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Detroit
1:15 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Belle Isle plan blocked by Detroit City Council

Some Detroiters have expressed their displeasure with the Belle Isle plan.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Matt Helms of the Detroit Free Press reports the Detroit City Council has dug their heels in on a plan for Belle Isle. The plan calls for the state to lease the park from the city and run it as a state park.

The Council has "indefinitely postponed" plans for a public hearing on the plan.

From the Freep:

The council's decision means the proposal can't go forward until council members get what they want: more funding guarantees from the state as well as a fuller hearing on alternative proposals for the island park.

Council members said the state had yet to respond to its request that guarantees of millions of dollars in upgrades to the island be put in writing, information that was not specifically spelled out in the state’s proposed 30-year lease. The lease would be for 30 years with two optional 30-year renewals.

Politics & Government
11:35 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Commentary: Is this vote necessary?

Odds are that when you vote three weeks from now, you’ll be voting for some of the people I am about to name:  Michael Busuito, a plastic surgeon from Troy.  Lupe Ramos-Montigny. Todd Courser and Melanie Kurdys. Melanie Foster and Brian Mosallam. Satish Jasti and Shauna Ryder Diggs. She‘s a dermatologist, by the way, from Grosse Pointe.

I‘ll bet you didn‘t know that, but don’t feel bad. Neither did I, until I looked it up this morning. I‘d also bet that you probably haven‘t heard of most or all of those people either, right?

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Auto
11:14 am
Tue October 16, 2012

GM to start producing electric Cadillac in 2013

Cadillac ELR

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors says production is set to begin late next year on a luxury version of its Chevrolet Volt hybrid.

The automaker said Tuesday the Cadillac ELR will be assembled at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant. That plant makes the Chevrolet Volt, Opel Ampera and Holden Volt.

The Cadillac will run on electricity and carry a four-cylinder gasoline engine to generate power when the batteries run out of juice. It's based on the Cadillac Converj, a concept car unveiled in 2009 at the Detroit auto show.

GM North America President Mark Reuss said in a statement that the car is "further proof of our commitment to electric vehicles and advanced technology."

The company will invest $35 million at the plant, which hasn't produced a two-door car since the 1999 Cadillac Eldorado.
  

Auto
10:25 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Battery maker A123 files for bankruptcy protection

A123 Battery in Passenger Vehicle Application
.a123systems.com/media-room-photos.htm

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. operations of electric car battery maker A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy protection and its automotive assets are being acquired by Johnson Controls for $125 million.

The announcement Tuesday comes one day after A123 warned in a regulatory filing that it likely would miss some debt payments and could be headed for bankruptcy court.

A123, based in Waltham, Mass., got a $249 million U.S. government grant to help it build a battery factory in Michigan.

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Auto
10:13 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Ford recalls Fiesta subcompact for air bag problem

media.ford.com

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 154,000 Fiesta subcompacts to fix a problem with the side air bags.
 
The company says that if the front passenger seat is empty, the side air bag won't inflate to protect rear-seat passengers in some crashes.
 
Ford says it doesn't know of any crashes or injuries linked to the problem.
 
The recall affects Fiestas from the 2011 through 2013 model years. They were built in Mexico from Nov. 3, 2009 to Sept. 21, 2012.

Dealers will reprogram the computer that controls the side air bag so it inflates even if no one is in the front passenger seat. The repair will be done for free

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Health
9:28 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Meningitis cases in Michigan reach 46, other meds could be involved

Current case count from the fungal meningitis outbreak. Michigan has reached 46 cases.
CDC

The Michigan Department of Community Health said the number of meningitis cases associated with the recent outbreak reached 46 yesterday. Three deaths in Michigan are linked to the outbreak.

In the meantime, the New York Times reports the FDA warns other drugs could be involved:

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Politics & Government
9:26 am
Tue October 16, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Senate Fiscal Agency says Prop 6 will cost taxpayers

"A ballot proposal meant to stall a new international bridge in Detroit could cost Michigan taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. That’s according to a report from the Senate Fiscal Agency. Proposal 6 would require a public vote on any new international bridge or tunnel. The report says it would cost the state nearly $10.5 million  to hold a special election on a new crossing. On top of that, researchers say tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure funding could also be in jeopardy," Jake Neher reports.

ACLU suing Morgan Stanley for racist lending in Detroit


"The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Morgan Stanley on behalf of five Detroit homeowners. The group says Morgan Stanley violated federal anti-discrimination laws by encouraging a now-defunct sub-prime mortgage lender to make risky loans in predominantly black neighborhoods. The lawsuit was filed in a New York federal court, and seeks class-action status," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Response to meningitis outbreak might take time

"Congressman John Dingell says it will take time to figure out the right response to a meningitis outbreak caused by tainted steroids. But he's urging Congress to take action and ensure the same thing never happens again.   Dingell says right now, the Food and Drug Administration lacks the authority to regulate the company that made the contaminated medicine -- which has killed 15 people so far," Chris Zollars reports.

