Friday, March 16, 2012

Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell detained for being drunk in public

Posted at 04:51 PM ET, 03/16/2012

A co-founder of Invisible Children was detained in San Diego last night, accused of public drunkenness, according to the San Diego police, NBC San Diego reports.

Jason Russell poses in New York on March 9. (Brendan McDermid - Reuters)
Jason Russell, 33, the filmmaker behind the very viral “Kony 2012” campaign, was allegedly found masturbating in public and vandalizing cars, and was possibly under the influence, Lt. Andra Brown told the news organization. Brown said Russell was acting very strangely, according to NBC San Diego.
In a statement, Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey said:
“Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.”
Police said they had received several calls Thursday morning of a man in his underwear, running through traffic screaming, according to NBC San Diego.
He cooperated with officers when they arrived at the scene, it said.
“He was no problem for the police department, however, during the evaluation we learned that we probably needed to take care of him,” said Brown at a news conference. “So officers detained him and transferred him to a local medical facility for further evaluation and treatment.”
NBC San Diego initially reported that it was an arrest.
A call to the San Diego police was not immediately returned.
Russell’s film “Kony 2012,” which called for the capture of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, went viral last week, with millions of views on YouTube. Kony is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal group that kidnapped thousands of children over the last two decades.
The film received support from President Obama, celebrities like Oprah and public figures such as New York Times journalist Nic Kristof for drawing attention to the problems in Uganda. It also incurred criticism from both Ugandans and those who specialized in the region; Invisible Children called the criticism “myopic.”

‘The Road We’ve Traveled’: Live-streaming Obama’s slick ‘docu-ganda’

Right wing docu-paper - A screengrab is shown from the trailer of “The Road We've Traveled,”

By , Published: March 15

“The Road We’ve Traveled” is an aggressively upbeat, 17-minute hit-parade review of President Obama’s first term. The film streamed online, live, Thursday night via the president’s savvy new-media reelection machine. Although it has been artfully referred to as a documentary, it is, of course, a piece of propaganda. Perhaps less pejoratively, let’s tweak that word and call “The Road We’ve Traveled” what it mostly is: docu-ganda.
This one is for the fans, and I think you know who you are.

It was directed by Davis Guggenheim, who made the Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” (as well as docs about education reform, electric guitars and the pop band U2). It is narrated by the ubiquitous Tom Hanks, who reads the script with “Apollo 13”-like sincerity. (“How do we understand this president and his time in office? . . . As president, the tough decisions that he would make would not only determine the course of the nation, but they would reveal the character of the man.”)

It is not sappy so much as it is busy, but there are moments at which it could be described as a moving tribute to American resilience during the Great Recession — that is, if one is able to be moved on the subject of this administration, which a lot of people aren’t. And as a sort of official opening salvo in the 2012 campaign, it is rich with all the things Obama’s harshest critics despise most: his charisma, his assuredness, his way with words. His fame.

In one way, the film is a masterful stroke — exactly the kind of thing you want to have around if you’re trying to persuade Americans to keep you in office, brought to you by Hollywood at a reported cost of at least $345,000, according to the Associated Press. Fact checkers and GOP campaign workers will no doubt pore over its content for the next news cycle or two, looking for places where accentuating the positive has edged closer to exaggeration. Still, some basic truths emerge and are duly touted, most notably the rescue of the auto industry, withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

It’s less of a bragging moment and more like a contractor’s bid for renewal. It’s a working résumé, a high-budget PowerPoint. As a hired gun, Guggenheim is tasked with cramming a lot into his short amount of time.

For the campaign, this has the beneficial effect of turning Obama’s first term into a litany of victories — adding “3.5 million jobs” to the private sector, appointing two Supreme Court justices, redirecting education reforms, addressing pay disparities between genders, forging ahead on renewable energy, confronting the mortgage crisis. But that haste — combined with the high-gloss commercial feel of the film — can also be overly concise, to the point that the entire struggle over health-care reform is winnowed down to a couple of minutes, spinning the resultant compromise into a win-win.

