Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Music Video - Fifth Harmony - Worth It ft. Kid Ink

Saudi Arabia bought $1.5bn worth of bombs from UK last summer

Britain sold the Saudis over 1.5 billion dollars worth of arms last summer that saw Riyadh escalate its deadly military campaign against Yemen, say human rights groups.
From July to September 2015, the British government authorized the sales under an export category which covers missiles, rockets and bombs via five separate licenses, The Guardian cited Saferworld and Amnesty International as saying on Tuesday.
The sales were made just one day after British Prime Minister David Cameron claimed he was trying to “encourage a political process in Yemen,” and that the crisis in the country would not be solved through military intervention, said a Saferworld spokesperson.
 “All of these are for air force end use, with the components for air-to-surface rockets for training purposes,” the spokesperson noted.
He added that the Saudi air force “has bombed hospitals, schools, markets, grain warehouses, ports and a displaced persons camp and helped to turn Yemen into a living nightmare.”
Amnesty International UK’s head of policy, Allan Hogarth, said that these licenses were being signed off by British officials as “hundreds - possibly thousands - of Yemeni civilians" were being killed by Saudi Arabia’s "terrifying barrage of indiscriminate" airstrikes.
“The law is crystal clear: any Saudi attack, whether deliberate or not, that fails to adequately protect civilians is a violation of international law. And our obligations are equally clear – as a major supplier of Saudi Arabia’s weaponry, the UK is legally obliged to suspend arms exports,” he noted.
Last month, the Campaign Against Arms Trade NGO reported that the UK had sold over eight billion dollars of military hardware to Riyadh since Cameron took office in May 2010.   
Cameron has been under pressure to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia which faces massive criticism over its war on Yemen which has claimed the lives of over 7,500 people over the last nine months.

Saudi Arabia v. Iran as Much of a Schism as Arabs v. Israel

By ,

On January 3, Saudi Arabia announced that it had executed 47 people. Among them were prominent Shiite cleric and protester Nimr al-Nimr. As Rob Prince wrote at Focal Points, it may have been an attempt at goading Iran, ever growing in arch-enemy-hood in the eyes of Saudi Arabia, into responding and thus somehow torpedo-ing the recent nuclear deal it had signed.
Since King Salman succeeded King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia has been harsher internally and more aggressive externally, e.g., its war on the Houthis in Yemen, which is seen as a way of rolling back Iranian influence. The United States has long maintained a close relationship with Saudi Arabia because of oil, profits from arms sales, the intelligence the Saudis share on Islamic extremists, and Saudi support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The last has been a non-starter recently, though, because, as Richard Sokolsky writes in Foreign Affairs(behind a paywall):
… Saudi support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was once seen as critical to achieving a two-state solution. But the peace process is on life support at best, and Saudi Arabia has recently embraced Hamas, a group that is still on the U.S. terrorist list. Faint hopes for a two-state solution tomorrow are no reason to coddle Saudi Arabia today.
The last break in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, also initiated by Riyadh, occurred in 1988. It lasted three years. The current split mirrors a fundamental ideological and strategic division across the Middle East that is now at least as significant as the Arab-Israeli divide, which defined Mideast conflicts over the past six decades. The escalating sectarian rift in recent years is also one of the deepest fractures since the original schism between Sunnis and Shiites, nearly fourteen centuries ago, shortly after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Then there are the ethnic tensions, dating back centuries, between Arabs and Persians. Even if the United States and others succeed in limiting the damage of the immediate crisis, prospects for healing the deeper divide seem more than unlikely.

