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Auto Sales
3:54 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

GM, Ford, Chrysler all increase sales in July

General Motors headquarters, Detroit, MI
Spacing Magazine Flickr

Update:

GM sales rose almost 8% in July, while Ford sales rose 8.9% and Chrysler sales increased 20.1%.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The Detroit Three saw U.S. sales increase in July and gained market share, as a troubling economy and weeks of worries about the U.S. debt ceiling continued to hamper a recovery in auto sales.

Chrysler had its best July since 2007 to lead Detroit’s automakers with a 20.1% surge, off a 33% gain in sales to individual customers. General Motors’ U.S. sales rose 7.6% last month and Ford’s grew 8.9%. Japanese automakers continued to lose share to their American rivals as they recovered from the March earthquake and tsunami in their country.

GM forecast July industrywide sales of light cars and trucks were flat from the previous year and slightly better than June. Consumers stayed out of showrooms amid news of climbing unemployment and bitter debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling to prevent the country from defaulting on its loans tonight. President Barack Obama signed legislation today to prevent that scenario after the Senate approved the bill.

*

Original post:

From the Associated Press:

General Motors says its U.S. sales rose nearly 8 percent last month, led by fuel-efficient vehicles such as the
Chevrolet Cruze car.

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Education
3:04 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Ten-year extension sought for Michigan students to meet proficiency score

3rd Grade Class
User: Old Shoe Woman Flickr

The Michigan Board of Education wants an additional 10 years to get students prepared to meet the proficiency scores on state standardized tests. The federal goals call for all children to be proficient on state exams by 2014. State leaders want to waive the No Child Left Behind requirements for 10 years. They believe this period will prepare every Michigan student to be proficient in reading and math.  

Jeff Bean is a Flint high school teacher. He says working to get all students proficient is noble but not realistic.   

"It would be like me setting standards for medical professionals: I think everybody who goes into a cancer treatment should get cured. Let’s go for 100%. That’s a noble effort. But to dictate whether doctors get to keep their licenses or not based on whether they save every patient they see, is an incredibly unreasonable piece."

Bean believes extending the 10-year deadline is a way for certain leaders to buy time to change the federal goals. He says pre- and post-testing would be a more effective goal for students.

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, says more than 80% of the nation’s public schools could be labeled as ‘failing’ under the No Child Left Behind law requirements.

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
2:45 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Jesse Jackson meets with statewide Black Caucus

Rev. Jesse Jackson continues his campaign against Gov. Snyder's emergency manager law.
Laura Weber MPRN

Reverend Jesse Jackson is in Michigan this week to continue his campaign against the sweeping emergency manager law.

Jackson wants to expand his Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Michigan to increase action against the politics of Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature.

Jackson says large businesses in Michigan have been allowed for too long to make huge profits while many people have struggled to make ends meet or find a job.

“Michiganders have something to say about restructuring our economy.”

Jackson says there are two issues in Michigan that are most concerning to the state’s economic and political future.

The first is the expansion of the emergency manager law, which he says negates voter rights.

Jackson describes the problem:

“Not a person accountable to the people, or formed by the people, only to the Secretary of Treasury, who then can suspend labor contracts. How Democratic. So that to end democracy and to choose a czar is no solution to an economic crisis.”

The second is a looming decision in the Legislature to place a lifetime cap on welfare benefits at four years. With one procedural action left in the Senate, the measure is expected to go to Governor Snyder for his signature and begin on October first.

Jackson says October first would become a sort of Armageddon Day for Michigan’s most struggling residents.

Environment
10:49 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Sea lampreys gaining the upper hand

The mouth of a lamprey. It uses suction, teeth, and a razor sharp tongue to attach itself to its prey... and then it starts drinking blood.
Photo courtesy of USFWS

For fifty years Canada and the U.S. have been battling an eel-like creature across the Great Lakes. Sea lampreys are parasites that drill holes in fish to feed on blood and body fluids. They often kill the fish. The sea lamprey was one of the first invasive species to arrive in the lakes, and it’s the only invasive to be successfully controlled by humans.

But in recent years, the lamprey has been getting the upper hand in the struggle. As Peter Payette reports there might be more setbacks in the near future:

If you’re on a lamprey control team you get to see all the prettiest streams and rivers in the Great Lakes. That’s because lampreys like clean water.

“Part of our problems recently have been some of the streams that were too dirty to harbor lampreys have been cleaned up and now we have lampreys in parts of the Saginaw River. We never had lampreys in that up until 15 or 20 years ago.”

Ellie Koon supervises one of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife treatment teams. They spend the warm months killing young lampreys by the thousands.

They treat rivers using a chemical called lampricide. It’s a poison that rarely hurts other fish. In fact, during a treatment the fish get a feast they normally wouldn’t. Young lampreys look a bit like worms at this stage and stay in the mud. But when they’re poisoned they swim out where fish can grab them.

Ellie Koon and one of her team members, Hank Cupp, say fish and other animals in the river pig out.

“You can almost hear the fish burping the day after we treat. You can see them swimming around with lampreys hanging out of their mouths that they can’t swallow.”