Obama supporters will find a lot to like about “The Road We’ve Traveled,” and some will no doubt see it as an overdue rallying cry, more cool than folksy. The narrowing of the Republican field has meant months of Obama-bashing, which the president has hardly engaged. At the same time, many of Obama’s 2008 supporters have drifted and expressed doubts. A hard-core Obama fan admires the president for taking the high road but often seeks refuge in the arms of Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow, or in Michelle Obama’s frequent appearances on talk shows and her late-night funnin’ around in the name of nutrition and exercise.

“Key & Peele,” a sketch show on Comedy Central, has found an especially enjoyable way of interpreting that frustration, where Obama (played by Jordan Peele) addresses the American people with that steady calmness, while his personal “anger translator” Luther (Keegan-Michael Key) screams what’s really on the president’s mind (“This is RIDICULOUS! I HAVE A BIRTH CERTIFICATE!!”).

Guggenheim’s film isn’t anything like that. Its only overt moment of campaign politics is when the camera zones in on an op-ed by GOP contender Mitt Romney that argued against a Detroit bailout. Instead, the film gets those who know Obama to talk about how high the odds were that this administration would be able to accomplish anything. “The Road We’ve Traveled” joins a long line of similar docu-ganda, dating to “A Place Called Hope,” which wowed ’em the night Bill Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination in 1992.

Guggenheim might think he’s accomplished something higher. When CNN’s Piers Morgan was interviewing Guggenheim last week about “The Road We’ve Traveled,” he asked the filmmaker to name one negative thing about Obama that could have been included in the film. What followed was a laughable exchange between Morgan, who seemed to miss the point of propaganda, and Guggenheim, who finally said that the only negative thing was that the president had too many accomplishments. “Oh, come off it,” Morgan jibed. “You can’t say that with a straight face. The only negative thing about Barack Obama is there are too many positives?!” 

Perhaps everyone should get his own docu-ganda. Obama will have this one, and surely more. The eventual Republican nominee will get his. 

We all know how to make a piece of docu-ganda. Any decent laptop provides all the tools you’ll need. We all know when to let the music swell; we know which stock footage will best suit the feelings we’re trying to emote. Enterprising high school seniors started sending video résumés along with college applications decades ago; now families upload brilliantly edited home movies so that the world will know how happy they are, how well things are going. It’s like those beautiful movies made by energy corporations, filled with sunshine, flowers, turbines. 

Everyone likes to have a little favorable smoke blown in their direction. Might as well blow some.

The Road We’ve Traveled
(17 minutes) can be viewed at or on YouTube.

First Thoughts: The long haul

Evan Vucci / AP
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at William Jewell College on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 in Liberty, Mo.
The biggest consequence of the AL and MS results: This GOP race is in for the long haul… And that could have a positive and negative impact on Romney in the general election… Team Romney: seeing the trees, but missing the forest?… Breaking down this weekend’s contests in Missouri and Puerto Rico… Team Obama unveils its 17-minute “docu-ganda”… And GOPers reignite the culture wars (over abortion, contraception, women’s rights) in Pennsylvania and Arizona.

*** The long haul: The biggest consequence of Rick Santorum’s victories on Tuesday in Alabama and Mississippi on is that a competitive GOP primary race will continue through at least April -- and maybe even longer than that. And for Mitt Romney, that situation will inevitably shape the contours of the general election, in potentially good and bad ways for him. Let’s start with the good: A longer primary season would allow him to make the sale to conservatives and the GOP base that he’s their guy. What’s more, a la the ’08 Democratic race, an extended primary season will take him to competitive general-election states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and simply engaging the GOP electorate there could increase the amount of volunteers and interest for the fall. (’s Mike O’Brien will have a piece later today comparing that long ’08 race to this current one.) But here’s the bad: A longer primary season will only bleed money. While Karl Rove wrote yesterday that the Obama campaign has a high burn rate (and they do, but don’t forget how the Obama campaign uses the DNC), it doesn’t compare to the 287% burn rate Team Romney racked up in January (raising $6.5 million but spending $18.8 million). In addition, the longer the GOP race goes on, the less time Romney will have to fix his image problem with independents, who gave him a 22%/38% fav/unfav rating in the most recent NBC/WSJ poll.