#SaudiStruggle - Film set to reveal the 'secret lives' of Saudi Arabia's royal family

Rori Donaghy

A film is being made that will claim to reveal the untold lives of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, focusing on the claims of a Palestinian woman who says she was a secret wife of the late King Fahd bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.
Janan Harb, 68, is a Palestinian-born Christian who says that, after a forced conversion to Islam in 1968 as a 20-year-old, she married the 47-year-old “dashing and immensely powerful” Fahd, who was at the time Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and first in line to the throne.
But the royal family didn’t like Harb and in 1970 she was forced to flee Saudi Arabia at two hours’ notice after Fahd’s brother Salman, the current king, told him to get rid of her and her family.
Harb, who now lives in London, says that Fahd promised to look after her financially for life. But she accuses Fahd’s son Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd of refusing to deliver on an agreement struck in 2003 when Fahd was ill, which was to give her £12m and two flats in London’s upmarket district of Chelsea.
Last November she won a landmark UK high court case and Abdulaziz was ordered to pay up, although the prince has until the end of March 2016 to decide whether to try and appeal the ruling.
In the interim, Harb has sold the rights to her extraordinary story to media relations consultant Damien McCrystal, who says funding has been secured in part to produce a film that will provide a unique insight into the inner workings of Saudi Arabia’s famously secretive royal family.
McCrystal told Middle East Eye that a two-minute trailer is currently being filmed in an undisclosed North African country. He said the clip will be published by the end of February in both English and Arabic.
The trailer will feature images of extraordinary claims including Fahd gambling at the Clermont Club casino in London; another showing him injecting himself with intravenous drugs to feed a claimed addiction to methadone; and another airing Harb’s allegation that Fahd forced her to have three abortions because he “didn’t want any little Arafats running about the palace,” in a reference to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Harb says she doesn’t regret marrying Fahd and in fact describes him as a “gentleman” who she has to thank because “he allowed me to escape Saudi rather than killing me”.
However, she admits that if Fahd were alive he “would not be very happy” about the film being made.
“But it has to come out,” she said. “No one in the whole world knows exactly how they live inside their palaces.” she told Middle East Eye. “It is part of history.”

Saudi Arabia is renowned for being a deeply conservative Muslim country, where alcohol and gambling are banned and women aren’t allowed to drive. Harb’s controversial claims will likely cause much debate in the kingdom, where Fahd was widely adored during his reign between 1982 and 2005.
The film is being made by British director Malcolm Walker of the London-based production company Itasca and McCrystal estimates that it will require a budget of between five and 15 million pounds.
Its working title is “The Weaknesses of King Fahd” and beyond making salacious claims about Fahd’s personal life, it will also prominently feature the current King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.
Harb says she knew Salman back when she lived in the palace with Fahd, but she doesn’t speak highly of him.
“He is not one of the nice people. I called him the ‘Butcher of Riyadh’ because of how he executed so many people,” she said, in a reference to Salman’s governorship of Saudi capital Riyadh.
“He didn’t have a good reputation, he was very aggressive. He was the one behind me being told to leave. But, he was a very handsome man – handsome and a dictator!”
Harb has a broad disdain for the Saudi royal family, although much of her dislike is reserved for her late husband’s son Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd, who she defeated in the compensation case in November 2015.
Harb described Abdulaziz as having "no shame" and said: “He is ungrateful. Fahd was such a nice man but he went cuckoo when he had that boy.”
Abdulaziz, 43, was revealed by a New York court in 2012 to have a $1bn property portfolio and he is also known to own several super-yachts.
The prince’s wealth comes from him being one of Fahd’s favourite sons, and as part of this legacy he receives 50 percent of the profits from Saudi media company the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation.
Harb claims that Abdulaziz travels the world with an entourage of at least 100 people and spends at least $6m a week on his lifestyle.
The prince has hit the headlines in the past year after his convoy of 10 cars was robbed in Paris of $335,000. He has also been accused of drugging one of his cousins in Switzerland.
His highflying controversial lifestyle has caused much anger among his fellow royals in Riyadh, according to Harb.
“He is shunned by the family,” Harb said. “The family is very happy I took him to court because they don’t like him. He’s not allowed to go to Saudi Arabia now.”
Harb’s autobiography, telling the full story of her life as Fahd’s secret wife, is planned to be published by the end of 2016. No date has been set for when the film will be completed.
In Saudi Arabia it is fair to say Harb's story is given short-shrift.
When contacted by Middle East Eye for comment prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a former advisor to the royal family, said: "I prefer to stay away from such gossip stories."
Despite her controversial claims, Harb doesn't fear any retribution from Saudi Arabia.
“I am Palestinian, I don’t get frightened,” she said.

- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/film-set-reveal-secret-lives-saudi-arabias-royal-family-1503896297#sthash.1zhbWgNU.dpuf

I revealed the truth about President Erdogan and Syria. For that, he had me jailed

By  Can Dunder
In Turkey, a debate as old as government itself is on the agenda again. This time, it is the Turkish government’s secret arms transfer to Syria that has revitalised the subject.
Early in 2014, a truck understood to belong to the Turkish intelligence service (MIT) was stopped near the Syrian border. The gendarmerie and the intelligence officials in control of the convoy pulled guns on each other. This was the moment the two blocks vying to rule the state came face to face. The truck was searched. Beneath the camouflage composed of medicines boxes, weapons and ammunition were found. The truck was held for a while, but following the intervention of government officials a safe passage into Syria was granted.
The government immediately discharged the prosecutor and gendarmerie who stopped the convoy and had them arrested. It was declared that the trucks contained humanitarian aid. This incident, which fuelled allegations that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government was intervening in the Syrian civil war, was rapidly covered up.
In May 2015, however, Cumhuriyet Daily, the newspaper I serve as the editor-in-chief, acquired the footage of this incident. It was clearly visible that the truck was loaded with arms. It was thus documented that the intelligence service was illegally carrying arms into the civil war raging in a neighbouring country. This was big news. We published details of the operation with photos, and uploaded the video to our website.
Erdoğan was in a fix. He couldn’t refute the story, so instead chose to censor the publication and threaten the journalist responsible, who was me. In a live broadcast on a state TV channel, he said: “The person who wrote this story will pay a heavy price for it; I won’t let him go unpunished.” He added that the footage was a “state secret”, and that publishing it was an act of “espionage”. Furthermore, as if to confirm that this was not the state’s secret but his secret, he filed a personal complaint to the prosecutor’s office.
The punishment he demanded for me was two life sentences – for “treason” and for “acquiring and publishing classified information for the purpose of espionage”. This signalled the arrest of those of us who were well aware that the president of the republic’s wishes are received as orders by the judges of the criminal court. Thus, on 26 November I was arrested along with Erdem Gül, our Ankara bureau chief, who published the gendarmerie’s “Yes, the trucks had guns” report. Just 10 days before my arrest, I received a Reporters Without Borders press freedom award on behalf of Cumhuriyet.
Following criticism of the arrests from domestic and international press and human rights organisations, the minister of justice declared that “every country is sensitive on security” and cited Julian Assange and Edward Snowden as examples. The US ambassador to Turkey responded: “We chased after those that leaked the information, not those that published it.”
This was yet another blow for the oppressive Erdoğan regime, which has plummeted in the press freedom rankings. It also sparked questions that have surfaced time and time again in many scandals, from Iran-Contra to Watergate, from the Pentagon Papers to the Clive Ponting affair. When the state’s need for security contradicts the public’s right to information, which carries a higher priority? Can the threat to security be an excuse for government attempts to muzzle the media? When the stamp of “state secret” has turned into a veil concealing the dirty dealings of administrations, is it not the duty of a journalist to tear it away? Who determines what is in the best interests of the society?
As a journalist detained in solitary confinement in a prison in İstanbul, faced with accusations of “espionage”, I have been seeking answers to these questions. My conclusion is that no label of “state secret” and no rationale for “state security” permits a state crime. Thus I defend myself with Winston Churchill’s words: “The Official Secrets Act was devised to protect the national defence … and ought not to be used to shield ministers who have a strong personal interest in concealing the truth.”

