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

Sports
2:28 pm
Sat November 19, 2011

Power outage strikes The Big House at game time

Andrew Horne / wikimedia commons

The lights went out at Michigan Stadium Saturday morning, just an hour before game time with Nebraska.

An isolated power outage at the Big House left the facility without a P.A. system, scoreboard or countdown clocks.

But the game started anyway.

Jeff Arnold is a reporter with CBSsports.com.

He said things got a little complicated.

“It’s wreaked havoc for at least one of the offenses doing down toward the west end of the stadium, where the 25-second play clock is inoperable,” Arnold said.

Power was gradually restored to parts of the stadium, but reporters in the press box had to scramble as laptop batteries ran out of juice.

The national broadcast of the game was uninterrupted because the network had a backup generator.

The cause of the power outage hasn’t been revealed.

The Wolverines beat the Huskers, 45-17.

Economy
2:52 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Michigan farmland values rise despite lagging economy

click Morguefile

Michigan’s farmers have an advantage over many other property owners in the state: Their land is rising in value.  

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago says farmland values in Michigan jumped by 16 percent over the past year.

Jim Hilker is a marketing economist at Michigan State University.

He said corn, wheat and soybean prices are up and that’s boosting farmland prices.

But Hilker also said not a lot of farmland  is trading hands because it stays in families.

"If that land comes up for sale, it may not come up for sale for another 30 years -- another person's career," Hilker said. "So if it's land near you, you overpay for it in one sense. You have other land that can help you pay for it and it's only going to be there one time."

Hilker said farmland with good soil in the Thumb and near Toledo is very marketable right now.

The law
11:36 am
Fri November 18, 2011

2002 death sentence stands; full federal court to hear appeal

Marvin Gabrion
ccadp.org

Another chapter has been added to a case of a Michigan man fighting the death penalty.

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected a decision made last August by a three-judge panel to overturn the 2002 death sentence of Marvin Gabrion.

The panel said the jury should have been told about Michigan’s longstanding ban on capital punishment.

According Donald A. Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, the federal court vacated the panel’s opinion and redocketed Gabrion’s case, which means the death penalty stands.

Read more
Environment
5:00 am
Thu November 17, 2011

U.S. House bill would weaken Michigan's invasive species law

The invasive sea lamprey preys on all species of Great Lakes fish.
USFWS

Michigan’s fight to control invasive species in the Great Lakes could be weakened by a bill passed by the U.S. House this week.

Michigan put a ballast water law into effect in 2007 to keep ships from releasing new invasive species into the Great Lakes.

But the standard would be lowered by a Coast Guard funding bill that’s on its way to the U.S. Senate.

Patty Birkholz is director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes. She says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard had plenty of time to come up with recommendations, but failed to do so.

Now, Birkholz  says, Michigan has the most to lose.

"We know the dangers that we're under with invasive species, both from water and land, and we have to protect ourselves even if the federal government won't standup to the invasive threat out there," Birkholz says.

Birkholz says no new invasive species have been found since Michigan tightened its ballast water standards.

The U.S. House bill also allows the SS Badger car ferry in Ludington to continue dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan. The operator says it can’t yet afford to convert to natural gas.

Auto/Economy
4:22 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

Obama calls for 54.5 mpg fuel efficiency by 2025

user a.saliga Flickr

The Obama Administration plans to nearly double the fuel efficiency requirements for light-duty vehicles by 2025. 

The administration says requiring an average of 54.5 mpg will help drivers save money, reduce U.S. dependence on oil and keep the environment cleaner.

Sean McAlinden is chief economist with the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

He says the plan calls for too much, too soon and could be bad for the still-recovering auto industry.

"The same government that did so much to save our domestic industry is laying the groundwork for destroying the industry again, destroying its market, by forcing it to build cars that  people can't afford and may not even want."

McAlinden expects the new standards will increase the cost of a vehicle by so much that people will simply keep their old cars longer. He says drivers already keep their cars for an average of 11 years.

He says it would make more sense to aim for around 42 mpg by 2025.

Science/Medicine
12:25 pm
Sun November 13, 2011

Drug to treat attention deficit disorder in short supply

user hipsxxhearts Flickr

People in Michigan who use a specific drug to treat attention deficit disorder are having trouble getting it because of a national shortage.

