Environment & Science
4:26 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Scientists find algae bloom near Maumee River

When tiny microscopic plants (top photo) bloom out of control, it's called an 'algal bloom' (bottom photo).
Credit NOAA.gov

Scientists are working to identify an algae bloom near the Maumee River. It's a yearly event that occurs during the warm summer months.

Researchers at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory confirmed that the cyanobacteria bloom has been intensifying over the last week.

Also known as blue-green algae, it can be harmful to the aquatic environment and to people. People shouldn't swim in a bloom- it can cause skin rashes or even severe stomach problems.

Tim Davis is a research biologist with the lab. 

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Stateside
3:56 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Pensioners vote “yes” to cuts, bond holders prepare to fight

Downtown Detroit
Credit Ian Freimuth / Flickr

Detroit pensioners voted to accept the pension cuts and allow the Detroit Institute of Arts to become an independent institution. In response, bond insurers who could lose billions in Detroit’s bankruptcy are preparing to fight.

Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer joined us today on Stateside to talk about what this means for Detroit.

Police and fire pensioners voted 82% in favor. General retirement pensioners voted 73% in favor. 

Two big bond insurers, Syncora and Financial Guaranty Insurance Company are promising to fight this agreement. 

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Law
1:55 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Michiganders could lose federal tax credits for Obamacare

A three-judge panel in Washington ruled 2-1 that the law, as written, only allows insurance subsidies in states that have set up their own exchanges. That invalidated an Internal Revenue Service regulation that allowed subsidies in all 50 states. (Associated Press)
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal court ruling today could affect tens of thousands of Michiganders who got health insurance through Obamacare.

More than 237,000 of the 272,000 Michiganders who signed up for Obamacare selected a plan through the marketplace with federal financial assistance.  The tax credits helped subsidize health insurance payments for low- and moderate-income people.

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Opinion
12:29 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Our future is tied to our kids' future, and a new report shows that doesn't look good

 

You have to give Detroiters a lot of credit.

They voted, by overwhelming margins, to accept major cuts to their pensions. In what was most surprising, nearly 90% of city retirees also voted to give up 90% of their health care benefits. They voted to make sacrifices in their old age to give their city a chance at a future, something that we should find pretty admirable.

Now, granted, they had a gun to their heads. They were told to take this deal, or something worse would be imposed on them, but they could have raged against the machine, and didn’t.

In fact, they weren’t even obligated to approve the health care cuts, though they probably couldn’t have stopped them.

People love to bash Detroiters, but throughout the years, they have stepped up time and again, voting to tax themselves when told they had to do so to save the city; voting now to accept new painful sacrifices.

Meanwhile, four classes of the city’s hugest creditors voted no on settlement offers made to them, and so further court battles lie ahead.

All of this is bound to overshadow another story today that in the long run may be as meaningful for our future.

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Stateside
12:16 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Retired FBI agent appears in PBS' new documentary "Who Killed Jimmy Hoffa?"

Credit WEWS-TV / YouTube

Thirty-nine years ago this month, Jimmy Hoffa was last seen having lunch at a restaurant in Bloomfield Township in Oakland County.

Retired FBI agent, Greg Stejskal, will appear in the new PBS documentary “Who Killed Jimmy Hoffa?”

He joined us today on Stateside to revisit the mystery of the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance.

Stejskal was a new agent with the FBI in Detroit in the summer of 1975 when Hoffa disappeared. The investigation into his disappearance was declared a Bureau "Special," which meant most of the agents in the Detroit office became involved.

One of Stejskal’s duties was to conduct neighborhood interviews around the Machus Red Fox restaurant, the last place where Hoffa was seen.

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Stateside
12:04 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Michigan artist Liz Larin's new album is about a "hero's journey"

Credit Peter Schorn / Flickr

Oakland County-based singer-songwriter and producer Liz Larin is coming to the Ark in Ann Arbor on August 3. She joins us today on Stateside to talk about her new CD “Hurricane.”

Larin started with a band in the 1980s and evolved from there as an artist. She plays almost all of the instruments and sings all of the vocals on her record. She even creates the visual images seen when she plays on stage. She said since the 80s, she has become more confident in her musical instincts.

“I hone the songs until the idea is as clear as possible and as visual as possible,” Larin said. “I want the listener to be able to listen to it and picture something – to the right of them, to the left of them – and what is actually going on while they are moving through the music.”

She says "Hurricane" has a narrative arc - a hero’s journey.

“It starts with the idea that everything that you thought about yourself and about the world, it just doesn’t fit anymore,” Larin said. “And you realize you have to go and find yourself and you have to find out what reality is for you.”

Larin said the title track “Hurricane” is the feeling of change. The track “Super Hero” is the story of a parent and a parent’s love for a child.

