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Stateside
4:57 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

New Ken Burns film documents students learning the Gettysberg Address

Ken Burns.
Credit Wikipedia

Ever since a student at Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School got his first 8mm camera for his 17th birthday, he has searched for good stories to tell.

And tell them he does. That Ann Arbor high school kid was Ken Burns. And since getting that first camera in 1970, Ken has turned his camera and his storyteller's eye to subjects like World War II, the Civil War, the Brooklyn Bridge, baseball, jazz, the West, the Brooklyn Five, and so much more.

Tonight on PBS, Ken Burns brings us his newest story. It's called "The Address."

The film follows the students at a tiny school in Vermont where students are challenged each year to learn and recite Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

As he follows these boys, Ken uncovers many powerful individual stories and, at the same time, brings us a much-needed reminder of the power of Abraham Lincoln's words.

Ken Burns joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Economy
4:56 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Michigan's innovative past could be key for its future

The typographer is one of the earliest innovations in Michigan.
Credit user clbinelli / Wikimedia Commons

As Michigan struggles back to economic health, there is plenty of talk about innovators, entrepreneurs and risk-takers being a big part of our recovery. 

And that fits right in with Michigan's history.

Writer R.J. Kind recently wrote a piece for DBusiness looking at Michigan's history of innovations and inventions. He joins us today. 

Listen to the full interview above.

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Stateside
4:54 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Visiting loved ones at Beth Olem cemetery is complicated

A cemetery.
Credit Flickr user afagen / Flickr

As we get together with our families to celebrate the holidays, we often think about those who are no longer with us. For many, a trip to a cemetery to visit loved ones is easy, but for others, it’s impossible.

For families with relatives buried in the Beth Olem cemetery in Detroit, they can’t go pay their respects.

The cemetery is hidden within GM’s Poletown plant, and is only open to the public two days every year: the Sunday before Passover and Rosh Hashanah.

People are able to visit the cemetery if they go on a private tour offered by the Michigan Jewish Historical Society. We heard from some of the visitors today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:54 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Southwest Detroit is Michigan's most-polluted area

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Studies by environmental scientists find that 48217 is the most polluted zip code in the entire state of Michigan.

It's the zip for the Boynton neighborhood in southwest Detroit, perched next to the Marathon Refinery, which refines tar sands oil that comes from Canada.

The byproduct of that tar sands refining? Those huge piles of pet coke that appeared along the banks of the Detroit River last year before being removed.

For many people who call the Boynton neighborhood home, life is about belching smoke stacks, terrible odors, worries about what chemicals they're being exposed to, and declining property values.

Renee Lewis recently reported on "Life in Michigan's Dirtiest Zip Code" for Al Jazeera America, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Economy
4:54 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy: No pension cuts for police and fire retirees

Pension decisions made today in Detroit.
Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

A major piece of the Detroit bankruptcy puzzle fell into place today.

The city reached a deal with the group representing Detroit's police and fire retirees. The deal means no cuts to monthly pension checks for retired officers and firefighters. 

We were joined by Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek in Detroit. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

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Politics & Government
2:02 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Lincoln Park joins growing list of cities in financial emergency

Lincoln Park had $4.5 million dollars in its general fund three years ago.

Today, the city has a deficit of nearly $90,000, raising alarm among state officials about how fast it has spent all its money.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he agrees with the Michigan Treasury that a state of financial emergency exists.

Lincoln Park officials say the city is on track to run up at least a $1 million deficit this year. The amount will be higher if the city can't strike a deal on concessions from city workers.

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Politics & Government
1:07 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy mediators announce a deal with police and fire pensions

The Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in Detroit.
Credit Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

Mediators for the federal court overseeing Detroit's Chapter 9 bankruptcy say a deal has been reached between the city of Detroit and the Retired Detroit Police and Fire Fighters Association over pension and health benefits.

The deal calls for no cuts to current pension benefits, but does cut future "cost of living" increases in their benefits.

The Association's members still need to approve the plan through a vote.

The potential deal is the first agreement the city has reached with a group of retired workers.

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Opinion
11:29 am
Tue April 15, 2014

This is doing more damage to Detroit than a hundred drug murders could have

By now, millions know the story.