Adderall is a prescription medicine used by children and adults. It’s an amphetamine that helps people who have attention deficit disorder control their symptoms, such as lack of focus.

Caroline Holsonbeck is an Ann Arbor pharmacist.

She said she noticed a shortage of Adderall about a year ago.

Holsonbeck said while there are similar medications, they don’t work for everyone.

"If it was substitutable, we would substitute it. It's not substitutable. It is a highly controlled medication, so the doctor would have to write for something in the same therapeutic category," she said.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Web site shows most manufacturers can’t keep up with demand for Adderall.

The drug is sometimes called “the study drug” by students.

It’s also commonly illegally sold on the street.

The law
5:02 pm
Fri November 11, 2011

$100 million settlement to sexually abused prisoners won't be delayed

ACLU of Michigan

The Michigan Supreme Court will not intervene in the fight over a settlement awarded to female prisoners. 

More than 800 women inmates said they were repeatedly raped and abused while in prison.

In 1996, they brought a class action suit against the Michigan Department of Corrections.

In 2009, they were awarded a $100 million settlement.

But Oakland County wanted to know the names of the inmates so it could divert some of the money to crime victims.

Read more
Politics
4:16 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Bill requires students to recite Pledge of Allegiance

The Michigan Senate has passed a bill that would require all K-12 public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily.
user Fancy Jantzi Flickr

Michigan school children would be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance under a bill passed by the state Senate today.

Students can opt out if they, their parent or legal guardians object.

State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood voted against the bill. He believes patriotism doesn’t come from a mandate.

"One of the things I said is that I love my country, not because I say the pledge, but I say the pledge because I love my country," Hopgood says.

Hopgood  unsuccessfully introduced an amendment to protect students who decline to recite the pledge from retaliation by school employees.

The bill  also requires a flag to be displayed in each K-12 classroom in Michigan’s public schools. It does not provide funding to buy the flags.

The measure is supported by the state department of education; it now moves on to the House.

Economy
10:23 am
Sun November 6, 2011

UMH nurses ratify 3-year contract

med.umich.edu

Nurses at the University of Michigan Hospital have ratified a contract that includes wage increases over the next three years.

The Michigan Nurses Association represents the 4,000 nurses at the Ann Arbor hospital.

The union says nurses will have a stronger voice in staffing and technology issues.

An MNA statement says charge nurses will have a say in determining whether more staffing is needed to meet specific patient needs.

Some nurses could see pay increases of $5 to $10 per hour in the last year of the contract.

Economy
2:00 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Mixed economic messages: It's all about perspective

automotiveauto.info

If the constant stream of what seems like contradictory economic news leaves you feeling confused, join the club.

Headline No. 1: “Midwest economy slows.”

No. 2: “Michigan surpasses 48 states in growth.”

And No. 3: “Michigan has fourth-highest number of layoffs.”

These are all true stories about the third quarter.

Bob Tomarelli is an analyst with IHS. He says the stories just reflect different aspects of the economy.

“It is doing better," Tomarelli says. "It is recovering at a decent pace, a very quick pace. But things are still not great because it was hit so very hard.”

Tomarelli says most of the 100,000 jobs added in the third quarter were in professional business services and manufacturing. But he says that boost is probably temporary.

So while they are getting a nice short-term burst that’s adding to payrolls and creating some jobs, or at least bringing some jobs back, it is not expected to keep up at that pace, and in the long run is actually expected to decline.”

Most of Michigan’s 29,000 layoffs were in government and financial sectors.

Science/Medicine
2:00 pm
Sun October 30, 2011

Dairy to fight court-ordered vet inspections despite antibiotic violations

A West Michigan dairy farm that sold cows for slaughter  with illegal levels of antibiotics will be in court Monday.

Scenic View Dairy has about 10,000 cows at its five farms. The dairy has been repeatedly warned about selling cows with excessive levels of antibiotics, but it says public health was never at risk.

Now Scenic View is fighting an order requiring veterinarians to diagnose all sick cattle at its farms.

Professor Dan Grooms is with Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. He said state inspectors used to do that work, but because of budget cuts, farm employees or members of milk co-ops do it now.

