Category: Breaking News Written by Dana Bash, Jessica Yellin and Tom Cohen, CNN
Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama will unveil Wednesday a package of gun control proposals that, according to a source, will include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will announce the proposals, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday.
They will be joined by a group of children who wrote letters to the president in the aftermath of the December 14 shooting rampage by a lone gunman who killed 20 students and six adults at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, Carney said.
Obama will propose legislative steps he previously has backed, such as a ban on assault weapons, restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines and strengthening federal background checks of people attempting to buy guns, according to Carney.
Obama considers executive action on guns Thompson: Gun control should be priority Adviser: GOP must show gun control plan Behind the
The president also will push for other steps that could include executive actions on his part that don't require congressional approval, Carney noted.
More specifically, the source -- an official familiar with the process -- said the president's proposal will press for a ban on high capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds, universal background checks and a request that funds be made available to help treat mental illness and provide schools with support to enhance their safety.
Biden led a panel assembled by Obama to examine gun control steps after the Newtown shootings, which sparked a fierce public debate over how to prevent such mass killings with guns.
Opponents led by the powerful National Rifle Association promise a political fight against gun control measures that they say will violate the constitutional right to bear arms.
An NRA spokesman said Tuesday the group has experienced what he called an "unprecedented" spike in membership numbers since new calls for gun control began in the past month.
Approximately 250,000 people have joined the organization's existing 4.25 million members, according to NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam.
"This is in direct response to the threats and accusations coming from" Obama and other political leaders, Arulanandam said, adding that "if anyone is wondering if the American people cared about the Second Amendment ... those numbers give a very clear answer."
In addition to new members, the NRA is also receiving an influx of financial contributions, he said.
"This is going to be a very expensive and hard-fought fight," Arulanandam noted.
The federal government estimates that more than 300 million non-military guns are owned or available for purchase in the United States.
At the White House, Carney acknowledged the challenge, saying: "If these things were easy, they would have been achieved already."
"It's something we have to do together," he said. "It's something that cannot be done by a president alone. It can't be done by a single community alone or a mayor or a governor or by Congress alone. We all have to work together."
Carney also reiterated Obama's belief in the Second Amendment right of citizens to be armed.
Cracking down on guns Why Rob Lowe owns 3 guns Walsh on gun permits, background checks Walden: U.S. needs effective gun laws
"He has made clear that he believes we ought to take common sense, and enact common sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights but prevent people who should not have weapons from obtaining them," he said.
Carney said the proposals Obama will present Wednesday would be his final version of the package recommended by Biden's team.
The recommendations by Biden's panel included as many as 19 executive actions, such as tougher enforcement of existing laws, legislators briefed by the vice president said Tuesday.
Obama could demand that agencies provide data for background checks that are supposed to accompany gun sales, ensuring that information included in the checks is as "comprehensive and complete as possible," Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson of California told CNN.
The president also could immediately appoint a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has been without a permanent chief for six years, Thompson said.
A Democratic member of Congress who was briefed on the recommendations said some of the 19 executive actions discussed included improving the way the government administers current law.
The legislator, speaking on condition of not being identified, cited loopholes in the federal database for background checks on gun sales as well as issues involving mental health checks as possibilities for executive action.
Across the country, more than a million people failed background checks to buy guns during the past 14 years because of criminal records, drug use or mental health issues, according to FBI figures. That figure, however, is a small fraction of overall gun sales.
None of the legislators mentioned the NRA's call for armed guards at school as an option under consideration.
Obama has not ruled out issuing executive orders on some gun control measures to enforce laws already on the books, such as bolstering the way gun sales are tracked.
The president reiterated his desire on Monday for more robust background checks for gun buyers, keeping high capacity magazines away from criminals, and a ban on assault weapons.
"Will all of them get through this Congress? I don't know," Obama said. "But what's uppermost in my mind is making sure that I'm honest with the American people and members of Congress about what I think will work, what I think is something that will make a difference."
Working with Congress will be paramount in curbing gun violence, Thompson said, singling out a ban on high capacity magazines as an example of a measure that could garner Republican support. A full-scale assault weapon ban would be tougher to pass the GOP-controlled House, he argued.
Obama also said on Monday that the gun lobby was "ginning up" fears the federal government will use the Connecticut tragedy to seize Americans' guns. At least part of the frenzy is little more than marketing, he implied.
