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MichMan's Journal
MichMan's Journal
November 16, 2021

More than half of Detroit public school students are considered chronically absent this school year

"More than half of Detroit public school students are considered chronically absent this school year from district schools.

The district's chronic absenteeism numbers have dropped a few percentage points from pandemic levels last year, when 59% of Detroit students were chronically absent. But 57% of students are still considered chronically absent, compared with 45% before the pandemic. A student is considered chronically absent in Michigan if they miss 10% or more days of school. "This continues to be, in my mind, our greatest challenge," Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said during a Nov. 9 school board meeting.

The slightly improved numbers this year were expected because the district has resumed in-person school after more than a year of conducting school virtually. But the high rate of chronically absent students is notable for the district, which once held the highest rate of chronically absent students of all big districts in the country.

Nearly 58% of students were chronically absent in the 2013-2014 school year. Under new leadership, the district worked to get more students in their seats more often, reaching a 45% chronic absenteeism rate before the pandemic hit.

Chronic absenteeism is a complex problem for school districts. Students often don't show up for reasons that aren't willful: Some struggle with getting a ride to school. Other, older students may unexpectedly have to watch young siblings.

"Chronic absenteeism, for us, has not been a new challenge because it is directly linked to poverty," Vitti told the Detroit Free Press in an interview in August. "The pandemic exacerbated what was already a challenging situation."

November 4, 2021

The inflation tax is not only real, it's massive

"If you are under the impression that the “inflation tax” is only an allusion to the shrinking impact inflation has on the purchasing power of your income and savings, you should continue reading.

Inflation is a real tax, just as real and at times nearly as important as the individual income tax. While inflation clearly does reduce the purchasing power of your earnings and fixed-income asset values, it also redistributes purchasing power from businesses and households to the federal government. And in today’s economy, with inflation running at 5.4 percent, the inflation tax is no small matter. The amount the government will collect from the inflation tax in 2021 exceeds $1.9 trillion.

Most people understand that inflation can redistribute income and wealth. For example, many probably are aware that unanticipated inflation benefits borrowers at the expense of creditors. When inflation is higher than expected, borrowers repay debt with future dollars that have less purchasing power."

November 4, 2021

White House walks back Biden comments on migrant families payments

"The White House on Thursday walked back President Biden's comments from the day before that the administration would not be paying migrants separated at the border during the last administration $450,000 each, clarifying that the government would be willing to settle out of court with those families.

"If it saves taxpayer dollars and puts the disastrous history of the previous administration’s use of zero tolerance and family separation behind us, the president is perfectly comfortable with the Department of Justice settling with the individuals and families who are currently in litigation with the United States government," White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Biden on Wednesday was asked about reports that his administration was contemplating a payment of roughly $450,000 per person for separated migrant parents and children. "That’s not gonna happen," he told reporters when asked about the reported plan.

Jean-Pierre on Thursday asserted Biden was reacting specifically to the $450,000 figure that was mentioned when he was asked about it. "As press accounts to date indicate, DOJ made clear to the plaintiffs that the reported figures are higher than anywhere that a settlement can land," she said.

Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Biden on Wednesday if the payments could encourage migrants to flock to the U.S. "If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah," Biden said. "But it’s not true."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a statement suggested Biden had not not briefed on the actions of his own DOJ, and it further argued the president would be turning his back on a core campaign promise to provide a measure of justice for those separated under the Trump policy. "

October 23, 2021

Canada says EV tax credits would cause 'serious' harm to auto industry

Washington — The Canadian government argued in a letter to congressional leadership Friday that "the protectionist elements" of proposed electric vehicle tax credits would damage the North American auto industry and aren't consistent with existing trade agreements.

Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng told lawmakers and officials in the Biden administration that the two nations' auto supply chains are deeply integrated, and the proposed credits "would cause serious and irreparable harm" to both the Canadian and U.S. auto industry.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is accompanied by Mary Ng, Canada's Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, as they arrive for a meeting with Ethiopian women entrepreneurs, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020.
"If passed into law, these credits would have a major adverse impact on the future of EV and automotive production in Canada, resulting in the risk of severe economic harm and tens of thousands of job losses in one of Canada’s largest manufacturing sectors," Ng wrote in the letter obtained by The Detroit News. "U.S. companies and workers would not be isolated from these impacts."

