Environment & Science
12:58 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

What you can do to help Michigan's bats

A little brown bat with symptoms of white-nose syndrome.
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / U.S. government

Things are not looking good for Michigan’s bats.

As Michigan Radio's Rebecca Williams reported earlier this week, bats infected with the deadly white-nose syndrome have been found in Michigan.

The disease, which has killed more than six million bats in North America since 2006, wakes up bats during hibernation once a week – twice the normal amount of hibernation disturbance.

According to Allen Kurta, a biology professor at Eastern Michigan University, when the fungus keeps the bats waking up, they use up their stored fat too quickly:

“So, by arousing much more frequently, they’re using up their fat much more frequently; they are then running out of that fat come February and March, and essentially they will die of starvation because there are no flying insects out there to give them food.”

And in short, the spread of the disease is threatening the livelihood of the state's bats. 

“I think that this is one of the worst wildlife calamities ever in the history of North America,” said Kurta. “You’re looking at potential extinction of multiple species of bats.”

Luckily, there are a few things we can do to help out the little guys.

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Opinion
11:28 am
Fri April 18, 2014

The future of Detroit's second bridge now hangs on the Obama administration

So whatever happened to the New International Trade Crossing Bridge?

For years, an epic battle raged between those who knew we needed a new bridge across the Detroit River, and Matty Moroun, the 86-year-old man who owned the 85-year-old Ambassador Bridge, the only game in town.

Moroun held up a new bridge for years, mostly by buying off Michigan legislators with bribes thinly described as campaign contributions, but that ended when Rick Snyder became governor.

Snyder found a way to bypass the lawmakers and conclude an agreement with Canada. That was almost two years ago, however, and ground has yet to be broken.

So what’s happening?

This time the culprit is not Matty Moroun, but, bizarrely, Barack Obama.

President Obama has been supportive of a new bridge. There was no difficulty gaining a presidential permit to build it. Money was not a problem, because our friends the Canadians are paying for almost all of it. They are advancing Michigan’s share of more than half a billion dollars, which we don’t have to pay back until the bridge is up and tolls are being collected.

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Law
7:00 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Former Wayne State medical professor sues, accuses university of defrauding US government

Credit Wayne State University medical school / via flickr

A former Wayne State University medical professor is suing the school over alleged “system-wide” fraud.

In a federal lawsuit, former assistant professor Christian Kreipke alleges the university scammed the US government out of $169 million through fraudulent research proposals.

Kreipke filed the lawsuit in 2012, but court documents were only unsealed recently.

They lay out Kreipke’s claims that Wayne State and its physician group made fraudulent claims to get more government grant money.

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Business
6:08 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Detroit businesses vote to pay for supplement city services

Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

Business owners in downtown Detroit voted this week to collectively contribute $4 million a year to keeping the downtown clean and safe.

The vote means a new Business Improvement Zone will be established downtown between the freeways and the Detroit River. Commercial property owners in the zone will pay an additional fee on top of their property taxes to pay for supplementary services.

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Law
5:59 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Legislation to address drugged driving includes saliva testing

A traffic stop in Grand Rapids.
Credit PPWIII / Flickr

State lawmakers are debating a package of bills intended to get repeat drug offenders off the road.

Under the bills, drivers pulled over for erratic driving could be asked to submit to a saliva test. Current law provides for blood, breath and urine testing.

State Representative Dan Lauwers sponsored the legislation. He acknowledged critics who dispute the accuracy of the saliva tests.

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Law
5:46 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Legislature begins debate over $500 million road funding plan

Credit SDOT Photos / Flikr

A plan to boost state road spending by about half-a-billion dollars a year is taking shape. State lawmakers introduced four bills Thursday that are now part of the package.

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Economy
3:55 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Michigan's unemployment rate falls and the labor force ticks upward

Michigan's unemployment rate charted with the state's labor force.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

The state's unemployment rate fell for the seventh consecutive month to 7.5% for the month of March 2014.

The unemployment rate is the measure of people who are out of work, but are counted as part of the overall labor force. The labor force is a measure of those folks who are actively looking for work in the last month. See my explanation of the rate here.

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Station news
1:54 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Michigan Radio Reporter named Young Journalist of the Year

Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith

The Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has named Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith the Young Journalist of the Year. Based in Grand Rapids, Lindsey is Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. She has worked at the station since 2010.

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Auto
1:43 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Judge won't order recalled GM cars to be parked

A consumer alert from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NHTSA

DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge in Texas has denied an emergency motion that would have forced General Motors to tell owners of 2 million recalled cars to stop driving their vehicles until their ignition switches are repaired.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos issued her order Thursday in Corpus Christi. Attorney Robert Hilliard, who represents some owners, had argued that the GM cars could at any moment lose power and expose their occupants to serious injury or death.

GM had urged the court not to intervene and instead let a recall overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proceed. The carmaker said extensive testing had shown that if the recall instructions were followed, there was no risk that the ignition switch would fail.

GM has linked the switch to 13 deaths.

Economy
12:24 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

1 in 3 Michiganders are seriously underwater on their homes

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

At first it doesn't sound that great: 1 in 3 people who have mortgages still owe at least 25% more on their house than it's actually worth.

But a year ago, it was even worse. At that time, more than half of all Michiganders with mortgages were in that position.

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The Environment Report
12:19 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Restaurants and markets running low on a popular Great Lakes fish

Bernie Fritzsch gets ready for the lunch rush at Monahan's Seafood Market.
Credit Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

Monahan’s Seafood Market in Ann Arbor carries soft-shell crabs from Maryland, Alaskan salmon, and Florida red snapper.

But at the moment, they’re fresh out of Great Lakes whitefish.