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The Environment Report
11:44 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Carbon tax finds bipartisan support when funds are delegated to a specific cause

Some people think a tax on carbon dioxide is a good market-based approach to tackling climate change because it would require larger companies, such as power plants, to pay for their emissions. But it's a tough sell politically.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Economists often argue that we should use the market to fight climate change. Cap-and-trade legislation died in Congress back in 2010.  Some people think a tax on carbon dioxide is a better solution, but that would require large companies to pay for their carbon emissions.

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Environment & Science
11:22 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Groups sue MDEQ over air permit granted to large steel plant

Citizen groups are suing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality over an air permit it granted to a Dearborn steel plant.

Two months ago, the MDEQ issued the permit to the Severstal plant. It allowed the facility to continue polluting at levels that had previously been cited by the state.

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Stateside
11:11 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Cleanup continues four years after the Enbridge Energy oil spill in Michigan

Credit Steve Carmondy / Michigan Radio

This week marks four years since a pipeline operated by Enbridge Energy burst. It was a segment of Line 6B located just downstream from the pump station in Marshall.

The result? More than 1,000,000 gallons of oil have been recovered from Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River.

Michigan Radio's West Michigan reporter Lindsey Smith and The Environment Report’s Rebecca Williams joined Stateside to talk about the effects of the spill four years later.

The spill affected about 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River, from Marshall downstream close to Kalamazoo. The bulk of the oil has been cleaned up. Smith said the river is still useable; you can swim, fish, and do other things that you could do before the spill. 

However, cleanup is still going on. The EPA is dredging Morrow Lake this summer and there are still areas of the river that are closed. Williams said there might always be some oil left in the area.

“What agencies here in Michigan have said is that you often don’t want to take all the oil out of sensitive habitats because you could end up doing more damage,” Williams said.

Smith said the dredging process can be very invasive and hurt a lot of habitats. After the ordered dredging is over, there will be more passive collection, that won’t be as harsh on the environment.

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9:59 am
Tue July 22, 2014

How does Michigan stack up when it comes to child well-being? Are you sure you want to know?

Lead in text: 
If it seems like these reports are always coming out, well, that's partly true. The sheer number of indicators to analyze means that reports trickle out throughout the year.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation looks at statistics that should tell us something about how kids are faring across the country and in Michigan. The foundation looks at things like poverty, teen pregnancy and health insurance coverage to name a few. If it seems like these reports are always coming out, well, that's partly true.
Law
12:37 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Detroit retirees say yes to the "grand bargain" in big victory for Kevyn Orr, DIA

The grand bargain would protect the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection from being sold to pay off the city's debts.
Credit Detroit Institute of Arts

The proposed "grand bargain" that would soften the blow to Detroit pensioners while preserving the city's art collection has cleared a major hurdle.

That's because city retirees have voted for the plan by an overwhelming margin.

As city creditors, pensioners got to cast ballots for or against emergency manager Kevyn Orr's bankruptcy restructuring. The grand bargain is an integral part of that plan of adjustment.

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Economy
10:22 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Henry Paulson tells Michigan to seek out Chinese investment

Paulson and Gov. Rick Snyder speak to reporters Monday at Ford Field in Detroit.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says foreign investment and immigration will be critical to turning around Michigan’s economy.

The former aide to President George W. Bush spoke before the Detroit Economic Club Monday afternoon with Gov. Rick Snyder.

“Make Michigan attractive for investment, period. OK? Make it attractive,” said Paulson.

He says Michigan should especially look to China to help boost the state’s economy. He says many Chinese businesses are looking to expand overseas, and Michigan needs to make it clear they are welcome.

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Prisons
10:07 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

AG prison report cites human, technology errors as prime cause of inmate escape

Credit Photo courtesy of Michigan's Attorney General office / michigan.gov

A report by the Michigan Attorney General's office has found both human and technology failures played a part in the prison escape of a convicted murderer.

Michael Elliot slipped out of the Ionia Correctional Facility last February 2 by crawling under fences during a heavy snowfall. He wore white clothes to blend into the snow. He was captured about 24 hours later in Indiana.

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Stateside
3:30 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

How are teachers and school administrators dealing with the upcoming "new" MEAP?

Lawmakers ordered the Michigan Department of Education to stop preparing for the Smarter Balanced Assessment and return to a revamped MEAP test.

How is this playing out for the teachers and administrators who have to teach and give this overhauled MEAP test?

William Heath is the Superintendent of the Morrice Area Schools and the Principal at Morrice Junior and Senior High School in Shiawassee County.  He said the changes have been very difficult.

“We need some consistency. We need a target to shoot at. We don’t need the target to keep moving around,” he said.

Heath said they are judged by the growth from the previous year and when the assessment changes, they don’t know how they can measure that growth.

