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Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

A program meant to help struggling Detroiters pay their water bills is accepting more applicants now.

There had been some confusion about how much money was in the pot for the Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP).

The Wayne Metro Community Action Agency, which runs the WRAP for the Great Lakes Water Authority, said just this week that it wasn’t accepting new clients because it had already committed all its funding for the year.

Tourists helping villagers set up a community hall in Cambodia
flickr user Thomas Wanhoff / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Would you be willing to take a vacation that's centered around helping others?

Perhaps through a church or school group. Maybe it's teaching English. Maybe it's building a school in a struggling country like, say, Haiti. 

It's called "voluntourism."

The intentions are good, but the results might not be as helpful as the voluntourists are hoping for.

Detroit skyline as viewed from Windsor, Ontario
flickr user Michael Stout / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The ties between Michigan and Ontario just got stronger. 

Governor Rick Snyder and Ontario Premier Kathleen Winne recently signed an agreement to set up an alliance between the auto industries of Michigan and Ontario. 

Ontario Minister of Economic Growth and Alliance Brad Duguid joined us today to talk about the two regions' strengths and weaknesses in the auto industry, and why, given the choice, Ontario and Michigan chose to work together rather than compete with each other. 

Flickr user Gage Skidmore / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Donald Trump is coming back to Michigan – his second visit in as many weeks. It’s a sign that Michigan matters to the Republican presidential candidate.

He will speak at a rally on Friday afternoon at the Summit Sports and Ice Complex in Eaton County’s Dimondale.

Bruce Barlond, chair of the Eaton County Republican Party, said he was surprised to hear Trump would be visiting his county.

“But I really think it’s a great choice on his part, because Eaton County is a great county,” Barlond said. “It’s very easy to get to from Grand Rapids, Detroit area – it’s really in a great, great position.”

user A7nubis / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

If it has roots and leaves, in Michigan, it’s a plant. That’s the legal definition now that the Michigan Court of Appeals has made a ruling in a medical marijuana case.

           

Lorenzo Ventura was challenging charges that he exceeded the number of plants he was legally allowed under Michigan’s medical marijuana law. He was convicted and sentenced to two years of probation and 120 hours of community service.

 

The law adopted eight years by voters ago does not provide a definition. The dictionary did not offer any guidance in this instance.

 

Fleece fibers are released into the environment after washing, but scientists don't know what the effects might be.
user kellyhogaboom / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A team of scientists from the U.S. and Canada are setting sail on Saturday. They’re heading out on a research trip to sample plastic pollution in all five of the Great Lakes.

It's part of a project called EXXpedition Great Lakes: seven research boats led by female scientists who are studying microplastic pollution. Microplastic pollution is made up of plastic particles that are five millimeters in diameter, or smaller.

Democratic chances of finally winning a majority in the Michigan House of Representatives got a lot stronger Wednesday. Republican chances of winning new seats on the state board of education got considerably weaker.

And that’s because a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously denied a Republican request to reinstate the law that prevents voters from casting a straight ticket ballot. 

Flickr user Andre Charland/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Get to work, grab a cup of coffee, turn on the computer … and sit down to start the business of the day.

And there you stay: sitting and sitting and sitting. Sound familiar?

For those of us with desk jobs, that’s pretty much the drill.

But more and more medical researchers warn us that all that sitting is wreaking havoc on our bodies. Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic has even declared that “sitting is the new smoking.”

Reid McClellan, Digital Media Producer at United Shore

So many people spend their days sitting – and sitting a lot.

People who work desk jobs might spend a minimum of eight hours a day sitting hunched over a desk. I’m doing it now as I write.

Experts like Rebecca Hasson, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Schools of Kinesiology and Public Health, say this much sitting could increase risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, and even cancer.

So, some companies are taking strides to keep employees moving throughout the day. Some have gyms onsite. Some hand out Fitbits.

And then there’s United Shore, a wholesale mortgage company in Troy. Employees there take a 15-minute dance break every Thursday at three.

We Energies

Michigan is asking its electric grid – known as MISO – to study ways to make electricity more reliable in the U.P.

MISO manages electric transmission in 15 U.S. states, including Michigan, and the Canadian province of Manitoba.  

State energy officials have asked MISO to study the benefit of connecting the U.P. to Ontario's grid, and improving the U.P.'s  connections to the Lower Peninsula. 

Judy Palnau, spokeswoman for the Michigan Public Service Commission, says that could improve reliability and reduce costs.

Volunteers working in Detroit.
user Charlie Wollborg / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Detroit is one of three U.S. cities getting what’s called a “Chief Service Officer.”

It’s part of an initiative led by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s non-profit, Cities of Service.

The goal is to “help improve citizen engagement,” according to a city press release.

Detroit’s new Chief Service Officer, Victoria Kovari, formerly headed up Mayor Mike Duggan’s Department of Neighborhoods.

NBC's coverage of the Rio Olympics has drawn criticism from many viewers.
Flickr user Gareth Simpson / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

NBC has drawn plenty of criticism for its coverage of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Count veteran sports journalist Joanne Gerstner among the critics.

“It honestly drives me crazy,” Gerstner said about NBC’s Rio Olympics coverage.

“I literally have not run into anyone who said, ‘Wow, I love NBC’s coverage primetime,’” Gerstner said. “Everyone is like, ‘what is this?’”

Ford Autonomous Test Vehicle
flickr user Steve Jurvetson / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A century ago, Henry Ford changed the auto industry with the moving assembly line. 

Now Ford Motor Company has set an ambitious goal of developing a fully autonomous vehicle for mass production by 2021.

That's autonomous as in self-driving, with no steering wheel and no gas or brake pedals. 

To make that happen, Ford has announced it's joining forces with four tech companies and plans to double its staff in Silicon Valley. 

