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Politics
2:49 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Republicans seek Michigan campaign finance changes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says she is calling for tougher campaign finance laws.

The Republican says Wednesday her plan would create felony charges for the worst violators of Michigan's campaign finance regulations. Felony penalties and harsher fines could be charged in
some circumstances for failing to file regular reports of fundraising and spending activity.

Johnson said her proposals also seek filing requirements to try and prevent clandestine efforts such as a "Tea Party" that unsuccessfully sought to put candidates on the 2010 ballot in Michigan. The effort was widely considered to be a fake and didn't have support from tea party activists.

Republican state lawmakers say they are introducing bills aimed at achieving some of Johnson's goals.

The Michigan Democratic Party said Johnson's proposals would be ineffective.

Science/Medicine
1:31 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Safe at Home (Part 3): Women who use force

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
user: The Ohio State University Flickr

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. At Michigan Radio we have been looking at how domestic violence affects our community, and what programs there are for survivors and abusers that keep people safe at home.

Often, discussions about domestic abuse focus on men who use violence. The National Institute of justice reports that 90 percent of "systematic, persistent, and injurious" violence against an intimate partner is committed by men. But what about female aggressors?

Read more
Politics
12:18 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

In Flint, Vice President Biden blasts Congressional Republicans for stalling jobs bill

Vice President Joe Biden is flanked by Flint police officers and firefighters during a speech at one of the city's fire stations
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Vice President Joe Biden used a speech in Flint to chastise Congressional Republicans for stalling the President’s jobs bill.  

 Senate Republicans blocked a procedural vote on the $447 billion bill last night.    The bill’s tax hike on millionaires was a major reason cited.  

The bill contains money for hiring firefighters and police officers. Biden talked about how budget cuts in recent years have slashed the number of police officers and firefighters on Flint streets.  

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Courts
12:02 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Abdulmutallab pleads guilty

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

Update 11:53 am

Abdulmutallab's stand-by attorney, Anthony Chambers, says he's "disappointed" with the guilty plea, but said he respects the defendant's wishes.

"Certainly no lawyer worth his weight in salt would recommend a plea to life without parole," Chambers said.

Chamber said he believes Abdulmutallab is misguided and impressionable. He said the young Nigerian will not cooperate with the government.

Asked why he believed Abdulmutallab decided to plead guilty, Chambers said he thinks the statement he read upon entering his guilty plea allowed him to say what he wanted, and avoid a trial. In the statement - which Chambers said Abdulmutallab wrote himself - the defendant said his actions were a reaction to U.S. support of Israel and because of the U.S. killings of Muslims around the world. He called the bomb he carried and tried to detonate on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 a "blessed weapon." He said he was guilty of violating U.S. law, but not the law of the Koran.

Abdulmutallab faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. He will be sentenced January 12.

Update 10:39 a.m.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has pled guilty to all eight charges against him.

From the Detroit News:

He pleaded guilty to eight charges after he returned from a 45-minute recess, ending the most high-profile terrorism case in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds asked him if he wished to waive his right to a trial and plead guilty.

"That's right," he said.

The guilty plea marksa major victory against terrorism for the Justice Department, which was criticized by some for trying Abdulmutallab in civilian court instead of a military tribunal.

David Ashenfelter of the Detroit Free Press reports that Abdulmutallab faces 30 years to life in prison.

10:19 a.m.

The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press are reporting that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is pleading guilty on charges of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas Day 2009.

The Detroit Free Press is live blogging the trial and reports that the judge is going over the penalties with Abdulmutallab now.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett is on her way to the court and will have an update for us later.

Politics
11:46 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Snyder signs partial birth abortion law

Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI)
Photo courtesy of the Snyder Administration

Governor Snyder has signed the state's partial birth abortion ban into law. Senate Majority Floor Leader Arlan Meekhof sponsored Senate Bill 160 that, "outlaws the practice of partial birth abortion in Michigan, unless determined necessary to save the life of the mother. The law was modeled after the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court," the Holland Sentinel reports.

From The Associated Press:

The approval from the Republican governor, which was expected, could end more than a decade of efforts by anti-abortion activists to get the ban added to state law. Previous attempts were rejected by courts or vetoed by then-Democrat Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Supporters of the Michigan bill say it should survive a legal challenge this time because it mirrors the federal ban. They argue it was important to include a ban in Michigan in case the federal law changes.

Opponents say the federal ban makes the state proposal redundant and unnecessary. Some opponents of the Michigan measure have said it may be vulnerable to legal challenge.

The outlawed procedure typically is used to end pregnancies in the second and third trimesters and involves partially removing the fetus intact from a woman's uterus and then crushing or cutting its skull to complete the abortion.