Politics & Government
8:45 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

LaHood: Metro Detroit, state need to move on regional transit authority

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in Detroit for the tenth time Monday to talk about the region’s mass transit future.

LaHood met with Governor Snyder, Mayor Dave Bing, and state lawmakers, and again made clear that the federal government is willing to put money into a regional transportation authority (RTA) for Detroit.

But Lansing hasn’t acted on bills to create an RTA to run that system.

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Politics & Government
7:06 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

ACLU sues Morgan Stanley on behalf of 5 Detroit homeowners

An abandoned home in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Consumer Law Center and others have sued investment bank giant Morgan Stanley on behalf of five black Detroit homeowners.

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Health
3:43 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Dingell Says FDA Not Regulating Meningitis-causing Company

Congressman John Dingell says it will take time to figure out the best response to a meningitis outbreak caused by tainted steroids.  But he's urging Congress to take action and make sure it never happens again.

Dingell says the Food and Drug Administration doesn't have the authority to regulate the company that made the contaminated medicine which has killed 15 people so far, including 4 in Michigan.

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Environment & Science
1:54 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Agencies begin new search for Asian carp near Lake Michigan

Silver carp leaping out of a river.
glfc.org

Crews will begin an intensive search for Asian carp in the Chicago area tomorrow after finding more DNA evidence of the fish in waterways close to Lake Michigan.  Officials found the genetic material above a system of electric barriers that are intended to keep carp out of Lake Michigan.

Chris McCloud is with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He says crews will go out this week on the North Shore Channel and an area of the Chicago River and look for carp.

"We are very confident that if there are Asian carp present in the Chicago Area Waterway System, that they are in very, very low numbers."

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Politics & Government
1:02 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Commentary: Shame of the UAW

As you probably know, a Titanic battle has been going on for years now over whether to build a new bridge over the Detroit River.

On one side is Governor Rick Snyder, the government of Canada, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, and the chambers of commerce. On the other side, Matty Moroun’s family, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, who right now have a monopoly on moving billions in heavy automotive components from Detroit to Ontario.

The Moroun family, that is, together with those who support their position because of their money.

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Health
11:20 am
Mon October 15, 2012

First cases of seasonal flu reported in Michigan, heed your grandmother's advice

Weekly influenza activity across the U.S. and its territories. Michigan is listed as "sporadic."
CDC

Flu season is officially underway.

Michigan Department of Community Health officials said today that 12 influenza cases are the first seasonal flu reports they have confirmed in Michigan during the 2012-2013 season.

They  said the illnesses occurred in children and adults in lower Michigan.

Two people were hospitalized. Nine cases have been confirmed as influenza B viruses, two as influenza A (H3N2) virus and one as influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus.

Officials say it's too early to tell what influenza viruses will circulate this influenza season or how severe it might be.

Officials recommend flu shots as a way to prevent the disease.

Michigan's flu activity is listed as "sporadic," the lowest of four levels of influenza activity.

Several years ago I interviewed Peter Palese, a microbiologist and Chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

They were researching why the flu virus spreads in cold weather.

They found that once the flu virus is airborne, it survives longer in cold air and low humidity. It doesn't survive as long in higher temperatures and higher humidity.

Palese said age old maternal advice held up in their research:

They tested guinea pigs infected with the flu virus - and found that the animals are more contagious when they're in a colder environment. They believe that's because their bodies don't get rid of the virus as fast in cold temperatures...

"So that makes sense when your grandmother told you 'don't go out when it's cold, and stay warm and you might get the flu,' she was probably right," said Palese.

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Politics & Government
9:28 am
Mon October 15, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Schools might get a break on standardized tests

"The Michigan Department of Education is considering a proposal to give schools a break on standardized test accountability. The proposal would amend the department's accountability system to allow students who fail a Michigan Educational Assessment Program exam to be considered proficient on the test if they show significant improvement. The Detroit Free Press reports the change would mean some schools could get a better rating from the state," the Associated Press reports.

More money spent on TV ads for  ballot proposals than candidates

"Interest groups are spending unprecedented amounts of money on TV ads supporting or opposing initiatives to amend the state constitution. That’s according to a report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Since August, groups have poured about $30 million into TV ads. That’s far more than what’s being spent on individual candidates, including those running for president or US Senate," Jake Neher reports.

