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Ford autonomous test vehicle
Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company won't be building a new plant in Mexico, but will instead invest $700 million in a plant in southeast Michigan.

The Flat Rock Assembly Plant will be updated to create a factory capable of producing high-tech electrified and autonomous vehicles.  

The plant’s expansion will bring 700 new jobs directly to Flat Rock.

Ford also confirmed seven of 13 new global electrified vehicles will be coming in the next five years, including an F-150 Hybrid, a Mustang Hybrid and a Transit Custom plug-in hybrid.

This is HAL 9000, antagonist in the novel (and film) 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hintze said HAL is an "expert system" that's likely a type 1 machine, or poorly designed type 2, that compares a collection of rules and statements with the environment.
Erin Williamson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What could artificial intelligence (AI) mean for us in the future? And when might intelligent machines and technology be at a point where they become an integral part of our lives?

Those are the questions that Michigan State University researcher Arend Hintze explores.

He's an assistant professor of Integrative Biology and Computer Science and Engineering, and he runs the Hintze Lab, where they research the evolution of natural and artificial intelligence.

Saeed Khan, a lecturer at Wayne State University, wrote an article comparing blanket assessments of Trump supporters to the false equivalency sometimes made between Muslims and terrorists.
Photo courtesy of Saeed Khan

Since Donald Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States, the reactions, both for and against, have been forceful. 

Many Americans are afraid of life under President Trump, based on campaign messages that regularly targeted people based on religion, gender, ethnicity, and race.

And they wonder: why would someone vote for a candidate whose rhetoric was so often hateful?

One possible conclusion is that those who did vote for Trump must share those hateful views.

Saeed Khan, a lecturer at Wayne State University who also teaches a course on Muslim-Christian diversity at Rochester College, is encouraging a more measured view.

J. Albert Bowden II / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In March of 1812, the Boston Gazette printed a political cartoon that showed the bizarre and twisted shape of a newly-redrawn election district.

The paper was responding to redistricting of the Massachusetts state Senate districts pushed through by Governor Elbridge Gerry. The redistricting certainly benefited the governor's Democratic-Republican Party.

Al Pscholka
Michigan House Republicans

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder has chosen a former top state lawmaker to be Michigan's next budget director.

Al Pscholka chaired the House Appropriations Committee in 2015 and 2016 but left office under term limits. He will take over the budget office in mid-February when John Roberts leaves for a job with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Pscholka, a Republican from Stevensville in southwestern Michigan, will be Snyder's third budget director.

General Motors

In another tweet targeting a U.S. company, President-elect Donald Trump is threatening to slap a tax on General Motors for importing one model of a compact car to the U.S. from Mexico.

Except for a few brief years in the 1960’s, it has never been fashionable to care about the desperately poor in this country. John F. Kennedy did challenge us to do something about poverty in his inaugural address:

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

But today, we have a President-elect who said:

“Benefits should have strings attached to them."

Near the scene of the Wayne State shooting. This was taken just north of the corner of Lincoln and MLK Blvd.
Mike Blank / Michigan Radio

DETROIT - The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality says it plans to introduce conflict resolution training, peer mediation and other programs in the neighborhood where a Wayne State University campus police officer was slain.

The group also says it will work to create a more positive atmosphere for relations between police and the community in the "Peace Zone."

The "Peace Zone" will be just west of the Wayne State campus and northwest of downtown.

Rolf Peterson outside Bangsund Cabin on Isle Royale.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The winter study of the wolves and moose on Isle Royale is heading into its 59th year. The wolf-moose study is the longest running study of any predator and its prey in the world.

Scientists from Michigan Tech spend several weeks on the island in the middle of winter every year. They'll be heading back out soon.

Steve Fecht / General Motors

January 15th will be Mary Barra's three-year anniversary as CEO of General Motors.  The world's first (and only) female top executive of a major automaker, her transition was a trial by fire.

Barra became CEO of one of the world's largest automakers the week GM revealed it had delayed -- for ten years -- a recall of millions of small cars with faulty ignition switches. 