Largest LGBT Human Rights Campaign endorses Hillary

"She has stood with us, and now it’s our turn. Her fight is our fight," the LGBT rights group said in a statement.
The HRC cast its endorsement of Clinton as an effort to lock in "all the progress we've made" under President Obama, mentioning the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and the push to legalize gay marriage across the country.
Clinton addressed HRC during a speech in October after it was reported that she turned down an evening keynote opportunity to appear on "Saturday Night Live."
During her fall address, Clinton pitched herself as a longtime ally of the group and promised "from one HRC to another" to fight alongside the group.
She also called on Congress to pass a federal Equality Act and focus on international gay rights concerns.
Clinton has made gay rights advocacy a major part of her 2016 bid, starting by showing a gay couple in her campaign launch video last year.
HRC endorsed Barack Obama two days after news emerged that Clinton would end her 2008 Democratic presidential bid. Clinton came out in support of same-sex marriage in 2013 after previously opposing it.

Leonardo DiCaprio Explains Why He’d “Love” to Play Vladimir Putin

Many of Leonardo DiCaprio’s most defining roles—Frank Abagnale Jr., Howard Hughes, Hugo Glass, Jim Carroll, Jordan Belfort, and more—have been portraits of real-life divisive men. And it looks like DiCaprio is in no rush to leave the world of biopics anytime soon. When asked about the controversial Russian president Vladimir Putin, DiCaprio spoke enthusiastically about tackling the role.
“Putin would be very, very, very interesting. I would love to play him,” DiCaprio told the German paperWelt am Sonntag. But Putin isn’t the only famous Russian DiCaprio has his eye on. “I think there should be more films about Russian history because it has many stories worthy of Shakespeare,” DiCaprio said, according to a translation in The Guardian. “That is fascinating for an actor. Lenin also would be an interesting role. I would like also to star as Rasputin.”
DiCaprio recently had a chance to show off his Russian accent while relating the story of an emergency plane landing on Ellen earlier this month. That plane, it turns out, was actually taking DiCaprio to meet Putin back in 2010 for a conference on the endangered Siberian tiger in St. Petersburg. You can judge the accent for yourself right around the three-minute mark.
DiCaprio encountered not one, but two serious plane issues on his way to meet with Putin, and his determination to make the journey to St. Petersburg anyway prompted then Prime Minister Putin to interrupt his speech on tigers to praise DiCaprio. “I would like to thank you for coming despite all the obstacles . . . A person with less stable nerves could have decided against coming, could have read it as a sign—that it was not worth going,” Putin said to DiCaprio in front of a crowd, before calling him a “muzhik,” which translates to “real man” in Russian. We can only imagine what the adventurous, outdoorsy Putin thought of DiCaprio after The Revenant.
For his part, DiCaprio said he enjoyed meeting Putin and that the two men talked mostly of environmental issues rather than politics. “My foundation has provided financial support for several projects for the protection of these big cats,” DiCaprio told Welt am Sonntag. “Putin and I talked only about the protection of these magnificent animals, not politics.”

According to the BBC, when he met Putin, DiCaprio told the prime minister that two of his late grandparents were Russian and that he had always wanted to take his grandmother to St. Petersburg, so a grand Russian role for DiCaprio does seem somewhat inevitable. Putin feels like a pretty solid fit, but if DiCaprio decides to go the Rasputin route instead, he’s going to have to re-grow that Revenant beard . . . and then some.

Russia: Putin calls on European Jews to move to Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Jews to come to Russia after listening to the President of the European Jewish Congress Vyacheslav Kantor complain about attacks against Jews in Europe, during a meeting with the European Jewish Congress in Moscow, Tuesday.

Combat cam: Russian Air Force kills 60 militants in Deir ez-Zor

Russian attack aicraft hit IS camp in Syria using opposition-provided data — official

Russia’s Sukhoi-25 fighter-bomber has hit a field camp of the Islamic State in Syria’s Homs province using data provided from the oppositional forces, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov has told the media.

"Several days ago a patriotically-minded opposition group shared information about the location of a field camp of Islamic State militants near Kissin, Homs Province," Konashenkov said. 

