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Time to re-think Mich. 'stand your ground' type laws

Updated: Friday, March 7, 2014
Time to re-think Mich.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Once again, the world watches with fascination and apprehension as yet another Stand Your Ground case unfolds in the state of Florida.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says that while it's easy to cast Florida in an unfavorable light, it's also easy to forget we have almost the identical law here in Michigan.

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It's not a stretch to think that eventually, we're going to wind up one one or more cases that will mirror what has been happening in the state that often seems to operate like a third-world country.

Michigan, along with 20 other states, has a stand your ground law very similar to Florida's. Both were designed primarily to protect homeowners from lawsuits from home invaders or carjackers who wind up getting shot or wounded.

Both laws say a person has no duty to retreat, and that force may be met with force, including deadly force, if that person reasonably fears his or her life is in danger.

They sound so reasonable.

But in Florida there have now been at least 200 violent confrontations that resulted in death or injury--all of them involving people who said they honestly believed their lives were in danger.

The best known is the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case of two  years ago.

Zimmerman said he felt the teenager was beating him up, prompting him to shoot.

Trouble is Zimmerman invoked the law after following an unarmed Trayvon Martin--after the police told him not to.

Zimmerman was not protecting himself in his home. He was outside on a sidewalk. Zimmerman was acquitted.

Software developer Michael Dunn unloaded his weapon at an SUV  parked at a gas station, killing one of the teenaged occupants.

An argument started when Dunn asked them to turn their music down. Dunn later said he feared for his life and that he was honestly convinced he saw a shotgun pointed at him.

There were no weapons found in the car.

Dunn was acquitted of the most serious charge of murder, but convicted of four other charges that might net him 60 years behind bars.

Then there's the case of the retired cop who shot and killed a man in a movie theater because he was using a cellphone.

Turns out the guy was calling his babysitter. The ex-cop says he felt his life was in danger.

And back in the news is the woman who while being threatened by her ex-husband, a man who'd beaten her before, went out to the garage, pulled a handgun, went back into the house, and fired one or two warning shots to scare him away.

She did not shoot him. But in a confusing turn of events, the stand your ground law--though invoked--isn't being applied.

She may do 60 years. And curiously, she's black.

Just four of more than 200 cases in Florida.

It makes one wonder if people who can so easily and legally pack heat these days aren't just a little paranoid and emboldened by a law that seems more fitting for an Ian Fleming novel than in real life.

Yes, your honor, I pulled the trigger because I was scared.

Well, maybe that's not good enough.

These laws, here and all over the country, were passed by well-meaning legislators who, I'm sure, believed they were doing what was best for their constituents.

But we all know there's a famous road that's paved with good intentions.

Michigan's stand your ground legislation, built on the idea that a man's home is his castle, was signed into law eight years ago by then Governor Jennifer Granholm.

She now says she would support narrowing the law and repealing those provisions that allow people to essentially take their castles into the streets.

Legal experts say the very name of the law may encourage a kind of vigilantism, and may also convey to a jury the state has in some way endorsed the use of deadly force.

Right now, without some spectacular case held to their heads, would be a good time for our state legislators to review the law, to look at it against the backdrop of what's been happening in Florida, and to make it a little narrower, a little more restrictive, a little one size fits all.

After all, as adults, we have long recommended to our kids that it takes more guts to walk away from a fight than to engage.

Not to say there aren't times when you have to defend yourself, but we already have the right of self-defense.

When it comes to the drama of stand your ground, maybe a little of the advice we give our children would work just fine for ourselves.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 20, 2014 07:30 GMT

JAPAN-TRADE

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's trade deficit rose in July from the month before to a wider than expected 964 billion yen ($9.4 billion), though exports were higher for the first time in three months.

It was the 25th straight monthly trade deficit for the world's third-largest economy, due mainly to an increase in imports of oil and gas to compensate for idled nuclear reactors following meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

Exports rose 3.9 percent from a year earlier to 6.19 trillion yen ($60.2 billion), slightly outpacing a 2.3 percent increase in imports, to 7.15 trillion yen ($69.5 billion). Japan recorded an 822 billion yen deficit in June.

Japan's demand for imports has moderated in recent months as business slowed following an increase in the national sales tax. But a recovery in overseas demand, especially for machinery, buses and trucks, is a welcome relief.

CHINA-MONOPOLY CRACKDOWN-AUTOS

BEIJING (AP) -- China announced today it will fine 12 Japanese auto parts suppliers a total of $202 million for colluding to raise prices in an unfolding anti-monopoly probe of the country's auto industry.

Beijing has launched a series of investigations of global automakers and technology suppliers under its 6-year-old anti-monopoly law in an apparent effort to force down prices. Officials said earlier that Mercedes Benz, Audi and Chrysler also violated the law.

The Japanese suppliers were found to have colluded improperly, some for up to 10 years, to raise prices of ball bearings and other parts, according to China's main planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission.

Regulators have given few details of their probe but industry analysts say they might have been motivated by complaints about the high price of imported luxury vehicles and replacement parts.

Business groups say China's anti-monopoly law is enforced more actively against foreign companies than against local rivals.