The scandal cost GM dearly, and Barra took the brunt of the political repercussions, appearing in the hot seat before U.S. House and U.S. Senate committees in the summer of 2014.

Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli made a leaping 8-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter and the Badgers won 24-16 in the Cotton Bowl on Monday to deny Western Michigan an undefeated season.

The TD catch by Fumagalli with 14 minutes left, in the back of the end zone between two defenders, came three plays after a rare interception thrown by Zach Terrell and made it 24-10.

flickr/Sanofi Pasteur

For more than four years, victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak have been waiting for this.

Two men face second-degree murder charges in a trial set to begin this Friday: Barry Cadden and Glenn Chin, both of whom worked for the drug company that pumped out tainted back pain medications. 

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It is now a new year. With the State House and Senate adjourned until Jan. 11, it's time to get our bearings on what’s likely to be bubbling away on Lansing’s front burner this year.

Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta joined Stateside to discuss.

Since the Lions lost to the Packers 31-24 on Sunday night, Green Bay will host a playoff game at Lambeau Field in front of their cheeseheaded fans.
Phil Roeder / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It was a good news/bad news situation for the Detroit Lions on New Year's Day. The good news was before their regular season finale at Ford Field against the Packers, the New York Giants did Detroit a favor by beating the Washington Redskins. With the Giants win, that clinched a playoff spot for the Lions. 

The bad news is that the Lions let a halftime lead slip away and they lost to the Packers, 31-24. That defeat cost Detroit their first division title (and first home playoff game) since 1993. Their consolation prize? The No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs and a Saturday night matchup in Seattle against the Seahawks, who haven't lost a home playoff game since 2004.

Michigan Makers / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

Over the past few years, makerspaces have become more understood – and popular.

Think shiny industrial warehouses with 3-D printers, laser engravers and metal-working tools. And – of course – think groups of people. As our most recent contributors to The Next Idea explained, makerspaces can become crucial focus points for entire communities.

John M. Cropper / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to make a decision soon on changes to Michigan’s veterans’ homes.  

Before the end of session, the Legislature sent him a package of bills that would create a new Veterans Authority. It could create more veterans homes in the state – currently there are only two. The authority would be run by a board and they would be required to give annual reports to the governor and Legislature. 

Bill sponsor Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, said the legislation creates a modern authority with people who understand healthcare. 

Happy New Year!  Since Michigan Radio graciously allows me to express my opinions, I thought I’d start by asserting the holidays were a very nice break, but that they didn’t last long enough. Well, that may be the least controversial thing I’ve said in a while.

We are in a new year, about to have a new administration in Washington, and I thought I might start it out by talking about the nature of journalism and what I try to do.

As the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs, the Lions now have to win three straight games away from Ford Field to reach their first Super Bowl in team history.
meesh / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

DETROIT - Aaron Rodgers threw three of his four touchdown passes in the second half, lifting the Green Bay Packers to an NFC North-winning 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday night.

Detroit's Matthew Stafford connected with Anquan Boldin for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left, but the Packers recovered the onside kick and Rodgers had only to kneel once to seal the victory.

Mark Savage / Entergy

This month the state should get some more information about the expected closure of the Palisades nuclear plant near South Haven.

The Michigan Public Service Commission sent a letter to Consumers Energy last month with a laundry list of questions about the planned closure.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The hottest topic in the auto industry in 2016?  It's no contest, says Michelle Krebs of Autotrader. 

Self-driving or autonomous cars captured most of the biggest headlines, from a deadly accident involving a semi-autonomous Tesla car, to General Motors' announcement last week that it would test self-driving Chevy Bolts on metro Detroit roads in 2017.

Krebs says some of the buzz is just that - buzz.  But she has been impressed by the pace of developments, with Google, Uber, GM, and others all in some stage of testing autonomous vehicles on public roadways.

flickr

U.S. car companies are unlikely to get much relief from strict fuel economy standards under the next administration.