After extra reconnaissance conducted with the use of drones and more checks through the Baghdad information center a Sukhoi-25 plane attacked the target, Konashenkov said. "The command of Russia’s air group is continuing interaction with patriotic opposition groups in Syria, fighting against such terrorist groups as the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra," he added. Russia’s combat planes have been attacking targets of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra groups (both outlawed in Syria) since September 30, 2015 at the request of President Bashar Assad. Last week, the chief of the General Staff’s operations directorate, Sergey Rudskoy, said that Russian military were getting information about one in five targets they eventually attacked from opposition groups. More than 10,500 opposition militias were fighting against terrorists in Syria.


Palin Endorsement Widens Trump’s Lead Among Idiots

Andy Borowitz

An endorsement from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is expected to widen Donald J. Trump’s already impressive lead among so-called “idiot voters,” an aide to the billionaire said on Tuesday. While Trump was previously thought to have a lock on the idiot vote heading into the Iowa caucuses, a recent surge by Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, has put the idiots back in play.
Cruz has worked tirelessly in recent weeks to tailor his message to undecided idiots, even revamping his stump speech to rid it of two-syllable words.“That’s why Palin supporting Trump and not Cruz is such a win for us,” the Trump aide said. “She’s been out of politics for awhile, but she still has idiot cred.”
The aide said that no one should be surprised by the bond between Palin and Trump. “They’re both reality-show hosts,” he said. “And by lowering the bar in 2008, Palin singlehandedly made Trump’s candidacy possible.”
But even as the Trump campaign staffers celebrate the Palin endorsement, they recognize that they still have their work cut out for them to secure victory in Iowa. “Getting the idiots to support Trump is only half the battle,” the aide said. “Now we have to make sure that they make it to the caucuses without getting lost on the way.”

Video Reprort - New York - Dozens of LaGuardia Airport workers arrested during wage hike demo for MLK Day

Dozens of New York LaGuardia Airport workers were arrested during a protest outside one of the site’s terminals, Monday, as hundreds of employees rallied on Martin Luther King Day to call for an increase in minimum wage.

Video Report - Calls Grow for Oscars Boycott

President Obama's Detroit auto-show visit highlights industry's turnaround after bailout