Ng stressed the interconnected nature of the two auto economies: Every vehicle assembled in Canada contains around 50% U.S.-made parts, the two countries are the top importers of each others' auto exports, and the two countries agreed earlier this year to collaborate on sourcing critical minerals needed to make electric vehicle batteries. She also wrote that the proposed policies are inconsistent with trade obligations under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and that a weaker Canadian automotive sector would negatively impact the Great Lakes region in particular.

"Canada and the United States share the common objectives of transitioning to green economies, combating climate change, and ensuring the vehicles, components and critical minerals of the future are produced here in North America," she wrote. "Canadian unions and labour standards are as robust as those in the United States. Therefore, it is imperative that Canadian assembly, including Canadian unionized assembly, is not discriminated against and is eligible for the maximum incentive available."

September 12, 2021

Unlawful Flint use of portable X-ray scanners began in 2019, not 2020

LANSING — A New York law firm may have used unregistered portable X-ray scanners on Flint residents for one year longer than state officials were told, records show.

A sworn affidavit from a Flint resident, along with emails showing when the Napoli Shkolnik law firm sought to lease the devices, suggest the use of scanners, which are tools in the scrap metal and mining industries but are not designed for use on human beings, began around September 2019. That is about 18 months before either of the two devices was registered with the state of Michigan, as required by law.

A representative of the law firm, whose name was redacted, told the state in March it had been using the devices for only about six months, since August or September of 2020, before registering them in February, according to a state summary of a phone call the Free Press obtained under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act.

Failing to register a radiation machine is a misdemeanor under the Public Health Code that can bring a $10,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail, with each day that a violation continues considered a separate violation. But the state brought no criminal or civil charges against the law firm, records show.

The scanners were applied to the tibias of thousands of Flint residents, including many children and at least one pregnant woman, to measure how much lead had accumulated in their bones. Lawyers and some medical experts have said radiation levels are low and use of the portable scanners is safe.

But the manufacturer of the scanners, Thermo Fisher Scientific, ultimately ordered Napoli Shkolnik to stop using them.

The company said in a May letter to the law firm that it had in rare cases authorized use of the scanners on humans for research purposes, but that had only happened under the supervision of an Institutional Review Board, which was not in place for the scans that took place in Flint.

In addition to revelations about the radiation doses involved, the MIOSHA records obtained by the Free Press show the law firm's scanning operation in Flint had no system for monitoring radiation exposures for scanner operators, no physician licensed in Michigan supervising operations, no mechanism to ensure the scanners would shut off after about three minutes to prevent possible overexposure, and no written notice to Flint residents of the radiation they would be exposed to and any related risks, Reynolds said in the motion filed by his California attorney, Jahmy Graham.

September 2, 2021

Detroit man charged in bomb hoax at Trump Las Vegas hotel

"A Detroit man has been charged in connection with a bomb hoax this week at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, an incident he said was meant as a message for the former president who had "messed up his life," police reported.

Records show Dandre Lundy, 44, was booked Tuesday in the Clark County Detention Center on multiple felony charges, including communicating a bomb threat and making threats or conveying false information concerning acts of terrorism.

According to an arrest report from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Lundy allegedly left a suitcase and duffel bag near a concierge station at the Trump International Hotel around 12:40 p.m. Tuesday then said: "Everybody needs to leave the building there is a bomb in here."

The 44-year-old, who was wearing an American flag hat, waved to security cameras before leaving in the same pink taxi he arrived in, the filing said. Hotel security and employees evacuated the lobby and a restaurant. A bomb squad checked the suitcase and bag he left and found no explosive materials. Minutes later, Lundy called in a bomb threat to a worker, police wrote. The caller ID listed his name.

Detectives tracked Lundy to a nearby Motel 6.

"While being detained, without any provocation from detectives, Lundy made an excited utterance of 'Can I get my suitcase back from Trump? I told them it's a bomb, no one got hurt, so there's no crime,'" according to the police report

Lundy told investigators he had flown from Michigan the day before and planned to "send Trump a message that he is a 'beast'" by leaving a suitcase with a rock, a $1 bill, a Bible and handwritten “scriptures” supporting his claim.

The man said he “believed Trump had messed up his life for the last three years,” police said."


August 25, 2021

FBI raids Detroit's city hall and council members' homes in corruption probe

Detroit — FBI agents were executing search warrants at the homes of Detroit City Council members Janeé Ayers and Scott Benson and at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on Wednesday morning, the latest escalation of a federal corruption investigation that has already led to charges against Councilman André Spivey.

The exact focus of the investigation and what led investigators to mount the raids Wednesday were unclear. No criminal charges have been filed and search warrant documents remained sealed in court.

