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10:07 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Terry Jones appeal argued in Michigan court

Terry Jones
AP

The free speech case of a controversial Florida Pastor best known for burning the Quran has started in Wayne County

A jury found Terry Jones guilty of breaching the peace in April. Dearborn police arrested him before he could proceed with an anti-Islamic protest outside the country’s largest mosque on Good Friday.

Jones wants that decision reversed. He also wants the court to lift an ongoing injunction that bars him from protesting in that spot.

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Politics
9:52 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

'Occupy Wall Street' campaign on the move in Michigan

'Occupy Ann Arbor' organizer Whitney Miller addresses a growing crowd on the University of Michigan Diag
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The “Occupy Wall Street” campaign is starting to pop up in towns and cities across Michigan.  

Last night the campaign came to Ann Arbor.  

A crowd of about a hundred gathered on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor to talk and listen. Many in the crowd have been inspired by the anti-corporate protest that’s been taking place on Wall Street for the past several weeks.  Others were just curious.  

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Artprize 2011
7:39 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Iron Mountain native wins “ArtPrize” 2011 in Grand Rapids

'Crucifixion' by Mia Tavonatti took home the top prize Thursday evening in Grand Rapids. She won $100,000 in ArtPrize last year with another 2-D stained glass mosaic.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

From an ArtPrize press release:

The top prize of $250,000 went to Mia Tavonatti from Santa Ana, California (originally from Iron Mountain, Michigan) for her large-scale mosaic, Crucifixion. More than 382,000 votes were cast in ArtPrize 2011 and an estimated 500,000 visitors experienced the third annual competition.

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Politics
5:03 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Campaign finance and the Michigan U.S. Senate seat (audio)

user: AMagill / flickr

Third quarter fundraising results are being reported by those in the race for Michigan’s U.S. Senate seat. Here to to look at why the money matters are 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.

We also talk about Governor Rick Snyder's comments about his decision to run for a second term.

 

Auto/Economy
5:00 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

UM economist expects slower job growth in 2012

A Ford assembly plant.
Ford Motor Company

In his economic forecast for Michigan released today, George Fulton, Director of the University of Michigan's Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics wrote that Michigan's economy is recovering from hitting bottom in late 2009, "but it has not been a smooth climb, especially during 2011."

The Detroit Free Press writes that Fulton cut his jobs forecast for 2012.

...he expects just 33,000 new jobs next year, down sharply from his earlier forecast of 61,500 positions.

Fulton expects the total number of jobs created from late 2009 through 2013 to be 187,000.

From the report summary:

The continuation of the recovery is supported by steadily rising vehicle sales and an improved U.S. economy over the next two years. Manufacturing continues to grow through 2013, but the largest job gains are in the service industries, led by health services and professional and business services. Government continues to shrink over the period.

Politics
3:38 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Charter schools proposal in Michigan Senate turns into bullying debate

Debate in the Michigan Senate turned to school bullying.
user cedarbenddrive Flickr

The Michigan Senate approved eliminating a cap on the number of charter schools, but not before a heated debate broke out about bullying.

The state Senate eventually approved a measure that eliminated restrictions on the number of university-sponsored charter schools in the state by a narrow margin. It now moves to the state House.

State Senator Bert Johnson (D-Highland Park) says eliminating the cap might give students and parents more options, but not necessarily better options.

 "Good public schools should be nurtured. Bad ones, they should be shuttered. Good charter schools should be nurtured. Bad ones should be shuttered," said Johnson. "The legislation proposed today does everything to eliminate the limits on how many charter schools can open in the state of Michigan, but it does nothing to ensure that those are high-quality schools."

Prior to passage, discussion over eliminating the cap on university-sponsored charter schools turned into a heated debate over bullying.

Democratic state lawmakers tried to attach an amendment to the charter school proposal that would require charter schools to adopt anti-bullying policies that specify what qualifies as bullying.

Senator Glenn Anderson tried to tack an amendment onto the charter school bill that would require charter schools to adopt anti-bullying policies.

His bill required lists of reasons kids could not be picked on, including weight, gender, race and sexual orientation.

Republicans have traditionally railed against similar bullying lists, and Anderson says that’s not acceptable.

"The sad fact is that there are some people that believe that there are some kids that should be protected and not others," said Anderson.

State Senator Tory Rocca (R- Sterling Heights) argued a Republican proposal that does not specifically list which groups of kids should be protected from bullying is better. He said their bill does not make distinctions between who is protected and who is not.