By Paula Gardner

Michigan's auto industry will put more on display than cool cars and new technology when President Barack Obama tours the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Wednesday.
The visit closes the narrative arc of the automotive industry during President Obama's time in office, which began with the U.S. bailout of General Motors and Chrysler and will end with what forecasters agree will be a second consecutive record-setting sales year.
At the same time, it positions Michigan to wonder what is next for its signature industry as globalization and technological advances pressure automakers.
"He's really seen the complete span of the auto industry cycle, (going) from near-collapse to what's expected to be great sales in 2016," said Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica Bank.
The economy wobbled during the 2008 presidential election campaign, before heading into a freefall that September.
President Obama took office as General Motors — a symbol of Michigan's automotive heritage and one of the state's biggest employers — warned that it was running out of money. Its losses spiraled along with the economy, leaving the state fearful of the future and the U.S. wondering whether its auto industry could survive.
But between 2009 and 2015, the nation pursued the auto industry's salvation through financial bolstering, wholesale restructuring and meeting demand for innovation.
Michigan stood on the front lines of every battle, emerging at the end of 2015 proving that, as a state, its fortunes — and most notably, those of the Detroit metro area — rise and fall alongside vehicle sales.
"The industry as a whole has obviously had a phenomenal comeback in the last five years," said Michael Finney, former head of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and now president and CEO of Community Ventures Resources Inc.
In 2009, Detroit's unemployment rate was north of 16 percent as U.S. auto sales plummeted to a 27-year low of 10.4 million units.
It dropped to about 10 percent by April 2013, as sales climbed to 15 million units.
And in August 2015, as the industry headed toward a record 17.47 million vehicles sold last year, Detroit unemployment was down to 5.6 percent — just ahead of the nation's average 5.1 percent.
Data for Michigan auto production shows the transition: In just three years, from 2009 to 2012, the state produced nearly 1 million more units per year, or 2.1 million vehicles.
The Center For Automotive Research in Ann Arbor defines the impact of the auto industry on Michigan employment:
• 943,619 of the nation's 7.25 million auto jobs are in Michigan
• 13 percent of all U.S. auto jobs are in Michigan
• 19.9 percent of Michigan workers are tied to the industry
Nationally, auto-related payroll tops $500 billion, according to CAR. And the industry generated $205 billion in tax revenue, with $3.4 billion coming to Michigan. The state's auto employers include 1,128 suppliers; 3,920 dealerships; and 14,151 aftermarket repair and service facilities.
Yet even amid the success of recent years, the U.S. auto industry remains in a period of transition. Hiring is not expected to grow. Sales are expected to peak this year. And Michigan still has to confront a talent gap that could affect its dominance as an automotive innovation leader.
"We're hopeful that 2016 will be another strong year, but that won't pass 2015 (by much)," Dye said. If the auto sector peaks in 2016, "we may see softening after that.
"The auto sector is a very strong sector, but its capacity and potential and ability to expand at this point is much less than it was a few years ago."
Sales have doubled since 2009, but that isn't a rate that can be replicated.
"We won't have doubling of sales again," Dye said.
Just a year ago
In the days before his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama visited the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, in western Wayne County, about 25 miles west of Detroit.
The message at the time, delivered to a crowd that included Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr.: "After a decade of decline, American manufacturing is in its best stretch of job growth since the 1990s."
President Obama contrasted the activity at the factory with the dark days when the nation wondered about the future of the automotive industry. He took office less than a month after then-President George W. Bush agreed to a $17.4 billion emergency automotive bailout. Within weeks, financial data clarified that the scale of losses at General Motors Corp. and Chrysler would push both into bankruptcy later in 2009.
"There was a lot of skepticism that the domestic auto industry would even survive," said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamberand former head of Small Business Administration under former President George W. Bush.
"It's important to really acknowledge the important role the federal government under both presidents Bush and Obama in protecting Michigan's auto presence," Baruah said, noting the successful turnaround. "It didn't have to turn out this way."
That's what President Obama highlighted in his 2015 speech, after joking that he was at the Ford plant to see the new Mustang. He noted that the U.S. auto industry was "flat-lining" as he took office. That the choice to bail out the industry wasn't popular, even in Michigan.
"And, look," he told the crowd, " ... it wasn't on my to-do list when I ran for President. I wasn't expecting to have to do this.
"...Saving the American auto industry was the right thing to do."
He continued: "These six years have been tough, demanded hard work, demanded sacrifice on everybody's part," the President said at Michigan Assembly in 2015. "You guys know that more than most."
The Ford workers in that crowd learned it since that 2015 visit, too, after a wave of news affecting the plant's future and that of its staff broke later that year.
The plant produces Focus and C-Max lines for Ford. In April, 700 people received layoff notices as the automaker cut a production shift due to declining sales for small vehicles amid low gas prices. In July, word came that Ford could move production of those vehicles in 2018 as it invests $2.5 billion in building two plants in Mexico.
By late summer, industry experts were speculating that truck production could move into the plant, which Ford said will get a new product line in 2018. And then after UAW contract ratification in November, it appeared that the factory would keep its small cars through their "product life cycle," according to reports, along with a $700 million retooling investment.
The auto industry still faces intense competition, but today has the ability to pivot quickly to meet market demands.
"Ford has the money ... to move to Mexico and replace (the car production) with a smaller volume of trucks," said Sean McAlinden, economist at CAR.
However, the key to that transition for Michigan, McAlinden said, is that the truck production volume would be comparatively lower. Building fewer cars in Michigan will mean fewer manufacturing jobs for the state even as automotive remains its signature industry and retains its R&D strength.
Manufacturing jobs