"It's certainly good for business," the president said, responding to a question about a spike in weapons sales and applications for background checks since the December killings.
Biden has said he's found widespread support for universal background checks and restrictions on the sale of high capacity magazines, which gun control advocates believe contribute to more bloodshed at mass shootings.
The influential NRA, among other gun rights groups, has vowed to fight any new gun restrictions -- like an assault weapon ban.
Gun control advocates, gun violence victims, the NRA, video game makers and others have met with the Biden-led task force.
In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed into law a series of new gun regulations -- the nation's first since the Newtown shootings.
Both New York's GOP-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled Assembly approved the measure by overwhelming margins.
It includes a statewide gun registry and adds a uniform licensing standard across the state, altering the current system, in which each county or municipality sets a standard.
Residents are also restricted to purchasing ammunition magazines that carry seven bullets, rather than 10.
"The changes in New York are largely cosmetic," said CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, who described existing regulations as "the toughest gun laws in the United States."
Lawmakers in at least 10 other states are reviewing some form of new gun regulations in the new year.
Meanwhile, new national polls indicated a majority of Americans support some or most gun control measures.
By a 51%-45% margin, Americans questioned in a new Pew Research Center poll said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights.
And by a 52%-35% margin, a new ABC News/Washington Post survey indicates the public says it is more likely to support some forms of gun control after last month's massacre. However, the polls showed continuing divisions on political and gender lines.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 08:41
Category: Breaking News Written by Marcus Amick
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
The first official media day of the 2013 North American International Auto Show kicked off with the Cadillac ATS wining the Car of the Year Award and the Ram 1500 Truck of the Year.
The winners, selected from three finalists in each category, are chosen by a jury of 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.
In addition to the ATS, finalists for Car of the Year included the Honda Accord and the Ford Fusion. Finalists for Truck of the Year included the CX-5 and the C-Max in addition to the Ram 1500.
Don Butler, vice president of marketing for Cadillac, said the Car of the Year honor for the ATS is a major win for the brand.
“The recognition for the ATS as Car of the Year is validation of all the hard effort that the women and men of Cadillac and GM have put into this vehicle, built all-new from the ground up to take on the world’s best,” said Butler. “It’s just a testament to all the great work we are doing at Cadillac.”
Robert Hegbloom, director of Ram brand marketing, said the Truck of the Year Award caps off a big year for the company.
“To win the truck of the year in Texas, Motor Trend Truck of the Year and then this is incredible,” said. “If you go back, we started the program for this truck when we were at the lowest point in our company’s history. So here we were with our backs against the wall, but we focused on the vision of where we wanted to be and we delivered on it.”
The North American International Auto Show Car and Truck of the Year awards – now in their 20th year - are voted on by a group of automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites.
The awards are designed to recognize vehicles that are benchmarks in their segments based on factors including innovation, comfort, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.
The 2013 award was the first win for Cadillac and the fifth car win for General Motors. The Cadillac CTS was a finalist in 2008.
It was the third truck win for Chrysler. The Dodge Ram 1500 won in 1994.
To be eligible for the car and truck of the year awards, a vehicle must be all new or substantially changed. The jurors considered dozens of new vehicles before sending their ballots to Michelle Collins, a partner at Deloitte & Touche early in December.
The 2013 North American International Auto Show is open to the public from Jan. 19 - 27.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 11:32
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
It's Beyonce's most personal revelation yet.
For her new HBO documentary, "Life Is But a Dream," Beyonce reveals Blue Ivy's sonogram after an intimate video confession during which she says that she knew something felt different inside her.
"I just had a feeling that something was going on," says a makeup-free Beyonce while lying in bed before the sonogram image crosses the screen. "Really? This is crazy."
Beyonce goes on to talk about the difficulty of trying to keep the pregnancy a secret from the public, before her big reveal at the MTV Video Music Awards in August 2011. "They keep putting me in these tight clothes and trying to hide it, it's very difficult," she says, showing off her growing stomach. "I don't know how I'm going to do this."
That summer, Beyonce was performing sold-out shows at New York's Roseland Theater while hiding her pregnancy. "When you're pregnant, it's a little bit harder to breathe, so it was hard doing all the choreography and singing at the same time," she told the Associated Press at the time.