"This is why, when I hear my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, with who I’ve repeatedly worked in good faith, make frankly hateful comments about people on this side of the aisle, saying ‘they want to see children bullied, they want to see children committing suicide,’ it is beneath contempt, frankly," said Rocca. 

In the end, Republicans voted against both bullying proposals, saying the issue should be dealt with at a later date.

Courts
3:33 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Lawyer may testify for defense in terror case

DETROIT (AP) - A Michigan attorney who claims the government had a role in the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound plane could be called as a witness for the defense.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab may call Kurt Haskell, who was a passenger on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas 2009. Haskell's name was disclosed in court Thursday by
Anthony Chambers, an attorney who is assisting Abdulmutallab.

Haskell believes the bomb in Abdulmutallab's underwear was fake. He claims the young Nigerian was escorted onto the plane without a passport and has a strong entrapment defense. Haskell is an attorney in Taylor, a Detroit suburb.

Opening statements in the trial are scheduled for next Tuesday. Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to destroy the plane on behalf of al-Qaida.

Courts
3:09 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Jury finalized in case against alleged terrorist

U.S. Marshals

Update 3:02 pm:

The demographics are now in on the jury. With the last-minute change that took the Nigerian woman out of the mix, it looks like this:

The 12-member jury:

  • Three white men
  • Six white women
  • Two black women
  • One Indian woman

The alternates:

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Politics
2:28 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Changes to Michigan's workers' compensation rules considered

Lawmakers are considering changes to Michigan's workers' compensation program.
dreamstime.org

Michigan’s workers’ compensation laws are under review in Lansing.

Some business groups told the House Commerce Committee that changes are needed in the workers’ compensation program because of medical advances.

They used examples of shorter recovery times for knee and hip replacements.

Democratic State Rep. Vicki Barnett says there could also be a requirement for some people to take other work while they’re healing.

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Politics
2:27 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

VW recalls 168,000 cars for fuel leaks

DETROIT (AP) - Volkswagen is recalling more than 168,000 cars with diesel engines because a defect in the fuel injectors that could cause fires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says on its website that the recall affects some 2010 to 2012 Volkswagen Golf and 2009 to 2012 Jetta models. Also affected are some Audi A3 models from the 2010 through 2012 model years.

Volkswagen says cracks can develop in the fuel injectors of 2-liter diesel engines. Fuel can leak and could cause a fire.

But the company says it doesn't know of any fires or injuries from the problem.

Volkswagen will replace the fuel injector line on one of the cylinders free of charge.

Politics
1:43 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Governor Snyder lays to rest one-term-and-out speculation

Governor Rick Snyder put aside speculation that he might not run for a second term.
Russ Climie Tiberius Images

Governor Rick Snyder has laid to rest speculation that he might not seek a second term. The governor told a collection of local government officials his plan is to serve eight years, if voters let him.

"I'm not announcing my candidacy yet, but as a practical matter I do intend to be around for eight years, assuming the voters go along with that and the family is supportive, which they have been consistently," said Snyder.

There was speculation the governor would choose to serve only one term based on remarks he made last month on Mackinac Island.

The governor said he would consider serving a single term if he accomplished his entire agenda in four years. Snyder said today those remarks were "misinterpreted."

Politics
1:27 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Unclear contract, muddled legal issues about controversial Wayne County "severance package"

Turkia Mullin

The revelation that Wayne County paid its former economic development chief a $200,000 “severance package” to take another, better-paying county job has raised a lot of eyebrows.

It’s also raised questions about whether the payment to now-Metro Airport CEO Turkia Awada Mullin violated the law.

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Politics
12:22 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Free speech restrictions lifted at Genesee County Parks

Genesee County Parks removed a permit requirement for political activities after the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sued.
Mott.org

Genesee County officials have changed a rule that restricted political activities in its parks.

A ranger in Genesee County’s Linden Park told members of a group circulating petitions to recall Governor Snyder that they’d have to get a permit first.

So they did, but then they were told they’d have to stand in a nine-square-foot space while asking for signatures.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit against the county.

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Commentary
11:02 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Train from Detroit to Chicago, time out for good news

AccuWeather, the  respected private weather forecasting service based in Pennsylvania, is  predicting this will be a horrible winter, worse even than the last one. This  news came on the very day it became certain that it will
soon be faster to  escape to Chicago.

