TIME Autos

Check Out the Coolest Cars From the 2015 Detroit Auto Show

The 2015 North American International Auto Show is in full swing, with carmakers announcing some pretty sweet new rides. Check out the new Ford GT, the Acura NSX, the Toyota FT-1 and more.

TIME Environment

Ingested Drugs, Passed Through Sewers, May Threaten Lake Michigan Fish

Study finds exposure to a diabetic drug can throw a minnow's hormones off balance

Researchers warned that a cocktail of ingested medications has slipped past sewage treatment plants and gradually accumulated in Lake Michigan, threatening to alter the hormonal balance of local fish.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences have detected traces of coffee, birth control pills and antibiotics in Lake Michigan’s waters, the Detroit Free-Press reports. The most prevalent drug was Metformin, a medication commonly used to treat Type 2 diabetes.

Fathead minnows exposed to Metformin at the same concentrations found in the lake exhibited unusual hormonal imbalances four weeks later. Male minnows, for instance, began to produce a hormone typically associated with female egg production, though researchers say they have not yet ascertained the long-term effects of the hormonal changes.

“It’s enough to raise an alarm bell that this might be something that causes changes in reproduction of fish,” study author Rebecca Klaper said.

Read more at Detroit Free-Press.

TIME Autos

Meet Strati, the World’s First 3D-Printed Car

CEO and founder of Local Motors John B. Rogers speaks to the media as his company showcases the world's first 3-D printed car, the Strati, at the Detroit auto show on Jan. 12, 2015.
CEO and founder of Local Motors John B. Rogers speaks to the media as his company showcases the world's first 3-D printed car, the Strati, at the Detroit auto show on Jan. 12, 2015. Mark Blinch—Reuters

The two-seater, made of plastic components and able to go 25 miles per hour, was printed created at an auto show in Detroit

Local Motors, a tech company based in Phoenix, Ariz., may have given us our first glimpse of the future of automobile manufacturing.

This week at the Detroit auto show, the company 3D-printed a car called the Strati. The two-seater is made of plastic components and can go up to 25 miles per hour.

The car — which Local plans to sell later this year — takes about 44 hours to print, and is then outfitted with an electric car battery, motor and suspension from French automaker Renault, according to the Associated Press. Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers told the AP the Strati is the first of three vehicles he plans to sell. The Strati will cost between $18,000 and $30,000, he added.

Local Motors plans to create a microfactory at the National Harbor, a shopping and entertainment area in Maryland. The microfactory — a center where cars are designed, manufactured and sold — will be like “Build-a-Bear mashed up with Ikea mashed up with Formula 1,” said Rogers.

The factory isn’t yet open because of the need for local zoning law changes, according to the Washington Post. The Post also notes that the Strati is not yet highway-legal.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Autos

Strong Sales for Volkswagen With Over 10 Million Vehicles Shipped in 2014

US-DETROIT-AUTO-SHOW
Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, speaks at a press event on the eve of The North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, on Jan. 11, 2015. Geoff Robins —AFP/Getty Images

The German manufacturer wants to be the largest automaker by sales in 2018

Volkswagen performed strongly last year after selling more than 10 million vehicles across its marques.

On Sunday, the German automaker confirmed that the company sold 10.14 million vehicles in 2014 — a 4.2% increase year-on-year.

In a statement ahead of the annual Detroit car show, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said the performance was “despite challenging market conditions.”

The company aims to become the largest auto manufacturer by sales in three years time.

Sales this year were bolstered in part by strong performances from Volkswagen’s luxury brands, Audi and Porsche, along with the growth of the Czech automobile line Skoda.

TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Jan. 9, 2015

A compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Alex Maclean‘s aerial photographs of Detroit. The work captures the contrasting fortunes and economic inequality between the depopulated areas (defined by vacant lots and boarded-up homes) and the wealth of some surrounding areas (mansions and manicured lawns). It can appear bleak, but there’s cause for optimism as Detroit’s worst decline appears to be slowing, evident by new green spaces and corporate investment. Maclean’s pictures offer an excellent and insightful bird’s-eye view on the struggles of Motor City and its fight to survive.

