Arts/Culture
2:16 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

New $1M 'Pure Michigan' ad to feature Ann Arbor as business destination

Michigan Radio

2012 is shaping up to be a busy year for the people who produce the Pure Michigan ads.

Harbor Springs, Gaylord, Charlevoix and Jackson are the latest cities to pony up $20,000 each to be part of the popular tourism campaign. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation matches the money, bringing the total to $40,000, which gets each city its own radio ad and a spot on the Pure Michigan website. 

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Seeking Change
11:41 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Rescuing dogs in Detroit

Courtesy of Detroit Dog Rescue

As we continue our Seeking Change series, Michigan Radio’s Christina Shockley spoke with Daniel "Hush" Carlisle, co-founder of Detroit Dog Rescue (DDR). The former hip-hop artist and producer drives through the streets of Detroit looking for stray dogs, which are then vetted, housed, boarded, and fostered before beginning the adoption process.

How do these dogs get into this situation? Carlisle told us:

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Commentary
11:08 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Parents Making a Difference

Just over a month ago, I talked about an interesting controversy in the Plymouth-Canton Community School district, a middle-to-upper-middle area of western Wayne County.

The superintendent suddenly banned a popular novel, Graham Swift’s "Waterland", from the Advanced Placement, or AP English curriculum. "Waterland", first published almost 30 years ago, is a highly acclaimed book which has to do with storytelling and history, and which shows how everything is influenced by what came before.

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Morning News Roundup
7:44 am
Mon February 20, 2012

In this morning's news...

Archbishop says he'll discuss parish closing plan

The leader of 1.3 million Roman Catholics in southeastern Michigan says he's releasing the results of a review of a proposal to merge or close dozens of parishes in the face of population shifts within the Archdiocese of Detroit.     

The archdiocese says that Archbishop Allen Vigneron will talk at 4 p.m. today about the plans for the realignment of the 267 parishes. 

On Dec. 1, Vigneron said the archdiocese would review a plan to close nine parishes and merge 60 others into 21. A committee of lay leaders helped draft that plan. The archdiocese says Vigneron  completed the plan earlier this month, and its results were mailed out this week to priests and lay members.

Santorum to speak at Kent County Republican dinner 

Rick Santorum is scheduled to bring his presidential campaign to West Michigan on Monday with a speech to Kent County Republicans. Santorum's staff said Sunday that the ex-Pennsylvania U.S. senator will address the Kent County Lincoln Day Dinner. It's set for 7 p.m. at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. 

Santorum has been surging in the Republican presidential polls nationwide and in Michigan, which holds its primary Feb. 28. A Feb. 11-13 poll of 500 likely Michigan GOP primary voters found 34 percent backing Santorum and 30 percent backing Michigan native and ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mott Romney. The 4 percentage point difference is within the 4.4 point margin of sampling error. Glengariff Group Inc. did the polling for The Detroit News, WDIV-TV and WZZM-TV.

Snyder to sign Michigan road commission bills

Legislation that will allow county boards of commissioners to take over duties of county road commissions is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder is scheduled to sign the legislation Tuesday at the state
Capitol. 

The bills were approved by the Michigan Legislature earlier this month. Supporters say the measures would save money by eliminating duplicative administrative costs. Appointed county road commissions could be dissolved by a majority vote of a county's board of commissioners.

Voters would have the final decision on whether to dissolve road commissions in counties where road commissioners are elected. Some critics say a vote of the people should be required in all counties because each road commission was created by such a vote,
not just those with elected commissioners.

Investigative
7:00 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Money Talks: But is it free speech?

user tobym Flickr

This election year, money will drive the conversation in politics more than usual because of  recent Supreme Court decisions. They opened the floodgates of cash, allowing groups called Super PACs to spend unlimited amounts in support of federal candidates. We’re getting just a small sampling during the presidential primary.  This fall, Michigan will see a lot of money from outside the state coming in to buy tons of ads—most of them negative—to sway voters here.

Money can’t vote. But it certainly can affect the outcome of an election. And that bothers voters such as William Mayor.

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Politics
1:56 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

Michigan Governor to sign bill that will be the end of the road for some county road commissions

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R)
(Official state portrait)

Legislation that will allow county boards of commissioners to take over duties of county road commissions is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Snyder is scheduled to sign the legislation Tuesday at the state Capitol.

The bills were approved by the Michigan Legislature earlier this month.

Supporters say the measures would save money by eliminating duplicative administrative costs.