*** Romney admits the primary season has helped and hurt him: In an interview on FOX yesterday, Romney admitted that the primary season has both helped and hurt him. “Frankly, a good, spirited contest prepares us for what’s going to happen with President Obama. It’s good to get your skin toughened up a bit, hear the arguments, respond to them.” Asked if he was encouraged by the whole process, Romney replied, “Look, I’m perfectly pleased with the process we have. I face tough competitors, very capable people.” But in another FOX interview, on Hannity, Romney said he hoped the GOP gets its nomine in time. “I hope to be able to get the nomination before the convention. I think that will happen.”

*** Seeing the trees but missing the forest: The Atlantic’s Molly Ball has a very good summation of what has hurt the Romney campaign so far: It’s done a fine job of focusing on the trees (tactics, endorsements, delegate math), but it has ignored the forest (Romney’s image, his standing with conservatives). "I think they're extremely competent at the tactical things. They run a tight ship in terms of the nuts and bolts," GOP strategist John Weaver tells Ball. "But their messaging is a head-scratcher at times… Can they grind it out, run more negative ads, do more robocalls, that kind of crap? Yeah, they can do that better than anyone else. But what has it got them?" And then there’s this kicker quote from an unnamed Republican observer: "This was a campaign built around the notion that Mitt Romney was going to be the nominee because he was the inevitable candidate and the only guy who could beat Obama. Then he started losing, and it was shattering to the electability argument -- 'If he's inevitable, why isn't he winning?’”

*** Caucusing in Missouri… : This weekend brings us more contests in Missouri (Saturday) and Puerto Rico (Sunday). Per NBC’s John Bailey, Missouri Republicans will begin caucusing on the county level beginning on Saturday morning. The state held a presidential preference primary last month, and Rick Santorum won with 55% of the vote. But the results of that primary were non-binding (it was a beauty contest) and has no bearing on allotting delegates. No delegates will be bound on Saturday either, but Missouri Republicans will elect delegates to go to the Congressional District Conventions (April 21) and the State Convention (June 5). Missouri's national delegates will be bound at these events -- 24 delegates at the CD Conventions in April, and 25 delegates at the State Convention in June. Unlike the other the caucuses so far, the Missouri GOP will not conduct a straw poll vote so there will be no results to report on Saturday.

*** … and primary in Puerto Rico: In Puerto Rico -- where residents CAN’T vote in the general election -- Republicans head to the polls on Sunday at 9:00 am ET and wrap up voting at 5:00 pm ET, Bailey adds. The commonwealth's 20 At-Large delegates are awarded proportionally based on the primary vote, but a candidate must get at least 20% of the vote to qualify. In addition, if a candidate gets a majority of the vote, he gets all 20 delegates. Puerto Rico's three RNC delegates are unbound, but all three have made public endorsements. According to reports, National Committeeman (and Gov.) Luis Fortuno and National Committeewoman Zoraida Fonalledas have both endorsed Mitt Romney, while Puerto Rico GOP Chairman Carlos Mendez has publicly endorsed Newt Gingrich.

*** On the trail, per NBC’s Adam Perez: Romney visits Rosemont, IL then jets to Puerto Rico to attend a rally in San Juan Puerto Rico… Gingrich makes stops in Louisiana, campaigning in Slidell, New Orleans, and North  Shore… Meanwhile, Santorum attends a rally in Missouri then travels to Arlington Heights, IL… Paul will also campaign in the Show Me State.

*** Team Obama’s 17-minute “docu-ganda”: Turning away from the GOP primary race, Team Obama yesterday took a couple of steps forward in its general-election efforts – with Vice President Biden’s speech in Ohio, the president’s own energy speech (which was billed as an official White House event), and the release of the campaign’s 17-minute documentary (or “docu-ganda” as the Washington Post put it).  NBC’s Carrie Dann writes that the video “highlights the Obama administration's aid package to the automobile industry… Also named in the film as major feats are the passage of the health care overhaul, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the president's naming of two female Supreme Court justices.” But after watching the documentary, it appears that the campaign’s biggest challenge will be to defend the health-care law.

