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Science/Medicine
3:44 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

Sebelius, in Detroit, pushes hospitals to reduce patient harm

Kathleen Sebelius

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius toured facilities at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital Friday.

Sebelius was there to promote the department’s Partnership for Patients initiative. More than 1500 hospitals have signed on so far.

That program aims to save more than 60,000 lives over three years, by cutting preventable injuries and complications that result from hospital visits.

Sebelius says about one in three Americans leave hospitals in worse shape than when they arrived.

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Mackinac 2011
2:55 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

A conversation with Lester Graham about the Mackinac Policy Conference (audio)

The Mackinac Policy Conference wraps up today.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

It's the final day of the Mackinac Policy Conference.

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley spoke with Lester Graham of Michigan Watch, Michigan Radio's investigative unit.

Graham is at the conference following the conversations and presentations of Michigan's political and business leaders.

Here are Graham's impressions of the conference:

 

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Auto/Economy
2:17 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

Pres. Obama marks the end of government ownership of Chrysler

Pres. Barack Obama addresses auto workers at a Chrysler assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio
(photo by Bridget Bodnar/Michigan Radio)

President Obama congratulated a crowd of Chrysler auto workers today in Toledo for their hard work as he stood surrounded by an assembly line of Jeeps. He stressed the importance of the 2008 bailout of Chrysler and G-M to the rest of the auto industry, including Ford:

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Health care
2:13 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

Cutting out medical mistakes, Health Chief Sebelius tours Detroit hospital

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is visited the Henry Ford Hospital today.
Eric Bridiers US Mission Geneva

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Katherine Sebelius toured the Henry Ford Hospital today as part of the government's initiative to reduce patient care mistakes.

According to the Detroit News, Sebelius said:

"We spend way too many dollars on care that was not needed in the first place because we're trying to fix mistakes that shouldn't have happened in the first place," she said during a roundtable discussion.

I remember going into the hospital to have an operation on my left knee awhile back. Nurses put a sleeve over my right leg, and it seemed like a dozen different doctors and nurses asked me which leg was being operated on.

"Don't they know?" I thought.

Then I realized they were going through a system of checks and balances to make sure doctors cut open the correct leg.

If they cut open the wrong leg, it would have been bad, but at least I would have survived.

A 1999 Institute of Medicine study estimated that as many as 98,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical errors, and the government says that number didn't improve much in the following decade.

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Politics
1:00 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

Mounting recall efforts for state government

A rally in Lansing on March 16, 2011. Recall efforts are underway for several Republican leaders. The last time the state saw this many recall efforts was in 1983 targeting Democrats.
Michigan Education Association

A wave of recall efforts is rolling through the state Capitol. There are about half a dozen recall campaigns under way, and all of them target Republicans.

Recall campaign organizers have a difficult, but not impossible, task ahead of them to get the recalls on the ballot.

The last time a swath of recall campaigns swept over a political party in control of the House, Senate and executive office was in 1983.

He says the last time a group of recall campaigns swept over a single political party in Michigan was in 1983.

Bill Ballenger is the editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter. He says the last time a group of recall campaigns swept over a single political party in Michigan was in 1983.

"There were a whole bunch of recalls mounted that year, upwards of maybe a dozen, against Democratic legislators over the hike in the state income tax in 1983. Of all those recall efforts, two actually made it to the ballot."

Ballenger says talk of tax hikes got people motivated in 1983, but that’s not the case this time around.

“In fact it’s just the opposite,” said Ballenger.

He says most of the complaints levied against lawmakers and Governor Rick Snyder are about cuts to funding and programs, and an expansion of the control of emergency managers.

One of the more publicized recall efforts is against state Representative Al Pscholka, who sponsored the emergency manager legislation.

There are also recall efforts against Governor Snyder and state Senator Mike Nofs, Ballenger says Senator Nofs could face the biggest test among the current recall campaigns because he is in a swing district.