"We already know that both GM and Ford will not be making small cars in Michigan," Dye noted. "The auto industry is a dynamic industry. It's going to keep changing, and one change going forward is going to be pushing the production of smaller, less profitable cars outside the U.S. and primarily toward Mexico."
The most recent automotive rebound is responsible for adding about 60,000 manufacturing jobs in Michigan since 2009, McAlinden said, bringing the total to about 174,000.
It's a dramatic increase, but that compares to about 320,000 manufacturing jobs in Michigan in 2000.
The difference between those numbers — and how it shapes the state's hold on the industry — is what Michigan needs to recognize in the rebound, he said.
"We're not going to get back to 1999 or 2000 (levels)," McAlinden said. "... We might get to 190,000, but that's a long way short."
Payroll for manufacturing jobs is changing, too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average pay for motor production employees was $28.14 in October 2009, and $27.53 in October 2015.
More dramatic is a look at pay for the Detroit Three automakers: Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, which employ a collective 130,000 people in Michigan.
Among their UAW members, the typical wage was $40 per hour in 2008. By 2015, after contract restructuring to a tiered system for skilled and unskilled plant jobs, the new lower wage was approved at $17 per hour. Reports indicate about 30 percent of the Detroit Three manufacturing workers are the lower-paid Tier 2.
McAlinden said he and his colleagues at CAR are actively watching dynamics at three Metro Detroit plants that could face changes in product lines that affect the number of employees. Beyond the 5,143 jobs at Michigan Assembly, he's concerned about the Connor Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit, where 103 people work for Fiat Chrysler, and General Motors' Warren Truck Assembly, which employs 4,285.
Another issue facing Michigan's auto industry is the aging of the labor force. Many production workers are close to retirement age, and many of them have specific skills.
"We expect a lot of retirements and a lot of openings for apprentices," McAlinden said. "For the first time, they're going to have to seriously launch apprentice programs."
Staff at GM plants in Michigan, for example, are about 18 percent skilled trades, and they'll need to be replaced to keep the factories operating.
While openings for unskilled labor may be rare in automotive plants, some skilled jobs are in demand. Finney mentioned machinists, and people with training in robotics, CNC, precision grinding and welding.
White collar automotive changes
Among Michigan's auto industry transitions, McAlinden said, is its shift to auto development: "Last year, there were more salaried workers in Michigan than hourly."
The result is that hiring by auto companies in Michigan will target highly skilled and highly education applicants.
"Michigan is becoming less and less of a manufacturing state and more and more a design and engineering state," McAlinden said. "It's going to be really tough to get an hourly job. But we are looking for engineers."
That puts the pressure on Michigan's educational system.
There are 91 auto-specific programs at colleges and post-secondary training facilities. And The University Research Corridor — comprising the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University — sends 3,600 graduates per year into auto industry careers, according to the Detroit Regional Chamber.
Driving the industry today are technological advances that are changing everything from fuel economy to safety to luxury options. The industry also is investing heavily in driverless technology, with the tech giants of Silicon Valley wedging themselves into traditional R&D.
The result, said Baruah, is that Michigan must be ready to defend its place in automotive innovation against other tech-centered regions.
"The challenge we face in Michigan right now is that we are the leaders of the transformation to autonomous and connected vehicles," he said.
More testing takes place in Michigan — like at the Mcity complex at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor — than any other place in the county.
"There is no way that a move to a connected vehicle or an autonomous vehicle can happen without the testing that we're able to do in Michigan," Baruah said.
But, he added, "we need to be the place with the technical skills (and) the engineering skills to be able to capitalize on this transformation."
Baruah said of Silicon Valley: "It is going to be a part of the puzzle, but we don't want them to own the puzzle."
To accomplish that, the Detroit Regional Chamber is focusing its efforts on encouraging two aspects of education: increasing university funding by the state and urging more Michigan residents to pursue STEM-related degrees or certificates.
"Those things are hugely important," he said.
Talent development was a focus of the MEDC under Finney, and he continues to address what he calls the "talent gap" from his role as head of Community Ventures, which helps structurally unemployed individuals in four Michigan cities find work.
Michigan's Advanced Technical Training Program addresses it, Finney said. He also said that getting private employers involved is important.
"Government programs alone won't get us there," Finney said.
"Having a commitment to robust training makes a lot of sense," he added.
Meanwhile, the wave of engineering jobs is prompting a corresponding change in southeast Michigan's commercial real estate.
"Auto engineering is back with a vengeance and expanded beyond the pre-Recession levels," said Neal Warling, senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle.
Michigan is home to 370 automotive R&D centers, according to the state. Those centers attract more than 70 percent of all U.S. auto R&D spending, which is estimated at $18 billion by the American Automotive Policy Council.
Recent office deals in Plymouth, Northville and Troy typically can be tied to the auto industry, including many of the larger deals. Warling mentioned Kirchoff Van-Rob as an example; the chassis supplier opened a plant near Lansing and an engineering center in Troy.
As the nation watches President Obama at Detroit's auto show, Michigan can take pride in the recognition coming its way for how its most influential industry survived the Great Recession, experts said. Obama has a role in that.
"The president is justifiably proud of his role and his administration's role in supporting the U.S. auto industry," Baruah said.
Politics may also enter the message. Baruah notes, "He vastly underplays the role President Bush played in setting the stage. The U.S. auto industry would not have been saveable in 2009 if George W. Bush had not taken the action that he did."
Amid the auto recovery came Detroit's bankruptcy, which also challenged and shook the state.
The era was tumultuous. Today, as Detroit Three employees await profit sharing checks and manufacturers proudly announce their product innovations, 2009 may seem light years away.
The degree of the automotive industry's crisis could not have been predicted, Finney said. That the recovery reached record-setting sales amid profitable years for manufacturers is important for Michigan, he added.
"Back then," he said, "all indications are this recovery would not have happened as swiftly as it did. ... Michigan has been a tremendous beneficiary in that."

