sterling heights

Anyone who lives in Michigan knows you are at a real disadvantage if you don’t have a driver’s license.

But, let’s say you are an Iraqi who has fled to the U.S. to escape the violence. You’re trying to launch your new life here and you need a way to get to a job or get your kids to school. You need a driver’s license, but you haven’t lived here long enough to get fluent in English. So how do you get on the road?

That’s where you might turn to John Bitti. He runs the Madamma Driving School in Sterling Heights, and he teaches would-be drivers in English, Arabic, or Chaldean. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Operation Kindness was inspired by the anti-bullying program Rachel's Challenge.
Rachel's Challenge

On any given day, as many as 160,000 students stay home from school because they’re afraid to face the bullies they may encounter in classrooms, lunchrooms and school hallways. 

As author Patricia Polacco noted in her interview with Cyndy, it seems that peer-to-peer programs are most effective and pack the most power against bullies.

Such a program is going on at Jeannette Middle School in Sterling Heights, part of the Utica Community Schools.

user: Matthias93 / Wikimedia Commons

Ford Motor Company is hiring 225 workers to run a new hybrid-electric transmission assembly line at the Sterling Heights plant.

The Associated Press reports Ford is investing $220 million in the Van Dyke Transmission plant to make the new transmission.

Ford used to purchase its hybrid transmissions from Japan, but the Van Dyke plant's new assembly line will construct Ford's first domestically designed and produced hybrid transmission.

Hybrid versions of the C-Max, Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ midsize sedans will sport the new transmission beginning this fall, as well as the plug-in hybrid versions of the Fusion and the soon-to-be-released C-Max.

In a press release, the company says the plant already added 130 jobs as part of the launch, and the remaining employees will start work by the end of the month.

Ford says the plant is now the only producer of front-wheel-drive hybrid transmissions in North America, though General Motors Co. makes rear-wheel-drive hybrid transmissions in Maryland, the AP reports.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

The Secretary of Defense says he wants to cancel a defense contract that would eliminate hundreds of potential new jobs in Michigan. 

The contract would be for an amphibious vehicle for the U.S. Marine Corps. The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle was intended to replace a Vietnam era model. A Sterling Heights based division of General Dynamics is the contractor that has been developing the 40 ton vehicle.

Peter Keating is a company spokesman. He says canceling the program now will cost as much as moving forward with production. 

"We would expect our congressional delegation in Washington DC to take a look at that and in their wisdom decide if it’s something they’d like to support." 

The marine vehicle has been plagued with cost overruns and other problems since the Reagan administration.   Escalating costs prompted the U.S. Marine Corps to cut in half the number of Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles it planned to purchase. Keating insists past problems have been resolved. 

Inside Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant
Barack Obama's Flickr photostream

Update: 3:20pm:

The Detroit Free Press reports on what we expected from the announcement at Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.

Chrysler will add a second shift in early 2011 of about 900 additional workers. Many of those workers will be workers who are called back from temporary layoff.