org

The candidates in Michigan’s Republican presidential primary are expected to pour a lot of money into advertising in the state.

Polls show Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are evenly matched in popular support.

Romney and his political action committee are expected to spend millions in Michigan.

But a super-PAC behind Santorum reportedly will spend $650,000 in the state.

Bill Ballenger is editor of Inside Michigan Politics.

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Political Roundup
5:51 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Will Gov. Snyder's endorsment help Romney?

User: dailyfortnight / flickr

Governor Rick Snyder gave his endorsement to Mitt Romney today.  The question is whether or not that endorsement will help Romney.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Here’s what Susan Demas had to say about the Snyder endorsement:

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Politics
5:41 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Santorum: autos would be doing better without bailout

Rick Santorum is campaigning in Michigan ahead of the state's primary.
user gageskidmore Flickr

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum told members of the Detroit Economic Club that he still thinks the federal bailout of the auto industry was the wrong move.

Santorum said he thinks auto companies should have been allowed to thrive or fail in the free market.

“Would the auto industry look different than it is today? Yes it would be. Would it still be alive and well? I think it would be equally alive and better,” said Santorum.

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Politics
5:35 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Romney shows "love" for Michigan, autos as he stumps for votes

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is campaigning in Michigan ahead of the state's primary.
user gageskidmore Flickr

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney spoke to a business luncheon today not far from where he grew up in Oakland County as he stumped for Republican support in Michigan’s presidential primary.

Protestors outside carried a banner that said “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” -- a reminder of what Romney famously said in 2008 as he opposed the taxpayer-funded auto industry bailout.

Inside, Romney said he loves the auto industry and still drives a Ford Mustang – and defended his history as a venture capitalist to a chamber of commerce lunch largely filled with businesspeople.

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Terrorism
3:45 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Nigerian underwear bomber gets life in prison

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Update 3:45 p.m.

DETROIT (AP) - A Nigerian who tried to blow up an international flight near Detroit on behalf of al-Qaida has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The mandatory punishment Thursday for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was never in doubt after he pleaded guilty in October. The 25-year-old says the bomb in his underwear was a "blessed weapon" to avenge poorly treated Muslims worldwide.

The bomb didn't fully detonate aboard an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight but caused a brief fire that burned Abdulmutallab.

He admitted afterward that the attack was inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born cleric and leading al-Qaida figure killed by a U.S. drone strike last fall.

Federal Judge Nancy Edmunds announced the sentence in a crowded courtroom that included some passengers from Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

2:22 p.m.

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit federal judge is refusing to set aside a federal law that requires a mandatory life sentence for a Nigerian who pleaded guilty to trying to blow up an international flight bound for Detroit on Christmas 2009.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds made her decision as the sentencing hearing began Thursday for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He tried to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 with a bomb in his underwear. It failed and he was badly burned.

Abdulmutallab's attorney claims a life sentence when there was no death or serious injury to passengers is unconstitutional.

Separately, the judge says she'll allow the government to show an FBI video demonstrating the power of the explosive chemical possessed by Abdulmutallab.

Arts/Culture
1:59 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Artpod: Songs from Seth & May

Photo courtesy of Seth Bernard and May Erlewine.

Today's Artpod features a live, in studio performance!

Michigan musicians Seth Bernard & May Erlewine dropped by Michigan Radio to talk about their new album inspired by their journey across Ethiopia.

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Sports
12:20 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Across the Detroit River, hockey history shuts its doors

In recent years, Windsor Arena was home ice for the University of Windsor Lancers.
wikimedia commons

If you're a Detroit hockey fan, you're probably celebrating the Red Wings' recent record-breaking home win streak at the storied Joe Louis Arena---a bit of magic for a veteran team in an aging building---but across the river there's a piece of hockey history that make's "the Joe" look like the new kid on the ice arena block.

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Commentary
11:25 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Snyder Endorsing Romney

Last night we all learned that today would be the day when Governor Rick Snyder endorsed Mitt Romney for president.

This is a time-honored ritual, not all that different in some ways from waiting to see if Billy will ask Katie to the prom. But what nobody ever seems to ask is, what effect this all has?

I mean, will Joe Sixpack or Susie Salarywoman come home tonight, throw open the door and say, “Honey, did you hear the news?   Snyder endorsed Romney.  I guess that settles it for us.“

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GM profit
10:25 am
Thu February 16, 2012

GM makes record profit of $7.6 billion despite losses in Europe

General Motors posted a record profit of $7.6 billion in 2011, although its losses in Europe were very high -- $700 million.

In a conference call with analysts, GM CEO Dan Akerson  called Europe a "rather challenging market, not only for GM and Opel, but also for our competition."

GM also lost $100 million in South America.

Most of the money GM made came from sales in North America.  GM made $7.2 billion before taxes in the region.

GM plans to make major structural changes in Europe to reduce its persistent losses there.  

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Environment
10:23 am
Thu February 16, 2012

A pig ban gets muddy

A Mangalitsa pig at a farm in McBain, Michigan.
Peter Payette/Interlochen Public Radio

Wildlife officials took aggressive action last year to keep pigs from running wild on the landscape. Certain kinds of pigs were declared an invasive species. But farmers and ranchers say the move was too extreme. They’re challenging the science of the ban.  On today's Environment Report, Peter Payette explains that distinguishing between pigs can be complicated. 

Peter visited Stuart Kunkle at his small farm south of Traverse City.  He has ten pigs.

“We have a mix and some purebreds here. We have two mulefoots which are the black pigs. That’s Rosabelle and down there is Trinity at the end… then we’ve got a mixture of what we believe is Russian boar and Mangalitsa.”

All these pigs are hairy and the Mangalitsas are almost as dark as the mule foots.

Kunkle got into pigs for a few reasons. One is: he has a day job and pigs are less work than other animals. And he says the market for pastured pork is growing and chefs have become interested in some of the unusual breeds.

But his pigs might soon be illegal. Kunkle isn’t certain but he has the list of characteristics the state will soon use to identify illegal pigs.

“They have erect ears, which I have heard that the erect ear is something associated with the Russian boar. But you know, I want to say except for certain breeds, I want to say a lot of the pigs I’ve ever seen have erect ears.”

Stuart Kunkle is not exactly who the state was targeting when it banned feral swine.

Wildlife officials have been talking for years about the dangers posed by hunting ranches that sell wild boar hunts. They say the animals sometimes escape and there are now thousands living in the wild.

One top official has referred to them as four-footed Asian carp.

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