“They train them how to -- if it’s something that looks unusual -- that’s when you need to be calling me as a veterinarian," Grooms said. "So they train them to recognize common diseases, and then the appropriate intervention strategy for that disease."

Drug residues in food can lead to long-term resistance of bacteria to antibiotics.

Science/Medicine
11:49 am
Fri October 28, 2011

Fatal bacterial disease claiming pet dogs in metro Detroit

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread by rats that can be fatal to dogs. A strain of the disease that hasn't been since since the 1960s is resurging among pet dogs in metro Detroit.
taylorschlades Morguefile

A disease that can quickly kill dogs has resurfaced in metro Detroit after almost 40 years.

It’s called leptospirosis.

The bacterial disease is spread by rats, and from dog to dog. It can also infect humans.

Dr. Carole Bolin is a professor at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

She said the onset of symptoms in dogs can be very sudden.

“The inside of their mouth may be yellow-tinged, and they may be severely vomiting, and obviously very, very ill," Bolin said. "And those animals, when taken to the veterinarian, have very severe abnormalities which are consistent with liver and kidney failure.”

Bolin said more than 20 cases of leptospirosis have been reported in Detroit-area dogs in the past three weeks. Most were pets and most had to be euthanized.

A vaccine is available to prevent the disease.

Politics
4:06 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Recall petition filed against Wayne County Executive Ficano

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.
Waynecounty.com

Troubles are mounting for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. A federal investigation and a recall effort are now under way.

An outcry over a 200-thousand-dollar payout given to Wayne County’s former development director is being investigated by the FBI, which served subpoenas this week asking for information about Turkia Mullin’s severance pay.

On Thursday, Ficano ended severance payments for all political appointees.

But Wayne County Commissioner Bernard Parker said there are still unanswered questions about the commission’s responsibilities:

"Do we have anything to do with the contracts for personnel? The administration says no," Parker said. "We think we should. Should all contracts come to us to be approved?  Again, there’s a difference on that.”

Former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino is leading the effort to recall Ficano.

Convertino, an attorney from Plymouth, represents a man who filed a whistleblower suit against Wayne County.

News Roundup
6:57 am
Wed October 19, 2011

In this morning's news ...

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Snyder in no hurry to spend projected surplus

Governor Rick Snyder says he would prefer to wait and see what direction the economy takes before making decisions on how to use a projected budget surplus. Snyder says he is no rush to restore funding to schools or other programs. Budget watchdogs predict the state is in line for a windfall of around $430 million once the books are closed on the fiscal year that ended last month.

FBI gets involved in Wayne County severance probe

Read more
Economy
6:41 am
Wed October 19, 2011

Survey: Local governments get brief revenue breather, but struggles continue

jdurham Morguefile

Tough times are likely to continue for most of the state’s local governments.

The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan asked about the financial condition of the state’s cities, townships,  villages and counties.

“For most jurisdictions in the state of Michigan, things are bad and continuing to get worse," says Tom Ivacko, a Ford School spokesman.

Ivacko says some places are doing better because of a slowdown in property tax declines. He says that could be attributed to fewer foreclosures in the wake of widespread processing fraud.

He says communities are still struggling with state-aid cuts and increasing infrastructure needs.

The Michigan Public Policy Survey also finds local governments are trying to cope with the loss of revenue by collaborating with other governments.

Some tap into their general fund and "rainy-day" balances to offset the drop in revenue.

The survey found many employees are paying more for their health care coverage, that local governments are decreasing staffing, and in some cases the number of services they provide.

Some local governments are charging more for fees, licenses and permits.

Politics
12:36 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

Romney trumps all in Michigan fund-raising so far

wikipedia.org

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is outpacing all other candidates in fund-raising  Michigan – including President Obama.

Mitt Romney’s roots go deep in Michigan. He was born and raised here. His father was governor from 1963 to 1969.

Inside Michigan Politics editor Bill Ballenger says Romney’s got a widespread net of supporters.

"Mitt Romney is so far ahead, it’s not even a contest," Ballenger says. "And no other presidential candidate even has a presence in Michigan.”

News Roundup
9:08 am
Tue October 18, 2011

In this morning's news...