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Investigative
10:14 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Nobel economists mixed on taxes and jobs equation

Rick Snyder said the Michigan Business Tax was bad for business. 

 “I propose replacing it with a flat six-percent corporate income tax.  Let’s take a job-killer environment; let’s start creating jobs.”

He said it on the campaign trail.  He made the point to business leaders.

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Commentary
10:11 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Today is Election Day

You may not know this, but today is Election Day in many places in Michigan. There are primary elections for municipal offices in a wide scattering of communities.  In Sharon Township in Washtenaw County, there’s an effort to recall a couple local officials over a bad hiring decision some residents think they made.

And you owe it to yourself to find out what’s on the ballot where you live, and then go to the polls and vote.  Most people who are eligible won’t do that today, so your vote will have more influence than it would in some elections.

Local elections sometimes have more impact on our lives that elections that get more press. And if you live in the Oakland County suburb of Troy, today’s election will have the biggest impact of all.

Last year Troy, a mostly affluent, white-collar suburb, voted to abolish its library. Granted, the ballot proposal was somewhat confusing, but that is what they did. Now, they have one last chance.

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Your Story
9:00 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Your Story: Is College Worth It?

Kim Sapkowski's family is debating whether or not going to college makes economic sense.
photo submitted by Kim Sapkowski

Going to college keeps getting more expensive. In 2011 the College Board estimated it would cost $20,000 a year, on average, for students to go to an in-state, public university.

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Debt Deal Vote
7:18 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Michigan House members vote 11-4 in favor of debt deal

Michigan's Congressional delegation voted 11-4 in favor of the debt deal.

Michigan’s U.S. Representatives voted 11-4 in favor of the debt deal proposed by House and Senate Congressional leaders. The four no votes came from Democratic Representatives Hansen Clarke, John Conyers, Gary Peters, and Republican Representative Justin Amash.

Statements from Michigan’s congressional delegation in the House came out fast and furious after the vote.

In an address from the House floor, Democratic Congressman John Dingell, who voted in favor of the bill, said:

“…this is not the bill I would have written, and I do not know a single Member of Congress who believes this bill is perfect.  I agreed with President Obama’s sentiments today when he said that ‘as with any compromise, the outcome is far from satisfying.’  However, as a Member of Congress, there are times when you must hold your nose and vote for a compromise that, while imperfect, is necessary.  I believe this is one of those times.  The grave threat of default is far too near and too serious not to vote for this agreement…”

Also voting in favor of the bill was Republican Congressman Fred Upton:

“…This agreement begins to address our nation's long-term debt with firm spending cuts and caps, now and in the future.  I voted for this agreement to ensure that we will not allow the full faith and credit of the United States to be compromised. The agreement will avert a default on the national debt, which would drive up interest rates, create major financial disruptions, and harm the U.S. economy.  Meaningful spending cuts with real tools to enforce them are the reforms we need to finally stop the deficit spending and protect the next generation. Enactment of this agreement will keep our nation from default and protect Michigan families and job creators from untold economic damage.”

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Politics
6:29 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Kilpatrick leaves prison after 14 months

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick walks out the front door of a prison administration building. He climbed into a waiting SUV which quickly left the prison grounds.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been released from prison, Steve Carmody reports. "Kilpatrick walked out of the prison in Jackson and hugged his lawyer. He then got into a SUV waiting for him and the vehicle drove away," Carmody reports from Jackson.

Kilpatrick served 14 months for violating probation in a 2008 criminal case. From the Associated Press:

The 41-year-old Kilpatrick is free on parole but still faces a federal corruption trial that could send him back to prison. He plans to re-join his family in Texas.

Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and resigned from office in 2008 after he lied at a civil trial to cover up an extramarital affair with his chief of staff. That lawsuit cost Detroit $8.4 million.

He was imprisoned in May 2010 for failing to disclose assets and surrender sufficient funds that could have reduced his $1 million restitution to Detroit.

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Politics
6:22 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Effort to recall Snyder won't make Nov. ballot

Republican Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

The Committee to recall Rick Snyder says it hasn't collected enough signatures to get a recall on the November ballot. The Associated Press reports:

The group's spokesman Tom Bryant tells The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press that it has collected more than 300,000 signatures but is short of the more than 800,000 required. Bryant says collection efforts will continue into September, and they'll try to get the issue before voters in February.

The Committee to Recall Rick Snyder opposes Snyder-backed changes including a tougher emergency financial manager law.

Snyder spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher says the governor has made difficult decisions, including spending cuts and lifting tax exemptions on public and private pension income. She says the Republican doing what's needed to "get Michigan back on track."

The Detroit News reports:

The group needs about 807,000 valid signatures and hopes to collect close to 1 million to withstand challenges. Since all signatures must be collected within a 90-day period, the group can build on its July momentum and work toward a Sept. 29 deadline, even if it has to scrap some of the earliest signatures and get those people to sign again, he said...  Wording for the recall petition was approved in late April. No recall effort aimed at a Michigan governor has ever made the ballot.

