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Flint
4:01 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

Flint's drag racing problem

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Drag racing has become a serious problem in Flint.   But the city is taking steps to put the brakes on the illegal street racers.  

The Flint city council increased penalties last week on people caught drag racing.  Drag racers will now have to pay an administrative fee of up to $900 to get their vehicles out of the police impound lot.  

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Environment
1:44 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

Storms knock out power to 125,000 in SE Michigan

Storm in Fort Gratiot, MI
Flickr/mdprovost

Michigan utility crews are working to restore power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.  Last night’s storms knocked out power for 125,000 customers.

The severe thunderstorms hit the southeast corner of the state, with hail and winds up to 64 miles per hour that knocked down trees and power lines.

The storms focused on metro Detroit and Michigan's rural thumb area. DTE Energy says 95,000 homes and businesses remain without service and a few will have to wait until Tuesday to get their power back.

Drugs
12:45 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

State bans drug called "bath salts"

Michigan lawmakers have banned a drug sold in smoke shops and online called "bath salts." The substance, likely imported from China, is now in the same category as heroin and methamphetamine.
mconnors MorgueFile

Michigan has banned the sale of a highly addictive drug known as “bath salts.”

Dave Wade is with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

He says the substance is a type of amphetamine and probably comes from China.

It’s sold at smoke shops and online.

Wade says it’s a gray powder that may also be labeled “plant food” or “pond scum remover.”

He says it’s very dangerous to people who smoke, inject or inhale the drug.

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Politics
12:36 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

Foster children could get extra year in system

Youths in Michigan's foster care system would be allowed to stay an extra year under legislation passed by the Senate.
gladtobeout MorgueFile

Michigan’s older foster children can stay in the system until they're 21 -- an extra year under bills passed  by the state Senate.

Part  of the plan is to help them pay for college with about $1.8 million dollars in state funding and about $6 million in federal matching funds.

Vivayk Sankarin is the director of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. He says it’s a step in the right direction.

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Environment
12:16 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

Profs call for wind farm noise restrictions

An MSU professor compares the sound of a turbine to someone talking while you're trying to sleep.
Kevin Connors MorgueFile

Michigan’s wind industry is just getting started, but a group led by two Michigan State University professors is calling for stricter noise levels at wind farms in the state.

MSU's Kenneth Rosenman says that’s why this is the perfect time to put tougher noise regulations in place on turbines.

Current guidelines call for a limit of 55 decibels. Rosenman says 40 decibels would be much better. He  gives some comparisons:

"Normal conversation is 60 decibels," Rosenman says. "A ringing telephone is 30 decibels. A whisper is 30 decibels."

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Election 2012
11:15 pm
Sat July 2, 2011

McCotter kicks off Presidential campaign with a blues jam

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter jams with his blues band after announcing he's running for President.
Vincent Duffy Michigan Radio

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia kicked off his presidential campaign at a small town festival in Whitmore Lake tonight. He made the announcement under threatening skies and in front of 600 people attending a festival sponsored by a conservative talk radio station.

“Today I am announcing my candidacy for the nomination of my Republican party, to serve as your President of the United States,” McCotter told the crowd after taking the stage and briefly outlining his beliefs.

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Offbeat
4:01 pm
Sat July 2, 2011

Insuring a Happy 4th of July Holiday

(photo by Beverly & Pack) Flickr

State insurance officials are urging Michiganders to keep their financial liability in mind when they host Independence Day festivities this weekend.   

The Fourth of July weekend, a time to fire up the barbecue, take friends on the pontoon boat and toss the kids in the back yard pool.   But are you covered just in case something goes wrong? 

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Politics
3:17 pm
Sat July 2, 2011

New MI sex offender registry law takes effect

Many teenagers convicted of having consensual sex with minors no longer will be listed on Michigan's sex offender registry. A new law took effect Friday. It exempts youthful offenders who have consensual sex with partners between the ages of 13 and 16. That’s provided the offender was not more than four years older than the victim.

The new law also requires that the most dangerous sex offenders be added to the registry for life. They must still report to the police four times a year.

Science/Medicine
1:01 am
Sat July 2, 2011

Preventing sunburn this summer

User: Caneles Flickr

It’s the hottest season of the year and health professionals want people to remember to protect themselves from the sun. 

Dermatologists say it is important to stay out of the sun during peak hours from 10am to 3pm; Also seek shade; Wear protective clothing; Double up on sunscreen and reapply every two hours.  Frank Wang is with the University of Michigan Department of Dermatology

You do want to protect yourself because even one bad blistering sunburn can increase your risk of melanoma two-fold.