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The law
1:35 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

U-M Regents call for external investigation into child pornography reporting delay

Steven Jenson is a former University of Michigan Hospital pediatric resident. He was charged in federal court with receipt and possession of child pornography.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents has ordered an external investigation into the case of a former pediatric resident accused of having child pornography.

In May of last year, a University of Michigan Hospital resident found child pornography on a computer in an employee lounge. She reported it to hospital security, but a hospital attorney -- who no longer works for the university -- did not pursue the case.

It wasn’t reported to police until six months later.

Steven Jenson, 36, is facing federal charges of receipt and possession of child pornography.

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Sports
12:10 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

Flint Boxer wins Olympic trials

February 19, 2012 Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood and Claressa Shields (middle) made history on Saturday by becoming the first-ever U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women's Boxing Champions
(USA Boxing)

Flint boxer Claressa Shields took a big step toward her Olympic dream Saturday night, winning the middleweight title at the USA boxing trials.

USA Boxing summed up Shields performance in the championship final:

Teenage sensation Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) continued her amazing run through the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in her rematch with fellow middleweight Tika Hemingway (Pittsburgh, Pa.). She once again got off to a quick start in the bout, racking up 13 points to 9 for Hemingway in the opening two rounds. She continued to build on her lead in the third to claim at 19-13 advantage with one round remaining. Hemingway could not dent her deficit and Shields went on to win a 23-18 decision. The victory gave Shields the first-ever middleweight crown and completed the trio of boxers who will vie for spots in London. Yet Shields accomplishments didn’t end there, she was also named Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament, only her second in the open division. 

Shields must now prepare for the World championships.  The top eight women boxers at the world championships will qualify for the Olympic tournament in London.

Detroit
6:38 am
Sun February 19, 2012

Detroit's mayor reaches tentative deal with city firefighters

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The mayor's office and firefighters' union have agreed to a tentative deal on concessions aimed at cutting the city's budget deficit. Both sides say they wanrt to keep Detroit's finances out of the hands of a state-appointed emergency manager.

Mayor Dave Bing's office says Saturday in a release that the agreement still must be ratified by the 1,014 members of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.   Bing's office issued a written statement Saturday:

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Politics
7:44 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan National Guard leader warns against cuts

US Air National Guard

The general who runs Michigan’s Army and Air National Guard is warning about what he calls ill-advised cuts.

The Air Force wants to retire 286 aircraft over the next five years to accommodate a new national defense strategy and shrinking budget.

Major General Gregory Vadnais told reservists at the Battle Creek and Selfridge Air National Guard bases Friday that those bases would lose 673 positions because of proposed Air Force budget cuts.

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Economy
6:02 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan officials unsure how federal changes to unemployment benefits will affect state residents

michganradio.org

State officials are looking into how Congress’s changes Friday to jobless benefits will affect unemployed people in Michigan. 

The maximum length of federal unemployment benefits in Michigan will gradually fall from 99 weeks  to 77 weeks by September.

Chawn Greene-Farmer is with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

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Politics
5:46 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan gets some lovin' from the Republican presidential candidates

Former Senator Rick Santorum (above) and Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney both want your vote in Michigan's primary on February 28th.
Gage Skidmore Flickr

By now, it's probably not news to you that Michigan holds the nation’s next presidential primary on February 28th. And, it’s likely to be a doozy.

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Midwest Migration
5:45 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Midwesterners are on the move, but where are they going?

Mapping the migration: Midwesterners are moving all over the country--a lot have left for southern states.

Fewer Americans are making long distance moves than at any point since the census started tracking the data in the 1940s. Overall, American geographic mobility is declining--except in the Midwest.

From 2007-2009, over 900,000 people left the region. A lot of them went to Texas

Michigan Radio's Public Insight Journalist, Sarah Alvarez, has been collecting stories from some of the people who left. Alvarez spoke with Jennifer White, host of Michigan Radio's All Things Considered, about what's driving regional out-migration, and about how Midwestern exiles feel about making the Big Move.

Through the Public Insight Network, a database of sources, Alvarez heard from about 200 former Midwesterners living all over the country--and the world.  

"We wanted to see if these people's stories matched up with conventional wisdom and statistics about why people left the region," says Alvarez.

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Environment
5:30 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

EPA releases major health assessment of dioxins

The Environmental Protection Agency has just released a report on dioxins that’s more than 25 years in the making. 

Dioxins are a class of toxic chemicals.  They’re by-products of many industrial processes and some natural sources.

The EPA says dioxins are likely to cause cancer in humans.

The agency has finally released the first part of a report on just how toxic dioxins are. It looks at non-cancer health risks.

