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Tag Archive | "Michigan"

A Year of Focused Commitment


_V-LevinBy Sen. Carl Levin

When I announced last March that I would not seek reelection in 2014, I said that I wanted to spend my time working on a number of serious challenges that Michigan and the nation face, rather than on reelection. As we begin the new year, I want to update you on the tests we faced in 2013 and where I believe we can move forward in the year ahead.

Among the tasks I mentioned in my announcement was my responsibility as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to monitor and advance the end of our combat commitment to Afghanistan and to help the services, our troops and their families recover from the strains of more than a decade at war.

In two trips to Afghanistan over the last year, I have seen rapid and positive changes that are transforming security and daily life for the people of Afghanistan. Challenges remain, but our troops and our nation should feel a sense of accomplishment about what we have done there for our national security and for the people of Afghanistan.

In Syria, where severe repression has sparked a revolt against the dictator Bashar Assad, the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces against civilians shocked the world. With a strong U.S. push, international pressure pushed Assad into an unprecedented agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons capability. That agreement is an advance for the security of the region and the world.

Pressure on another outlier country—Iran—has for the first time in decades provided at least some hope of progress. Late in the year, the United States and our allies reached an interim agreement that freezes Iran’s nuclear program and could set the stage for a final agreement that ends the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon. Like most Americans, I am skeptical of Iran’s leaders, but I believe this interim step should be given a chance to succeed.

As our involvement in Afghanistan recedes, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to give greater attention to tired military families and help the services rebuild military readiness that has been strained by war. But that opportunity will slip away if we do not address the continuing threat of budget sequestration.

Sequestration is the across-the-board, automatic spending cuts that slashed major funding from important domestic and national security programs in 2013. These cuts have closed Head Start classrooms; ended research programs to fight life-threatening diseases; and forced our military to ground fighter jets and cancel important training exercises. The budget agreement we reached at the end of 2013 reduces sequestration’s impact somewhat for the next two years and offers a bit of hope for an end to the cycle of crisis that has plagued Congress. But it does not touch sequestration for the following six years.

In the longer term, there is only one solution to the sequestration problem: We should replace these meat-ax cuts with a balanced deficit reduction plan. Any such plan must include additional revenue. I have introduced two bills that would close unjustified tax loopholes identified by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair. These loopholes are the source of massive tax avoidance by highly profitable multinational corporations and wealthy individuals at the expense of middle-income families. I will continue searching for common ground with colleagues of both parties to work for a balanced replacement for sequestration.

We’ve made significant progress in recent years in building on Michigan’s manufacturing and technological excellence to enhance our state’s competitiveness and improve opportunities for Michigan workers. The growing strength of our auto industry as it emerges from its restructuring is just one result of these efforts. Michigan is an increasingly important hub for development of green-energy technologies in vehicles and other fields. The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a groundbreaking nuclear research facility being established at Michigan State University, reached important milestones. I’ll keep working in the year ahead to strengthen our foundation of economic competitiveness.

The last year was a difficult one for our state’s largest city, Detroit. I and other members of the Michigan delegation have worked to do all we could to make sure that the city has access to all available federal resources to assist in its recovery, and I’ll continue to look for ways to help.

There is no question this year will be a challenging one. My final year in the Senate will be one of focused commitment to the job I was sent here to do.

Carl Levin is the senior U.S. senator from Michigan.

 

Posted in Senator Carl Levin ColumnComments Off

Great Lakes piping plover struggling in Michigan


A male piping plover with four chicks. Photo by Roger Eriksson, Michigan Audubon Society.

A male piping plover with four chicks. Photo by Roger Eriksson, Michigan Audubon Society.

The Piping Plover is a small, stocky shorebird, similar in size to the American Robin that blends well with its beach habitat having a sandy colored body, white underside and distinct orange legs. During the breeding season the plover has a black forehead and breast band with an orange bill.