The newest trailer from the documentary comes one week after Blue Ivy celebrated her first birthday on Jan. 7. Although Beyonce didn't speak publicly about her and Jay-Z's daughter turning 1 year old, she did post an adorable photo of Blue walking on a tropical beach during a vacation.
Beyonce opened up about motherhood with GQ for the magazine's "100 Sexiest Women of the 21st Century" issue. "I love my job, but it's more than that: I need it," she told GQ. "Because before I gave birth, it was the only time in my life, all throughout my life, that I was lost."
The very private superstar will offer an intimate look into her personal life in the new HBO documentary, set to premiere on Feb. 16. "I always battle with how much do I reveal about myself," Beyonce says. "How do I stay current? How do I stay soulful?"
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 09:17
Category: Breaking News Written by Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley, CNN
(CNN) -- A man convicted of crimes in connection with Detroit's organized-crime family claims to know where Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa's body was buried in 1975.
Anthony Zerilli, 85, told New York's NBC 4 that Hoffa was buried in a Michigan field about 20 miles north of where he was last seen on July 30, 1975.
"I'm as certain as I could possibly be," Zerilli told the station. "If I had money, I'd like to bet a big sum of money that he's buried (there)."
Zerilli said the plan was to bury Hoffa in a shallow grave, then move his body to a different location. The latter part of the plan fell through, and his body was left in Oakland County, Michigan.
In an interview with CNN on Monday, former U.S. attorney and chief of the Eastern District of Michigan's Organized Crime Strike Force Keith Corbett said there are very few people, if any, who would be more likely to know about Hoffa's disappearance than Zerilli.
"Tony Zerilli was in a very high position within the Detroit organized crime family for decades," Corbett said. "This is a man who would have been in the know about all matters, especially what happened to Jimmy Hoffa."
Corbett, who prosecuted Zerilli in several cases in the 1980s and '90s, says Zerilli was the head of the Detroit organized crime family from 1970-1975, but was in prison himself when Hoffa disappeared.
In 2005, Zerilli was sentenced to 71 months in prison for racketeering and extortion. He was released in 2008.
In his interview with NBC 4, Zerilli denied playing any part in Hoffa's disappearance, and said Hoffa did not deserve what happened to him.
"If I wasn't away (in prison) I don't think it would have ever happened," Zerilli told the station. "That's the only thing I can tell you."
The FBI declined to comment on Zerilli's claims.
Corbett, however, told CNN he thinks the FBI will be taking Zerilli's words seriously, and will likely see if they can acquire a search warrant for the property in Michigan.
Hoffa's disappearance and presumed death has vexed investigators for almost four decades. As recently as October, soil samples were taken from a home in the suburban Detroit community after a tipster claimed he saw a body buried in the yard a day after Hoffa disappeared in 1975.
The soil samples were tested, and showed no evidence of human remains or decomposition.
One of the most powerful union leaders at a time when unions wielded a great deal of sway in many elections -- and when some unions were notoriously tied to organized crime -- Hoffa was forced out of the organized-labor movement when he went to federal prison in 1967 for jury tampering and fraud.
Then-President Richard Nixon pardoned him in 1971 on the condition that he not try to get back into the union movement before 1980.
Hoffa, then 62, was last seen on July 30, 1975, outside a Detroit-area restaurant.
He was there ostensibly to meet with reputed Detroit mob enforcer Anthony Giacalone and Genovese crime family figure Anthony Provenzano, who was also a chief of a Teamsters local in New Jersey. Giacalone died in 1982; Provenzano died in 1988 in prison.
Hoffa believed Giacalone had set up the meeting to help settle a feud between Hoffa and Provenzano, but Hoffa was the only one who showed up for the meeting, according to the FBI.
Giacalone and Provenzano later told the FBI that no meeting had been scheduled.
The FBI said at the time that the disappearance could have been linked to Hoffa's efforts to regain power in the Teamsters and to the mob's influence over the union's pension funds.
"I'd like to just prove to everybody that I'm not crazy," Zerilli told NBC 4.
"What happened, happened while I was in jail, and I feel very, very bad about it ... (it) should have never happened to Jim Hoffa."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 08:54
Category: Breaking News Written by Bill Mears, CNN
Washington (CNN) -- It was just a few words and a joke at that. But Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas broke his seven-year long silence on Monday when he spoke at oral arguments.
