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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 November 24, 2014 18:22 GMT

EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- A member of the European Central Bank's rate-setting council has said monetary policy cannot boost long-term growth and called instead for reforms by governments to make the weak economy more investment-friendly.

Jens Weidmann said in the text of a speech in Madrid on Monday that low interest rates and stimulus measures can boost short-term demand but that central bank action "cannot permanently boost growth prospects."

Weidmann, who also heads Germany's Bundesbank central bank, said that long-term growth depended on countries' willingness to lower barriers to investment by streamlining bureaucracy and rules on hiring and firing.

His remarks follow a speech last week by ECB President Mario Draghi in which he said the bank was ready to do more to boost the struggling economy.

GREECE-JOB PROSPECTS

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece may be exiting a cruel six-year recession, but it will take at least 20 years for employment to regain pre-crisis levels without concerted action, the United Nations' labor organization says.

An International Labor Organization official says a series of ILO recommendations could speed up the process by about eight years.

ILO research department head Raymond Torres outlined the proposals in a new ILO report presented in Athens on Monday. They combine emergency measures -- including a 1 billion euro youth employment program and improved commercial credit conditions -- as well as structural reforms.

Greece nearly went bankrupt in 2010 after years of profligate public spending, and took harsh austerity measures to secure international bailouts. Unemployment is 26 percent, with most jobless people at least a year out of work.

Meanwhile, the Greek finance ministry says the country's debt inspectors will meet with Greek officials in Paris on Tuesday to move ahead with the stalled review of the nation's financial reforms.

UNITED TECHNOLOGIES-CEO

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Louis Chenevert (Shen-eh-'VAIR), the chief executive officer of aerospace and building systems giant United Technologies Corp., is retiring abruptly after six years and will be succeeded by the company's chief financial officer.

The Hartford, Connecticut, conglomerate announced the change of leadership on Monday. It promoted CFO Greg Hayes to the top job.

Chenevert steered United Technologies' $18.4 billion purchase of aerospace parts maker Goodrich Corp. in 2012. It was the industry's largest deal and gave the company a stronger presence in the aerospace industry.

Chenevert iinformed the board of directors of his retirement as chairman and CEO effective immediately.

Edward A. Kangas, lead independent director, has been elected non-executive chairman of the board.

The 54-year-old Hayes has been with United Technologies for 25 years and has been hief financial officer for the past six years.

BRITAIN-GOOGLE LAWSUIT

LONDON (AP) -- Google has agreed to a settlement with a former Morgan Stanley banker who sued the search engine over defamatory Internet posts.

Daniel Hegglin, a Hong Kong-based investor, went to Britain's High Court to force Google to ensure posts falsely labeling him a murderer, pedophile and Nazi didn't appear in search results.

Hegglin's lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson, said Monday that the case had been settled. He didn't disclose details, but said the settlement "includes significant efforts on Google's part to remove the abusive material."

Google lawyer Antony White said Hegglin had received an "exceptional" amount of Internet abuse.

He said Google wasn't responsible for policing the Web, but would "continue to apply its procedures that have been developed to assist with the removal of content which breaches applicable local laws."

STOPPING CAR HACKERS

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Where consumers see an advantage in cars that connect to the Internet for entertainment or use computers to parallel park, hackers see an opportunity.

In staged tests, hackers have shown that they can penetrate cars' networks and cut the brakes -- or lock them up -- or even kill the engine.

While there are no publicly known instances of a car being commandeered outside staged tests, neither industry nor the government is waiting.

One Defense Department-funded program seeks to reconceive the most critical lines of computer code that control the car in a way that could make them invulnerable to major known threats. The model code would be distributed to automakers, who could adapt it to their needs.

FIBROID TREATMENT-CANCER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. regulators have strengthened their warning against use of a once-popular device for gynecologic surgery that can spread unsuspected cancer, saying its risk is only justified in a fraction of patients.

The Food and Drug Administration is updating its April safety warning, now saying doctors should not use the devices, called laparoscopic power morcellators, for performing a hysterectomy or removing uterine fibroids "in the vast majority of women."

The FDA's Dr. William Maisel says there are safer options for the procedures for most patients -- but he said the device may be appropriate for some women.

One manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, directed surgeons to stop using its device for the procedures in April, when concerns about inadvertently spreading cancer inside women's abdomens first arose. It's now conducting a worldwide recall.

US STEEL-PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- United States Steel Corp. has announced it will build its new world headquarters in Pittsburgh as part of the NHL's Penguins' redevelopment of the former Civic Arena site.

Company, team, city and state officials made the announcement Monday.

The steel giant has been in talks with local leaders about whether to remain in Pittsburgh, as the current headquarters in the 64-story U.S. Steel Tower -- downtown Pittsburgh's highest building -- has shrunk in recent years as other tenants have occupied more space in that building.

The Penguins reached an agreement last fall with local officials about the scope of the $440 million redevelopment.

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