Rina Miller

Weekend Edition host

Rina Miller got her start in radio on accident when she was sent to WCAR in Detroit as a temp employee. Since then, she has gained many years of experience in print and broadcast journalism, including work as a producer and program host at Radio Netherlands and as a reporter for ABC Radio News in New York. She enjoys working in public radio because the listeners are "interested, involved, and informed."

Outside the studio, Rina enjoys watching movies from the 1930s and '40s and absolutely hates karaoke. She has a deep love for animals and urges people to spay or neuter their pets, adopt from shelters and rescues, and purchase only from reputable, responsible breeders.

Q&A

What three people, alive or dead, would you like to have lunch with? Why?
Dorothy Parker, because her one-liners were the best.
Kurt Vonnegut, because he was the first writer who made me laugh out loud.
Bella Abzug, because she put her courage where her mouth was.
And if there could be a No. 4? George Clooney. You know why.

How did you get involved in radio?
By accident. I was sent to WCAR in Detroit as a temp employee, and loved the environment.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
Watching 1930s and '40s movies, especially those with Joan Crawford, Bette Davis or Rita Hayworth.

What has been your most memorable experience as a reporter/host/etc.?
Covering the crash of a cargo jet into a high-rise apartment complex in Amsterdam in 1992. The story was more complex than the obvious; many victims were illegal immigrants whose families were reluctant to come forward because they feared deportation. There were many substories that arose from this tragedy.

What one song do you think best summarizes your taste in music?
Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat, sung by Jennifer Warnes.

What is your favorite program on Michigan Radio? Why?
Fresh Air. Terry has an amazing range of guests, so the show's never predictable or stale.

What is one ability or talent you really wish you possessed?
To sing like Etta James.

What do you like best about working in public radio?
The listeners. They're interested, involved and informed.

Is there anyone in the broadcasting industry you find to be particularly admirable or inspiring? Who?
Jon Stewart. He's fearless without being cruel.

If you could interview any contemporary newsmaker, who would it be?
Vladimir Putin

Is there a T.V. show you never miss? If so, which one?
Mad Men

What would your perfect meal consist of?
An Indonesian rice table

What modern convenience would it be most difficult for you to live without?
The Internet

What are people usually very surprised to learn about you?
That I despise karaoke.

What else would you like people to know about you?
That I have a deep love for animals. I urge people to spay or neuter their pets, adopt from shelters and rescues, or purchase only from reputable, responsible breeders.

Pages

Law
3:53 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Medical marijuana patient wins round in Michigan Court of Appeals

kconnors MorgueFile

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of an Ottawa County man who was arrested for marijuana possession even though he had been approved for the use of medical marijuana.

James Nicholson was a passenger in a parked vehicle when he was arrested last year.

He told police he hadn't received his medical marijuana card yet, but he did have a copy of his application -- just not with him.

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Politics & Government
4:03 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Forum to examine lack of jury diversity

Minorities are underrepresented on Michigan juries, and an effort is under way to change that.

The U.S. District Court commissioned a study on jury diversity in the eastern district of Michigan, which includes Wayne County.

It found while 21 percent of the population is African American, that number is not reflected on juries. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says that undermines public confidence in the criminal justice system.

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Politics & Government
1:46 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

U.S. Senate passes farm bill to trim billions from agriculture budget

user acrylicartist MorgueFile.com

The U.S. Senate has passed the 2012 farm bill with bipartisan support. The bill would cut more than $23 billion  from the Department of Agriculture's budget over the next 10 years.

The Senate bill consolidates some conservation programs. It includes a Great Lakes initiative to work with farmers on a voluntary basis to protect land, water and wildlife habitat.

The bill also increases help for farmers if they suffer a disaster or a loss – like Michigan’s fruit farmers who lost most of their crops after an early freeze this year.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan chairs the Agriculture Committee. She says the bill includes other changes:

"We’re not going to do these big farm subsidies on acres where you don’t even grow crops anymore," Stabenow says. "Taxpayers shouldn’t just be giving a government check every year."

Stabenow says the bill eliminates about 100 programs that were redundant or  ineffective. It now heads to the House where it faces a Sept. 30 deadline.

Auto
5:24 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Domestic automakers trail in consumer quality survey; GM shows big improvements

U.S. automakers have not caught up to their Asian competitors when it comes to quality  -- but American vehicles are still highly rated. 

A company that measures consumer satisfaction says Lexus drivers reported the fewest problems during the first three months of ownership.

Dave Sargent is a vice president at J.D. Power and Associates. He says Jaguar and Porsche tied for second  and General Motors' Cadillac came in third in the quality survey.