Granholm vetoed a similar bill in 2008. She also vetoed a bill in 2004, but hundreds of thousands of voters signed petitions that allowed the bill to become law with only the approval of the Legislature. Federal courts later declared that ban unconstitutional, however, because it also could have prohibited other abortion procedures.

A Michigan law from the 1990s also was eventually overturned by federal courts.

In a statement released today, the Governor said, "the people of Michigan have repeatedly spoken on this issue and this legislation reaffirms the value of human life.  It also brings Michigan in line with federal law... I want to thank state Sen. Arlan Meekhof and state Rep. Ben Glardon for their leadership on this issue.”

Auto
11:40 am
Wed October 12, 2011

GM aims new electric mini-car at millennial, urban market

The all-electric Chevy Spark will be available in California in 2013; the gasoline version will arrive in summer 2012.
Chevrolet.com

General Motors is adding another electric car to its lineup.

The Chevy Spark will be marketed as the perfect city car,  which translates to "small."

There will be a gas version of the Spark, and GM said in what it called a “surprise announcement" today it will make an all-electric version, too.

Read more
Economy
10:44 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Stabenow: South Korea free trade agreement includes auto industry provisions

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks at a recent news conference at Capital Region International Airport
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Congress is expected to vote on free trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama today.  The South Korean agreement is potentially one of the largest free trade deals in years.  

 Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says she opposed the agreement initially reached by the Bush Administration, but she says the trade pact now has special protections for the U.S. auto industry.  

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Commentary
10:02 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Romney’s Biggest Problem

You don’t have to be a cranky old man like me to think that presidential campaigns start far too early these days.

The next election is still more than a year away, but the campaign already has been going on for months and months.

Some candidates, like Minnesota’s Tom Pawlenty, have already dropped out of the race. Former Massachusetts governor and Michigan native Mitt Romney said recently that he thinks it is too late for someone new to get in, and he is probably right.

It takes too much money to run a winning campaign today, and much to the cash available has already been sewn up.

Compare this to the way things were in nineteen sixty eight, when Robert Kennedy didn’t even get into the race until the middle of March and might well have been nominated, if he hadn’t been killed.

But if it is too late for someone new to start a campaign, it is also too early for anyone to have any idea who is going to win.

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News Roundup
8:29 am
Wed October 12, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Chrysler/UAW Tentative Agreement

Chrysler and the United Auto Workers have reached a tentative deal on a new four-year contract. The Associated Press reports:

The union says in a statement Wednesday that Chrysler will invest $4.5 billion in its plants under terms of the deal. The union gave few other details. But the agreement is expected to be similar to deals reached earlier with General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. Workers at those companies gave up pay raises for most union members in exchange for profit-sharing payments. The Chrysler deal covers 26,000 workers.

State Budget Surplus

A legislative agency says Michigan is taking in a lot more money than it expects to spend as the books are about to close on the last fiscal year, Rick Pluta reports. “The revenue estimates from the state House Fiscal Agency say the state appears to be in line to reap $285 million more than expected. That includes a $145 million windfall for the School Aid Fund. Some Democrats say a portion of that money should be used to restore cuts to K-12 schools. But Republican leaders say the economy remains shaky, and the state should not be too quick to spend the money,” Pluta explains.

Great Lakes’ Health

Mercury levels in the Great Lakes have dropped over the past 40 years but, those levels are still high enough to pose risks to humans and wildlife, especially in many inland lakes, according to a new summary of the latest research on Great Lakes mercury levels. “Researchers summarized 35 new scientific papers to get a clearer picture of mercury in the Great Lakes. The good news: due to pollution controls, those levels continue to go down. But researchers are finding mercury has more wide-ranging effect than they initially thought. And in some species of fish and wildlife in particular areas, it appears mercury concentrations may be on the rise,” Sarah Cwiek reports.

Auto/Economy
7:44 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Chrysler & UAW reach tentative deal

Chrysler Group and the United Auto Workers have reached a deal on a new four-year contract that creates 2,100 new jobs.

The union says in a statement Wednesday that Chrysler will invest $4.5 billion in its plants under terms of the deal.

The union gave few other details.

But the agreement is expected to be similar to deals reached earlier with General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.

Workers at those companies gave up pay raises for most union members in exchange for profit-sharing payments.

The Chrysler deal covers 26,000 workers.

Politics
1:01 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Michigan Congressman is no fan of President Obama's jobs bill

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Michigan today to tout the President’s Jobs Bill. But Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg says the $447 billion bill will hurt, not help the nation’s economy.    

Walberg is a Republican. He says the bill would increase spending and raise taxes. And he says that’s not what the economy needs to create jobs. Walberg says the nation may be better off  if Congress doesn’t pass a jobs bill this year.   

"At the very least, if we hold some things back that would be hurtful to our economy, that’s getting something done.  Maybe that’s the process right now…if there isn’t a willingness to negotiate," says Walberg.   