He made fun of lawyers from Yale, his law school alma mater.
Thomas has become known for rarely commenting on cases from the bench, another reflection of the complex and often misunderstood personality of the court's only African-American jurist.
On Monday, the justices were hearing an argument about the state of Louisiana's delay in paying for counsel for a death penalty defendant. Should that count against the state for the purposes of the right to a speedy trial?
A lawyer for the state was making the case for the inmate's appointed counsel, saying the woman was "more than qualified" and "very impressive."
"She was graduate of Yale Law School, wasn't she?" said Justice Antonin Scalia in apparent support, noting another member of the legal team went to Harvard.
The next words were hard to hear in the back-and-forth between the justices. But Thomas made a joke about the competence of Yale lawyers when compared to their Harvard colleagues, according to two witnesses.
Six members of the current high court attended Harvard Law School. Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor attend Yale.
The official transcript released by the court does not capture the flavor of the colorful exchange. But the lawyer arguing before the court was apparently not pleased.
"I would refute that, Justice Thomas," said Carla Sigler, the assistant district attorney in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The rest of the time, Thomas kept his own counsel as he is known to do.
"One thing I've demonstrated often in 16 years is you can do this job without asking a single question," he recalled in a speech five years ago.
Written opinions remain the main way the court expresses itself. But the current court is known as a "hot bench" for the busy back-and-forth rhetorical scrum during arguments.
Eight of the justices compete for time to make their questions and views known.
Thomas does occasionally speak from the bench when announcing o
pinions he has written, but before arguments commence.
Off the bench in friendly audiences, he can be gregarious, inquisitive and often self-reflective. He has a booming voice, and his hearty laugh is easily recognizable.
Some scholars have said Thomas' aversion to talking has reached epic heights.
A study of transcripts by Timothy Johnson of the University of Minnesota found in the past four decades, no justice besides Thomas had failed to speak at least once during an entire 12-month term.
The last time he spoke was February 22, 2006, during a capital appeal.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 08:39
Category: Breaking News Written by Matt Rousch, WWJ
TROY — The New York investment firmMorgan Stanley, the Troy-based Krersge Foundation and the New York nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corp. Monday launched a $100 million investment fund that is designed to expand access to health care and affordable housing for low-income residents and fund critical social services that help link the two in impoverished neighborhoods.
Called the Healthy Futures Fund, it is in part response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the 20 million new health care consumers that the legislation is likely to create.
The fund is being seeded with capital to build 500 housing units with integrated health services and to construct eight federally qualified health centers that will serve an estimated 75,000 people. It is designed to spur collaboration among health care providers and housing developers who do not often work together even when they operate in the same low-income neighborhoods and serve the same people.
“Connections between health and housing for low-income people need to be intentional. We can’t rely on serendipity to make this happen,” said Michael Rubinger, president and CEO of the LISC, a pioneering nonprofit that helps revive neighborhoods across the country.
“The collaboration among leading public policy programs, catalytic philanthropy, and private sector investment is critical to deliver robust, integrated solutions to improve the lives of low-income residents,” added Audrey Choi, managing director of global sustainable finance at Morgan Stanley. “Morgan Stanley’s investment in the Healthy Futures Fund reflects our continued commitment to building stronger, healthier communities.”
The fund is using federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, federal New Markets Tax Credits, grants, loans and guarantees to raise capital. Morgan Stanley is investing $63 million in equity through the Low Income Housing and New Markets Tax credits. The Kresge Foundation, LISC and Morgan Stanley are providing another $37 million in loan and grant capital for the projects.
The initial investments will fund projects that are expected to create 2,200 jobs in hard-hit communities.
“We can improve health outcomes for low-income housing residents by improving their access to care,” said Rip Rapson, president of The Kresge Foundation. “That’s what this fund is designed to do. It demonstrates the kind of leverage and innovation that can be brought to bear against large-scale social needs when the resources of the public, private and philanthropic sectors are creatively joined.”
LISC’s affiliate, New Markets Support Co., is managing the fund as part of its Building Sustainable Communities strategy to improve the quality of life in struggling, low-income neighborhoods. Both The Kresge Foundation and Morgan Stanley are long-time LISC partners, working together for many years to revitalize impoverished areas.