Environment
12:29 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Third-party groups hope to weigh in on possible Saugatuck deal involving coastal dunes

Dunes near Saugatuck
Norm Hoekstra Creative Commons

Three non-profit organizations are asking a federal judge to let them weigh in on a proposed settlement between a private developer and Saugatuck Township.  Both parties have agreed to the deal, but a federal judge must approve it. The agreement would resolve a longstanding land-use case.

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Politics
7:20 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Detroit immigrant community denounces ICE investigation

Immigrant advocates in Detroit have denounced an Immigration and Customs Enforcement internal investigation.

They say the agency “whitewashed” an investigation into whether agents improperly targeted a school in southwest Detroit.

Speaking through a translator, Brisa Maldonado recounted how she and her husband were pulled over, and her husband detained, after dropping their children off at Hope of Detroit Academy on March 31st.

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Politics
6:52 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Snyder announces urban initiative

Governor Snyder says strong cities are the key to Michigan’s future.

The Governor outlined his new Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives in Detroit Monday. The program will have offices in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and the Flint-Saginaw area.

Snyder also appointed Harvey Hollins to head the office. Hollins is currently Wayne State University’s vice president for government and community affairs.

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Politics
4:16 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Time running out for recall drives against state lawmakers

Recall campaigns against the state’s elected officials have until the end of the week  to hand in petition signatures to be considered for the November ballot. There have been more than two dozen recall campaigns against Republican lawmakers, and just three against Democratic lawmakers. 

Two of those lawmakers – State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and state Representative Barb Byrum – are in the clear after an elections panel in Ingham County rejected petitions language against them. 

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Auto
4:02 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Chrysler and Fiat cultures are merging well

A top Chrysler executive says Fiat and Chrysler have made good progress at merging their two cultures. 

The Italian car company was put in charge of the Detroit car company two years ago. 

This is Chrysler’s third attempt after failed mergers with German car company Daimler and an investment group, Cerberus Capital. 

Chrysler’s head of World Class Manufacturing Massimo Risi says it helps the companies have a lot in common, especially the ability to survive.

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Politics
3:23 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick leaves prison Tuesday

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

At 6:30 AM Tuesday, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will once again be a free man.  A judge sentenced  Kilpatrick to prison for a probation violation in May, 2010.  

Kwame Kilpatrick was ordered to pay one million dollars in restitution as part of his guilty plea to obstruction of justice charges while he was Detroit mayor.   The same judge later determined that Kilpatrick was hiding his assets to avoid paying the restitution.    He still owes more than 800 thousand dollars in restitution.  

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Politics
3:14 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

State election officials deny request to directly oversee Flint mayoral primary

Flint, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office will not step in to oversee Tuesday’s mayoral primary in Flint.  Two candidates asked the state election office to oversee the primary.   They cited problems in recent elections involving absentee ballots, computer glitches and votes being left in ballot boxes. 

Fred Woodhams is with the Secretary of State’s office.   He says the past problems did not indicate a need for state oversight.  

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Legal
2:59 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Michigan law school sues bloggers, law firm for defamation

s_falkow Flickr

A Michigan law school has sued a law firm and a handful of bloggers for defamation. The Thomas M. Cooley Law School says four anonymous bloggers and individuals from Kurzon Strauss law firm in New York are hurting its reputation online. One blog questions the academic quality at Cooley, noting that many graduates do not find jobs. The law firm posted several advertisements naming Cooley as a law school that manipulates post-graduate student data. The firm has posted a retraction on at least one website.

Jim Thelen is an associate dean at Cooley. He says the statements cross the line.

"People using the internet and doing so anonymously - it appears to embolden some people to say more than what they would say if they had to put their name to it," Thelen said.

Thelen says he knows they can’t police the internet, but wants the posts taken down. A partner at Kurzon Strauss declined to comment.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Politics
2:32 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Genesee and Berrien Counties have high recall rates

voting booth
User: silatix Flickr

Genesee and Berrien Counties may each have 2 dozen recall requests on the ballots this fall. Many are at the township level.

Tom Frazier is with the Michigan Townships Association. He says there are lots of reasons for a recall.

"Many recalls happen because somebody is disgruntled from the previous election. Perhaps someone who ran did not win and might start a recall petition against the person who did win."

There are also efforts underway to recall Governor Snyder and many state legislators.  

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Science/Medicine
2:04 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Giving blood: Your responses

John Chevier Flickr

This morning we posted Mark Brush's story about giving blood, including why some people are disallowed from giving.

The story started with a post to Facebook about giving blood, and the comments you posted about the rules for giving.

Now that the final story has been posted, people are still reacting.

Anita Weber says, "Here's one way they can start...by using different sized needles! I've been turned away three times because they only use one size of needle. I avidly exercise so I'm not buying them telling me to lift weights more! My veins are the size they are! Their loss! I wanted and still want to donate!"

Carrie Paps responds, saying, "I give all the time, 2 gallons so far, but I understand the issues. Sometimes my iron is too low and sometimes they can't find a vein."

Craig Hennigan still objects to rules for giving blood. He says, "The lifetime ban for gay men is still stupid, homophobic, and wrong."

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