That's according to Rebecca Lindland of Kelley Blue Book.

She says car companies already did most of the work required for the year 2022.  They're unlikely to throw it all away and start over if the standards change.

"You know, it's like training for a marathon," says Lindland, "and then saying, 'Oh, no, sorry, just kidding.  It's only a 10k.'"

wikimedia commons

The upcoming North American International Auto Show might be more notable for the topics of discussion than the vehicles.

That's according to analyst Michelle Krebs of AutoTrader.

She says there's a lot going on right now, like the need for car companies to transition to mobility companies, as self-driving cars come closer to being a reality.  Then there's the transition to a new president.

University of Michigan English professor Anne Curzan has been feeling a little self-conscious lately.

Curzan was recently talking with some of her students about how much research had been done on a particular topic, when one student raised her hand and asked about her pronunciation of a particular word.

Keep in mind, this was a linguistics class, and Curzan tends to instill in her students a super-sensitivity to the various quirks of our language.  

The student said she'd noticed that Curzan pronounces "research" with the emphasis on the second syllable. She said she only hears that pronunciation in academic settings. 


user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s ready to work with President-elect Donald Trump once he takes office later this month.

      

Governor Snyder says Trump has not responded to his congratulations messages, but he has heard from the transition team.  Snyder and Trump both share the experience of being business people without prior experience running for office.

Snyder says Trump needs to understand that governing is different than campaigning. And, Snyder says the chief executive needs to respect that most government workers know what they’re doing.

Construction near the site of the sinkhole on the Fraser-Clinton Township border in Macomb County. Crews are now working on a temporary bypass around the collapsed sewer interceptor.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Temporary fixes are starting to take shape for those affected by a giant Macomb County sinkhole.

The sinkhole opened up in Fraser on Christmas Eve. It was caused by a collapsed sewer interceptor that serves more than 300,000 people in 11 Macomb County communities.

Fraser Mayor Joe Nichols says he’s “grateful there was no loss of life.” But there are three families who will lose their homes permanently, and at least 19 others that suffered damage.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The next few months may prove pivotal to plans for Midland-based Dow Chemical and DuPont to merge.

The two rival chemical industry giants announced their $130 billion merger plans a year ago. It’s among several proposed mergers in the industry.

The Dow-DuPont merger has yet to win the blessing of government regulators. It’s also drawn the attention of Congress and several state attorneys general.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s hospital administrators are concerned what will happen if Congress repeals Obamacare in 2017.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act tops the agenda for Republicans after the new congress is sworn in during the first week in January. 

But the Michigan Health and Hospital Association is concerned what will happen if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement strategy ready to take its place.

The association points out, between 2010 and 2019, Michigan hospitals will lose about $7 billion in reduced Medicare reimbursements.  

FLICKR USER TONY WEBSTER/FLICKR

Starting today, Michigan’s Amber Alert will only be issued for cases of child abductions.

Det/Sgt Sarah Krebs is the Amber Alert coordinator. She says the change is intended to stress the urgency of the alert.

“Unfortunately, when you have a broad set of criteria, you’re going to be putting out more Amber Alerts,” says Krebs. “That’s why we want to reserve it for those really crucial cases, those being children abducted by strangers.”

Detroit Lions

The season is on the line for the Detroit Lions as they take on the Green Bay Packers Sunday night.

The Lions have only defeated one team with a winning record this season. But they could still sew up the NFC North division title by defeating the Packers. That would give the Lions a home playoff game.

It didn’t need to come down to this game. The Packers are riding a five game winning streak after struggling for the first half of the season. Meanwhile, the Lions have lost their last two games, setting up Sunday’s decisive matchup.

A $1.8 million grant is going to help protect the Huron River satershed.

The money is coming through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Meghan Prindle is the Community and Landowner Outreach Coordinator for the Legacy Land Conservancy. She says the grant will help with several problems, including fertilizer runoff and erosion.

“This is largely going to take the form of reaching out to landowners and trying to help them tap into federal program funding,” says Prindle.

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