Alex S. MacLean: Detroit by Air (The New York Times)

In Memoriam: Remembering the Photographers We Lost in 2014 (TIME LightBox)

An Intern Learns to Swim in the Deep End (National Geographic PROOF) Sara Lewkowicz won a three-month internship at National Geographic when she came out on top at last year’s College Photographer of the Year competition. She talks about her experience and shares photographs she made during her internship project in Mexico.

John Moore (BBC Radio 4 World at One) The Getty photographer is interviewed about his Ebola coverage in Liberia. See TIME LightBox interview as well.

David Burnett (Photo Brigade) The legendary photographer talks about his career at length.

TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Jan. 8, 2015

A compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Charles Mostoller‘s series on teen horseback riders in urban Philadelphia. The photographer documented young men, working at the stables southwest, who take care of the horses, clean the facilities and earn a little bit of pocket money by offering cheap pony rides. Their main reward, though, is the right to take the horses out themselves. Mostoller’s pictures offer a fascinating glimpse into these young cowboys, riding in one of the most unexpected settings: the concrete jungle.

Charles Mostoller: The Concrete Cowboys of Philadelphia (The Wall Street Journal)

Anonymous and Meridith Kohut: Cuba’s Economic Fortunes May be Slow to Turn (The New York Times) These photographs capture Cuba’s capital, desperately awaiting change.

Celebrating 80 Years of Associated Press’ Wirephoto (TIME LightBox) A look back at the history of Associated Press’ Wirephoto.

Why it pays to work the fringes (Columbia Journalism Review) Insightful look at Lynsey Addario’s biography, It’s What I Do.

2014 and Beyond: Philip Montgomery (American Photo) The magazine picks Montgomery as one of the top talents to follow in the years to come.

TIME Michigan

General Motors to Debut Detroit’s First Shipping Container Home

Shipping Container Homestead
An unusual home takes shape inside General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in Detroit, intended to be part of a movement to rebuild the city’s economy and deteriorating, disappearing housing stock. Carlos Osorio—AP

The city emerging from bankruptcy has roughly 40,000 vacant homes waiting to be demolished

(DETROIT) — An unusual home taking shape inside General Motors’ sprawling Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant is intended to be part of a movement to rebuild the city’s economy and deteriorating, disappearing housing stock.

Skilled-trades workers, taking breaks from their tasks at the factory that produces the electric Chevrolet Volt and other vehicles, dart in and out to do door, window and wall installation and framing, as well as electrical and plumbing work. Meanwhile, a nonprofit urban farming group is preparing property a few miles away that will welcome the project, what’s believed to be the city’s first occupied shipping container homestead.

Come spring, the house-in-progress will be delivered to Detroit’s North End neighborhood and secured on a foundation where a blighted home once stood. After finishing touches and final inspections, the 40-foot-long former container will feature 320 square feet of living space with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen, and will serve as home base for a university-student caretakers of a neighborhood farm and agricultural research activities.

One shipping container home won’t turn around Detroit’s housing woes. The city emerging from bankruptcy has roughly 40,000 vacant homes waiting to be demolished. But it’s a start and, organizers hope, a model to lure and keep residents as Detroit removes blight and recovers from bankruptcy.

Shipping containers converted into living or working spaces are common in some other cities. For instance, in Salt Lake City’s rundown warehouse district, a nonprofit group last year converted them into “micro-retail” spaces. A Seattle-based company designs and builds houses out of reclaimed containers.

Containers have been modified for both basic and luxury living elsewhere. But Tyson Gersh of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is unaware of another project involving a major manufacturer and nonprofit designed to serve many socio-economic needs through what he calls “social innovation.”

Organizers hope the container project can lure millennials who don’t want their grandfather’s bungalow yet also provide predominantly poor, longtime residents with a low-cost housing alternative.

“Finding a place where both those communities can find common ground is beautiful,” said Gersh, president and co-founder of the group that operates a farm and owns property in the North End, where blight and vacancy are common, but so are signs of residential and commercial renewal. “It’s scalable, works for everyone and it’s also not going to ruin the environment. It’s easier to maintain and can repurpose existing materials.”

