4A - Thursday, October 23, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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Students and the city
Conference, state overlook student role in revitalization
f you're graduating soon, you've probably given some consid-
Jeration to leaving Michigan for greener pastures after col-
lege is over. In a time when the entire nation is facing a tough
economy, our state has one of the most depressing outlooks. But
even with a September unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, the state
is finding ways to make things better. The Creative Cities Confer-
ence 2.0 in Detroit last week was one of those efforts. But the con-
ference, like many of the state's innovative ideas, failed to answer
one of the most important questions: How is the state going to har-
ness one of its best resources - its students?
I always wanted a son named Zamboni."
- Gov. Sarah Palin, proposing other potential baby names she could have chosen,
according to an interview with People Magazine.
CHRIS KOSLOWSKI E-MAIL CHRIS AT CSKOSLOW@UMICH.EDU
1 wonder what scenario
Colin Powel endorsed would be worse- uthink that depends on sow
Ohana sw kTh ymitEst Lansegafter Wolverine ysu measure "worse"-
as well skip the elect ion. It 'Football victory or Ann number of couches burned
in the bag ababy Arbor after McCain v cty. or number of hippies crying
Cutting justice off at a deadline
The Creative Cities Summit, held in St.
Petersburg, Fla. in 2004, chose Detroit as
host in 2008 so the city could serve as a
symbol for the transformation of economies
into innovative, vibrant economies. Com-
munity leaders and professionals, including
architects, urban planners, city politicians
and educators, from across Michigan gath-
ered at the conference to attend workshops
and discuss how to revive the state economy.
These methods include high-minded ideas
like social and community involvement,
encouraging intellectual diversity and cre-
ating green and sustainable neighborhoods.
And while Michigan needs to do all
these things in order to recover from years
of economic hardship, the devil is in the
implementation. Gov. Jennifer Granholm
has been pitching ideas similar to those dis-
cussed last week for years.
Take the Cool Cities Initiative, for exam-
ple. The project was meant to be an urban
strategy to revitalize communities, build
community spirit and retain smart work-
ers - workers who are leaving Michigan
in alarming numbers. It offered cities up to
$166,000 in grants so they could become a
little bit cooler.
And what happened with that money?
East Lansing spent its grant on a few free
wireless hotspots and public art and gar-
dens in boulevards. Ann Arbor received
a $100,000 grant to create microcinema
lounges at the Michigan Theater. While
these projects weren't necessarily a waste,
it would be a stretch to think they helped
keep smart young people in this state.
It's not hopeless, though. Where projects
like the Cool Cities Initiative have failed,
others have succeeded with a more practical
way. The University, for example, expand-
ed the size and scope of the Dearborn and
Flint campuses. The campus expansion
has done a lot more to revitalize these cit-
ies and retain educated young people than
a few wireless Internet spots ever could.
And that shouldn't be a surprise. Students
are the perfect consumers. They fuel local
businesses and foster the youthful culture
that makes a city cool.
The three research universities in Michi-
gan - the University of Michigan, Michigan
State University and Wayne State Universi-
ty - help bring and retain jobs in the state.
But the students attending universities
across the state are driving economic activ-
ity, too. Their efforts and contributions
shouldn't be forgotten.
n April 30, 1994, a heinous
crime - one that sounds more
like it came from a Hollywood
movie script than a
urban town - took
place in Clinton
As the story goes,
a man broke into
a house that nightI
while the only per-
son home was asleep.
His face disguised GARY
by a nylon stocking, GRACA
the intruder hand-
cuffed the sleeping,
28-year-old woman's hands behind her
back, blindfolded her with her under-
wear and raped her multiple times over
four hours. He ended the ordeal by
ejaculating in the woman's mouth. To
eliminate the evidence, he forced her
to wash downthe semen with soda and
then put her panties in her mouth to
wash the semen from those, too.
Based on the woman's testimony
and a composite sketch she later admit-
ted was only 60 percent accurate, Ken
Wyniemko was convicted ofthat crime.
And he served eight and a half years in
prison for it.
But like all good, unbelievable crime
stories, the police got the wrong guy.
When state police re-examined the
original evidence - including a left-
over cigarette butt, the semen-stained
nylons, scrapings from under the vic-
tim's fingernails, the panties and the
bed - they found that Wyniemko
couldn'thave committed the crime. His
DNA didn't match any of the evidence,
which instead pointed to another per-
petrator who was later found. In 2003,
Wyniemko was exonerated and later
compensated $3.7 million in an out-of-
court-settlement for the mistake.
All that was made possible, though,
by a bill passed by Michigan's legisla-
ture in 2000. That law allows convicted
defendants like Wyniemko to petition.
to re-open their cases based on new
DNA evidence if the evidence hadn't
been considered before and could lead
Since 2001, the legislation has lead
to three exonerations in Michigan,
prisoners are waitingtohavetheir peti-
tions considered by law clinics like the
Innocence Project at Thomas M. Cool-
ey Law School, which usually handle
the most promising cases.