The report says high levels of dioxin exposure can cause developmental and reproductive effects... interfere with hormones and damage the immune system... and cause a severe skin disease called chloracne. 

The EPA says most Americans have low-level exposure to dioxins... mostly through high-fat fish, meat and dairy products.

But the EPA says low levels of exposure do not pose a significant health risk and does not recommend avoiding any particular foods because of dioxin.

You can read EPA's Consumer Fact Sheet and FAQs from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to learn more.

Crime
5:07 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

State Police still struggling with Detroit rape kit backlog

Michigan State Police say it will take millions of dollars to process thousands of rape kits found in an abandoned Detroit crime lab.

John Collins is State Police Director of Forensic Science. He says Michigan State University researchers are helping to identify the kits but the procedure takes time and money:

“What we hope to have eventually is some federal support to help us supply resources to test as many of these kits as possible, and to assist with the prosecutions that we think will come later on down the road,” said Collins.

Collins says about a thousand rape kits will be analyzed for DNA in the next year.  The results will be submitted to a national database to look for matches from other cases.

That leaves a backlog of another 10,000  kits .

The Detroit Police crime lab was shut down in 2008 after it was learned that firearms cases had been improperly handled.

Education
5:00 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan school district decides not to ban "Waterland" novel

user mconnors morgueFile

The Plymouth-Canton school district will not ban Waterland from its Advanced Placement English curriculum.

Graham Swift’s novel is the second book this year the Plymouth-Canton school district put on trial. The district considered banning Toni Morrison’s Beloved last month, but decided against it.

A committee voted anonymously in a closed meeting not to ban the books after hearing from teachers, students and parents during public meetings. (Since their votes are anonymous, we do not know if it was a unanimous vote.)

AP English teacher Brian Read, who has taught Beloved and Waterland for 10 years, says both books deal with the effects of trauma, and contain some mature content of a sexual nature. He says he and his colleague don't choose books because they're sensational, or because there's offensive material in it.

"We choose them because they’re really great works of literature and they really work well in our curriculum, they work well with other pieces that we’re teaching. So I’ll absolutely teach it again and I’m glad that I have that opportunity to teach it again."

Read says both books are worth fighting for, and he’ll continue to defend the books if they come under fire again.

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Politics
4:45 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan ACLU fights anti-begging law

Annie Green Springs Flickr

Michigan’s law against peaceful begging in public was challenged in federal court this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman says peaceful begging is protected speech under the First  Amendment.

“Begging is not a crime, asking for help is not a crime, being poor is not a crime. There’s been so much economic turmoil, and penalizing poor people because they need help is wrong….and unconstitutional.”

James Speet says he’s been arrested at least eight times in the Grand Rapids area for holding up a sign that reads “Need job… God bless.”

Speet, who’s often homeless, says he never hassles people.

“I don’t approach anybody unless I’m called over to them, by them. That way there’s never no people feeling like I’m being aggressive toward them, or anything like that. I let them come to me.”

The ACLU of Michigan says the Grand Rapids Police Department has arrested nearly 400 people for peaceful begging since 2008.

Politics
4:29 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Richardville latest to take on Michigan grad student unionization

courtesy of Richardville's office

The drama over University of Michigan graduate student research assistants and whether or not they can unionize continues to unfold, this time with State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville weighing in.

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Amtrak
3:28 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Lansing motorist killed in crash with Amtrak train

user smaedi Creative Commons

DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Officials say the driver of a car who was killed in a collision with an Amtrak train near Lansing drove around lowered gates at a road crossing.

The Eaton County Sheriff's Office continued to investigate the accident Friday.

The driver of the car who was killed was identified as Hermes Fernandez-Lopez. The 39-year-old was from Lansing.

No one on the train was reported injured in the Thursday night accident.

The train was travelling from Chicago to Port Huron with about 145 passengers when it struck the vehicle shortly after 9:10 p.m., authorities said. Train passengers left the scene on buses.

Politics
12:42 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Santorum touts candor and consistency to Michigan voters

wikimedia commons

Republican candidate for president Rick Santorum says he thinks he would appeal to Democrats and independents in Michigan if he is on the November ballot.

Appearing on public television’s “Off the Record,” Santorum said he was able to attract votes when he ran for the US Senate in his Democratic-leaning home state of Pennsylvania. And he said, if he is the Republican nominee for president, independent voters will appreciate his honesty.

“You know what policies I’m going to be out there advocating for, I’m someone you can trust, I’m someone who is open to listening but who has a very clear vision for where I want to take the country,” Santorum said.

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