Thirteen days ago, on the east side of Detroit, a ten-year-old boy darted in front of a truck driven by a middle-aged tree trimmer named Steven Utash. He couldn’t help hitting the child, whose leg was broken.

When Utash got out to check on the boy, a mob beat him so severely he nearly died. He was in a medically-induced coma for days, and may end up with permanent brain damage.

All that is horrifying enough, but there is one additional terrible detail which is the main reason the story has gotten national attention.

The tree trimmer was white. His assailants were all black. And I can tell you that this is doing more damage to Detroit than a hundred drug murders could have. This may be more devastating to the city than Kwame Kilpatrick ever was. People are used to crooked politicians of all colors, shapes and sizes. Detroit had white mayors who wound up in prison long before Kilpatrick was born.

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Environment & Science
10:32 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Whitefish shortage causing Passover meal problems

Whitefish filets.
Credit user Cheryl Q / Flickr

TRAVERSE CITY – Many fish markets in the Great Lakes region are running short of whitefish, and it's coming at a bad time: the Passover holiday.

Whitefish is a key ingredient in gefilte fish, a traditional Jewish dish that originates in eastern Europe. Recipes vary, but it often consists of ground fish, vegetables such as onion and carrots, and bread crumbs formed into loaves or balls.

The shortfall results partly from the bitterly cold winter that caused vast sections of the Great Lakes to freeze over. The ice cover kept some commercial fishing crews stuck in port. A drop in the whitefish population is also to blame.

Kevin Dean of Superior Fish Co. near Detroit says his latest shipment amounted to just 75 pounds, although he requested 500 pounds.

Politics & Government
8:57 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Where your federal tax dollars go

Credit stockphotosforfree.com

Tax Day is here, and as many Michiganders are racing to meet Uncle Sam's deadline, how many really know where their tax dollars are going?

Jasmine Tucker, research analyst with the National Priorities Project, encourages taxpayers to use the Tax Receipt Calculator, which breaks down the average taxpayer's federal return from last year and shows how the government spent those funds, down to the penny.

"This really gives people the opportunity to see, in numbers that they understand, what they paid in taxes and where those taxes went," Tucker said.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Detroit launches online auction site to fill vacant homes

One of the first Detroit homes up for auction in East English Village.
Credit via buildingdetroit.org

The city of Detroit has launched an effort to fill some of its vacant homes with new residents – an online auction site for city-owned properties.  

There are 15 houses listed on the site now. The plan is for the Detroit Land Bank Authority to start auctioning off one home a day, starting May 5.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says this is part of the city “moving aggressively” to deal with blight.

Duggan says the idea is to get the homes fixed up, and people living in them, as soon as possible.

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Politics & Government
11:20 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Bankruptcy case delays Detroit's usual budget process

Detroit’s bankruptcy case is throwing a wrench in the city’s usual budget process.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan didn’t give his charter-mandated city budget address as scheduled Monday.

Rather, officials told City Council members that Detroit needs to update its plan of adjustment first. That’s the city’s restructuring blueprint for getting through bankruptcy.

Detroit chief financial officer John Hill said that since the plan will shape the city budget, it doesn’t make sense start talking now.

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Law
5:15 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Gay couple trying to force state to recognize their marriage, “for our 13 kids”

Plaintiffs Clint McCormack (front), Bryan Reamer (back), and some of their 13 children.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

The ACLU of Michigan is suing the state to force it to recognize the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples who got married last month.

Clint McCormack and Bryan Reamer are one of eight couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.

McCormack and Reamer have ten adopted sons and three foster daughters they are raising together in Farmington Hills. They started taking in children in 1998, and McCormack says they only recently decided to stop at 13 kids.

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Offbeat
4:03 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Graphic novel explores Japanese internment camps in US during WWII

A Japanese internment notice posted in San Francisco.
Credit National Archives and Records Administration / Wikipedia

It's quite a long line to draw from a writer's studio in Michigan in 2014 to the West Coast during World War II. That's where over 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry were ordered by the U.S. government to walk away from their lives and report to internment camps.

This dark chapter in history ultimately resulted in more than $1.6 billion in reparations being paid to the Japanese-Americans who had been interned, or to their heirs. 