*** More proof the GOP is leaderless? Just as Republicans are trying to move away from social issues, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) this week was asked if an ultrasound bill being considered in his state goes too far. His answer is something that Democrats and women’s groups are now highlighting and attacking: "Just close your eyes." Here’s his full quote, per the Philly Inquirer: "I’m not making anybody watch, OK. Because you just have to close your eyes. As long as it’s on the exterior and not the interior." Folks, this is in Pennsylvania, a state Republicans are HOPING to be able to put into play. And in Arizona, a state that Team Obama wants to put in play, a Republican bill nearing passage would require women “trying to get reimbursed for birth control drugs” through their employer-provided health plan “to prove that they are taking it for a medical reason such as acne, rather than to prevent pregnancy,” the AP says.

Countdown to Illinois primary: 4 days

Countdown to Louisiana primary: 8 days

Countdown to Election Day: 235 days

Amid controversy, health care law changes are under way

By Michelle Andrews
Kaiser Health News
Two years after its passage, the sweeping health care overhaul remains deeply controversial, with both political parties trying to use it to their advantage in the upcoming elections. As GOP lawmakers constantly deride "Obamacare" and threaten to repeal it, it’s easy to forget that implementation marches on, and a number of notable changes will take effect for consumers this year.
They will, that is, unless the Supreme Court strikes down some or all of the law, including the requirement that nearly everyone have health insurance beginning in 2014. If that happens, all bets are off. Provisions that have already taken effect -- such as allowing adult children to remain on their parents’ health plans until age 26 and the 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs for seniors who reach the so-called donut hole in their prescription drug plans -- could be rolled back, and provisions for 2012 cancelled. The court will hear arguments in the case later this month and a decision is expected this summer.
If the law stands, here are the major new provisions that will affect consumers this year:
Free contraception coverage

Starting in August, the Obama administration's new rules on contraceptive coverage that have generated such controversy take effect. That means that women in a new health plan or in an existing one that has changed its benefits enough to not be considered grandfathered under the law will be able to receive contraceptives without an out-of-pocket charge. In addition, these plans will have to provide a variety of basic women’s health services, including well-woman visits (breast exams, pap smears, etc); screening for gestational diabetes; HPV testing; counseling for sexually transmitted infections; counseling and screening for HIV; and screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence.
Religious employers such as churches are exempt from the new requirement. Colleges, hospitals and other employers that are affiliated with religious institutions are not exempt, but employees at those institutions will receive free contraceptive services from their employer's insurer.
Religiously-affiliated employers have a one-year grace period to implement this change, so some employees may not receive the free benefit until August 2013.

Rebates for consumers

Under the health-care overhaul, insurers have to spend at least 80 to 85 percent of premium revenues on medical claims and quality improvement or else rebate the difference to policyholders. In most group plans, that would mean the employer.
How much consumers can expect to receive remains an open question. An analysis by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, based on 2010 data, estimated that insurers would have returned $2 billion to consumers had the provision been in force then. The analysis said rebates would have gone to 53 percent of people in individual plans, 23 percent in small-group plans and 15 percent of large-group plan members.
In December, the Obama administration estimated that 9 million Americans might receive rebates totaling up to $1.4 billion, also based on 2010 data. The administration says some reports show insurers have been moderating their premium increases to avoid having to pay rebates. But other policy experts aren't so sure.
"My guess is that rebates will be higher [than the NAIC estimate] in 2011," says Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University who helped prepare the NAIC report. "Insurers seem to have raised their premiums based on projected increases in utilization that never occurred."

Clearer descriptions

Beginning in September at the start of the open enrollment season, all health plans will have to provide concise, consistent plan information aimed at allowing consumers to easily understand their benefits and compare plans.
Every plan will be required to give people a short summary of coverage and a uniform glossary of terms. It will also have to provide examples of how much the plan would cover if someone had a baby or was managing Type 2 diabetes -- two common situations that should make it easier for people to compare plans.
"This is a big deal," says Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "Some of the materials people get explaining their health plan benefits are extraordinarily confusing, and this should make it clearer." (Kaiser Health News is an editorially-independent project of the Foundation.)

