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steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is making progress on replacing lead service lines.

The pipes connect city water mains to homes and businesses. They're a primary source of lead in Flint’s tap water.

Earlier this year, the mayor’s Fast Start program sputtered, with just 33 lines being replaced.

Phase two of the program started again just before Labor Day.  

Former lawmaker Todd Courser
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Todd Courser’s 182-page lawsuit is “like a bad dream that won’t go away,” says State House Speaker Kevin Cotter.

“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Courser hasn’t moved on with his life,” Cotter said Monday on Stateside. “But as we saw last week, with the filing of this ridiculous lawsuit, apparently he hasn’t. Unfortunately, additional taxpayer resources will be spent to defend against a very frivolous lawsuit.

Terrance Guido Gerin aka "Rhino" (right) and his partner Heath Slater after their WWE victory.
Vote for Rhino Facebook page

Terrance Guido Gerin knows how to win in professional wrestling, and this November he's looking for another win.

Gerin, or "Rhino" as he's called (sometimes spelled Rhyno), won the Republican primary for Michigan's 15th House district seat last month. And as of Sunday night, he also won the first ever World Wrestling Entertainment SmackDown Tag Team Championship. 

Crowds of "Pokémon GO" players gather for some late night monster hunting in this park in Vancouver.
flickr user Peter Kudlacz / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

If you wandered past any landmarks or took a stroll through a public park this summer, you may have noticed a lot more foot traffic than usual. But instead of walking and talking together, these large groups of new guests basically just sit around and stare at their smartphones. 

Yes, "Pokémon GO" players are everywhere.

For many, the game has become a core part of day-to-day life. 

Alexander Weinstein's new book of short stories takes the idea to the extreme, exploring a future full of dangerously immersive virtual reality games. 

Michigan is ranked No. 4 in the nation after their 51-14 home win over Central Florida.
user Missy Caulk / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It was a big weekend for Michigan sports headlined by the Detroit Lions' dramatic 39-35 season opening win over the Indianapolis Colts.

The post-Calvin Johnson era began with Lions kicker Matt Prater redeeming himself for an earlier missed extra point by hitting the game-winning field goal with four seconds left. 

A protest held by the Graduate Employees and Students Organization protest at Yale in 2005, calling for the return of collective bargaining rights that were taken away from graduate student employees the year before.
Public Domain

The National Labor Relations Board has done a complete about-face. 

The Board recently voted three to one that graduate students who work as teaching or research assistants at private universities are indeed employees, and they have a right to collective bargaining. 

That ruling overturns a 2004 Bush-era ruling that took those bargaining rights away. 

Public Domain

The Next Idea

Among small business owners in Michigan, access to capital remains one of the most significant challenges, especially for people in underserved communities. This seems to be true even in places with improving economies, like West Michigan. The area has seen a strong post-recession recovery in recent years, and ranks highly in the prevalence of investors. WalletHub named Grand Rapids #2 in its 2016 rankings of “Best Large Cities to Start a Business,” yet it was ranked 43rd out of 150 cities analyzed in terms of access to resources.

State House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant
Michigan House Republicans

Summer vacation is now just a fond memory for students in Michigan's schools -- and our state lawmakers. 

We sat down today with state House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, to explore some of the issues before the State House of Representatives. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will be in Washington D.C. asking for federal help with the city’s lead tainted tap water.

Weaver says she’s scheduled to meet with Michigan’s congressional delegation.   

She says she’ll give the lawmakers an update on Flint’s lead service line replacement program and other needs.

Recently an EPA official predicted Flint residents might have to use water filters for at least another year because of the lingering lead problem. Weaver says that opinion should strengthen Flint’s case for federal funds.

Wayne State Univiersity Law School in Detroit, Mich.
Google Maps street view

Two businessmen will donate $5 million each to Wayne State University's Law School.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will donate a sum of $10 million to honor the school's dean Jocelyn Benson, who is leaving at the end of the month.

Benson is leaving her post as dean to become the chief executive officer of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. (Read more about that here.)

The corner of Puritan and Livernois in Detroit.
screen grab / Google Maps street view

Detroit has seen a lot of new changes come its way in the past five years, with the revitalization of Midtown, the growth of businesses downtown, and some small businesses becoming more stable in other pockets of the city. 

The city will now get $4 million in a national civic commons initiative to help fund projects in the respective cities. Chicago, Memphis, and Akron will also receive money for projects in their cities. 

Rex Babiera / Flicker https://flic.kr/p/8HGMDv

In Flint, we know lead has leached from water pipes, called service lines. But it’s not as clear how much the plumbing in people’s homes is contributing to the problem.

“There were no lead service lines to any of the schools and yet there was a significant amount of lead in a number of the samples,” said George Krisztian, who’s coordinating the state’s response in Flint for Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

“So the question was, 'OK, where is the lead coming from?” Krisztian recalls.

I was a little surprised when Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette appealed the decision striking down the ban on straight-ticket voting to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I knew, of course, that the attorney general wanted straight-ticket voting outlawed.

He is a fiercely partisan Republican, and the GOP thinks with some reason that allowing straight-ticket voting hurts their candidates.

From left: Michigan NAACP President Yvonne White, national NAACP President Cornell Brooks, and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan chapters of the NAACP met in Detroit for the group’s 80th statewide convention this weekend.

The historic group talked strategies to confront current civil rights challenges, that range from police brutality and criminal justice reform, to state laws that limit voting rights.

National NAACP President Cornell Brooks, who spoke at the Michigan conference, called 2016 a "critical year" for the modern civil rights and racial justice movements, as well as a critical election year.

Democrats in Michigan are breathing a sigh of relief now that the fight over straight-ticket voting in Michigan is over. For now, at least.