Those prisoners might be out of
luck come January, though. On Jan. 1,
Michigan's law allowing post-convic-
tion relief because of DNA evidence is
set to expire.
Though efforts are underway to
extend the deadline, there are no
guarantees when it comes to Michi-
gan's legislature. In March, Michi-
gan's Democratic-controlled House of
Representatives passed an extension
for that deadline, pushing it back to
2012. But, not surprisingly, the bill has
stalled in the Republican-controlled
Senate, where it hasn't made it out of
By now, people shouldn't need a
lecture on the miracle that is DNA evi-
dence. More than 220 people nation-
wide have been exonerated because of
DNA evidence. Though recent discov-
eries have raised questions about this
figure, the FBI estimates that the like-
lihood of two unrelated people sharing
nine of 13 genetic markers is 1 in 113
billion. That's pretty good odds if you
match a criminal to the DNA at a crime
scene - a fact that has made DNA evi-
dence standard in criminal cases if
prosecutors can getit.
If so many people agree that DNA
evidence should be relied on in cur-
rent criminal cases, why shouldn't it
be applied retroactively to those who
didn't get the opportunity duringtheir
original trial? The point of our crimi-
nal justice systemisto convictthe right
people for the crimes they committed.
That principle should apply anytime.
But when it comes to Republicans,
it's not really about justice or fairness.
It's aboutelections. And it's about fear.
As Rep. Paul Condino (D-South-
field), chair of the House Judiciary
Committee, told the Metro Times ear-
lier this month, he is still hopeful this
bill will pass. He just expects it to pass
duringthe lame-duck session between
November and December.
needs to extend its
DNA testing law.
If you read between the lines, what
he's trying to say is that Republicans
wouldn't dare do something that could
made them look soft on crime before
Nov. 4. They are already going to get
creamed, better to not forfeit an issue
that could mitigate the damage.
What's left is a common sense bill in
peril because of some stubbornRepub-
licans. But this isn't about a bill. It's
about the dozens of potential prisoners
it could affect - all those people con-
victed of crimes they didn't commit.
Republicans should do them justice.
Gary Graca is the Daily's editorial
page editor. He can be reached
BEN CALECA | V EWP.i T
Our forgotten mode of travel
No, the seat cushion beneath me can't be used
as a flotation device, and yes, ridingthe rails just
doesn't getyou places as quickly as cruising on a
jet. However, there's something to be said about
the experience of passenger rail service. Per-
haps I'm nostalgic, or jaded because I can write
this as I stretch my six-foot frame as much as I
like and type on my laptop with my own electri-
cal outlet, but intercity rail lines are something
the United States needs.
The collapse of private rail systems in the
wake of cheap, reliable air transportation led to
the creation of the consolidated, government-
subsidized Amtrak service we know today. When
I decided to take a trip by train this fall break to
Chicago, some of my friends responded to my
plans with skepticism, and warnings. In their
minds, Amtrak was just a step up from a Grey-
hound bus. They thought I would be surrounded
by filth, decay and mentally deranged travelers.
To many people, the quality of travel is expected
to be a function of how fast you are moving.
However, what the train has to offer is fairly
tangible. Besides printing a ticket and boarding
the train, wait times are negligible. Consider-
ing you're asked to spend at least 2 hours at an
airport before your flight, suddenly the 4-hour
train ride doesn't seem nearly as bad as 3 hours
in an airport and over an hour packed in an air-
plane. I'm pleasantly surprised that my seat is
cleaner and more comfortable than any airline
I've ever been on, and at less than half the cost.
Unlike airports, train stations can be located
centrally in a city without the NIMBY concerns
facing airport projects located even remotely
near populated areas. Perhaps the most senti-
mental reason is that when you take the train,
you're forced to see what lies between cities,
for me right now it's rolling hills of orange and
green, covered with a fine fog.
There are, of course, things to consider when
we talk about Amtrak. Train delays, often caused
by having to use track space owned by private
freight rail lines, are frequent. The equipment
trains use is decades old. Europe offers high-
speed rail twice as fast as most U.S. services in
comparatively futuristic trains, shuttling trav-
elers between cities with an efficiency we can't
match here. Factor in how much more economi-
cal and environmentally friendly train travel is
compared to airliners, and it seems almost mad-
dening that we are so far behind.
The biggest limiting factor to train travel of
course is speed. Not everyone thinks the jour-
ney is as important as the destination, and
to most, getting where you want to be fast is
the key. While our existing fleet of trains runs
between 80 to 120 miles per hour, except for the
Acela high speed service in the Northeast corri-
dor (which can only go faster than other Amtrak
trains for brief periods), Europe and Asia have
existing and upcoming technologies offering
speeds over twice as great. TGV type trains
operating at well over 200 miles per hour have
been around since 1981, but we haven't made an
effort to set up the dedicated rail lines required
for such a service.