Shrinking doughnut hole

The health care overhaul is slowly eliminating the ‘doughnut hole.’ This is the break in Medicare prescription drug benefits that, in a standard plan, begins after total drug spending by the beneficiary and the health plan exceeds $2,930 and continues until the beneficiary has hit the $4,700 out-of-pocket limit.
Last year, Medicare beneficiaries with high drug costs got a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs once they reached the doughnut hole. This year, they'll see a 14 percent discount on generic drugs as well.
Drug costs will continue to diminish in coming years, until in 2020 the doughnut hole no longer exists and Medicare beneficiaries with drug plans will simply be responsible for 25 percent of their drug costs.

'Accountable Care'

Last December, the administration announced that 32 health-care organizations would participate in a three-year Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program aimed at providing better, coordinated care for 860,000 Medicare beneficiaries. Providers -- including hospitals, clinics and physician groups -- that work together to improve beneficiaries' health and to bring costs down will share in the savings that they achieve.
Although Medicare beneficiaries may not realize that their health-care provider is participating in the program, they may start to notice changes in their care this year, says Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families. She leads the Campaign for Better Care, a coalition of organizations focusing on improving health-care delivery.
"For some of these folks, it may start to feel like they have a team working with them, or like their primary-care provider is developing an individualized care plan," she says. "Compared to what happens now, it could feel like a pretty big change."the

Ides of March - 2012

Uploaded by on Mar 15, 2012
6.5 inches of rain/hail in 90 minutes

Tornado in Dexter/Ann Arbor 3/15/12 at Hudson Mills Metro Park

Uploaded by on Mar 15, 2012
Taped at Hudson Mills Metro Park in Dexter about 5:30PM on March 15th by Matthew Altruda (with Nicole Myint)
I was there alone with my girlfriend and do not know anyone else in the video and not approve of any of the foul language. I however understand that in a time of crisis people are not always able to control their fears. I am deeply saddened about the people who lost their homes and currently working on a benefit show and fundraiser with the Red Cross. If you would like to help, please donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fun. Donations of food, clothing and other items can not be accepted. If you would like to make a donation, call 734-971-5300 or visit to make a secure online donation. Donations are welcome in person at the American Red Cross, Washtenaw-Lenawee Chapter, 4624 Packard Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Yeah, People who don't live in Michigan have no room to talk about how these Michiganders reacted. Here, we do not have tornadoes. We get maybe a dozen funnel clouds reported in the Lower Peninsula per year... I can say with certainty that for 90% of those individuals - that was not only the largest - but the ONLY tornado they will ever see in their lives. Anything that beautiful and powerful, which may only be viewed by a lucky handful for a fleeting moment, Is worth celebrating.
SpringfieldPosse07 9 hours ago

Eight stories of people who saw the twisters
Monroe County had six confirmed funnel clouds with reported touchdowns in the Temperance/Lambertville area, in Ida Township, and in Monroe Township, according to Mark Hammond, the director of the Monroe County Emergency Management Division. There also was an unconfirmed report of a twister in Lapeer, the National Weather Service said.
The twisters were part of a heavy storm system of rain, hail and high winds that swept southeast Michigan -- downing trees and power lines, sparking fires and flooding neighborhood roads.
In addition to the tornado watch, weather forecasters warned of severe thunderstorms with golf-ball sized hail and damaging winds.

In Huron Farms, Jennifer Lawrence was just driving into her driveway with her two children when the sirens went off. She raced into the house, grabbing diapers for the baby and things to occupy her children’s attention. Then she ran down into the basement and into a closet. The funnel cloud touched down at about 5:30 p.m.
“I listened to it all come down. I could hear ripping, hitting and falling," she said. "I texted my husband, ‘we’re getting hit.’ ”
Lawrence said her “greatest fear, ever” was being in a tornado. “That’s why we moved into this house, because it had a basement,” her husband Tim Lawrence said.
Their previous home in Ann Arbor did not have basement.

Shortly before 6 p.m., Bob Bricault, 53, of Dexter, was on the phone with his cousin in Pinckney to warn him that a tornado had been sighted in Pinckney, but when he glanced out the window of his house, he saw a tornado in Dexter. The rotating clouds were moving slowly north.
He ran into the basement as the storm hit. When it seemed like the worst was over, he and a neighbor ran three houses down to an elderly neighbor's home, which was almost completely destroyed. They could hear the elderly man in the basement, but he wouldn’t come out. So, the men crawled through a basement window and pulled him out. The elderly man seemed uninjured but in shock.
Bricault then returned to his own home. The garage and the front of his house had caved in. A pillow from one of the bedrooms was stuffed under a workbench in his garage. As he worked to clean up, several neighbors came by to help and offer him a place to stay.