The U.S. Supreme Court torpedoed Republican efforts on Friday to deep-six a Democratic advantage in the Michigan election process.

Flickr user David Salafia/Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state is advising schools to test their water for lead, even though it’s not required. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality wants schools to take action, even if lead levels are below the federal standard.

The federal action limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. Governor Rick Snyder would like to see Michigan have an even stricter standard; 10 ppb.

Language ambiguity can certainly create some confusing situations.

Take this headline from a 1982 issue of The Guardian, for example: “British Left Waffles on Falklands.”

At first, it sounds like the British forgot their breakfast on the Falkland Islands. While we love waffles and certainly agree that accidentally leaving them behind in the South Atlantic would be a bummer, that’s not exactly headline material.

Go back and read the headline again. This time, treat “waffles” as a verb instead of a delicious breakfast treat.

Now does it make sense?

Senator Tim Kaine is coming to the University of Michigan on Tuesday
PROjoelrivlin/flickr commons

Senator Tim Kaine is campaigning in Ann Arbor on Tuesday afternoon.

The Democrats' pick for vice president will talk about getting out the vote, especially for younger voters.

Ann Arbor is, of course, pretty liberal leaning, and Kaine will talk to a college crowd at the University of Michigan.

The expanded legislation would protect more people reporting overdoses
Sharyn Morrow / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

People need to be able to report drug overdoses, without being afraid of facing drug possession charges themselves.

That's why lawmakers in Lansing are set to expand the current "Good Samaritan" law this week.

Right now, the law only covers people under 21 -- and even then, only if they're reporting an overdose from prescription drugs.

Those initial protections were a response to the death of a teenager in Southwest Michigan last year, who died of an overdose at a New Year’s Eve party.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

KINCHELOE, Mich. (AP) - Michigan correctional officials say about 150 inmates have been moved from an Upper Peninsula prison to other prisons after a protest that led to damage in housing units.

  Officials said in a statement the Saturday morning protest started peacefully, with about 400 prisoners marching in the yard of Kinross Correctional Facility. The protests were intended to coincide with the 45th anniversary of an inmates' rebellion at the Attica prison in western New York that left 32 inmates and 11 workers dead.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Health advocates are pushing what's billed as a simple way to have more CPR-trained lifesavers in Michigan: requiring the instruction in school.

  The legislation easily cleared the Senate in the spring and is pending in the House. Supporters hope the chamber will vote this month before members breaks again to focus on the November election.

  The bill would require that schools provide instruction in CPR and the use of defibrillators at least one time between grades 7 and 12.

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Corey Willis grabbed a lateral from Jesse Kroll at the Oklahoma State 12, raced for the end zone and reached across the goal line for a miraculous last-play touchdown that gave Central Michigan a stunning 30-27 victory over the 22nd-ranked Cowboys on Saturday. (Watch the play below)

QUINN DOMBROWSKI / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

DETROIT (AP) - Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and other Michigan officials are warning of the consequences of buying alcohol for minors.

The "21 to Buy, Not Supply" marketing campaign, which targets college students, was launched this week at an event at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Johnson says "there is too much risk" for people who turn 21 and are asked to buy alcohol for their friends.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A special commission is studying what new infrastructure the state of Michigan will need 30 to 50 years from now.

Many Michigan communities are years behind in repairing and replacing aging sewer systems and crumbling bridges. It’s hard to think decades ahead, when you’re already so far behind.

PAULA FRIEDRICH / Michigan Radio

Librarians are finding themselves face to face with the heroin and opioid epidemic as drug users take advantage of free access to quiet areas where people often keep to themselves.

The library director in Ann Arbor, Michigan, says the open-access environment can make public libraries susceptible to misuse.

In the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, a man fatally overdosed in a locked library restroom in April. Officials say his body might have been there for days, overlooked by a now-fired security contractor.

Flint paying price for red tape, politicking

Sep 10, 2016
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The water crisis in Flint is giving the troubled city renewed attention and a jolt of economic opportunity. But two things are standing in the way: bureaucracy and politics.

Just ask Michael McDaniel. He’s the retired brigadier general in the Michigan National Guard who Mayor Karen Weaver hired last February to head the city’s Flint Action and Stability Team. He’s still waiting to be paid for the work he’s doing.

MorgueFile /

Some old city power lines turned deadly in Detroit this week, prompting calls to finally get rid of them altogether.

Twelve-year-old K’Brianna Griffin was killed Wednesday night while playing in a neighbor’s backyard on Detroit’s west side.

The Michigan Marine recruit's suicide came just two weeks after he entered boot camp
Marines on Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Investigations into a Michigan Marine recruit’s suicide reveal he may have been hazed, abused, and possibly targeted for being a Muslim.

Raheel Siddiqui was a young recruit who died in March, just two weeks after arriving at boot camp in South Carolina.  

Three different military investigations found “allegations of recurrent physical and verbal abuse … [and] anomalies and inconsistencies in the policies and procedures responding to suicidal ideation or statements.

One drill sergeant reportedly had a history of abusing Muslim recruits.

"The government is able to take people's property even though they might actually not have done anything wrong," Jarrett Skorup told us.
MI State Police

Last year, Michigan tightened requirements for civil asset forfeiture.

That's the law that allows the government to seize property when someone is accused of a crime even if they're not convicted.

This started as part of the war against drugs. It's become a lucrative tool for cash-strapped police departments and prosecutors. 

Laws passed last year require more transparency, but do not abolish civil asset forfeiture. 

Michael Hood and Laurie Carpenter, founders of the humanitarian aid group Crossing Water.
Stephanie Kenner / Crossing Water

This weekend the group Crossing Water is calling for volunteers to continue the work they've been doing for a long time now: going door to door helping Flint residents deal with the water contamination in the city. 

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