Posts tagged with "Michigan"

Trump orders advisers to ‘go down fighting’

November 6, 2020

As Election Day turns into election week, Donald Trump has delivered a simple message to his closest political and legal advisers as they began charting a plan to challenge results in several key states: Give them a court fight that “they’ll never forget.”

The president’s remarks, relayed by two people familiar with them, came as election results seemed trending Joe Biden’s way. And for Team Trump, it was meant as a clarion call to use every possible legal resource and bit of political organizing to help re-tip the balance of the scale, The Daily Beast reported.

Trump told his advisers that, even if Biden were to claw the presidency away from him, he wanted them to “go down fighting” harder than they ever had before, one of the sources with direct knowledge said.

Goaded by White House messaging, his base responded:

The Michigan Republican Party did not return a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

Trump’s legal team—including George W. Bush campaign veteran Mark “Thor” Hearne—asked a court in Michigan to halt absentee ballot counts because it alleged its observers had not been granted full access to the tally, and were not permitted to watch video footage of “remote and unattended dropboxes.”

It brought a similar suit in Pennsylvania, fighting to stop the tabulation on the grounds that its overseers had not been allowed within 25 feet of the counting effort.

Further, Trump’s lawyers filed to enter an ongoing Supreme Court case, hoping to convince jurists on the highest bench to overturn a state policy that would allow counties to count votes postmarked on Election Day and received as late as Friday. Jay Sekulow, a personal attorney and confidant of Trump’s, is overseeing the Supreme Court effort.

“Lawyer city,” Joe Grogan, formerly a top domestic policy adviser to President Trump, said, describing the situation on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s going to be really ugly.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

The morning after: Biden captures slim lead—but races too close to call

November 5, 2020

With the presidential election too close to call—and not all mail-in ballots yet counted nationwide—all eyes were focused on Wednesday morning, November 4, on Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the three northern industrial states that likely will prove crucial in determining who wins the White House, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Indeed, by early Wednesday, neither candidate had the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the Oval Office. And as votes continued to trickle in, it’s possible the American people could be hours or even days away from knowing who will lead their nation.

Michigan and Wisconsin turned the lightest shade of blue on results maps later Wednesday morning, with outstanding vote still to count in those states. The same is true of Nevada. Georgia and North Carolina—states in which Trump is narrowly leading, which also have outstanding votes.

It could be several days before Pennsylvania, where Trump currently leads, finishes counting mail ballots—which are thought to significantly favor Biden.

The Biden campaign is signaling confidence that they will meet the 270 mark in the coming days, but there is simply too much uncertainty at the moment to clearly predict a winner, and the cloud of litigation hangs over the entire proceeding.

Four years after Trump became the first Republican in a generation to capture that trio of “Rust Belt” states, they again are positioned to make or break a presidential election. Trump kept several states he won in 2016 that had seemed wobbly in the final days of the campaign—including Texas, Iowa and Ohio—where the Biden camp made a play.

Trump cried foul over the election results, falsely calling the process “a major fraud on our nation.” But, the Tribune notes, there’s no evidence of foul play in the cliffhanger.

The president had vowed to take the election to the Supreme Court, and received criticism from conservative pundits after making his comments. The Biden campaign said it would fight any such efforts to stop the counting of votes.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

‘Road of the future’ to link Detroit and Ann Arbor with 40 miles of self-driving cars and shuttles

August 17, 2020

Companies have poured tens of billions into self-driving vehicles, but they have yet to change how we get around: We continue to rely on ground transportation operated by humans.

Why? It could be a lack of vision. The self-driving vehicle industry has put all of its efforts into designing the driverless vehicles—and barely one cent into the roads that would carry them successfully.

But now, Fortune Magazine reports, we are about to see a quantum leap in transportation. An ambitious new project in Michigan is set to connect two of the state’s key cities—Detroit and Ann Arbor—with a new corridor dedicated just to autonomous vehicles.

The plan is being led by Cavnue, an infrastructure startup, and with the support of traditional car companies like Ford and GM as well as Alphabet’s driverless car subsidiary, Waymo.

The plan calls for new roads—or special Cavnue lanes for driverless vehicles—to be built alongside existing routes, including Interstate 94, with links to destinations such as the University of Michigan and Detroit Metropolitan airport.

The so-called road of the future, which was announced on Thursday, August 13, by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, amounts to an ambitious bid to reconceive both transportation and public transit. A press release describing the project hailed it as “the world’s most sophisticated roadway.”

A key feature of the plan is the development of a common software standard that will enable autonomous vehicles of all sorts—from cars to transport trucks to passenger shuttles—access the road. This will provide a revenue opportunity for governments, which can charge private companies for access to the road, using the funds to subsidize transit. For transit users, driverless shuttles could be an affordable new way to get around.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether all of this actually will come to fruition, Fortune notes. For now, the project calls for an initial 24-month planning phase, after which the State of Michigan and start-up Cavnue will decide whether to begin construction. Cavnue is a subsidiary of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP), a holding company partly backed by Google parent Alphabet.