There are three geographical areas where Piping Plovers breed in North America—along the Atlantic Coast, throughout the Northern Great Plains and along the Great Lakes. Michigan is home to the vast majority of breeding plovers in the Great Lakes Region. Michigan plovers prefer wide, sandy, open beaches with little to no vegetation. In 1986, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Great Lakes Piping Plover population as an endangered species; that same year the other two populations were listed as a threatened species.

Historically, several hundred breeding pairs were observed in 20 counties throughout Michigan but by 1986 there were only 17 breeding pairs in nine counties. This initial decline was largely due to excess hunting in the 19th and early 20th century, until the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 stopped this activity. Population numbers began to slowly increase until the 1950s when the plovers saw another decline in numbers, this time due to increased habitat loss, recreational pressure, predation and habitat contamination. Additionally, high lake levels in the late 1970s and mid 1980s temporarily removed a vast amount of nesting area for the birds.

These deterrents have decreased the Great Lakes Piping Plover’s survival rates; fledging young report approximately a 30 percent survival rate while adults report about 70 percent. Longevity records indicate Michigan plovers have a difficult time reaching five years of age or older with only 13 percent of females and 28 percent of males surviving to five.

Since 1986, the number of nesting pairs has ranged from 12 to 32 with Michigan housing all of the nesting plover pairs in 2000.

Today, several federal, state and nonprofit agencies, universities and private research centers have conducted studies on the plover’s populations and are actively working to save the shorebird. Management techniques include controlling human access to nesting areas, closing off beaches during peak breeding season, monitoring and protecting nests, properly managing water flow and levels and limiting residential and industrial development in known plover breeding areas.

Michigan Audubon currently assists the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the recruitment, training and supervision of volunteers. These qualified volunteers monitor Piping Plover nesting sites in the Tawas area. Volunteers also search historical locations between Bay City and Mackinaw City on Lake Huron. If you are interested in volunteering visit: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/pipingplover/volunteers.html

Proper management techniques and dedicated volunteers have produced promising numbers for the Great Lakes Piping Plovers but the species is still extremely vulnerable to demographic or environmental events that have the potential to remove the population completely. The next decade of conservation will be critical to this species population and will hopefully lead to the removal of the plovers from the Endangered Species List.

If you would like to make a contribution to the Michigan Audubon Piping Plover conservation, visit www.michiganaudubon.org/donate.

 

Posted in OutdoorsComments (1)


roger on main streetArmageddon

Don’t know why, but the political convention season always makes me think about Armageddon. And, speaking of that…

Time after time, various folks have predicted the end of the world. The Millennium was one of the biggies, prediction-wise. Oops…not even the world’s computer programs came to an end. (Remember all those so-called “millennium bugs”?) So far, every day has gone by with a tomorrow to follow.

The latest prediction I’ve personally heard about is for December 21, 2012. Give credit for this one to the ancient Mayans and some imaginative moderns.

It goes like this: Events of 2012 are based on the ending date of the ancient Mayan Long Count Calendar. This is thought to end on December 21, 2012, signaling, of course, the end of days for real. Predictions of devastation and destruction abound. Some believe it wise to prepare for doomsday.

Considering the record of past predictions, I suggest planning on a cup of coffee and a good TV rerun show on December 21. If we’re wrong, all of us will be in the same boat, anyway. In my opinion, it’s likely to be just another ho-hum.

Just to make sure we don’t get too bored, the Mayan calendar worked in another end-of-times possibility 25,000 years from now.

Cure story

A man goes into a drug store and asks the pharmacist if he can give him something for the hiccups. The pharmacist promptly reaches out and slaps the man’s face.

“What the heck did you do that for?” yells the man.

“Well, you don’t have the hiccups anymore do you?” answers the pharmacist.

The man says, “No, I don’t, you dummy… But my wife out in the car still does!”

Taste story

When the store manager returned from lunch, he noticed his clerk’s hand was bandaged, but before he could ask about the bandage, the clerk had some very good news for him.

“Guess what, sir?” said the clerk. “I finally sold that terrible, ugly suit we’ve had so long!”