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Environment
9:54 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Army Corps to turn up juice on carp barrier

Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Chuck Shea at the electric barrier system in Romeoville, Illinois.
Photo by Rebecca Williams

Asian carp have been making their way up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers toward the Great Lakes for decades. Bighead and silver carp are the species people are the most concerned about.

Government officials are trying to keep the carp out of Lake Michigan. One of the main methods they’re using is electrical shock. There’s a man-made canal near Chicago that connects the Mississippi River system with Lake Michigan. And on that canal is a system of three underwater electric barriers built by the Army Corps of Engineers.

I recently had a chance to visit the electric barriers. You can’t see the actual barriers, because the electrodes are underwater. But the Army Corps invited me into the control room of Barrier 2B. It looks about like you’d guess – lots of computers and gauges. There are a couple large mounted Asian carp on the shelves.

Chuck Shea is a project manager with the Army Corps.

He says the barriers repel fish by emitting very rapid electric pulses into the water... which, if you’re a fish, is not a whole lot of fun.

“The idea is, as a fish swims in, the further it goes it’s getting a bigger and bigger shock and it realizes going forward is bad, it’s uncomfortable, and it turns around and goes out of its own free will and heads back downstream.”

The electric bill for this barrier runs between $40,000 and $60,000 a month.

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Environment
7:02 am
Thu October 6, 2011

EPA plans habitat work in Huron-Manistee Forest

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says several projects planned for the Huron-Manistee National Forest in northern Michigan will restore wildlife habitat while providing jobs.

EPA said Wednesday it will devote $592,400 to the projects. They'll include improving habitat for several threatened or endangered species, including the Karner blue butterfly, the piping plover, the Kirtland's warbler and the Massasagua rattlesnake.

Other work will focus on removing invasive species and stabilizing stream banks.

The money will come from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a wide-ranging plan to fix environmental problems in the lakes and their tributaries. In August, EPA announced that $6 million of the Great Lakes
money would be directed to projects designed to hire unemployed workers.

Officials have scheduled another announcement for Thursday at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Economy
1:01 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Report: Home sale prices rise in Michigan (but is a fall coming this winter?)

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan home sale prices increased significantly during the past three months. But according to a new report, prices are predicted to take another tumble. 

Michigan home sale prices are down dramatically from their pre-recession highs. However, a new report from Clear Capitol says Michigan home buyers have been paying more in recent months.

“Michigan overall is actually up even more so than the Midwest region. We have them up 8.5 percent on a quarter over quarter basis.  But still down six percent from where prices were a year ago," says Alex Villacorta with Clear Capitol. 

But Villacorta says home sale prices nationally appear to have plateaued and he expects they will decline about 3 percent this winter and even more in Michigan, which he says is more volatile than the national housing market.  

Villacorta says Detroit’s housing market continues to struggle and remains one of the lowest performing home sales markets in the country. He blames this on the fact that one in every three homes on the market has been repossessed by banks that are now trying to sell them at far below market prices.

health
9:47 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

‘Farmer’s market on wheels’ delivers to the inner city

'To put it very simple sense - this is awesome' Governor Snyder said Wednesday about the launch of the Veggie Mobile in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

“Veggie Mobile” will sell locally grown fruits and vegetables in Grand Rapids neighborhoods with limited access to grocery stores.

“This is awesome,” Governor Rick Snyder said while visiting the refrigerated truck’s first stop Wednesday night at New Hope Baptist Church - located in a low-income neighborhood on Grand Rapids’ southwest side. He praised the public-private partnership (and the W.K. Kellogg foundation for a $1.5 million grant) that made the “Veggie Mobile” possible.

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Education
5:48 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Detroit schools aim for strong count day

Detroit schools are doing everything they can to get students in class for the annual state “count day.”

The numbers recorded Wednesday are more important than ever. They’ll account for 90% of state aid to schools, up from 75%  in past years.

Some Detroit schools are using gimmicks and incentives, like iTunes gift cards and “get out of homework passes,” to boost their numbers.

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Politics
5:42 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Judge's order re-ignites welfare fight

Lester Graham Michigan Radio

This week's court ruling ordering the state to reinstate welfare benefits until recipients get adequate notice of termination has re-ignited the fight over whether the state should have approved new limits on the cash assistance.

 “We have the chance to right one of the wrongs committed by this body, and to save thousands of children from starvation and homelessness,” said Sen. Coleman Young (D-Detroit).

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