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Politics & Government
5:16 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Marijuana legalization initiative lagging in signature collection

jconnors MorgueFile

A campaign to let Michigan voters decide whether to legalize marijuana is not going as well as organizers expected.

It would take more 322,000 petition signatures to put the issue on the November ballot.

So far, the campaign has gathered only about 40,000 signatures, and the deadline is July 9.

Matt Abel is director of the Committee for a Safer Michigan. He says volunteers are still active.
 
"We're still hard at it," Abel says. "It hasn't taken off the way we'd hoped, partly because there are so many ballot proposals going."

Abel says prosecuting marijuana cases is a waste of the state's money.

The ballot initiative would repeal marijuana prohibition for people 21 and older. It would still be against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana.

Politics
3:23 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Lawyers sue Michigan Department of Corrections to restore prison visiting hours

The director of Michigan State University's Civil Rights Clinic is suing the state Department of Corrections in federal court.

Dan Manville says the DOC is violating some lawyers' Constitutional rights by limiting when they can visit prisoners.

Manville says the new visiting hours are three days a week from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

"Now under this present procedure, you're having to drive at least two or three days to do the same thing you used to be able to do in one day," Manville says.

He says some lawyers have clients at several locations around the state.

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Politics
5:02 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

Cuts planned for state-run juvenile offender facilities; private centers to get increases

Michigan's state-run juvenile detention facilities could lose funding in the coming year, while privately run facilities would get raises.

The three facilities that house Michigan's worst young offenders would get $2 million less under the budget adopted by a conference committee this week -- or a total of about $26 million  annually.

They include the Maxey Boys Training School in Whitmore Lake, Shawono Center in Grayling and Bay Pines Center in Escanaba.

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Environment & Science
10:29 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Fungus attacks spruce trees in Michigan

A seedling with dead terminal buds due to a Phomopsis canker on the main stem below the dying buds.
MSU Extension

The landscape of Michigan's Lower Peninsula has been changing over the decades. Some of the changes are intentional... some accidental...and some are simply a mystery.

In the 1960's and 70's, Dutch elm disease left tree-lined streets naked.

These last few years saw the Emerald Ash borer leave its trail of destruction across the state. And now Michigan's spruce and pine trees are in decline.

Bert Cregg is an associate professor of horticulture and forestry at Michigan State University.

He says one culprit is called Phomopsis. It's a fungus that has been around for a long time. It used to affect just seedlings and smaller trees. But now it's killing larger trees, too. And scientists don't know why.

"Is this an environmental set of conditions? Is there something going on with the pathogen itself? So there's really lots more questions than answers at this point, other than we're seeing a lot of trees starting to decline."

Cregg says the Phomopsis fungus is primarily affecting blue, white and Norway spruce used for landscaping. Those trees are not native to Michigan.

He says it progressively kills branches... and eventually the whole tree.

Cregg says a couple of things can be done. He says if you spot dead branches, you should prune them ... and get rid of lower limbs to help with air circulation.

He also says if you're planting spruce trees... don't group them closely together, because that makes them more vulnerable to fungus.

And if you're not sure what's going on with your tree: call an expert.

"So if you can get a sample into our diagnostics lab, or another tree care provider that knows what they're looking at. If it can be identified as Phomopsis, then there is a possibility of treating with a fungicide."

You might also be noticing branch dieback on pine trees along roadways and in state forests. Cregg says any number of things could be causing that... including a type of blight or insects... or maybe just normal variations in weather affecting tree growth. They just don't know yet.

Environment & Science
11:57 am
Sun May 27, 2012

A warning for Michigan fishermen

A fish with viral hemorrhagic septicemia
(photo courtesy of Dr. Mohamed Faisal)

Michigan officials are reminding fishermen -- and women --  that bait restrictions apply in some waters as a way to slow the spread of a viral fish disease.

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Health
11:49 am
Fri May 25, 2012

State urges Bridge Card recipients to buy garden plants to stretch food budget

gordonwd MorgueFile

Living on a small income doesn't mean people can't eat well. Sometimes it just means getting your hands a bit dirty. 

The state of Michigan is encouraging Bridge Card holders to use their benefits to buy fresh produce at stores and farmers markets. It also suggests recipients buy fruit, vegetable and herb plants  to grow themselves.

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Politics
11:33 am
Fri May 25, 2012

Doctors ask for protection if they report patients who shouldn't be driving

mconnors MorgueFile

Michigan doctors who report patients with a medical condition that could impair their driving ability would not be held liable under proposed legislation. 