Matthew Altruda, 37, of Ann Arbor was spending the afternoon in Hudson Mills Metro park near Dexter with his girlfriend, Nicole Myint, 30, when the storm hit.
“We were going back to our car because it looked like it was about to rain, when someone told us to get in the car now,” he said.
They went into the clubhouse at the park along with about 20 other people, and he recorded what they saw and posted it to YouTube. He also said he saw baseball-size hail.
“It sounded like a train going by; it was super loud,” said Altruda, who is a radio DJ for Ann Arbor’s 107.1-FM. “It was scary and now that I see the houses that were destroyed [on TV], I’m just like, wow.”

Sam Riffle was checking his mail when he saw a funnel cloud tear through the farm fields near his house in Ida Township just before 7 p.m.
He jumped into his Dodge Ram truck to race to the home of friends just down the road to warn them. “I couldn’t keep control of the truck. It was blowing me all over the place,” he said. He watched as the cloud, “sucked up water right out of the ground in the field.”
An hour later, he was standing in his friends’ garage as hail batter the vehicles outside. Thunder shook the garage, lightning split the sky.

The storm damaged a two-story farmhouse and flung a car and a lawn tractor in the yard.

Steve Park, 51, was on his way home on I-75 from his job in Romeo, where he works as an insulation engineer. He pulled over to watch the storm just south of Monroe. He said he was stunned when the clouds formed a funnel, and he started snapping photos with his cell phone.
"I've always wanted to see a tornado -- not that someone would get hurt, but the majesty of it,” he said.

Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti buckled down for the storm.
"We put out an all-campus notice to students to take cover and a tornado warning is in effect," school spokesman Walter Kraft said.
The notices were sent out via text messages and e-mails, Kraft said.

University of Michigan officials also sent warnings to students. Students, staff, faculty and visitors moved to safer locations. Several hundred people who were in the Michigan Union went into the basement, where large study areas surround fast-food restaurants.
U-M Junior Mark Wiseman, 20, of Livonia, was walking across campus as the heavy rains fell. He ducked inside just before sirens sounded.
University of Michigan Health System spokeswoman Kara Gavin said patients were moved into hallways and window blinds have been closed in rooms. Some critically ill patients were moved away from the windows and would be moved further if necessary.
There have been no reports of damage in or around the Ann Arbor hospitals, Gavin said.

And Bill Marx, head baker at Dexter Bakery, said he was closing up shop when he noticed the change in the weather and heard storm sirens.
"I stepped outside and saw the clouds turning around," Marx said. "It was coming toward us. After it went by, it really started raining and hailing."

More than 110 homes damaged as tornado touches down near Ann Arbor, Michigan


Tornado over Dexter 3/16/12 Photo by: Matthew Altruda/Tree Town Sound

A series of tornadoes tore through southeastern Michigan Thursday, damaging more than 100 homes and sending people racing for cover. The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel reports.
Updated at 7:58 a.m. ET: A tornado ripped through a rural Michigan community Thursday evening, damaging or demolishing many homes, downing trees and power lines, sparking fires and flooding roads.

A dispatcher with the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department told Reuters that "there are homes leveled" in Dexter, which is located northwest of Ann Arbor. The Detroit Free Press linked to a YouTube video of a twister.
Sheriff's spokesman Derrick Jackson told The Associated Press that 105 homes were significantly damaged in Dexter and the surrounding area, and 13 were destroyed.
Washtenaw County Sheriff's Deputy Ray Yee was first on the scene when he noticed a solitary hand sticking out of the rubble of a destroyed home. He said he reached for the hand and pulled out an elderly man who was shaken but able to walk.
"That's the best part," Yee told the AP. "Every place I went to, I would have thought I would have found somebody laying there - deceased or whatever. But, knock on wood, everybody was OK."
Officials said around 200 people were displaced and a temporary shelter was opened at a nearby middle school. Police and fire crews were going door to door to check for any victims.
Thunderstorm watches and warnings were in effect for several counties in southeast Michigan, said ClickOnDetroit, the website for NBC station WDIV.
There were multiple reports of funnel clouds and two reports of touchdowns in Monroe County, Emergency Management Director Mark Hammond said. There, a funnel cloud moved across the expressway and badly damaged one home and turned over several vehicles.
In Washtenaw County, where Dexter is located, the tornado started as a thunderstorm watch, which turned into a thunderstorm warning, then a tornado warning – a series of warnings that extended for an hour and a half.