Politics
5:35 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

Thaddeus McCotter to kick off presidential campaign (audio)

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter wants to run for President in 2012.

New candidates continue to join the ranks of those running for the Republican nomination for President in 2012.

The latest addition is Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter. He filed paperwork to enter the race but some people are asking…who is Thaddeus McCotter?

Listen to this interview with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White and Bill Ballenger, Editor of Inside Michigan Politics.

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Auto/Economy
4:30 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

New microlending website helps Detroit's small biz owners

Kiva Detroit helps connect small business owners in the city with potential lenders
user penywise morgueFile

Several Detroit non-profits want to help potential small business owners get some much needed capital.

They’ve launched a microlending website called Kiva Detroit, an extension of the California-based Kiva.org. Small business owners post their idea online and anyone can give a loan for as little as $25. The site went live this Wednesday.

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Auto/Economy
4:12 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

GM and Ford sales rise in June as gas prices sink

GM says its Chevrolet Cruze compact led its sales gain for the month of June.
wikimedia commons

UPDATE:

General Motors and Ford both saw U-S sales rise more than 10 percent in June as lower gas prices brought more customers into its showrooms.

The fuel efficient Fiesta and Focus drove sales for Ford.

The new Chevrolet Cruze compact led GM's sales gain. Cruze sales were more than double those of the old Chevrolet Cobalt.

Don Johnson is the Vice President of U-S sales operations for General Motors. He says sales were led by smaller, more fuel-efficient models.

Original story:

General Motors says its U.S. sales rose 10 percent in June as lower gas prices brought more customers into its showrooms.

The Detroit car company says it sold 215,000 cars and trucks last month.

Don Johnson, the Vice President of U.S. sales operations for General Motors, says sales were led by smaller, more fuel-efficient models:

"What drove our success this month, as well as the last couple of months, is our ability to meet the needs of the consumers as they go looking for more fuel efficient vehicles," said Johnson.

The new Chevrolet Cruze compact led GM's sales gain. Cruze sales were more than double those of the old Chevrolet Cobalt.

GM's small-car sales were helped by earthquake-related shortages of Japanese cars.

Politics
3:32 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

Right-to-work campaign gets under way

The logo for the Michigan Freedom to Work coalition
Michigan Freedom to Work

A coalition that includes some current and former union members wants Michigan to become a so-called “right-to-work” state.

Right-to-work laws prohibit union membership or dues as a condition of employment.

Jack Hoogendyk is a former state lawmaker and a member of Michigan Freedom to Work. He says Michigan would attract more businesses if it weren’t saddled with the reputation as a union stronghold:

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Politics
3:30 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

Coalition calls for community benefits in bridge project

Gov. Rick Snyder supports a publicly owned bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor
Snyder administration

A coalition of labor and business groups wants to guarantee certain benefits for the community near a planned bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

They’re called community benefits agreements, and they’re intended to make sure the neighborhoods that host major construction projects see things like jobs and parks – and not just pollution and traffic.

State Representative Rashida Tlaib’s district includes the site of a proposed new publicly owned bridge. She’s introduced legislation that would require the project to include a community benefits agreement:

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Politics
3:29 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

A McCotter candidacy: Your thoughts

Michigan Representative Thaddeus McCotter

As diverse as the media's response has been to the potential candidacy of Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, your responses on Twitter and Facebook were even more varied.

Many didn't know McCotter very well or found him to be an unappetizing candidate, and wrote responses like, "Who?" or "yawn." or "Is this a joke?"

Mary Himmelspach Bennett said, "He's an out of touch knucklehead and he's also very hard to look at!"

A number of you thought that this might be a setup maneuver, and that McCotter might not be famous enough yet to secure the nomination for 2012 but that his chances in the future might be better if he ran this time.

Weston Lindberg said: "Seems like he's probably setting himself up for 2016. McCotter doesn't yet have the name recognition to win."

Some people mentioned why they liked McCotter, either for specific policy stances, speeches, or the fact that he represented their district.

Karen Richards said, "gave the best speech in support of the auto loans, even gave a shout out to Dingell."

Josh Amato said, "It's kinda cool having my rep. run. He's a nice enough guy who knows what he's talking about, even if I don't agree with him on a lot of issues. I don't think he'll get very far at all, though."

McCotter is expected to announce his candidacy in the Republican presidential primary this Saturday.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Affirmative Action
3:00 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

Court strikes down Michigan's ban on using race or gender in college admissions

A 2006 BAMN rally in Lansing against Proposal 2. The proposal was passed by Michigan voters that November.
BAMN

Update 3:00 p.m.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights released a statement supporting the opinion of the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court struck down the Michigan constitutional ban using race or gender in university admissions decisions.