Mackinac 2011
11:46 am
Fri June 3, 2011

GM can't tell U.S. Treasury when to sell its stock, says top exec

Reuss says the government’s part-ownership of GM matters to American taxpayers and customers.
media.gm.com

President Obama will visit a Chrysler plant in Ohio today, a day after the U.S. Treasury reached a deal to sell its remaining 6.6% stake in Chrysler to Fiat. 

Meanwhile, the Treasury still owns 26% of General Motors.  But GM North American President Mark Reuss says it’s up to the U.S. Treasury to decide when to get out of the car business completely. 

Reuss says the government’s part-ownership of GM matters to American taxpayers and customers.   It also matters to GM executives and workers.

But it's not up to GM when the Treasury sells its stock.

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Sports Commentary
7:27 am
Fri June 3, 2011

Jim Tressel and Ohio State: Cheating is excused. Losing is not

Jim Tressel resigned as Ohio State's football coach this past Monday.
Avanash Kunnath Flickr

The Jim Tressel era at Ohio State started on January 18, 2001. 

It so happened the Buckeyes had a basketball game that night against Michigan, so it was a good time to introduce their new football coach.  When Tressel stood up to speak, he knew exactly what they wanted. 

He was hired on the heels of John Cooper, whose record at Ohio State was second only to that of Woody Hayes.  But Cooper’s teams lost to Michigan an inexcusable ten times.  Can’t do that.  And you can’t say, “It’s just another game,” either – which might have been his biggest mistake. 

Knowing all this, when Tressel told the crowd, "I can assure you that you will be proud of your young people in the classroom, in the community, and most especially in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the football field.  The place went nuts. “At last,” they said, “somebody gets it!”

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Mackinac 2011
8:21 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Mackinac Conference produces talk of possible 2012 Senate candidates

The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island.
Steve Burt 1947 Flickr

Well, it was bound to happen. Mix an election that’s less than 18 months away with politicos, talking heads and hungry reporters (in pretty close quarters) and you’re going to start to hear stories about possible candidates for the 2012 Michigan Senate seat. Two-term Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow is up for reelection in 2012 and only one Republican, former Kent County judge Randy Hekman, has announced a run so far.

The Detroit News reports:

Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John McCulloch said today he is "seriously looking at" a 2012 challenge to… Stabenow and expects to decide within 30 days. McCulloch, 55, told The Detroit News at the Mackinac Policy Conference he is concerned about the way the budget deficit and other federal issues are being handled. Elected to his current post, formerly known as the drain commissioner, in 2000, McCulloch earlier served 10 years as an Oakland County commissioner, including five years as chairman. Born in Royal Oak, he is an attorney and a certified public accountant.

Then, also from the Detroit News, is this:

A hot rumor making the rounds at the Mackinac conference today was that Detroit radio host Frank Beckmann would seek the Republican nomination to challenge Stabenow. "Don't wait for an announcement," Beckmann, host of "The Frank Beckmann Show”… told The Detroit News with a laugh during a break from his radio show. But the conservative talk show host wouldn't rule out entering politics, either.

Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra have both announced that they will not run.

Mackinac 2011
5:20 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Political Roundup: Mackinac Policy Conference (audio)

This week lawmakers and business leaders from around the state are attending the annual Mackinac Policy Conference. It’s touted as a time when political deals are made and politicians have a chance to set agendas.

To give us the lowdown on the conference Michigan Radio's Jenn White talks with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service and Ken Sikkema, former Republican state Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Former Republican state Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema is familiar with what goes on at the conference. Are there really any useful conversations that come out of this event? Sikkema:

I do think useful conversations are conducted up there, but that's a far cry from saying that fundamental solutions get agreed to, or that deals get made.

The Mackinac Policy Conference is sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and is known to be a lavish event. Considering that businesses are paying for the event, is there a conflict of interest at play for lawmakers? Susan Demas doesn't think so. Lawmakers pay their own way. But there are some paid-for events and open bars. Demas:

But in a way it's not all together that different than how business is conducted in Lansing every night. The bars and the restaurants are filled with lobbyists who meet with lawmakers, this is nothing new.  But I certainly don't think anybody is violating any ethics laws that we have on the books here in Michigan.

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Arts/Culture
5:12 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Grand Rapids Art Museum hires new director

Michigan's art museums have been on a hiring spree lately.