Aerial footage shows at least a dozen homes were heavily damaged when a tornado touched down in Dexter, Mich. 

Marc Breckenridge, director of Emergency Management for Washtenaw County, told that there were no initial reports of injuries. "We've got public safety crews out right now being very thorough to make sure that everyone is accounted for," he added.
Emergency management officials told NBC News that the county is a "storm-ready community" that has invested in an outdoor weather alarm and that takes storm preparation seriously.
Softball-sized hail Thunderstorms also produced softball-sized hail near Flint, Mich., reported. "We've had several large hail reports," meteorologist Amos Dodson added.
Forecasters also issued a severe storm watch on Thursday afternoon for parts of Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, warning of possible large hail, wind gusts of up to 70 miles an hour and dangerous lightning in a region raked by deadly tornadoes less than two weeks ago.
In Chicago, the official temperature at O'Hare International Airport on Thursday afternoon was 79 degrees, 5 degrees above the previous record for the day, and Indianapolis topped out at 80 degrees, 3 degrees above the old record.

In Washington, D.C., temperatures reached an all-time high, and in less than a week more than 900 new record highs have been tied or broken. NBC's Brian Williams reports. 

Dave Samuhel, a meteorologist at said the warm air covering much of the country's midsection was helping fuel the storms the Weather Service warned about on Thursday.
"It's just so warm that we're seeing thunderstorms pop up like popcorn the way you see it in the summertime," he said.

'Warming up mighty early' across parts of US said the unseasonably warm weather west of the Plains would continue into next week and spread further east into places like New York City, where residents were experiencing a more typical spring day on Thursday as winds out of the northeast kept daytime highs in the 40s.

 Mark Andrews, a volunteer fireman, ropes off a house in Ida Township that was hit by a tornado on Thursday, March 15, 2012.
 The Huron Farms subdivision in Dexter was in the direct path of the tornado.
 Flooding was part of the devastation after a tornado touched down in Dexter on Thursday, March 15, 2012. The Huron Farms neighborhood was in the direct path of the tornado that moved southeast.
 Neighbors help salvage what's left of a home after a tornado touched down in the Huron Farms subdivision in Dexter on Thursday, March 15, 2012.
Police, fire and EMS workers from Washtenaw County and neighboring counties gather at Dexter High School following severe storms and a tornado Thursday, March 15, 2012.
Heavy rain flooded I-94 at Mile Marker 172 during a tornado watch on Thursday, March 15, 2012.
A tornado tore through a subdivision in Dexter on Thursday, March 15, 2012.

7 Africa stories you missed while Facebooking KONY2012

By Jina Moore Guest blogger
updated 3/10/2012 9:24:40 PM ET

Did you hear we halved poverty while we were all distracted by Invisible Children? The Internet is on fire debating Invisible Children and the Kony2012 campaign targeting UgandanJoseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army.  Rarely does news from Africa so consume the chattering classes – who, as it turns out, are missing some real news. In no particular order, here are some stories from Africa this week:

1. On International Women's Day, Kenya's sex workers offer to pay income tax -- to make the point that sex work is as valid as any other work, and to force the government to recognize the practice as a labor. (Kenya, meanwhile, fired 25,000 striking nurses, arguing that nurse strikes endanger patients lives. Twenty-five thousand missing nurses, however, is apparently totally safe.)

2. The UN claims to have met the clean water Millennium Development Goal, and scientists rebut.  The World Bank says the world met the Millennium Development poverty goal.
The maternal mortality MDG, however, looked pretty awful from Gobah, Liberia.  Yesterday, I visited a clinic there – in the same county as the capital, Monrovia – that doesn't have a microscope, malaria meds for kids 5-10, or water.  That's right, water.  Read about it over on the project page for our Pulitzer Center collaborative project on reproductive health in Africa.