Video Report - President Obama Holds a Bilateral Meeting with the Prime Minister of Australia

A Horrific Attack On A Young Woman In Afghanistan Highlights Widespread Domestic Violence

A young woman in a remote northern region of Afghanistan had her nose cut off by her husband, officials in the region said on Tuesday.
Fawzia Salimi, a hospital director in Maymana, capital of Faryab province, said 22-year-old Reza Gul was brought in early Monday having lost a great deal of blood.
Gul's husband, 25-year-old Mohammad Khan, has since fled their village. Salimi said the Afghan-Turk Hospital in Maymana was trying to arrange transport for Gul to Turkey for further treatment.
Domestic violence is widespread in Afghanistan, where women are often denied constitutional rights designed to protect them.
Violence has also become somewhat entrenched in Afghan society after 40 years of war, with nearly non-existent mental health care and few options or outlets for a traumatized population.
Hafizullah Fetrat, the head of Fayrab's provincial human rights commission, said violence in the area had risen by at least 30 percent in the past year.
"It's not just in Faryab, it is across the entire north of the country — poverty, high unemployment, ignorance about marriage," he said.
Faryab borders Turkmenistan and is among the poorest regions of Afghanistan, with many people relying on government food handouts. Corruption is also rife, and many residents complaining that officials pilfer the aid.
Over the past year, the Taliban's presence in the region has grown. The militant group has intensified its campaign following the drawdown of the international combat mission in 2014.
The district where Gul's family lives is under Taliban control, said Rahmatullah Turkistani, a member of Fayab's provincial council.
Salimi said Khan had returned from Iran three months ago, and since then had repeatedly beaten and tortured his wife. He had also taken another wife who is just seven years old, she said.
Community elders and Taliban representatives in their village had tried mediating with the family to help sort out their problems, a traditional method of dealing with marital issues, Salimi said.
Khan had disappeared from the village, and local security forces including the intelligence agency and police were searching for him, said the provincial governor's spokesman Ahmad Jawed Dedar.
The Taliban is also looking for him. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that the group's gunmen were "seriously searching the area to find" Khan. If and when he was found, "then he will be dealt with according to Shariah law," Mujahid said, referring to the Islamic legal system.
Before cutting off his wife's nose, Khan had promised Taliban leaders in the village that he would stop harming Gul. As the village was under their control, the Taliban would likely find him first, Dedar said.
Severing women's noses is not unheard of in Afghanistan and like most abuse probably happens more often than is publicly acknowledged.
The case of Aisha Mohammadzai shocked the world in 2010 when she appeared on the cover of Time magazine with her nose cut off.