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Arts/Culture
4:53 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Artpod: The LipDub video heard 'round the world

Ryan Slusarzyk and Abbey Sloan sit in the back of a classic Chevy truck near Rosa Parks Circle. They have a line in the Grand Rapids lip dub "drove my chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry."
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

In case you've been living under a couch cushion for the past week or so and haven't heard about the Grand Rapids LipDub video getting rave reviews, let's bring you up to speed:

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Politics
4:27 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Snyder office worker injured by substance while opening mail

An employee in Governor Rick Snyder's office was treated and quarantined after a letter delivered to the office caused a burning sensation in his fingers. The letter had what was described as a "grainy substance" that caused the injury. The governor's office says the governor called the employee to make sure he is O-K. The Michigan State Police are investigating the incident.  

Economy
4:25 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Gun Lake Casino’s first payout to state, local governments top expectations

Wayland Township Supervisor Roger VanVolkinburg accepts a check Thursday from Gun Lake Casino.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The state and several local governments are getting more than $2.5 million from Gun Lake Casino. It’s the first revenue-sharing payment since the casino opened in February.

More than $500,000 goes to one city, six townships, Allegan County and a public school district near the casino about 30 minutes south of Grand Rapids.

Wayland Township Supervisor Roger VanVolkinburg is not the only one who underestimated how big the first check would be.  

“Well my estimate was $200,000 years ago so it’s was a little off. (laughs) I’m sorry.”

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Politics
3:55 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Fenton man is a voice for the Libyan rebels

The Kingdom of Libya flag placed in front of a refinery in Ras Lanuf March 8, 2011. The flag has been used as a symbol of resistance against Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi.
BRQ Network

Marisa Schultz has an amazing story in today's Detroit News.

It's about Mustafa Gheriani of Fenton, Michigan.

Gheriani is a U.S. citizen, but was born in Benghazi, Libya.

Last February, Gheriani traveled to Benghazi for a family wedding. The revolution broke out and Gheriani found himself speaking to western reporters on behalf of the Libyan rebels. From the article:

He reported scenes from the front lines, casualties and acknowledged the rag-tag limitations of the rebel army against Gadhafi's iron-fist regime. He worked tirelessly with a cadre of international reporters with one goal: "Libya news stayed on the front page."

Gheriani didn't mince words when talking to the press. Gadhafi's "hands are tainted with blood and we will not talk to him," Gheriani told the Associated Press in March.

Back home in Fenton, when his wife saw those words she thought, "'he's a dead man."

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Environment
3:18 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Q & A: Asian carp smuggling

Bighead carp for sale (in this case, dead) at an Asian grocery store in Toronto.
Photo by Sarah Payette

State and federal agencies working to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes recently laid out their plans for 2011.

These agencies are focused mainly on the waterways around Chicago, where the fish could get in from the Mississippi River basin to Lake Michigan.

But there’s another route for Asian carp. They’re riding on trucks... that are bringing live carp from fish farms in the South.

Two fish distributors were issued large fines this winter for bringing live Asian carp into Canada. It’s illegal.

Peter Payette has been covering this story.  Rebecca Williams talks with Peter on today's Environment Report:

Rebecca: Peter, you’ve just gotten back from some of these live fish markets in Toronto. What did you see?

Peter: All of these live fish markets were a part of an Asian grocery store and a couple of them had very large sections of the store devoted to fish, and in particular, live fish. I was in one store where they had a catfish that must've been 30 pounds. I saw a common carp that size... I saw an eel that was two or three feet long.

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Politics
3:17 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Schuette: Money from Kwame Kilpatrick's book should first go to taxpayers

From the website kwamekilpatrickbook.com. Kilpatrick says he's ready to "talk about everything." Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he wants to make sure proceeds from the book go to taxpayers first.
kwamekilpatrickbook.com

State Attorney General Bill Schuette says he will go to court to make sure any book royalties earned by former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick go first toward paying his restitution debt to the state.

A Kilpatrick autobiography is expected to be released next month. Kilpatrick is in prison for failing to make restitution payments while enjoying an affluent lifestyle in Texas.