3. The International Peace Institute calls our attention to actually underreported topics, namely, security in West Africa.  In addition to the notorious drug smuggling, IPI draws attention to the scary combination of terrorism, drugs, crime and insurgency in the Sahel region (especially in Mali, it notes, citing a recent UN assessment) and to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. (That's right.  Pirates advance on great white saviors.  Pirates, checkmate.)
Bonus points for IPI, which tell us what we can do, rather than wring our hands and feel guilty, or not guilty, or guilty about not feeling guilty, or questionable making others feel guilty about the guilt others try to put on them... er... work it out according to whatever made you angriest on the Internet.
So what can we do to stop these two burgeoning crises?  Send planes to the Sahel and patrol boats to the Gulf, says IPI.  And maybe some radar and comms equipment.

4.Three men were killed in Burundi in an exchange of gunfire with the police, the latest in a series of killings that have been documented intermittently since the country's troubled 2010 election.  The UN has confirmed that the FNL, an ex-rebel group and former opposition party, has relocated to Congo, and some observers fear the ongoing gun battles suggest a return to violence with the FNL.

5.  Sam Bell, who knows a thing or two (to say the least) about what it means to do American advocacy on African atrocities, wrote a moving tribute to Representative Donald Payne, a long-time Sudan (and Africa) advocate who died on Tuesday.  Bell's tribute is itself an insightful reflection on some of the challenges of advocacy.

6.  Ashley Judd listened to this awesome radio piece I did about some incredible Congolese women busting through the countryside to bring women's news to the airwaves.  Did you?

7.  Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, stares down a cholera outbreak after a month of water shortages.

Still thinking about the LRA?

If, after all of this, you're still thinking about the LRA, I urge you to read this piece by indefatigable Elizabeth Rubin.  it's from 1998, when the LRA was still in Uganda kidnapping children at night.  Not that being in Congo and the CAR and raping women and looting villages is any less of a crime.  Just saying, note the time flashback.  Also, it's amazing journalism. (Thanks Nicholas Thompson for freeing it from behind the New Yorker's paywall.)
Meanwhile, I find these two things to be the most lasting, as the Internet exploded this week:
Photographer Glenna Gordon, who took the only still picture of Invisible Children you've ever seen, was interviewed about the photo by the Washington Post.  Answering a question about whether this IC stuff is all neo-colonial, Gordon said, "I don’t think they think there is a problem with the idea that they are colonial. This photo is the epitome of it, like, we are even going to hold your guns for you."
And novelist Teju Cole said yesterday (on, sigh, Twitter): "The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege."  All those blog posts, and dude gets it right in 140 characters.
Jina Moore is a freelance multimedia journalist who covers Africa, human rights and women in conflict zones. She blogs here.
This article, "7 stories on Africa this week, other than Kony2012," first appeared on

‘This American Life’ Episode Seeks To Set The Record Straight On Apple Factory Story

This American Life host Ira GlassThis American Life host Ira Glass

Earlier on Friday, the public radio program This American Life was forced to retract an episode about Apple’s Foxconn factory in China because it contained “significant fabrications.”
Ira Glass devotes the entire episode of this week’s This American Life to set the record straight on Mike Daisey’s story about the extreme working conditions at Apple’s Chinese factory.
“I’m coming to you today to say something that I’ve never had to say on our program,” Glass said, opening in the episode: a story on the program was not true. Glass admits mistakes that were made in the fact-checking process. Below is a transcript of the episode — titled “Retraction” — that aired Friday evening. It’s a rush transcript, and may not be 100 percent accurate. Read it below:

This American Life #460 Retraction Transcript[1]

The Road We’ve Traveled

Uploaded by  on Mar 15, 2012
Are you in?

Remember how far we've come. From Academy Award®-winning director Davis Guggenheim: "The Road We've Traveled". 

This film gives an inside look at some of the tough calls President Obama made to get our country back on track. Featuring interviews from President Bill Clinton, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Elizabeth Warren, David Axelrod, Austan Goolsbee, and more. It's a film everyone should see.