Gersh said reusing the containers and other components has environmental benefits but points out that people working solely toward that end “are doing it from a position of privilege,” and that’s “not what Detroit is.”

For its part, the automaker met with Gersh and others from the farming group a couple years ago, and the container home idea immediately resonated. GM spokesman David Darovitz said it fits with the company’s goals of reducing landfill waste while boosting reuse and recycling of materials. For instance, the home’s front door had been discarded by the plant and was salvaged on its way to the landfill.

“I loved the creative idea of taking and reusing an old shipping container and giving new life,” Darovitz said. “It can be used as a model for a bigger idea that’s structurally sound.”

Both GM and the nonprofit see the potential to grow the idea and are exploring ways to continue. But first they must finish a process that’s faced many challenges, including the long wait for the existing home on the lot to default into tax auction and finding a functional sewer line.

Another roadblock to building more storage container homes is figuring out how to price them. Now, Darovitz said, there is nothing to assess them against, since neighboring lots often are blighted or vacant.

Still, those involved aren’t deterred and view the effort as a microcosm of the kind needed to rejuvenate Detroit. They take inspiration from how city, state and federal officials forged deals with financial institutions and lassoed philanthropic organizations to save pensions and city-owned artwork and get through bankruptcy.

“That is Detroit — that’s what’s happening,” Gersh said. “It takes a village to make a functional city.”

 

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Gov. Rick Snyder Explains How Detroit Was Saved

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder holds a rebate check for $1.2 million dollars to hand to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan during a news conference discussing the city of Detroit exiting from bankruptcy in Detroit
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder holds a rebate check for $1.2 million dollars to hand to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan during a news conference discussing the city of Detroit exiting from bankruptcy in Detroit, on Dec. 10, 2014. Rebecca Cook—Reuters

'It was a tough call to decide to go into bankruptcy'

Four years after taking office, the bookish Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder marked the completion of his toughest challenge Wednesday: saving the beleaguered city of Detroit from economic collapse.

While the city’s headwinds are from from over, it emerged from history’s largest municipal bankruptcy with $7 billion fewer obligations and identifying $1.7 billion that could be reinvested over the next decade. Snyder, an accountant and former venture capitalist elected to his second term as a Republican last month, says he now plans to share the Detroit turnaround story to the nation.

“I do want to tell the Michigan message more to the country, of our comeback, because a lot of people don’t recognize what a success we’ve had, what a success Detroit’s becoming. ” Snyder told TIME Wednesday as the paperwork restoring the city’s control over its own finances was being filed. “So it’s important to tell that story.”

But Snyder, who has been talked about as a potential Republican presidential contender, indicated he doesn’t have his eyes on the White House in 2016. “In terms of other offices, I’m very happy being governor,” he said.

Snyder said the country could learn from his philosophy of “relentless positive action,” which he describes as using the goodwill from solving one problem to solving the next.

“There’s too much ‘R’ and ‘D,’ there’s too much ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative,” he said. “We need people to recognize that we’re all Michiganders, and in the country that we’re all Americans, and we should be focused on problem solving.”

“What would Washington be like if everyone agreed not to fight or blame one another,” he added. “There’d be a whole lot of time to get work done.”

Q: What worked in Detroit?

A: What we planned to have happened. Actually it worked well. It was an extremely difficult process. It was a tough call to decide to go into bankruptcy, but again, we set an aggressive timetable. And the good part is, it turned out very well. It was a difficult situation. And I always want to recognize that there are retirees making sacrifices, other people making sacrifices. But for the circumstances we were in, this is a very constructive, positive outcome that really positions the city to start a new chapter and grow.

Q: Are you already seeing the results?

A: There’s a lot of them, and it’s been ongoing. As we’ve gone through this process, developments, particularly in midtown and downtown Detroit continue to rebound. For example, Little Caesar’s just announced a new headquarters building, the first corporate headquarters building being built in a decade, in Detroit. That just got announced today. So, that’s the kind of good thing going on as part of the entertainment district area that they are developing.