Bernie Fritzsch manages the fish market.

“We’re hoping to see it today, but we haven’t seen it for the last week,” he says.

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Politics & Government
10:58 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy judge revives talks on regional water agency

A Detroit Water and Sewerage manhole cover.
Credit user rob zand / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A judge has ordered the city of Detroit and the suburbs to further explore the creation of a regional water department.

Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes granted Wayne County's request Thursday to have the parties sit down with a mediator.

Detroit's water department provides water to Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has expressed interest in spinning off the department as a regional agency.

But some suburban leaders are concerned about future financial burdens on their residents.

The judge says the bankruptcy case is a "unique opportunity" to keep negotiating. Otherwise, Rhodes says the opportunity "will be lost forever."

Opinion
9:53 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Journalists work hard to tell you everything you don't want to hear

To put it mildly, journalists are not the most beloved group in society. They never have been. We show up to tell you all sorts of unpleasant truths about life, society, your leaders and yourselves.

“Good afternoon. The mayor’s a crook, the governor is owned by special interests, your city is broke and your water polluted.”

“The country is involved in a ridiculous war it isn’t winning, your child is getting a lousy education, your roads will cost billions to fix and your representatives sold out to corporate interests. By the way, your kids are binge drinking and you are too fat. Have a nice day.” 

It’s no wonder people aren’t all that happy when they see us coming. Like any other profession or family, we also have our share of black sheep. Journalists who lie or make things up are very rare, but nobody forgets it when they do.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Now it's up to Lansing to make Detroit's "grand bargain" work

Credit Sam Beebe

Now that Detroit’s bankruptcy is moving along, Gov. Rick Snyder is moving to secure the state’s end of a so-called “grand bargain.”

It would use $816 million to minimize city pension cuts, and protect the Detroit Institute of Arts from potential liquidation to pay off creditors.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Thu April 17, 2014

With major settlements piling up, Detroit bankruptcy moves along at lightning speed

Detroit retirees protesting pension cuts.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

This has proven to be a watershed week in Detroit’s bankruptcy case, which is now moving along at lightning speed.

On Tuesday, representatives for Detroit’s two pension funds reached tentative settlements with the city.

The deals would spare Detroit’s retired police officers and firefighters any direct cuts to their pensions, while non-uniform retirees would take 4.5% cuts.

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Politics & Government
6:14 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Mark Schauer calls education his “top priority” in schools plan

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and running mate Lisa Brown announced their education plan Wednesday in Lansing.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

The Democrat likely to challenge Gov. Rick Snyder in November says improving public schools would be his top priority in office.

Former Congressman Mark Schauer and his running mate, Lisa Brown, unveiled their education plan Wednesday in Lansing.

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Education
4:31 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

In Gibbons case, University of Michigan won't share internal privacy policies

Federal, student and media investigators want to know why the university didn't expel football player Brendan Gibbons for his 2009 actions until four years later
Credit user Cbl62 / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Michigan is using what it calls its own interpretations of privacy laws to keep student investigators and media from understanding why it took four years to expel Brendan Gibbons for violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy. 

The university, however, has not disclosed what those interpretations are, or if they are a written internal policy.

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Environment & Science
4:25 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

An MSU physicist believes he has solved the "black hole information paradox"

A simulated view of a black hole. A real black hole can't be observed.
user Alain r Wikimedia Commons

Ever since Stephen Hawking came out with his theory about how black holes work, physicists – including Hawking himself – have been wrestling with a "hole" in that theory.

Hawking postulated that if you threw something like a chair into a black hole, given enough time that chair would "dematerialize." It would disappear, leaving no trace of its existence.

But the laws of physics don't allow for things to simply disappear. Things can change, or be altered, but they can't disappear. You can burn a piece paper, and it's no longer there, but the carbon, water, and other molecules still exist somewhere. Again, it can't simply disappear.

It's called the black hole information paradox.

PBS' Kate Becker quoted Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind in describing Hawking's theory in her post "Do Black Holes Destroy Information?":

As Leonard Susskind wrote in “The Black Hole War,” his 2008 book on the problem of black holes and information loss, “The possibility of hiding information in a vault would hardly be a cause for alarm, but what if when the door was shut, the vault evaporated right in front of your eyes? That’s exactly what Hawking predicted would happen to the black hole.”

The solution?

Now comes a theoretical physicist and computational biologist from Michigan State University who believes he has solved Hawking's black hole information paradox.

Chris Adami joined us today on Stateside. (You can listen to how he explains his theory above.)

Hawking discovered that black holes emit a glow called the “Hawking radiation.” That radiation, Hawking theorized, consumes the black hole and all things in the hole are lost. Poof! Nothing left.

Adami theorizes that a copy of the chair is made before it goes into the black hole.

More on Adami’s solution from MSU:

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Stateside
4:14 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

GM asks bankruptcy judge to look at its liability

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
Credit John F. Martin / Creative Commons

General Motors is asking a bankruptcy judge in New York to take a look at its "shield" – the shield that protects it from liability lawsuits that stem from crashes or defects that happened before its bankruptcy.

Veteran auto analyst Michelle Krebs joined us today. She explained what GM is trying to find out. *Listen to the audio above.

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Stateside
3:43 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

With deals made with creditors, what's next in Detroit's bankruptcy?

Detroit's skyline.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It's turning into a momentous week in Detroit's quest to exit bankruptcy.

First came a deal with two global banks: UBS and Bank of America.

Then, an agreement with leaders of Detroit's retired police and firefighters.

That was followed late yesterday by a settlement with the remaining Detroit retirees.

Daniel Howes, a business columnist with The Detroit News, talks with us about the next challenges in the Detroit bankruptcy saga.

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