It's a dilemma for doctors:  Tell the Secretary of State about a patient who should not be behind the wheel -- and they breach confidentiality. Or, don't report them, and face liability if someone is injured in a crash involving that patient.

Dr. Marianna Spanaki  is a neurologist at Henry Ford Medical Group. She says confidentiality is a cornerstone of a patient-doctor relationship.

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Education
11:16 am
Fri May 25, 2012

MSU offers bachelor's program to community college nursing students

taliesin MorgueFile

Nursing students at two community colleges in Michigan will be able to work toward their bachelor's degree under a new agreement with Michigan State University. 

MSU says the collaboration with Lansing and Macomb County Community Colleges will let nursing students enroll in two summer sessions at MSU while simultaneously finishing their associate degree program.

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Politics
5:10 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Juvenile court competency standards would include mental health treatment

Anita Patterson MorgueFile

Michigan lawmakers are expected to vote next week on two bills that would create a system to determine the mental competency of juveniles who break the law.

Some troubled children in Michigan don't have access to mental health services until they wind up in court.

The state Senate  bills would let a prosecutor or a juvenile's defense lawyer ask for a competency evaluation. A judge would also be able to order an evaluation.

Michelle Weemhoff is with the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Bills would tighten tort reform in Michigan

There's a bipartisan fight growing in the state legislature over Michigan's medical malpractice laws. 

In 1995, tort reform in Michigan made it more difficult to file a medical malpractice suit and get a jury trial. The law also put limits on monetary settlements.

Now a package of Republican-led Senate bills would further limit medical malpractice cases. Among other things, they would require proof that a physician's mistake was intentional.

The medical and insurance industries support the measures.

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Education
5:02 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Flint to consolidate middle, high schools

Flint Community Schools today announced it will consolidate all of its middle and high schools.

Superintendent Linda Thompson says there will be three schools for seventh through 12th graders.

Thompson says the plan will benefit younger students because they'll have access to higher-level language, math and science teachers and labs.

Some parents expressed concerns about younger students' exposure to upperclassmen, but Thompson says the district has a plan to avoid that.

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Politics
4:50 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Child abusers could face longer prison terms

The Michigan House has unanimously passed two bills that require tougher penalties for child abusers.

The bills are named after Dominick Calhoun. In 2010, the four-year-old boy was beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend. Brandon Hayes was convicted of first-degree murder and got a life sentence.

The boy's mother says her son was tortured for four days before he died. She claims she was beaten while trying to defend him, but she was convicted of second-degree murder.

Dominick's older brother witnessed the beatings.

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Education
5:29 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Debt collectors pursue more unpaid student loans in Michigan

hmm360 MorgueFile

Michigan students who default on their college loans are more likely to be sued in federal court.

That's according to a Syracuse University study, which shows the eastern half Michigan has the second highest rate per-capita of suits against students who don't pay their loans.

Dorothy Barrick is with GreenPath Debt Solutions of Farmington Hills.  She says ignoring the debt just makes things worse.

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Health
1:33 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Lawmakers target production, sales of synthetic marijuana

Varieties of synthetic marijuana
N.J. Division of Consumer Affairs

Michigan lawmakers are making another attempt to outlaw sales of over-the-counter synthetic marijuana.

The drug is sometimes labeled as incense or potpourri  and is sold under a variety of names at convenience stores and other small shops.

The distributors often change the chemical contents or packaging to skirt current laws.

A sweeping Senate bill targets the artificial pot  and a host of other possible additives, including opiates and amphetamines.

Dr. Norb Kaminski is a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University.

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Politics
3:27 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Habitual offenders could get mandatory 25-year sentence

kconnors MorgueFile

A proposed law in the Michigan Senate would impose tougher penalties on habitual criminals. 

A three-time felon who commits a fourth serious offense in Michigan would get a mandatory 25-year sentence under the proposal.

The bill has the backing of State Attorney General Bill Schuette, as well as law enforcement groups.

Robert Stevenson is Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. He says police get frustrated when criminals they put behind bars are back on the street again.

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Environment
12:28 pm
Sun April 1, 2012

Michigan recreation land could be leased for oil, gas rights

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Parts of a state-owned recreation area in Livingston County could be tapped for gas and oil.

About 100 parcels of land along the Lakelands Trail and in the Brighton Recreation Area could be leased at a Department of Natural Resources auction next month.

Tom Wellman directs the DNR's mineral management section. He says although the mineral rights could be leased, no actual drilling would be allowed to take place on the land -- only on adjoining or adjacent property.

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