The raids Wednesday represent the largest federal investigation into City Hall corruption in the eight years since former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of racketeering conspiracy charges and sentenced to 28 years in federal prison. President Donald Trump commuted the sentence in January.

The searches come three weeks after Spivey was arraigned in federal court on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery over claims he accepted more than $35,000 to be "influenced and rewarded" for votes.

Since 2008, more than 100 politicians, union bosses, bureaucrats and police officers have been charged with corruption in Michigan's eastern district, including more than a dozen politicians and contractors in Macomb County.

"Clearly, there is a culture of corruption that doesn’t stop at the city line or the county line," said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross Business School.

August 24, 2021

Whitmer: 'No plans to do any broad mandates' around vaccines, masks in schools

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is not considering a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state workers now that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration granted the first full authorization Monday of a coronavirus vaccine.

"There are no plans to do any broad mandates," she said Monday, referring to her decision not mandate vaccines or require masks at Michigan schools.

"Those who were uneasy because of the early use authorization status of the vaccine maybe now will have a greater confidence in the fact that these vaccines are safe and they work."

t's the latest in a series of statements Whitmer or members of her administration have made to rebuff the idea of new pandemic regulations in Michigan. While the governor and state health department leaders have argued mask mandates and capacity restrictions saved lives in the first months of the pandemic, since January the Whitmer administration has promoted a message that revolves around personal responsibility.

Whitmer's goal was to get at least one dose of coronavirus shots into the arms of 70% of the state's 16 and older population, but the state has yet to reach that benchmark despite incentives that included a statewide lottery-style raffle in July.

As of Monday, the state's vaccination rate stood at 65.2% — below the national rate of vaccine uptake, which is 73%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


June 10, 2021

Biden administration tells federal agencies they should not require employees to be vaccinated

The Biden administration has told federal agencies that they generally should not require their employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to work on-site in federal buildings or to disclose whether they are vaccinated.

Employees who disclose they are unvaccinated or refuse to answer a voluntary question about vaccination status should be subject to safety requirements such as mask-wearing and social distancing, new guidance says.

“The Administration strongly encourages all Americans, including Federal employees and contractors, to be vaccinated,” says a Tuesday posting by an interagency task force overseeing pandemic-related policies for the federal workplace. However, “at present, COVID-19 vaccination should generally not be a pre-condition” for federal employees or contractors to work in person, it states, while not specifying possible exceptions.

The new federal workforce guidance — the first government-wide statement of policy on these issues — did not state why the administration has determined that it should not require vaccination.

June 9, 2021

Lawsuit Blames Atlanta City Officials For 8-Year-Old Secoriea Turner's Death

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — The family of Secoriea Turner, 8, and their attorneys say justice for her senseless death is long overdue. “My child was supposed to have been here for her brother’s birthday. His birthday was June 4. I had to go to her gravesite,” said her dad, Secoriey Williamson. “Her life is priceless. We’re forced to live by this day by day,” said her mom, Charmaine Turner.

The attorneys filed a lawsuit today against the City of Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Police Chief Rodney Bryant and Councilmember Joyce Sheperd. “They failed to take any action to address the reports of crime, the reports of violence and the reports of danger in that area until after it was too late,” said Sam Starks, a senior attorney with The Cochran Firm. “This is a lawsuit that is based on a failure of city government at the highest levels.”

Armed vigilantes shot and killed Secoriea on July 4, 2020, while she was riding in a vehicle with her mother and her mother’s friend. It happened as they attempted to go around a barricade during protests near the Wendy’s Restaurant where Atlanta police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks. The lawsuit also holds Wendy’s and its property owner University Venture responsible. “The law does not give you the right to own property, to operate a business at that property and then abandon it when you know that there are armed vigilantes there harming citizens,” said Harold Spence, a partner with The Davis Bozeman Law Firm. “So many adults who had power, responsibilities, obligations, opportunities to stop this did not,” said Shean Williams, a partner with The Cochran Firm. “We have an eight-year-old beautiful little girl whose life was taken before its time, when it could have been avoided.”

Attorneys referenced a June 17, 2020 memo from an APD commander, which advised officers would not be overly proactive and they would respond if violence occurs when an officer is present and to victims of violence. “They should have engaged in proactive policing and not just surrender the neighborhood,” said Davis Bozeman Law Firm Founding Partner Mawuli Davis. “The evidence shows that the mayor gave specific direction to the police chief and to the police department to stand down,” Starks said.


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