- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

The Alpena News. March 30.

What went wrong in Yemen needs to be examined

In January, President Barack Obama referred to U.S. anti-terrorism efforts in Yemen as a “model” for avoiding massive deployments of American troops.

Last week, U.S. personnel were being evacuated from Yemen. The country had become too dangerous because of an Iranian-backed insurgency involving forces linked to al-Qaida.

What went wrong? How could U.S. officials have been so mistaken in their assessment of whether Washington’s policies were successful?

Not all those in government, or outside of it in positions to know, were optimistic, it turns out.

Barbara Bodine, a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen who now directs the Institute for Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, told the Associated Press “economic and governance issues” encouraging an insurgency were downplayed in Washington.

More needs to be known about why U.S. efforts in Yemen were such a dismal failure - to determine whether similar disasters with serious, long-lived consequences lie ahead in other key countries.

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The Mining Journal (Marquette). April 1.

Disabled workers an untapped resource in state

Employers who are having trouble finding qualified workers for their businesses should consider tapping into an overlooked resource: disabled people.

That was the message in the spotlight during Tuesday’s Marquette stop of the MI Hidden Talent tour, which, as its name says, is aimed at finding the talent disabled people can offer.

Hiring Michiganders with disabilities would change the dynamic for many companies across the state, according to Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who took part in the tour.

However, those people have to be given a chance. Employers need to look beyond the wheelchair, for example, to discover that hidden talent.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein, who is visually impaired, also took part in the tour. He’s been able to serve on the bench by listening to numerous cases, despite his disability.

In fact, Bernstein said he hopes Michigan sets an example for other states to follow by looking to add more disabled people to the workforce.

At each tour stop, Calley and Bernstein were to highlight a local business that sets an example for others in hiring as well as local partners available to help other businesses follow suit. The tour Tuesday visited Lakestate Industries, located in Harvey and Escanaba, which hires people with disabilities to work for real pay in real jobs.

That’s just one instance of that segment of the population learning a work ethic and contributing to society. There should be more.

In fact, the offer of employment for a disabled person is what Bernstein called a “game changer” because that person will overachieve, given the thrill of being handed that opportunity.

And non-disabled people working alongside those with disabilities should be able to learn a lot about resiliency and understanding.

As Bernstein said, everyone benefits, and we support the MI Hidden Talent tour for bringing awareness to this issue.

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Daily Press (Escanaba). March 30.

Our secretive government

Early in his presidency, Barack Obama pledged it would “usher in a new era of open government.” His administration has done just the opposite.

Government is more secretive than ever. The policy is pursued even when officials know they are breaking the law.

Federal law requires that government agencies make records, including both paper and electronic documents, available to the public.

There are a few exceptions, such as those involving national security.

Last year, 714,231 requests for information were submitted to 100 federal agencies, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

In about one-third of the cases, government officials rejected requests for documents or censored parts of them even though, upon being challenged, they acknowledged they were wrong under the law, according to the AP.

Officials responding to tens of thousands of requests claimed they could not find the records being sought.

In more than 67,000 situations, the government never replied to Freedom of Information Act requests.

Nearly two of every five requests were rejected outright or were fulfilled with censored documents.

Displaying monumental arrogance, a White House spokesman told the AP the Obama administration has “a lot to brag about” in terms of open government.

Hardly. Obama’s regime has set new records for telling the American people that government business is none of our business.

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Midland Daily News. April 1.

Government’s battery plant investments might pay off

XALT Energy’s announcement that it has secured a $1 billion contract and is hiring employees in Midland is encouraging news.

XALT, a developer and manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, announced last week that it has signed an agreement with Hybrid Kinetic Group of China for the supply of lithium titanate batteries for all-electric buses in China.

Production is expected to begin during the third quarter of 2015. The multi-year contract will create 300 new jobs in Midland this year, with 80 positions expected to be filled this month, the company said. It said more than $600 million has been invested in the facility in Midland and the company currently employs 130 people.

The facility has received support from the U.S. Department of Energy, City of Midland and the state of Michigan (including the Legislature, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Michigan Department of Treasury and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality).

XALT said it will continue to work with these agencies on various programs as it moves forward to bring high-quality jobs to Michigan.

The XALT brand was created in November 2013 when The Dow Chemical Co. sold its interest in Dow Kokam to MBP Investors, an affiliate of Townsend Ventures. At the time, many in the community wondered what would happen to the Midland facility.

Now we have a clearer picture, and it looks promising. The high-tech and manufacturing jobs XALT will create are a welcome addition to Midland. It is good to see that a facility touted by the government as a symbol of economic recovery will now ramp up production and could boost the local economy.

The promise of a clean energy business - and the local jobs it will create - appears to finally be taking hold. We hope XALT’s new contract is a sign of more good news to come for the company, and for Midland.

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