Bridge vote could come soon

A vote could come this week on a proposed second bridge connecting Detroit to Canada. Many Republicans remain skeptical that Michigan taxpayers won't assume  any financial risk despite Canada's promise to pay all the construction costs. However, state Sen. Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell Township), says campaigns against the bridge have contributed to misformation about the project. Hildenbrand says the bridge should project should be considered.  The owners of the Ambassador bridge oppose the plan. They stand to lose business if a second bridge is built.

Federal money to help pay for state transportation projects

Almost $47 million in funding for transportation projects is coming  Michigan's Way. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced 16 Michigan projects during a visit to Dearborn Monday. The funding includes $2 million for a study of running light rail to Detroit's northern suburbs, and $6 million to replace Detroit buses.

Need for construction, skilled-trade workers growing

Demand for construction and skilled-trade workers is growing in Michigan, and apprentice programs are gearing up to fill the need. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget says the  number of construction and related jobs in the state is projected to grow nearly 7 percent by the year 2018.

News Roundup
7:03 am
Fri October 14, 2011

In this morning's news ...

A pair of presidents to tour Lake Orion GM plant

President Obama will be in southeast Michigan today to promote a new  free trade agreement with South Korea. President Obama is scheduled to tour General Motor’s assembly plant in Lake Orion. South Korea’s president will accompany Obama.  Congress this week approved a new free trade agreement with South Korea.  South Korea is the world’s 13th largest economy.

Governor orders review of indigent legal defense system

Governor Snyder has ordered a review of how Michigan ensures that people charged with crimes are properly represented in court – even when they cannot afford to pay an attorney. The state's criminal justice system is often ranked among the worst in the country because it does not guarantee poor people get a proper defense.

Unlimited injury benefits may end

Michigan's House Insurance Committee Thursday approved a bill that would get rid of unlimited medical coverage to drivers in serious car accidents. The state's insurance commissioner says the move could help make auto insurance more affordable for the 20% of Michigan drivers who carry no coverage. Critics say the limits will leave some people unable to pay for catastrophic care. They also claim coverage wouldn't cost much less than it does now. The proposal now moves to the House floor.

Economy
11:59 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Levin calls for end of offshore corporate tax breaks

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, (D)-Mich.
Jeffry Simms Flickr

A U.S. Senate report says a 2004 tax break let American companies bring back billions of dollars in offshore earnings at a very low tax rate.

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan says companies including Coca-Cola, IBM and Pfizer got a windfall, but didn’t live up to their promises:

"There was no way to make sure that when they brought the money back they would use it for what they use it for – which was to create jobs and have more R&D – research and development,” Levin says.

Instead, Levin says the companies cut jobs and research, while executive pay went up.

He says if Washington repeats the offshore tax break, the treasury will lose up to $80 billion over ten years.

Other companies that took the repatriating tax break include Altria, Bristol-Myers Squibb, DuPont, Eli Lilly, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Oracle, and Procter & Gamble.

News Roundup
7:09 am
Thu October 13, 2011

In this morning's news ...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

V.P. Biden gets visit from "Occupy" protesters in Grand Rapids

People inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in New York showed up at a Democratic fundraiser hosted by Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday evening. Biden made stops in Flint and Grand Rapids to promote President Obama’s American Jobs Act before switching to campaign mode. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reports at least 50 protesters marched on the sidewalk outside the $500 per dinner private event. The event raised money for the 2012 presidential election.

Proposed U.S.-Canada bridge still a contentious issue

A proposal to build a second bridge between Detroit and Canada appears to be the cause of a fierce divide among Republicans in the state Senate. The chairman of the committee handling the proposal does not seem to have enough support among Republican colleagues to vote on the issue. State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said if that’s the case he will most likely take on the issue in a committee he chairs and move it along quickly.

"We would still take a hard look at it and take some open testimony, but we’re not going to rehash everything that’s been done for the last nine months,”  Richardville said.

Secretary of State calls for no-reason absentee voting

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Michigan should allow anyone to vote by absentee ballot without having to give a reason why they cannot make it to a polling place on Election Day. It’s one of several election proposals she outlined.

They also include cleaning voter rolls of dead people, those who have moved, and non-citizens.  Johnson said people should be allowed to cast absentee ballots without giving a reason why they cannot show up at a polling place on Election Day.

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