I made a trip to China just a couple of weeks ago and it was really interesting. I’ve made four trips in four years to China to build relationships there and when I went four years ago and three years ago and last year, I’d get plenty in a negative context about Detroit. This trip it was largely positive questions and actually not a lot of questions about Detroit [finances], more general interest in Detroit and Michigan.

Q: How did you marshal the various interests in the city, in many cases convincing people to see their benefits cut for the sake of the city’s financial survival?

A: I’m proud of what I’ve done, but I also need to give a great credit to Kevin Orr, the judge, the mediators, there were a lot of great people, the mayor, everyone worked hard on a lot of these issues as time passed. There are at least two key things that you always need to focus on when you deal with a lot of these discussions—they also apply out of bankruptcy, anytime you’re dealing with these issues. The first one is, to get people to really agree on what are the facts. A lot of times people work on an issue or take a position that’s an emotional response or kind of a historical response, versus really digging into what’s the factual context. Because, in the bankruptcy for example, there simply were not the resources, so something had to be reduced, and how do you do that in a thoughtful way. And the second piece is building trust with people, getting people to agree that difficult things may need to be done, but here’s a more constructive way to do it where it’s not about who wins and who loses, but how do you create an environment where people can be successful together over a longer period of time.

Q: Is the city out of the woods yet? How confident are you that in can survive any challenges that come its way.

A: I wouldn’t use the word ‘any,’ because you could think of circumstances that could put any community or any place in the country in difficulty depending on how severe it was. But in the context of saying, now is it in a comparable fashion or in a potentially successful fashion like many other urban areas, it’s clearly well positioned for that. And I say that under two different criteria. One is from a process point of view, that we’ve had a $7 billion reduction in liabilities, about $1.7 billion in reinvestment resources being identified over the next 10 years under a base plan for the city, a financial review commission that’s there to provide an oversight role like what happened in DC and New York City, to help make sure the city government is fulfilling their role responsibly in terms of budgeting. So those are all process/procedural things that are helpful. And then from a people point of view, we have a mayor and city council that have been good partners and successful partners on a number of efforts already and they’re continuing. So I think that’s set the framework for success and the ability to say that people are focusing now on the growth of Detroit.

Q: Now that you have this done, what are your next priorities?

A: A couple of them are wrapping up. We’re working on transportation funding right now, transportation infrastructure funding in the lame duck right now. I’d love to get that done. That’s something I’ve been calling for for a couple of years. But beyond that, I’m exciting about where Michigan’s poised. We’re now a top-tier state. We need to get that message out to the rest of the country. And in terms of priorities, I think we have a huge opportunity to lead the nation in filling skilled trades jobs and re-establishing a career/technical education track in our state second-to-none. Because if you stop to look at one of the great challenges you are seeing now with companies and organizations, they’re out looking for people with the right skills, and we have a lot of people, talented people, looking for work that need those skills. So the jurisdiction that does the best at leading in that is going to have a big advantage. And Michigan is going to be number one in doing that.

Q: When you say skilled trades jobs, are you referring to manufacturing? Is manufacturing coming back?

A: Yeah, and we have been. We’re number one in adding manufacturing jobs and it’s coming back strong. But we also need to redefine the skilled trades, because historically people tended to think of them as the welder, plumber, electrician, and those are great professions, but if you’re in manufacturing today, you’re a skilled tradesperson most likely. If you’re in agriculture today, you’re driving a $250,000 tractor, a $500,000 combine, you’re a skilled tradesperson. So, this is a very pervasive issue. A lot of times we overly-encourage people, and tell all of our young people to go get a university degree when in many cases, they would be just as well off if they’d have looked at a career tech-ed track and being successful there. So we need to have two parallel tracks that are both well-respected and honorable.

Q: You saw what happened in Ferguson and the national conversation that has erupted. What are your views on it?

