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4:59 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Battery company bankruptcy refuels electric car debate

The recent bankruptcy of battery company A123 has some questioning the profitability of electric cars like the Nissan Leaf.
user cliff1066 flickr

Tuesday’s bankruptcy announcement by A123 Systems Inc. has many taking another look at the prospects of the electric car.

Conservative commentators have taken the opportunity to bash the Obama administration for its green energy investments.

In 2009, A123 received a $249 million grant from the Department of Energy.

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Politics & Government
4:53 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Political Roundup: Collective bargaining, Proposals 2 & 4

Michigan voters face six questions on November’s ballot. And those questions can be very confusing. Today, we look at two proposals that focus on collective bargaining. Proposal 2 would protect collective bargaining in the state constitution, and Proposal 4 would reinstate collective bargaining for in-home health care workers.

Transportation
4:10 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Super fast bus line coming to Grand Rapids in 2014

Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll adds his signature to a giant construction agreement for the Silver Line at a press conferece Thursday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Michigan’s first bus rapid transit system will be built in the Grand Rapids area. Bus rapid transit operates similar to light rail, but because less infrastructure is needed, bus rapid transit is much cheaper. Buses will arrive at stops every ten minutes. They’ll have designated lanes and be able to change traffic lights so they don’t have to slow down.

On Thursday federal, state and local officials gathered at The Rapid Central Station to officially sign the agreement. Peter Rogoff is with the Federal Transit Administration.

“It’s going to lower commute times by some 40-percent and even for folks that never take the bus, it’s going to take congestion off of US-131 and off of Division; in a way that’s going to be beneficial to everybody,” Rogoff said.

The new bus line, the Silver Line, won’t be complete until the summer of 2014, according to The Rapid CEO Peter Varga. It will run almost ten miles between the residential suburbs south of Grand Rapids up to major employers and the ‘medical mile’ in the downtown area.

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Issues & Ale
3:13 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Issues & Ale: Election Night Viewing Party

Listen to audio from our Election Night Viewing Party here.

Tuesday, November 6, 8:00 PM-11:00 PM
Buffalo Wild Wings 
205 S. State St. 
Ann Arbor, MI  48104

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Economy
2:56 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

DuPont opens innovation center in Michigan

TROY, Mich. (AP) - Chemical giant DuPont Co. is opening an innovation center in suburban Detroit that's aimed at speeding the introduction of new products for the automotive industry.

The Wilmington, Del.-based company's facility opened Thursday. It is DuPont's eighth-such center and is located at its Automotive Development Center in Troy. The innovation center connects DuPont's Detroit-area customer base with 9,500 company scientists and engineers worldwide.

DuPont says one aim of the innovation center is to boost collaboration with customers, government, educational institutions and business partners.

The company already had automotive industry-focused innovation centers in India, South Korea and Japan.

Environment & Science
1:18 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Report: Oil pipeline plans put Michigan vacation destination at risk

The Straits of Mackinac
GoogleEarth image

A national environmental group says plans to expand an oil pipeline near Mackinac Island presents a serious ecological threat.

The National Wildlife Federation opposes Enbridge Energy’s plans to expand the nearly 60 year old pipeline that passes through the Straits of Mackinac.

Beth Wallace, with the National Wildlife Federation, said the age of the pipeline, the Straits of Mackinac's dangerous currents, and a lack of safety equipment close by threatens to put the vacation destination at risk of a major spill.

"With Enbridge’s estimates and average current speeds for the Straits, we believe oil could spread to Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island in the three hours it would take them to respond," said Wallace.

"If six hours passed, oil could spread to Wilderness State Park. Twelve hours, and oil could be all the way to Cheboygan [Michigan],” said Wallace,  “and the damage from a spill, without a doubt, would be devastating."

It took Enbridge 17 hours to realize it had a broken pipeline near Marshall, Michigan in 2010.   

That spill released more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil. The cleanup of Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River has cost close to a billion dollars.

There is still oil in the river.

An Enbridge spokesman says the Calgary-based oil company is reviewing the National Wildlife Federation's report.

Jeannie Layson, PHMSA's Director for Governmental, International, and Public Affairs, issued a written statement on the NWF report:

Pipeline safety is a top priority at PHMSA, and we hold pipeline operators accountable when they violate federal requirements. For example, Enbridge just paid thehighest civil penalty in the agency’s history for the Marshall, Michigan spill. In addition, PHMSA executed a consent agreement which imposed morestringent safety requirements for the entire Lakehead System, including Line 5.