"When someone’s in the slammer, someone’s violated the law, and you owe citizens of the state of Michigan money, restitution, before you rake in royalties on a book deal, we need to make sure you even it up with the taxpayers."

Schuette says he will work with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy on a motion to tap any book royalties for restitution. Kilpatrick owes the city of Detroit more than $816,000.

A Kilpatrick spokesman did not return a phone call.

Auto/Economy
2:33 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Ford announces its smallest engine ever

A Ford Focus being built in Germany. Ford's not saying yet which cars will get their new 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine.
Ford Motor Company

In the car world, engine size matters. It used to be the bigger the engine the more appeal it had (more power, and more vrooom!).

But now Ford is going small by announcing the "the smallest engine Ford has ever built."

Ford says the fuel-efficient 1.0-liter engine is a "three cylinder engine that delivers the same performance as a four-cylinder."

Ford says the engine is still being tweaked and is not in cars yet.

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Mackinac 2011
1:37 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Protesters follow Snyder to Mackinac Island

State leaders and legislators have left Lansing for Mackinac Island this week. Some protesters have followed them.
Charles Dawley Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder came to the Mackinac Policy Conference after landing two big fish from the Michigan Legislature:  a new tax overhaul plan which reduces taxes on businesses and a budget that makes big cuts, including cuts to K-12 education spending.

After these victories, he might have thought he was going to leave the protesters behind in Lansing, but they've followed him to Mackinac Island.

Paul Egan of the Detroit News reports a group of teachers and other public sector workers are protesting Snyder's education cuts and tax policies. Egan quoted Jim Martin, a health and physical education teacher from Sault Ste. Marie, speaking about Governor Snyder:

"He says he's not anti-union or anti-teacher, but his actions say otherwise," Martin said at a news conference about a block away from the Grand Hotel where the policy conference organized by the Detroit Regional Chamber is being held.

The news conference was organized by A Better Michigan Future, a coalition of about 50 union and public interest groups...

"It can't be possible that everyone really believes that corporations need the money more than children," said Tammy Hazley, a special education teacher from Sault Ste. Marie Area Public Schools.

Egan reports the group is calling for a new state income tax, one where higher-income earners would pay more than lower-income earners. The group's director "also called for a reduction in the cost of work contracted out by state government."

Economy
1:10 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Borders given more time to come up with a reorganization plan

Borders has more time to submit a bankruptcy plan. The company might have a buyer willing to take on more than half the remaining stores.
user brewbooks creative commons

When Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last February, it had until mid-June to submit its own reorganization plan. Now a judge has given the company an extension.

Joseph Checkler of the Wall Street Journal says such requests are routine:

A judge on Thursday gave Borders Group Inc. more time to control its own bankruptcy case, after a lawyer for the bookseller said the company hopes to have a plan in place to sell most or all of the company's stores by the end of the month.

A lawyer for Borders didn't rule out that the company could eventually come up with a plan to reorganize but said a plan to sell stores to a third party is more imminent. The company says it is in talks with "multiple buyers" interested in "most up to all" of Borders's remaining stores.

Judge Martin Glenn of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan approved the extension, a largely procedural move that gives Borders until October to file a reorganization plan and until December to solicit votes on that plan without having to worry about competing proposals from creditors or others.

The Journal reported that the private-equity firm Gores Group is interested in buying more than half the remaining 405 Borders Bookstores.

A lawyer for Borders said the company expects to announce a buyer in the next "two to four weeks."

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Weather
12:31 pm
Thu June 2, 2011

Detroit opens cooling centers

DETROIT (AP) - Two air-conditioned Detroit recreation buildings are open as cooling centers when outside temperatures and humidity are high.

The city says the Joseph Walker Williams Center on Rosa Parks Boulevard is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, while the Coleman A. Young Center on Robert Bradby Drive is open
1-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.

Young children and the elderly are at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees. Headaches, dizziness, nausea, heavy sweating, confusion and flushed skin are signs of heat-related illness.

The city says the most vulnerable should stay indoors, if possible, or in a public place with air conditioning.

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