Flint residents paused today to watch local boxer Claressa Shields take to the ring at the Rio Olympics.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint boxer Claressa Shields returned to the Olympic boxing ring today with an overwhelming performance.

The defending Olympic women’s middleweight champion pummeled Russia’s Yaroslava Yakushina to easily win the quarterfinal bout.

Barring a successful appeal, Michigan voters will be able to use a straight-ticket voting option on November's ballot.
MICHAEL DORAUSCH / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal appeals court has declined to stay a lower court ruling that declared Michigan's ban on straight-ticket voting unconstitutional.

Barring a successful emergency appeal by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, the decision means straight-ticket voting will remain available to Michigan voters in November's general election. 

I’ve been covering politics for a long time, and inevitably, in every election year, amid the high drama and low insults, something happens that is just plain silly.

This year, as you may have noticed, has not been a typical presidential election in any way, shape or form. But what you might call the "Trumpville Follies" is not the only contender for what you might call the "Eugene Ionesco Prize for Best Real Example of the Theater of the Absurd."

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou discuss accusations that Republicans are shielding Gov. Snyder from accountability in the Flint water crisis and a set of bills that would legalize doctor-assisted suicide in Michigan. Lessenberry and Tribou also look at the state's plan to warn struggling school districts they might be closed at the end of this school year and a former Michigan governor who was ousted by his own party.  


MDOT / via Twitter

Major stretches of highway throughout Metro Detroit were flooded out Tuesday morning, after heavy rainfall Monday night.

That’s likely a “new normal” people will just have to deal with going forward.

Melissa Cooper Sargent / Ecology Center

Many gardeners know that bees are in trouble, and they want to help.  Sales of so-called "bee-friendly" flowering plants are on the rise. 

There's just one problem, says Melissa Cooper Sargent of the Ecology Center, and it's a big one. 

Sargent says it's common practice for nurseries around the country to treat the seeds of the plants, or the plants themselves, with pesticides called neonicotinoids, that are highly toxic to bees.

Flickr user Keturah Stickann/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

Are women worse drivers than men? Michigan auto insurance companies appear to think so.

In most states, there’s not much of a difference between auto insurance rates for men and women. But in Michigan, there’s a difference of about 4.03% between them, with men paying $2,087 and women paying $2,175.

Michigan plans steps to close failing schools

Aug 16, 2016
Motown31 / wikimedia commons

The Michigan school reform office plans to put chronically low-performing schools on notice that they might be closed by next June.

Natasha Baker is with the state school reform office and she says low performing schools that have improved should be looked at as an example and will stay open. 

"[Improving schools] make the necessary decisions to make sure that their schools can turn around quickly, and I think Michigan would be better off if we looked at those success stories," Baker says.

Baker says getting kids into better schools is the priority.

Flickr user George Makris/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

There have been plenty of Americans winning gold at the Rio Olympics.

And each gold medal win by a Yank means you'll hear the Star Spangled Banner during the medal ceremony.

Some have noticed that there's something about the version of the anthem being used in Rio that's just a little bit ... off.

But what is it?

Flickr user Jobs For Felons Hub/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When you think of "prison inmates," what's the first thing that comes to mind?

For many, it might be the face of someone convicted for a high-profile, brutal crime.

For others, it may be the image of some vague, homogenous mass of "bad" people who are best locked away. 

Judy Patterson Wenzel begs to differ.

The Michigan Supreme Court has seen a sudden rise in unanimous decisions during the 2015-2016 term.
Flickr user Joe Gratz / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The old spiritual “Kumbaya” is a song of congregation and harmony. And it’s for this reason that the Michigan Supreme Court has earned the tag “The Kumbaya Court” from court-watchers due to an increase in the number of cases decided unanimously.

Through the 2015-2016 term, 81% of arguments held before the court have been unanimous decisions. In the previous two terms, only a little more than 50% of cases were decided unanimously.

 

Why the sudden rise in unanimous decisions?

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Surgeon General says a long-awaited federal study of skin rashes in Flint should be released “very soon”.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was in Flint today meeting with local doctors and government officials.

He says they discussed many issues related to Flint’s lead-tainted tap water.

But one issue that remains a major source of controversy and pain is skin rashes.

People in Flint have been complaining about itchy skin rashes for several years.  

Courtesy of The Heidelberg Project

Detroit’s Heidelberg Project will undergo a transformation after 30 years of bringing art to the city’s East Side.

Founder Tyree Guyton is calling the new project “Heidelberg 3.0.”

Diego Cambiaso / Flickr

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are dominating the presidential campaign, but in many states, other names also will be on the November ballot.

Former GOP congressional aide Evan McMullin announced his candidacy last week. He joins third party and independent candidates Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein with the Green Party as long-shot candidates.

Wikipedia

Update: 1:54 p.m. August 16

The City of Sterling Heights says animosity toward Muslims played no role in its decision to unanimously deny a permit to the American Islamic Community Center for a new mosque. 

The city says its decision was based solely on "established land use criteria."

Original Post:

The American Islamic Community Center is suing Sterling Heights for denying it a permit to the American Islamic Community Center to build a mosque.

The Kirtland's warbler, an endangered bird in Michigan.
USFWS

Endangered species are waiting in long lines for the federal government to make a decision.

That’s the conclusion of a study in the journal Biological Conservation on wait times for listing a species under the Endangered Species Act.

WINDSOR TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally near Lansing later this week.

The Republican presidential candidate will rally supporters Friday afternoon at the Summit Sports and Ice Complex in Eaton County's Windsor Township.

It is Trump's second visit to Michigan in as many weeks, following his economic speech in Detroit last week.

The public can request tickets on a first-come, first-served basis on Trump's campaign website.

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