The fund expects to expand in the coming months with additional New Markets Tax Credits and lending capital from new partners. Organizations already signed on include National Development Council, NCB Capital Impact, Capital Link, Primary Care Development Corp., Mercy Loan Fund and Opportunity Finance Network.
“This is the painful reality: low-income people generally experience higher levels of sickness and disease and have lower life expectancies,” said LISC’s Rubinger. “With this fund, we can help move families from deteriorating apartments into quality, affordable homes and provide them with first-rate health care. That can be life-changing.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 08:24
Category: Breaking News Written by Martin Luther King III, The Grio
There’s a small, leather-bound Bible that holds special significance for my family. My father, Martin Luther King Jr., used it to prepare his first sermon as a pastor, at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He took it with him on the road, as he fought for freedom, equality, and opportunity. Today, the cover of that book has faded. Some of the pages are torn. No one has used that Bible since my father, and I never thought anyone would.
But on January 21, when President Obama takes the Oath of Office, he will place his hand on two Bibles. One belonged to President Lincoln. The other is my father’s.
It’s amazing to think about how far we have come since my father first opened that book almost 60 years ago. The Montgomery Bus Boycott. Bloody Sunday. The March on Washington. The Voting Rights Act. The Poor People’s Campaign. The Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike. Those struggles and sacrifices brought us to this moment. Who would have thought that just 45 years after my father’s death, we would see the re-election of our first African-American president, a vote of confidence from a clear majority of the American people?
Of course, my father would have been the first to point out that what most distinguishes President Obama is not the color of his skin, but the content of his character. At the heart of his vision is our nation’s founding creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Like my father, the President has fought to give all Americans the opportunity to realize their dreams, no matter what they look like or where they come from.
President Obama also shares my father’s belief that everyone has something to offer their communities and everyone has a responsibility to serve. On the Saturday before his first Inauguration, in 2009, I joined the president-elect as we repainted a shelter for homeless teens in Washington, D.C. I was honored that the President and First Lady made a National Day of Service dedicated to my father’s memory part of Inauguration weekend, and I’m thrilled they are continuing that tradition this year. On Saturday, January 19, Americans in all 50 states will come together to lend their neighbors a hand.
If my father could see his work and his Bible still inspiring our country after all these years, I know he would be deeply grateful. But he would also remind us that the dream remains unfulfilled.
Half a century ago, in a Birmingham jail, my father wrote that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” By that measure, we still have work to do. The Bible on which President Obama will place his hand inspired my father to speak out for the poor, the jobless, the homeless, the disenfranchised and the oppressed. Those struggles are far from over.
So I believe the true value of this Inauguration lies not just in its connection to our past, but its connection to our future. Over three days, beginning with the National Day of Service and culminating with the swearing-in ceremony on the National Mall, Americans have a tremendous opportunity: a chance to reaffirm the commitment of those who came before us to leave something better for those who come after us.
This opportunity is especially personal to me – not only because of my father, but because of my daughter. When President Obama took office, she was just an infant. Today, at four years old, she is beginning to understand how much a moment can mean. Fifty years ago, her grandfather stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, looked toward the Capitol, and told America about a dream he had. In less than two weeks, her President will stand next to the Capitol, look toward the Lincoln Memorial, and tell America about his vision to help make that dream a reality.
I can’t predict the rush of emotions I will feel. But I know my family will join the entire American family as we look back with pride and forward with determination. As my father famously said, the arc of the moral universe is long. But together, we can continue to bend it toward justice.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 09:03
Category: Breaking News Written by Zack Burgess, Chronicle Senior Writer
For most Detroiters, cars are like clothing. Life would go on without them, but it wouldn’t be the same. The city has carried on a 125-year love affair with the automobile.
“Driving is what we do,” said Gloria Usher, a government worker from Detroit. “When I look back on it, how I started driving, at such a young age mind you…what cars have meant to me, my father and my brothers. Cars are so important to who we are as Detroiters.”
For most people driving has been a love-hate relationship — traffic jams, accidents, noise — but overall, it has been an enduring and fascinating one. Growing up in the automobile capital of the world has its privileges.
“The only way to describe cars…is beautiful,” said Cam Collins. “Just the mere fact that so many things come together to make an automobile functional and then to get behind the wheel of a car and feel its power, is unbelievable. I think we take it for granted. “
On January 16, 2013, the North American International Auto Show and the city of Detroit will host a plethora of events surrounding a group of people who have made the relationship with automobiles possible.