Pipeline safety requires a combination of enforcement, information sharing and transparency and public education. PHMSA  created  the Stakeholder Communications website to provide the public comprehensive, searchable information on the safety records of pipeline companies, such as incident rates and PHMSA’s oversight actions and enforcement activities including fines, warnings, and violations. Additional information on pipeline operators in Michigan can be found on our Michigan State Pipeline Safety Profilepage.

Election 2012
1:18 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Teamsters local throws support behind Proposal 6, the bridge vote

Teamsters Local 299 has agreed with Matty Moroun to support Proposal 6.
Steffen Norgren flickr

Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun has secured the support of Michigan’s 5,000-member Teamsters Local 299 for Proposal 6.

Proposal 6 would amend the state Constitution to require a statewide vote before Michigan constructs or finances any new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles.

The Moroun-backed amendment is opposed to Governor Snyder’s New International Trade Crossing.

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People
12:03 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Scientist, inventor Stanford R. Ovshinsky dies at 89

Stan Ovshinsky
courtesy of the Ovshinsky family

An obituary from the Ovshinsky family:

Stanford R. Ovshinsky died peacefully at his home just 39 days short of his 90th birthday.  The cause of death was prostate cancer. 

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Sports
10:16 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Baseball: 'I can't come out to play! It's raining out!' Why not?

Why don't they play baseball in the rain?
Beyer Weckerle wikipedia

Last night's rain delay of Game 4 of the ALCS reminded me of one of my all-time-favorite George Carlin bits....

...the differences between football and baseball.

"Football is played in any kind of weather... rain, sleet, snow, hail, mud. Can't read the numbers on the field, can't read the yard markers, can't read the players numbers... the struggle will continue.

In baseball, if it rains, we don't come out to play!"

So why can't baseball be played in the rain?

I found the rules that outline how a game is called (by the home team manager during the regular season, and by the league in a championship series).

But not why it's called.

This explanation seemed to explain it well enough.

Rain affects the game of baseball differently because "it's a game of precision":

As a result, heavy rain makes the ball extremely hard to grip. This actually harms the team on defense dramatically more than the team on offense. If a pitcher is unable to grip the ball, he will throw erratically and will have to significantly slow his pitches. As a result, the batting team will be at a great advantage as it is not significantly harder to swing a bat or run on a dirt track in the rain.

When it's raining, the advantage goes to the offense.

Runs could be scored in bunches while the defense struggles to get three outs. Once an inning does end, the rain might let up, and the opposing team would no longer have the same advantage.

That makes sense to me. Although it does seem like it would be hard to slog through the mud to get on base.

How does this explanation sit with you? Are there any other explanations that you know of?

Business
9:56 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Detroit conference looks at labor history

Fur hat maker, 1938
photo by NIOSH on Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - Examining the history of labor in Michigan and beyond is a goal of a three-day conference being held in Detroit.

The North American Labor History Conference kicks off Thursday at the Wayne State University Law School. The conference aims to explore a range of themes under the topic of "insurgency and resistance."

The conference also coincides with the 100th anniversary of Michigan Workers' Compensation Act and a daylong symposium discussing its past, present and future is planned for Friday.

Speakers and presenters include Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Workers' Compensation Agency Director Kevin Elsenheimer, as well as business and academic leaders.

The event is free and open to the public.

Sports
9:32 am
Thu October 18, 2012

State celebrates Willie Horton Day for 8th time

Horton honored across Michigan on his birthday for past achievements
detroit.tigers.mlb.com via getty

DETROIT (AP) — Willie Horton Day is being celebrated in Michigan for the eighth consecutive year.
 
The Tigers great is being honored Thursday, as he has since former Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed House Bill 5200 into law in 2006 that permanently decrees Oct. 18 "Willie Horton Day."
 
It coincides with the seven-time All-Star's birthday.
 
Horton was a Tiger for 14 seasons, including their 1968 World Series-winning team.
 
Horton's No. 23 is retired by the Tigers, and a statue of his likeness stands at Comerica Park.
 
He's a special assistant to team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski.

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Thu October 18, 2012

A year full of extreme weather hits home

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

You can listen to today's Environment Report here.

Here's one of those headlines that'll probably confirm your hunch:

Weather-wise, this January through September was the most extreme the country’s ever experienced, ever since we started keeping records. 

Let's just flip back through the 2012 calendar, shall we?

First, there was the winter-that-wasn't. Meteorologist Jeff Masters is based in Ann Arbor and is a big name in the weather-blog world.

"It started with the non-winter of 2012. It was one of the warmest Januarys and Februarys on record."

He says that warm winter led into a stormy spring, with a big tornado in March.