“If we are taking different tests, it’s a weird science experiment that there is too many variables in there. It’s going to make it that much harder to realize what exactly our students know and don’t know,” Heath said.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
3:06 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

"Baroque on Beaver" festival starts this weekend

Credit Wikimedia Commons

"Baroque on Beaver" is a classic music festival held on Beaver Island running from July 25 to August 3.

Anne Glendon heads the Beaver Island Cultural Arts Association.

She said there will be about 50 musicians at the festival. Most of them have lived in Michigan or have strong ties to the island.  The concerts are held in different venues on the island. There is a variety of music playing as well, such as chamber music, jazz, and baroque, of course.

“It’s quirky, just like the island and we wouldn’t have it any other way, and also it’s, we think, pretty top rate music,” Glendon said.

Check out the performance list here.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
2:58 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

MSU's Abrams Planetarium's 50th Anniversary

Abrams Planetarium is a planetarium in the center of Michigan State University's campus.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

It's the 50th anniversary of the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University.

Those five decades have seen enormous changes in America's space program and in the way we think of space.

Shannon Schmoll, the director of MSU's Abrams Planetarium, said that planetariums have evolved and changed a lot through the last five decades, and a lot of those changes are seen in technology. Schmoll said the ability to use digital projection allows planetariums to show things beyond earth.

“We can fly out to Mars and can actually fly through Valles Marineris, which is a canyon on Mars about the size of the United States,” she said. “So we can actually travel the universe, so to speak, which is very exciting,” she said.

Schmoll said the knowledge that has been acquired over the decades provides planetariums with a lot more excitement.

“We still have people who come in and they have tons of questions about what’s going on in space. They want to know what’s going on with Hubble, what’s going on with the new missions,” she said. “ It’s a sense of wonder that just never goes away with what’s out there."

*Listen to the full story above. 

Stateside
2:53 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Detroit Water suspends shut-offs for 15 days

Credit user rob zand / Flickr

The Detroit Water and Sewage Department is suspending shut-offs for 15 days.

Department Spokesman Bill Johnson said this suspension is a pause, not a moratorium. 

The department has been receiving a lot of criticism worldwide for shutting off water to 17,000 customers since March.

The 15 days will allow people another chance to come forward and prove they cannot pay their bills. The time will also be spent communicating with customers about payment plan options and financial assistance.

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Stateside
1:19 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Michigan grad rates below national average

Credit Wikimedia Commons

More and more students in Michigan are taking five or more years to finish college and get their degrees. Ron French from Bridge Magazine has been researching this for his new article, and he talked about the trend today on Stateside. French said nationally, 31% of students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years. In Michigan, 12 of the 15 public universities are below that average.

Staying in school longer is more expensive, as extra semesters add cost. French said the fifth and sixth years are usually the most expensive, because financial aid dries up after eight semesters.

“Student debt nationally is over $1 trillion now,” said French.

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Stateside
12:41 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

A new book follows one polar bear's recovery after cruel captivity

In early April 2005, Bärle brought her new cub, Talini, outside into the tundra enclosure for the first time. For the next few weeks, Talini stuck by her mother’s side as if she were tethered.
Credit Courtesy of Tom Roy

They've been on the earth for five million years. From their fur to their body fat, they've evolved to thrive in extremely cold temperatures. So the cruelty of removing a polar bear from its Arctic home and forcing it to live in a filthy Caribbean circus, in temperatures that soar over 100 degrees, is indescribable.

Else Poulson is an animal behaviorist, and she's a guest on today's Stateside program. She's also the president and co-founder of The Bear Care Group. Poulson was part of a Detroit Zoo team that helped a polar bear named Barle after she was rescued from a Caribbean circus called the Mexican Suarez Brothers Circus. Poulson wrote a book about the experience called "Barle's Story: One Polar Bear's Amazing Recovery from Life as a Circus Act."

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Politics & Government
12:15 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Forget left and right on water shut-offs. Let's figure out how to fix the non-payment problem

Update: The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has announced a 15-day suspension of its controversial shutoff campaign.  

​Unless you’ve been completely out of touch, you know that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has been shutting off service to thousands of customers who haven’t paid their bills.

This has sparked huge controversy, protests and even condemnation from the United Nations. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes even got involved.

Last week, he told the deputy director of Detroit’s water department that shutting off water to city residents has, quote "caused not only a lot of anger in the city (but) also a lot of hardship."

And the judge added, "it’s caused a lot of bad publicity for the city it doesn’t need right now." That much is not in dispute. But not everyone is in agreement that this is an atrocity.

Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager, supports the shutoffs, saying that the rule everywhere is that “if you use water, you have to pay for it.” He notes that there’s an assistance program, and says that if people are in trouble, “all they need to do is call.”

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