A: What happened in Ferguson is very troubling, in terms of the whole situation, and it shows that there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done in terms of relationship-building. So I think it really highlights that people thought improvement had happened, but that there’s much more work to be done. And I’m proud to say in Michigan that we’ve been proactive on that. I don’t take it for granted. That’s something you have to actively work on and build those relationships. And we’ve been doing that in a number of our urban areas. I’m proud of the work, again in Detroit, but also in communities like Flint and Saginaw in particular. We’ve spent a lot, both of my time, but also some of our key departments in state government, the Michigan state police, human services being proactive, trying to partner with the local community itself, the leadership there, the local criminal justice system, the courts, the faith-based community, talking about these issues and how do we make sure we’re building bridges, building relationships that are deep enough to be prepared in case you have one of these terrible events happen.

Q: You’re looking to tell Michigan’s story to the nation, but what about you? Are you looking to take on a national role, perhaps a 2016 campaign?

A: As I said, I’m very active on some great next steps for Michigan, in terms of this career-tech education track, some huge initiatives. I also what to get out—I do want to tell the Michigan message more to the country, of our comeback, because a lot of people don’t recognize what a success we’ve had, what a success Detroit’s becoming. So it’s important to tell that story. But in terms of other offices, I’m very happy being governor. What I would say to you is, if you look towards the future in 2016, the best candidate will be a governor most likely in my view, and should be a governor.

Q: Any particular governor?

A: The good part is, there’s a strong group of Republican governors. If you look at the Midwest in particular, there’s a great group there. It’s good to see that this is where good things are happening in government.

Q: What’s your message to Washington and the country in general?

A: This is actually a subset of the bigger Michigan story. In the public sector in particular, but in our political culture, we need to rise above politics. There’s too much ‘R’ and ‘D,’ there’s too much ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative.’ We need people to recognize that we’re all Michiganders, and in the country that we’re all Americans, and we should be focused on problem solving. And that’s where I’ve used my philosophy of ‘relentless positive action’ for four years now and it’s been very successful. And I tell people: ‘I don’t fight with anybody. I don’t blame anybody. You didn’t hire me to do that. You hired me to solve problems.’ And if you solve these problems, it creates a much more positive atmosphere to solve the next problem, and that’s how you get on a very strong comeback path which is what we’re seeing in Detroit and in Michigan.

TIME crimes

Postal Worker Stole 2,000 Pieces of Mail Because ‘I Was Bored’

At least she was honest?

Detroit postal worker Sharon Berrien didn’t steal some 2,000 pieces of mail to collect those $20 birthday checks from Grandma alone. No, there was a deeper motivation: ennui.

“I was bored,” Berrien told investigators after she was charged with stealing mail by federal authorities Monday.

Of course, Berrein took the money, the Associated Press said. The accused said she kept $1,000 to $1,500 and littered the leftover mail — taken out of a Detroit mail processing center — along Interstate 94. Sightings of abandoned greeting cards keyed authorities into the fact that something was amiss. A probe led to the Nov. 21 discovery of 800 pieces of mail in Berrein’s trash.

As a cure for future stints of boredom, might we suggest the podcast Serial?

[AP]

TIME cities

Power Has Been Restored In Detroit Following a 7-Hour Outage

Detroit Power Outage
Detroit fire fighters and EMS responded to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to rescue people from elevators and assist others down the stairs after a massive power outage hit downtown Detroit, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. Diane Weiss—AP

Schools, colleges and public transportation are expected to resume normal operations Wednesday morning

Detroit’s electricity grid was restored Tuesday night, after an outage that saw large parts of the city — including schools and hospitals — lose power for about 7 hours.

The power went out at 10.30 a.m. and was completely restored by 5.15 p.m., Associated Press reports.

Among the major institutions affected were Detroit Receiving Hospital, which had to rely on backup power, and Wayne State University, which cancelled all classes for the second half of the day.

The university, and several public schools that were forced to declare a half-day, will reopen Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

A statement from city authorities said the outage also affected 740 traffic signals and 36 fire stations. It said that the DTE Energy Company has taken over the power grid’s operation and is in the process of an 18-month inspection of the system.

“This is a case where a part of the old system that hadn’t failed before failed,” said city mayor Mike Duggan, “Every month that goes by, we’ll be more and more on a more modern system and the likelihood of this happening will go down. But it’s part of rebuilding the city.”

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