Matt Faulkner describes himself as an author and illustrator for kids. His new graphic novel tells the story of the internment camp through the eyes of a teenager named Koji Miyamoto. Koji's father is Japanese and his mother is white. The title of the graphic novel is Gaijin. 

Faulkner joined us today to discuss the book.

Economy
3:46 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

How to decrease your audit odds

It's that time of the year again: tax time is upon us.
Credit levistaxes.com

It's here, or at least it's almost here: Tax day is tomorrow, April 15. 

You procrastinators are likely waiting until the proverbial 11th hour to file. Others may be already opening the envelope with their refund check. 

But lurking in the back of many minds is that nagging question: Will I get audited? 

In actuality, your likelihood of being audited is pretty low, about one in 100, although as your income increases, so do your odds. 

Let's find out how to decrease your chances of being audited, and the dos and don'ts if the IRS decides to take a closer look at your tax return.

Today we're joined by Detroit News Finance Editor Brian O'Connor. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Sports
3:31 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Tackling the student-athlete double standard

University of North Carolina athletics are cited as one of many universities that prize sports above academia.
Credit User Yusuke Toyoda / Wikimedia Commons

What happens at the intersection of college athletics and college academics? 

To what degree are student athletes allowed to get by with a lighter academic load, enabling them to play the games that are such moneymakers for the school and the NCAA?

That question is being asked more frequently today, often to the great discomfort of those who run colleges and universities, and their athletic programs.

To talk about the student-athlete double standard, we welcomed Paul Barrett of Bloomberg Businessweek. His recent piece is titled, "In Fake Classes Scandal, UNC Fails Its Athletes – and Whistle-blower."  

Listen to the full interview above. 

Politics & Government
3:29 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

New statewide plan aims to improve recycling

How can the state of Michigan improve its recycling habits?
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder rolled out a new statewide recycling plan today in hopes of convincing more of us to recycle.

The governor and recycling activists say we can do a lot better when it comes to recycling. 

Right now, Michigan recycles about 15% of all reusable materials. That's way below the national average of 35%. And Michigan is seventh among the eight Great Lakes states in its recycling performance.

What are we losing by throwing out all that glass, plastic, metal and paper? And what's in the governor's plan to get us to recycle these materials? 

We were joined by Kerrin O'Brien, executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Weather
12:38 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Power outages plague Southeastern Michigan

Downed power lines create outages across the state.
Credit Christoper Sessums / Flickr

Just when you thought the weather was finally getting better, Michigan proves you wrong. 

As of 11:00 a.m., high winds and downed power lines Monday morning have left more than 100,000 DTE consumers in the dark. 

DTE's Outage Map, below, shows the outages that have been reported across the state. 

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Environment & Science
11:26 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Rouge River cleanup to happen in May

Volunteers build birdhouses in Canton as part of the 2013 Rouge Rescue clean-up event. This year's event will take place on May 17 and surrounding days.
Credit Cyndi Ross / Friends of the Rouge

An annual project to clean up the Rouge River is happening early this year because a federal grant that helps fund the event is coming to an end.

Aimee LaLonde-Norman, executive director of the conservation group Friends of the Rouge, says the Rouge Rescue will center around May 17 rather than the first weekend in June, as it has been for 27 years. The change comes because the grant they use for the event ends this May.

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Opinion
10:10 am
Mon April 14, 2014

We pay for bad roads with more repairs, higher fuel costs

If by any chance you’ve left your house anytime in, oh, say, the last year, you may have noticed that our roads are in terrible shape. Gov. Rick Snyder knows this. Two years ago, he asked the Legislature for $1.2 billion a year for a decade in new money to fix the roads. If you think that’s a lot, you’re right.

But it is less than studies show our horrible roads are costing us every year in the increased cost of fuel and car repairs, as well as  the incalculable cost of businesses that won’t expand in or move to Michigan because our infrastructure is in such lousy shape.

The governor hasn’t always been a statesman, nor above pandering to the far right. But he is a businessman, and devoted to economic expansion. He knows you need decent roads to attract business, especially the kind that produce high-tech, high-paying jobs.

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