DEPARTMENT STORE-DISCRIMINATION

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- The retailer Macy's has agreed to pay $650,000 to settle allegations of racial profiling at its flagship store in Manhattan's Herald Square.

Under the agreement signed with New York's attorney general, the company will adopt new policies on police access to its security camera monitors and against profiling, further train employees, investigate customer complaints, keep better records of detentions and report for three years on its compliance.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the settlement should help ensure customers are treated equally regardless of race or ethnicity at the retail giant's 42 department stores statewide.

The attorney general's Civil Rights Bureau said it opened an investigation into Macy's in February 2013 when it received several complaints from minority customers. Since then, the office recorded complaints from 18 African-American, Latino and other ethnic minority customers who claimed they'd been apprehended and detained at Macy's stores between 2007 and 2013, despite not having stolen or attempted to steal any merchandise.

BLOOMBERG-CITIES-INNOVATION

NEW YORK (AP) -- American cities looking to be more innovative in how they address local issues can now get a helping hand from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's charitable foundation.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is announcing today that it's putting $45 million into Innovation Delivery grants. The grants are to help cities create teams that use data and other tools to come up with ideas for how to tackle problems.

The team approach that the foundation is championing "is one way mayors can increase the likelihood of generating more powerful ideas more often and reducing the risk of failure," he said.

The foundation initially rolled out the Innovation Delivery model in five cities -- Atlanta; Chicago; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; and New Orleans -- which used the process to come up with ideas on a range of issues, from economic redevelopment to reducing violent deaths.

THE DAY AHEAD

Business Events Scheduled for Today

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its July interest rate meeting today. Lowe's reports quarterly financial results before the market opens. Target Corp. reports quarterly financial results before the market opens.

MORTGAGES-LATE PAYMENTS

UNDATED (AP) -- Fewer U.S. homeowners are falling behind on their mortgage payments, a trend that's brought down the late-payment rate on home loans to the lowest level in six years.

Credit reporting agency TransUnion said Wednesday that the percentage of mortgage holders at least two months behind on their payments fell to 3.46 percent in the second quarter.

That's down from 4.32 percent in the April-June period last year.

All told, the nation's late-payment rate on home loans is down nearly 20 percent from a year ago.

The last time the rate was lower was in the first quarter of 2008, when it stood at 3.39 percent.

The mortgage delinquency rate has been steadily easing over the past two years as U.S. home sales and prices have rebounded and foreclosures have declined.

PRIVATE PRISON-BACK WAGES

CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. (AP) -- The nation's largest private prison company has paid more than $8 million in back wages and benefits to current and former employees at its federal prison facility in California City.

The U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday that Corrections Corp. of America paid the money to staff at the California City Correctional Center after an investigation found it wasn't paying the rates required of federal contractors.

A department official says in some cases employees were paid 40 percent less than required by pay rate regulations established for contractors. The company also wasn't making required contributions to retirement accounts and health and life insurance.

Many workers will receive more than $30,000.

Messages left with the Nashville, Tennessee-based company spokesmen weren't immediately returned.

NO-FLY LIST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is promising to change the way travelers can ask to be removed from its no-fly list of suspected terrorists banned from air travel.

The decision comes after a federal judge's ruling that there was no meaningful way to challenge the designation, a situation deemed unconstitutional. In response, the Justice Department said the U.S. will change the process during the next six months. As of late last summer, about 48,000 people were on the no-fly list.

The government's policy is never to confirm or deny that a person actually is on the no-fly list, citing national security concerns. In most instances, travelers assume they are on the list because they are instructed to go through additional screening at airports or because they are told they can't board their flights to, from or within the United States.

The no-fly list is one of the government's most controversial post-9/11 counterterrorism programs because of its lack of due process, long criticized because people cannot know why they were placed on the list and lack an effective way to fight the decision. Changing how people can challenge their designation could amount to one of the government's most significant adjustments to how it manages the list.

PETSMART-SALE

UNDATED (AP) -- PetSmart says it is considering putting itself up for sale after receiving pressure from investors.

The pet supply chain said Tuesday that it will weigh "strategic alternatives" after a board review that included conversations with shareholders.

Investment firm Longview Asset Management and hedge fund Jana Partners have both pushed PetSmart to think about a sale.

The company also says it plans to cut costs and is focusing on pet food, exclusive brands and services, online shoppers and a loyalty program.

The Phoenix-based company in May cut its earnings outlook for the year, citing a challenging consumer environment and competition.

PetSmart said Tuesday that its second-quarter earnings rose 5.1 percent to $98.1 million, or 98 cents per share, while revenue rose 1.4 percent to $1.73 billion. It left its guidance unchanged.

OBAMA ADVISER-UBER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's former campaign manager and White House senior adviser David Plouffe (pluhf) is joining car service startup Uber as it seeks to expand in cities worldwide.

Plouffe will serve as Uber's senior vice president of policy and strategy.

Uber uses a mobile application to connect riders with vehicles for hire. The San Francisco-based company has faced resistance in some U.S. cities from the taxi industry and regulators who have accused it of lowering prices to knock out competition.

Plouffe was the architect of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and a top White House adviser as the president sought re-election.

Announcing Plouffe's hiring, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says the company "has been in a campaign but hasn't been running one. That is changing now."

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