According to Cavnue, the public sector will not have to finance any part of the first phase of the project, and if construction goes forward, the builders will explore a variety of funding options such as federal grants or fares from local businesses along the corridor.

In an interview with Fortune, Cavnue cofounder Jonathan Winer cited a “lot of nervousness” in the public sector over new technology and infrastructure projects. He said this stems from a shortage of funds—exacerbated by the pandemic—as well local governments’ experience with companies like Uber and Airbnb, which have been prone to flouting quality-of-life concerns.

In order to win the support of Michigan and local governments, Winer says Cavnue began by bringing together all manner of transportation interests—including road operators, public sector officials, and carmakers. At a convention in February, the various groups explored how dedicated routes for driverless cars could provide an alternative to light rail and other transit systems.

Winer adds that the occasion also underscored the challenge of finding practical uses for driverless vehicles—a challenge detailed in a recent Financial Times report that described “disillusionment” with the technology and “robotaxi failure.” The idea of “robotaxis” has been hyped for years as a new form of urban transportation, but companies have failed to develop autonomous cars capable of operating in cities.

“The general consensus is it’s harder than we thought,” he told the business news outlet. “If we’re spending billions on tech, we’ll need near-term commercial applications.”

In practice, Winer says, this means shifting the focus of the fledgling autonomous vehicle industry towards projects like the corridor between Detroit and Ann Arbor, which can allow autonomous vehicles to operate without challenges like urban traffic.

The Detroit project is also getting a boost from the traditional titans of Motor City, including Ford’s executive chairman, Bill Ford, who is the great-grandson of the company’s founder.

“Building out a connected corridor cements Michigan as a leader in creating a more connected, autonomous, and electrified future,” said Ford in a statement.

In addition to advisors from Ford, GM, and Waymo, Cavnue’s advisory board includes members from Argo AI, Arrival, BMW, Honda, Toyota, and TuSimple. The University of Michigan and the City of Detroit are also lending support to the project.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Hen party: U.S. cities allow residents to raise chickens

July 20, 2018

Talk about “urban chic.” Or should we say “urban chick”? Cities from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Ft. Collins, Colorado, are voting to allow residents to raise backyard poultry, according to a July 19 report by Worldwatch Institute.

It’s a serious issue – it’s no yolk,” Mayor Dave Cieslewicz of Madison, Wisconsin commented when his city reversed its poultry ban in 2004. “Chickens are really bringing us together as a community. For too long, they’ve been cooped up.”

Raising backyard chickens is an extension of an urban farming movement that has gained popularity nationwide. “Fresh is not what you buy at the grocery store. Fresh is when you go into your backyard, put it in your bag, and eat it,” said Carol-Ann Sayle, co-owner of a five-acre farm in Austin, Texas. “Everyone should have their own henhouse in their own backyard.”

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, raising chickens has been legal since August 30, 2010. Since then Cedar Rapids’ urban chicken ordinance has been used as a model for other municipalities nationwide. The ordinance—which Rebecca Mumaw of the advocacy organization, Citizens for the Legalization of Urban Chickens (or CLUC) helped to draft, provides the following guidelines:

  • Residents are allowed to keep up to six hens (no roosters) on single family dwelling properties;
  • Permits are required for an annual fee of $25;
  • Applicants for permits are required to notify their neighbors of their intent to obtain a permit and to complete an approved two-hour class on raising chickens in an urban setting (cost $10-$12);
  • Chickens must be kept in an enclosed or fenced area and secured from predators at night;
  • Henhouses must provide at least four square feet of space per bird and meet certain design requirements;
  • Chicken enclosures must be kept in the backyard—located at least 10 feet from the property line and 25 feet from neighboring homes;
  • Chickens must be provided with adequate food and water—and kept in a manner to minimize noise, odor, and attraction of pests and predators; and
  • Slaughtering of chickens is not allowed.

Indeed, Mumaw told the local newspaper, the Dispatch Argus, “Raising a limited number of egg-laying hens will allow residents to raise their own food, just as they do in vegetable gardens now.”

“Buying local” also provides an alternative to factory farms that pollute local ecosystems with significant amounts of animal waste – which can at times exceed the waste from a small U.S. city, a government report revealed last month. In the United States alone, industrial livestock production generates 500 million tons of manure every year. The waste also emits potent greenhouse gases—especially methane, which has 23 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Meanwhile, advocates insist that birds raised on a small scale are less likely to carry diseases than factory-farmed poultry, although some public health officials are concerned that backyard chickens could elevate avian flu risks.

The USDA is not yet providing specific figures on the number of chickens being raised in urban environments.

Research contact: worldwatch@worldwatch.org