“Do you mean that repulsive pink-and-blue double-breasted thing?” asked the manager.

“That’s the one!”

“ Well, great!” said the manager. “I thought we’d never get rid of that monstrosity. It had to be the ugliest suit we’ve ever had. But tell me, why is your hand bandaged?”

“Oh,” the clerk replied, “after I sold the guy that suit, his seeing-eye dog bit me.”

Court story

A prospective juror in a Dallas District Court was surprised by the definition of voluntary manslaughter the judge gave the panel: “An intentional killing that occurs while the defendant is under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause, such as when a spouse’s mate is found in a compromising position.”

During her interview, the jury candidate remarked, “During my first marriage, I came in and found my husband compromising with our next-door neighbor. All I did was divorce him. I had no idea that I could have shot him.”

She wasn’t selected for the jury.

 

Posted in Roger on Main St., Voices and ViewsComments Off

Weekly fishing tip: Fly Fishing Frenzy



June is the month in Michigan for fly fishing after dark, with big bugs for big trout. The month’s hatches start with the brown drake mayfly, followed by the isonychia mayfly, and rounded out by Michigan’s biggest mayfly, the hexagenia. Each bug can be expected to hatch in one to two weeks on a given water body, with some overlap. With the warm weather so far in 2012, the hatch schedule has been accelerated in Michigan so the hatches this year may be more intense and last fewer nights that usual.

Bugs will begin to emerge in the evening after sunset and can continue well after dark. Roughly 48 hours later those same bugs will return to the water they hatched from and die. Both events cause a feeding frenzy in the fish community and provide a lot of fun for the anglers that take advantage of the feeding fish. Contacting a local fly shop or bait shop is a good place to look for information on hatch activity on a specific water body. For information on fishing for trout in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off

July is national blueberry month


July is almost over, but it’s not too late to enjoy some fat, juicy, delicious blueberries for national blueberry month! Did you know that over 18,000 acres of blueberries are grown in Michigan, the largest blueberry-producing state in the U.S.? Michigan grows more than 20 varieties. They are a favorite at farmer’s markets, and in regular grocery stores, too.

Blueberries are considered a super food. They are the fruit that is highest in antioxidants, and are an excellent source of Vitamin C and fiber. They are also a good source of Vitamin A and iron.

Eat fresh blueberries within a week after purchasing. Store berries in the refrigerator in a covered container. Do not wash until ready to eat. For long-term storage, place completely dry berries on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container.
Below is a recipe for those watching their sugars and carbs. You can have your blueberry cheesecake and eat it too!

Blueberry cheesecake for carb counters

From the U.S. highbush blueberry council

Ingredients

2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs*

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2⁄3 cup granulated non-nutritive sweetener

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Sour Cream Topping, recipe follows

Blueberry Sauce (recipe follows)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°F

Spray bottom and side of a 9-inch pie plate with vegetable cooking spray

Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and tilt to cover evenly

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, eggs, milk, granulated sweetener and vanilla until smooth

Carefully pour into crumb-coated pie plate

Smooth top

Bake until set in the center, 18 to 20 minutes

Cool 10 minutes

When pie is set, spread the Sour Cream Topping over the top

Bake 7 minutes longer

Cool to room temperature on a wire rack

Chill until cold

Serve with Blueberry Sauce

Sour Cream Topping

In a small bowl, stir 1 cup sour cream, ¼ cup granulated non-nutritive sweetener and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Blueberry Sauce

In a medium-size saucepan, over medium heat, stir 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries with 2 tablespoons granulated non-nutritive sweetener and 1 tablespoon each lemon juice and water until berries are soft, about 5 minutes

Chill

Quick notes

Per portion (including 1-½ tablespoons blueberry sauce): 413 calories; 13 g carbohydrate; 36 g total fat (22 g saturated fat); 1 g fiber

* Note: Breadcrumbs are optional If made without breadcrumbs, subtract 1 gram carbohydrate per portion

Number of servings (yield): 8

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, RecipesComments Off


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