One event in particular, DRIVEN, honors African Americans who have not only withstood the onslaught of the recession and the automobile industry’s restructuring, but have thrived despite it.
In the 1880s, the continental United States wasn’t even united. California, Oregon, and Nevada were states, but separated from their eastern counterparts by nine territories that would ultimately become 10 states.
There were not yet cars, but the Industrial Revolution was well under way. The country had more than 160,000 miles of railroad tracks by 1890. That is almost four times the length of today’s Interstate highway system. But if you wanted to travel where you wanted and when you wanted, you were relegated to the horse, or the mule.
Conventional 19th century wisdom held that a man on horseback could cover about 20 miles a day without harming his mount. If you lived in rural America, you were unlikely to see much of the country that lay beyond your horse’s range in your lifetime. And such things as emergency medical service, pizza delivery and the Roto-Rooter Man were not even dreams. The automobile proved to be the device that freed every American of geography and the loneliness of isolation.
“I wouldn’t know what to do if I couldn’t drive,” said Joe Meade. “I think I have been driving since I was at least 12. For most of us here in Detroit…it’s such an important part of our makeup. Driving is a part of our culture. All of us remember the first time we got behind the wheel of a car. You had died and gone to heaven.”
The average American knows that Henry Ford invented the Model T, that there was a song involving Lucille and an Oldsmobile, that tires lasted about two hours, and that you risked being considered foolish if you drove a “horseless carriage.”
The generally accepted birth year of the car is 1885, the year Benz actually built his first gasoline-powered three-wheeler, which means that this is either the 126th or 127th anniversary of the car. And more than 100,000 patents ultimately contributed to the creation of what we know as the automobile.
In 1900, in Europe, Ferdinand Porsche, in addition to insisting that his name be pronounced POR-shuh and not Porsche, produced a remarkable automobile. It was battery powered with four electric motors, one at each wheel.
Sound familiar? It should, because it was essentially a hybrid, and it happened 111 years ago.
In Michigan, which would become the seat of the American car industry, Ransom E. Olds expanded on mass production of the automobile. He, not Henry Ford, established the first true assembly line and used it to build a tiller-steered car known as the “curved dash” Oldsmobile. By 1902 he was pumping 2,500 cars out the door, and this rose to 5,000 Oldsmobiles by 1904. To put these sales in perspective, Benz sold 572 vehicles in 1899.
This set the stage for Henry Ford and his refined and expanded assembly line. Ford’s first automobile was not the Model T, but the Quadricycle, an open, gasoline-fueled, four-wheel, tiller-steered contraption with a seating capacity of two.
On June 4, 1896, when he was ready to test his creation, which he built in a shed behind his home on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Ford had to remove a wall because the Quadricycle would not fit through the doors. The good news was that the Quadricycle worked and led to the formation of the Henry Ford Company and later the Ford Motor Company.
In 1908 Ford brought out the Model T, the car that would put America on wheels. It cost $850 and sold 10,000 units in its first year. Four years later, Ford reduced the price to $575. By 1916 some 55 percent of the world’s automobiles were Model Ts, a record that was never equaled. By the time Model T production ceased in 1927, more than 15 million of the cars had been sold. Amazingly, an astonishing number of Model Ts are still with us, and there would be more had World War II scrap drives not consumed thousands of them.
Cars today are better than anyone ever thought they could be. Diesels don’t rattle or smell anymore. Onboard GPS systems can help you find a hotel or a Starbucks when you’re traveling. Cars are safer and sounder — and they last for years.
The U.S. industry produced the first minivan in 1983, and not long after, the SUV became the thing for moms and dads to drive because kids didn’t want to be seen in a minivan. The station wagon reappeared in the 1990s, but is now called a crossover. The hybrid is back, and so is the electric car.
The love affair between Americans and their cars has lasted for more than a century. Like most affairs of the heart, those years have produced triumph, tragedy, creativity, innovation, and a substantial dose of laughter and lunacy.
This is likely to continue.
“When I moved here from Grand Rapids, it amazed me that people would get in their car to go two blocks to the grocery store,” said Debra Usher. “I found it ridiculous. But that’s Detroit.”