"Which ripped through Dexter, Michigan, causing a lot of damage there. And in addition, in March we had summer in March."

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The Environment Report
8:55 am
Thu October 18, 2012

21 universities team up for Great Lakes Futures Project

NOAA

A new project is going to try to predict the future of the Great Lakes. 

It’s called... wait for it... the Great Lakes Futures Project.  It’s a collaboration of 21 universities from the U.S. and Canada. 

Don Scavia is the director of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan. He’s one of four project leaders.  He says students will team up with a counterpart from the other country, along with a faculty mentor.  The teams will develop white papers outlining the biggest things driving change in the Great Lakes region. 

“They’ll be looking at things like climate, economics, demographics, chemical and biological pollution, invasive species. Looking back, what have the trends been in the past 50 years and what do we expect trends to look like in the next 50 years?”

Scavia says climate change is making everything more complicated.

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Politics & Government
8:31 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Commentary: Campaign for the birds

During the presidential debate the other night I joked that Mitt Romney seems to have a problem with birds. The only memorable moment from the first debate was when he famously brought up Sesame Street’s Big Bird. Legends take on a life of their own, and most people now seem to think the candidate said he was going to “fire” Big Bird. In fact, what Romney really said was that he was, quote “Gonna stop the subsidy to PBS,” something he said he was sorry about because, as he put it, “I like Big Bird.“

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Politics & Government
8:13 am
Thu October 18, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

cncphotos flickr

This week Morning Edition host Christina Shockley talked with Michigan Radio's political analyst about the legislation to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, results of a poll that looks at where Michiganders stand when it comes to the six ballot proposals voters will see in the next three weeks and the bankruptcy of U.S. operation of electric car battery maker, A123 Systems.

Politics & Government
7:31 am
Thu October 18, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul passes Senate

"Legislation to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan easily passed the state Senate Wednesday. The bills would turn the state’s largest health insurer into a customer-owned non-profit. Only four Senators voted against the package," Jake Neher reports.

Michigan's unemployment rates drops for the first time in 6 months

"Michigan’s jobless rate declined very slightly in September to nine-point-three percent. It’s the first drop in the state’s unemployment rate in six months. The rate is also a full percentage point below where it was at this time last year. The rate of unemployment and under-employment in Michigan is 17 percent. That number takes into account people who have quit looking for work, and part-timers who’d like full-time jobs," Rick Pluta reports.

Lawsuit claims flaws in Michigan's parole system

"A lawsuit filed this week alleges the state Department of Corrections has been too lax in supervising roughly 18 thousand paroled felons in Michigan. The lawsuit was first reported by The Detroit Free Press. It was filed by the family of an elderly Royal Oak woman who was murdered in her home. Two fugitives on parole have been charged with the killing," Rick Pluta reports.

Lansing
7:22 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Deadline ahead for Lansing casino project

artist's conception of proposed Kewadin Lansing casino

A deadline is looming for a proposed downtown Lansing casino.

The proposed $245 million casino project involves a complicated business and land deal between the city of Lansing, private developers and an indian tribe from the Upper Peninsula. 

So complicated those involved were not able to reach an agreement on the various aspects of the project by an August deadline.   So they gave themselves an extension until November 1st.

But with two weeks before the extended deadline there’s still no final agreement.

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Politics & Government
5:46 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Michigan Senate approves overhaul of Blue Cross

Blue Cross Blue Shield building on Lafayette in Detroit.
Mikerussell wikimedia commons

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate has approved a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan overhaul that supporters say levels the playing field among health insurers and critics argue doesn't adequately protect elderly and vulnerable residents.

The Senate passed the legislation Wednesday. The House is expected to consider it when the chamber returns after the November election.

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Law
5:35 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Lawsuit claims flaws in Michigan's parole system

The Department of Corrections is being sued over how it supervises parolees and handle parole violators.
Eddie Mingus flickr

A lawsuit filed this week alleges the state Department of Corrections has been too lax in supervising roughly 18,000 paroled felons in Michigan.

The lawsuit was first reported by The Detroit Free Press.

It was filed by the family of an elderly Royal Oak woman who was murdered in her home. Two fugitives on parole have been charged with the killing.

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Economy
4:59 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Michigan unemployment rate drops for first time since April

Michigan's overall labor force charted with Michigan's unemployment rate from September 2002 to September 2012. (Source MI DMTB).
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point in September, to 9.3 percent says a new report released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

This marks the state’s first decline in the jobless rate since April.

Total employment increased by 11,000 in September and has risen by 58,000 over the course of the past year.

From the report:

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