From their statement:

We believe the question of who comprises a student body is best made at the academic rather than the political level. A university’s primary responsibility is the academic interests of those students who are admitted and preparing those students for the future. This decision removes the handcuffs that prevented Michigan’s public universities from making decisions based upon those factors they believed to be in the best interests of the entire student body and the institutions as a whole.

The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, an advocacy group that worked to preserve affirmative action in Michigan, also praised today's court ruling.

From their statement:

The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion today applauded the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down Michigan's anti-affirmative action constitutional amendment, with CEO and President Thomas Costello calling the decision "a clear win for access, opportunity and equity for all."

The court noted that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, known as the "equal protection" clause, is more than just words. "It is also an assurance that the majority may not manipulate the channels of change in a manner that places unique burdens on issues of importance to racial minorities."

2:30 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody interviewed Jennifer Gratz, the director of state initiatives for the American Civil Rights Coalition.

In 2006, Gratz was the executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative which became known as "Proposal 2" once it was put on the ballot. Proposal 2 passed and it amended the Michigan Constitution by banning the practice of using race or gender in college admissions.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the ban unconstitutional today.

Gratz was also a lead plaintiff in a case against the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy in admissions - a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2003 (Gratz v. Bollinger).

Here's the interview:

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Politics
2:53 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

Could large, consumer-grade fireworks land in Michigan?

Michiganders have to cross state lines to find fireworks like "America's Best" (warning: shoots flaming balls).
user m-gem Flickr

Large fireworks might be sold in Michigan before Independence Day next year.

That’s if  Democratic state Representative Harold Haugh has his way.

Haugh has been working on legislation for a couple years that would allow the sale of large, consumer-grade fireworks that are already sold in surrounding states.

Consumer-grade fireworks are more powerful than the low-grade fireworks currently available in Michigan, but are less explosive than large pyrotechnic displays.

Haugh says selling large fireworks in the state would fit Governor Rick Snyder’s call to make Michigan more friendly to small businesses.

He says the potential increased revenue comes from both stores and roadside tents.

"The speculation was there could be as many as 200 buildings statewide go up that are going to sell consumer-grade fireworks," said Haugh. "Now with the tent issue, it could be as many as another 400 tents that sell consumer-grade fireworks."

Haugh says the additional sales of fireworks could bring in as much as $12 million to the state, and he says the decision to sell large fireworks would be up to local governments.

"I mean they own it. It’s not the people of the state of Michigan. It’s not the people up here," said Haugh. "It's the local community that will own the issue of selling consumer-grade fireworks."

Opponents say the larger fireworks are not safe and are too noisy. But Haugh says he thinks his proposal is gaining support in the Legislature.

He hopes to get the measure approved before the end of the year.

Politics
2:29 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

Thaddeus McCotter to announce candidacy Saturday

The Associated Press is reporting that Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter will announce his candidacy in the Republican presidential primary on Saturday.

From the article:

The congressman from the Detroit suburb of Livonia confirmed Friday on WJR-AM he'll make a formal announcement about his candidacy on Saturday.

The 45-year-old McCotter is a lawyer and served as a state senator, Wayne County commissioner and Schoolcraft Community College trustee before entering the U.S. House in 2003.

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Education
11:58 am
Fri July 1, 2011

Grand Rapids Schools' superintendent - to stay, or go?

'What a difference a day makes,' Taylor said repeatedly, when asked if he would like to stay in Grand Rapids afterall.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Superintendent resigned yesterday, but today he hinted that he may not want to leave.

Superintendent Bernard Taylor has been lobbying state lawmakers to pass teacher tenure reform. Yesterday, lawmakers did that. 

Taylor says the reform means everyone’s focus has to be on student achievement.

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Environment
10:56 am
Fri July 1, 2011

Swimming Upstream: Toxins in Great Lakes fish (part 7)

Advice on cleaning fish to cut away fat and remove certain contaminants.
Image courtesy of Wisconsin Sea Grant

Today, we wrap up our series, Swimming Upstream. Dustin Dwyer traveled all around the Lower Peninsula to gather stories for this series. And today we have a story we wish we didn't have to do. It's the story of toxins in our fish. 

Here's Dustin's story:

A few weeks ago, Joe Bohr got a surprise. He's a researcher for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He was looking at some numbers for PCB contamination in carp caught in canals in St. Clair Shores.

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