By making an effort to connect clusters of
nearby cities and offering modern service and
amenities air traffic can be greatly reduced, not
only reducing our consumption of fossil fuels
but also taking strain off of our overburdened
air traffic control and airport system. These
environmental benefits can be even greater to
the environment if electrically driven trains
are used and powered by the next generation of
renewable energy sources.
Scenery and nostalgia aside, the United States
infrastructure. Delays can be reduced and speeds
increased if funds are put into dedicated passen-
ger raillines, while also offering people a cleaner,
efficient and enjoyable alternative to air travel.
Perhaps now, more than ever, we should take a
second look at a way of travel tied intrinsically to
the past, but with great potential for our future.
Ben Caleca is an engineering junior.
E-MAIL BELLA AT BELLZ@UMICH.EDU
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty,
Matthew Green, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke, Shannon Kellman, Edward McPhee, Emily Michels, Kate Peabody,
Matthew Shutler, Robert Soave, Eileen Stahl, Jennifer Sussex, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Margaret Young
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
. more research.
Embryonic stem cell research Is I was a creator and owner ofone of those infamous three-
.dcstory beer bongs from the apartments on the corner of State
immoral Gnd impractical science Street and Hoover Street. According to my understanding,
the beer bong originated at least five years ago with a group
TO THE DAILY: of engineering students who also rented apartments in the
I recently saw a poll in the Daily asking if Proposal 2, house. The actual apartment used for the beer bong was
which seeks to loosen restrictions on embryonic stem cell vacant at the time, so the engineers were able to use it on
research in Michigan, should be passed. A large majority Saturdays - with the landlord's permission, of course.
of respondents were in favor of Proposal 2. This is disap- However, when those students left, the beer bong wasn't
pointing for two reasons. in sanitary condition. I, like the students in the story, had
First, embryonic stem cell research crosses a definite to construct my own. During my tenure, though, the apart-
moral boundary, because it involves destroying human ment that was used had tenants. The tenants were also stu-
embryos. In a logical and scientific sense, these embryos dents who loved the three-story beer bong. Thus, tradition
must be considered fully human. An organism is defined was upheld.
as something that grows, reproduces, performs metabo- I'm glad that the students currently living there are car-
lism and responds to stimuli. An embryo fulfills all of these rying on what has always been a great tradition and a fond
qualifications, except for the ability to reproduce. memory for me. Hopefully, I'll be able to see the three-sto-
Granted, some people may say that the embryos ry beer bong every time I come to Ann Arbor for football
shouldn't be considered fully human because they are Saturday.
underdeveloped. However, determining human worth
based on level of development is both arbitrary and mor- Jared Goldberg
ally troubling. Using the same argument, someone could Alum
say that an infant is not human, since an infant is not yet
fully developed. After all, an infant's mental capacities are
far below that of an adult. bama's tax increases would rob
Admittedly, many will disagree with my arguments and
say that the therapeutic benefits of embryonic stem cell consumers and private businesses
research are worth the destruction of an embryo. How-
ever, a few years ago, researchers found a way to make TO THE DAILY:
adult stem cells pluripotent, meaning that they can become With the recent battle over Joe the plumber and his
any cell type and be used in countless treatments. To date, questioning of Barack Obama's proposed tax increases,
adult stem cells have been used in more than 70 different Obama stated that "spreading the wealth" would be good
types of treatment. In contrast, no successful treatments for everybody. Karl Marx had the same idea in the "The
have been conducted with embryonic stem cells, even in Communist Manifesto".
countries where restrictions are loose or nonexistent. For all the Democrats who see Obama as a Robin Hood
Embryonic stem cell research is immoral not only who will take from the rich and give to the poor, consider
because it destroys human embryos, but also because it this: How do you think that the large (and small) corpora-
wastes time, money and resources that would be better tions will cover the costs of increased taxes? Do you think
used on promising research with adult stem cells. they will just absorb them and nothing will change? They
ato!o1settoe ancresea t axes3 ..st.w:n
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will raise price
Jeffrey Brown affect consume
LSA sophomore socioeconomicc
But Obama tr
The story behind the three-story optometrist wh
his employees a
beer bong tradition for aminute por
he wouldn't be a
TO THE DAILY: employees respc
After reading The Statement's feature on houses that are People need
traditional party places (The party must go on, 10/21/2008), Hood. He's siml
I was glad to see the snippet regarding the three-story beer
bong from the 914 apartments on State Street. However, Justin Grofik
I think the writer, Trevor Calero, could have done a little LSA senior
es to offset the increased taxes. That will
rs across the country, regardless of their
ruly aims to cross class lines and take from
tad of just the wealthy. My father is an
o pays 85 percent of the health benefits for
and their families, leaving them responsible
tionoftheir coverage. Withincreasedtaxes,
ble to afford that large of a share, leavinghis *
onsible for a larger portion of their benefits.
to open their eyes. Obama is not Robin
ply robbing the 'hood.