Next week: How the DRIVEN event went from an idea to a reality.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 08:42
Category: Breaking News Written by Paige Lavender, thehuffingtonpost
The White House responded to a handful of "We the People" petitions calling for the government to allow some states to secede, saying "our states remain united."
"In a nation of 300 million people -- each with their own set of deeply-held beliefs -- democracy can be noisy and controversial. And that's a good thing," writes Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement. "Free and open debate is what makes this country work, and many people around the world risk their lives every day for the liberties we often take for granted. But as much as we value a healthy debate, we don't let that debate tear us apart."
Secession fever hit after President Barack Obama was reelected in November. The petition movement quickly caught on, and by Nov. 14, residents in all 50 states had filed "We the People" petitions.
The movement even caught on with one Texas GOP official, who called for an "amicable divorce" from the U.S.
"Why should Vermont and Texas live under the same government?" wrote Peter Morrison, treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party. "Let each go her own way."
Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 08:22
Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
Detroit School Board President LaMar Lemmons said the board is prepared to “pull the trigger” on a judge’s ruling that could unseat all school board members that were elected by district.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Thursday asked Wayne Circuit Judge John Gillis, Jr. to speed up a decision on whether seven members of the Detroit Board of Education are holding office illegally. The ruling, which is expected to be delivered by mail, could come down as soon as today.
Schuette filed the lawsuit in August citing a state law that requires school districts with less than 100,000 full-time students to elect all of its school board members at large. Schuette asserts that DPS enrollment numbers dipped below 100,000 prior to the board’s 2011 election.
The state’s chief law enforcer has argued that the seven Detroit school board members elected by districts in 2011 are holding office illegally.
But Lemmons says the board is prepared to fight Gillis’ ruling should he call for the removal of his district-elected colleagues.
“The ACLU has already said that they will join in the fight and we have already retained counsel,” Lemons told MiChronicle.com. “Everything’s all set. We’re ready to pull the trigger.”
This lawsuit is one of many that has been flung between board members and state officials in recent years as battles for control of district functions have flared since the state appointed an emergency financial manger (EFM) to take over district’s beleaguered finances in 2009.
In 2011 the district saw the brief tenure of a controversial emergency manager law, Public Act 4, that gave an emergency manager total control of troubled school districts, including academics, an area that the school board retained control of prior to the sweeping 2011 legislation.
Since Public Act 4 was overturned in November, and its predecessor, Public Act 72 is back in affect, School Board members say EFM Roy Roberts has not honored the voter’s decision to strike down PA4 and return academic decisions to the board.
Meanwhile, state legislature drafted up and passed a new law, Public Act 436, one that will take affect in late March.
“In the interim we are, in theory, in charge of academics of the district but in reality we have not had control,” Lemmons said.
But he said the board has studied the new emergency manager law and found a promising loophole.
“The elephant is the room is that the legislation neglected to see that we will be grandfathered into 436,” he said of the new legislation. “Public Act 436 states that after 18 months, a two-thirds vote [from the board] can remove an emergency manager. We have had an emergency manager for 50 months by now,” Lemmons said. “I don’t have to tell you that we are going to ask to remove the emergency manger.”
To prevent such legal backlash, Schuette has sought an injunction against the four at-large board members to silence them should Gillis decide to unseat seven district-board members according to The Detroit News.
The seven district-elected board members are Tawanna Simpson, Elena Herrada, Annie Carter, Judy Summers, Herman Davis, Wanda Redmond and Juvette Hawkins-Williams.
Lemmons said he is committed to continue the fight for control of the DPS. “This is an attempt to destroy the will of the people,” Lemmons said, noting that the board will be in Court on Wednesday to hear a ruling on whether the Education Achievement Authority, the State-run school district aimed turnaround the state’s worst performing schools, should be dissolved.
The board will also heard from Wayne Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry as to whether the school board can hire a number of new staffers.
The board voted to hire two ombudsman positions and one assistant to the interim superintendent, both with annual salaries exceeding $100,000. Roberts said.
In a letter, Roberts said he recently became aware of several hiring decisions by the board.
"At no point in time did the Board seek my approval in accordance with Public Act 72,” Roberts wrote in the letter. “In fact, no one has even attempted to discuss with me the financial impact the salaries and ancillary costs for these new positions will have on the district's tenuous budget.”
Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2013 09:25
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