Walberg says he hopes a compromise can be reached which will reduce payroll taxes and spur job growth.

EN-V could cut gridlock
11:50 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Cute cars with a serious mission: cut smog and gridlock in megacities

Soaring rates of car ownership in China’s biggest cities are causing huge problems, from days-long traffic jams to choking smog. Even car companies say the trend is not sustainable. 

General Motors says one solution could be to reinvent the vehicle. Introducing the Miao, the Jiao, and the Shiao –  three cute, tiny cars with a serious mission.  

Car ownership in China has a dark side. Last year, a nine-day and a three-day construction-related traffic jam on the highway leading to Beijing were the most dramatic examples.

Read more
Environment
9:57 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Research paints mixed picture on mercury levels in Great Lakes

Mercury levels in the Great Lakes have dropped over the past 40 years.

But those levels are still high enough to pose risks to humans and wildlife, especially in many inland lakes, according to a new summary of the latest research on Great Lakes mercury levels.

Researchers summarized 35 new scientific papers to get a clearer picture of mercury in the Great Lakes.

The good news: due to pollution controls, those levels continue to go down.

Read more
Courts
9:24 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Prosecutors: Alleged terrorist "thought he would end up in heaven"

U.S. Marshals

Attorneys for the federal government today laid out the road map they’ll use to prosecute the young Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane two years ago.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel told jurors Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s sole reason for being on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009 was to blow it up. Tukel said Abdulmutallab “thought he would end up in heaven because he would be a martyr.”

Read more
Environment
6:38 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Jean Klock Park case back in front of federal appeals court

A view of Jean Klock Park where Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Inc. has built part of a new Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A federal appeals court judge heard arguments Tuesday in a case against the city of Benton Harbor and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The dispute is over a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course that’s already operating in Benton Harbor. Three of the golf course's holes were built on public Jean Klock Park along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

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Politics
6:04 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Bridge proposal vote looms, but outcome unclear

A proposal to build a second bridge between Detroit and Canada may be nearing a critical vote in a state Senate committee. The chairman of the committee says he does not think there is enough support to approve the proposal, but he thinks the matter could be decided one way or the other as soon as this week.        

“The committee has – you know we’ve studied this subject matter to a point of nauseum," said state Senator Mike Kowall. "There’s a binder about four inches thick and we’re still adding to it every day, and when you answer one question, four more questions pop up.”

Republican leaders have other options if the measure does not have the votes to pass Kowall’s committee. One of those options could include sending the proposal to a different committee.

Politics
5:56 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Fight brews over possibility of state windfall

Lester Graham Michigan Radio

A legislative agency says the state is taking in a lot more money than it expects to spend as the books are about to close on the last fiscal year. The revenue estimates from the state House Fiscal Agency say the state appears to be in line to reap $285 million more than expected.

That includes a $145 million windfall for the School Aid Fund. Some Democrats say a portion of that money should be used to restore cuts to K-12 schools.

Read more
Arts/Culture
4:06 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Detroit Science Center needs $5 million to re-open

The Detroit Science Center is slated to re-open Oct. 27 if it raises $5 million.

The Detroit Science Center was supposed to re-open Wednesday after it closed late last month due to a shortage of cash. But now it looks as though the science center will remain closed until it can drum up $5 million.

Kelly Fulford, vice-president of Marketing and Development at the Detroit Science Center, says the museum is developing a new operating plan – one that’s lean and conservative.

Read more
stopping men who batter
1:26 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Safe at Home (Part 2): Stopping men who batter

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month
user: nevona.friedman Flikr

October is domestic violence awareness month. At Michigan Radio, we are taking a look at how domestic violence impacts our communities.

What support and intervention programs are in place to assist those impacted by domestic violence?

We have already spoken with the Director of Safe House Center in Ann Arbor, which provides assistance to those impacted by domestic violence or sexual assault.

Now we want to look at the other side of the equation. Jenn White, host of Michigan Radio’s All Things Considered, speaks with David Garvin, Senior Director at Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County.  

Garvin manages the Alternatives to Domestic Aggression (ADA) program, a 52 week batterer intervention program that specializes in changing the behavior patterns of men who abuse their intimate partners. Typically, men who participate in the program have been court ordered to do so.

Read more
Science/Medicine
1:25 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

It's time to get your flu shot (and your kid's too)

Ouch!
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Michigan health officials say it’s time to get your flu shot.   And they want your children vaccinated too.   

You might think flu season is still months away.   But you’d be wrong.  State health officials say there have already been two confirmed influenza cases in Michigan this year.  

"Both of those cases did match the components that were in the vaccine for this year," says Dean Sienko, the interim Chief Medical Executive at the Michigan Department of Human Services.   

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