Asian carp search begins this week

"Federal and state officials will hunt for Asian carp near Chicago starting Tuesday, after finding more DNA evidence of the fish close to Lake Michigan. Crews will go out this week on the North Shore Channel and an area of the Chicago River," Rebecca Williams reports.

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Health
8:41 am
Sun October 14, 2012

More products recalled in salmonella outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — A New Mexico food company that produced the peanut butter linked to an outbreak of salmonella poisoning has expanded an ongoing recall of its products to include raw and roasted peanuts.

The federal Food and Drug Administration said Saturday that Sunland Inc. added raw and roasted shelled and in-shell peanuts sold in quantities from two ounces to 50 pounds to its recall. FDA inspectors have found salmonella in raw peanuts from the Sunland processing plant.

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Culture
3:42 pm
Sat October 13, 2012

Cheers for beer! Grand Rapids offers a toast, celebrates “BeerCity USA” title

These rare, green and amber glass Fehsenfeld beer bottles are from before 1900.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A new You Tube video features a tour of 15 breweries with loads of people giving a toast to the “BeerCity USA” title bestowed upon Grand Rapids earlier this year. Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell joined in, although he and city council celebrated with their own press conference a few months ago.

Ashville, North Carolina and Portland, Oregon; those are the cities known for their microbreweries. But Grand Rapids?

“We’ve in the industry put in a lot of time and a lot of effort. We deserve it for sure, yeah,” Steve Smith assured me. You’ve got to love Smith’s title; chief beer geek at HopCat. The bar was named the third “Beer Bar on Planet Earth” by Beer Advocate magazine this year.  

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat October 13, 2012

The week in review

User: David Defoe flickr

Every Saturday Michigan Radio's Rina Miller talks with political analyst Jack Lessenberry about the week's top regional news stories. This week they talk about Proposal 5 which would require a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature in order to raise taxes and the cost of campaigning in the state.

Education
7:00 am
Sat October 13, 2012

Irregardless of its reputation, a word perseveres

Though it may be underlined in red immediately after I type it, “irregardless” is indeed a word.

Anne Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan, confirms its legitimacy ; but its usage, she warns, only invites contempt.

“A year ago I was talking with someone, and I said, ‘You know, people use it, it’s in most dictionaries.' And you could see that his respect for me and my scholarly perspective was shaken,” says Curzan.

The word comes from a blend of “irrespective and regardless.”

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It's Just Politics
7:00 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Election 2012: Is Michigan a true battleground in the race for the White House?

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

With just 25 days to go before the Presidential election, and a week since the first Presidential debate, a few pollsters and at least one analyst are putting Michigan into swing-state territory even though, as we’ve noted before, President Obama’s generally been given the edge in most polls in the state.

This week, Michigan enjoyed a round of visits from top flight presidential candidate surrogates starting with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Monday. And, just today, we saw Anne Romney stumping for her husband, Mitt Romney, in the couple’s native-state.

So, the question remains, after five presidential election cycles with Michigan falling into the Democratic column, is Michigan an actual battleground state in 2012?

The right-leaning website Real Clear Politics says so. A Detroit News/WDIV poll shows the Obama lead shrinking since last week’s debate and a Gravis Marketing poll also puts the race for Michigan’s 16 electoral votes much closer than it has been. President Obama still leads, according to these surveys, but the momentum is moving toward Mitt Romney.

And, as we’ve said before, Michigan seems like it should be attainable for the GOP. It’s not like a Republican can’t get elected here statewide. Just ask Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette or Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

But, aside from the Real Clear Politics call, no one else is really putting Michigan into that list of eight or nine states that are the focus of the fiercest competition (states like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada and Iowa). And, we’re certainly not seeing a big re-allocation of resources by the campaigns that would suggest things are changing in the mitten state.

One question that gets bandied about is: if Michigan isn’t a battleground state, then why are high profile campaign surrogates making regular stops here? Well, there are lots of reasons why candidates and their surrogates visit a state – fundraising, a quick visit to make sure a safe state stays that way. But President Obama hasn’t been here since April; Romney since August. In fact, this was the first time in decades that neither presidential candidate themselves visited Michigan during the entire month of September. In 2004, George W. Bush made John Kerry work for Michigan, which maybe meant he wasn’t able to spend as much time and money in places like Ohio and Florida – true swing states with lots of electoral votes.

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Health
3:56 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

University of Michigan Health System reviewing policies in wake of national meningitis outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control's current map of confirmed cases linked to the national meningitis outbreak
CDC

The national meningitis outbreak has officials at the University of Michigan Health System reviewing their policy for where they get some drugs that are in short supply.

The outbreak has been linked to tainted steroid injections from a ‘so-called’ compound pharmacy.     Four Michigan clinics used the tainted steroids to treat people with back pain.   None of the clinics are associated with UMHS. 

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