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Investigative
7:00 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Truth Squad: no fouls for Land attack ads, but not the "whole truth," either

The Truth Squad at Bridge Magazine reviewed a couple of TV ads put on the air by Republican Terri Lynn Land’s campaign for U.S. Senate. But, there’s a pretty substantial gap between the "truth" and the
"whole truth."

These two TV ads from the Land campaign attack the Democratic candidate, Congressman Gary Peters.

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Stateside
9:00 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

More than a third of Americans don't have enough money saved for retirement, survey finds

Credit American Advisors Group / Flickr

About 36% of Americans aren't financially prepared for their retirement, according to a recent survey by Bankrate.com.

Detroit News personal finance writer Brian O’Connor said the number isn't that surprising, given what's happened in the last several years.

“A lot of people wound up having to raid their retirements. A lot of people got nervous and took their money out of retirement accounts when the stock market fell,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor added that there are people living paycheck-to-paycheck, with wages not keeping pace with inflation. Although jobs are coming back to Michigan, those jobs aren't paying what they used to.

The survey found 69% percent of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 don’t have anything saved. That’s understandable, because they have student loans, are trying set up households, and are getting businesses launched.

However, the 14% of people aged 65 and older with no savings are in a tight spot. These people may have had a financial crisis – a divorce, bankruptcy, medical issues, etc.

“It’s going to be a serious, serious problem,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said one of the reasons that people aren’t saving is that there are relying on their pensions. But as we have seen in the Detroit bankruptcy, pensions are not always guaranteed.

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Stateside
6:24 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Livingston County forest added to global network

Map of all forest plots in Smithsonian network
Credit Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute / www.forestgeo.si.edu

It might just be a 57-acre stand of trees in Livingston County, but it's been added to a global network with a distinguished name: “The Smithsonian Institution’s Forest Global Earth Observatory.”

The Livingston County plot is part of the University of Michigan’s Edwin S. George Preserve.

Christopher Dick is the director of the preserve. He said the Smithsonian Global Network started in Panama in 1982, when researchers were interested in learning more about the numerous tree species packed in small areas of rain forests, so they began to protect large-scale forest inventory plots around the world.

Dick said what makes this stand in Livingston County important is that researchers from the University of Michigan have been researching these trees intensively since the 1930s.

Dick said what this means for researchers is that they now have a standardized way of comparing data from forests around the world. They are currently studying the trees to see what is happening to forests as a result of increased atmospheric carbon.

What they expect to see is that a lot of forests, whether tropical or temperate, will experience increased production of wood and increased growth rates.

*Listen to the full interview with Christopher Dick above. 

Stateside
6:19 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

State money is used to attract events and conventions to Michigan

Guinness International Champions Cup match Manchester United vs Real Madrid in Ann Arbor on August 2, 2014.
Credit user: NHN_2009 / Flickr

State money is being used to attract everything from a Jehovah's Witnesses convention in Detroit to an international soccer match in Ann Arbor.

Business columnist for the Detroit Free Press, Tom Walsh, notes that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has spent more than a million dollars this year to bring in things like conventions and sporting events.

Walsh said the reasons given for this spending is that everybody else is doing it, and it could generate a lot of state tax revenue from out-of-state visitors.

Walsh said from the first few events that have been done, the payback for them was said to be about $20 million in states tax revenue.

Tuesday the Michigan Strategic Fund OK'ed another $1 million for the program through September 15, 2015.

Read more about this in Tom Walsh’s article in the Detroit Free Press.

*Listen to the full story above. 

Stateside
6:17 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Searching for the "cosmic cocktail" in our universe

Katherine Freese, author of The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter
Credit www-personal.umich.edu/~ktfreese / www-personal.umich.edu/~ktfreese

What is the universe made of?

It’s a fundamental question that has been asked numerous times over the years, and Katherine Freese is devoting her scientific career to answer it.

Freese is the George E. Uhlenbeck professor of physics at the University of Michigan. Her book is called “The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter.”

Freese said the answer to this question is very surprising. To answer it she said to start with what we do know.

“Your body, the air, the walls, let’s even throw in the stars and plants. All of that is made of atoms, but all of that only adds up to about 5% of the universe,” Freese said.

Freese said the quest to find the answer dates back to a Swiss astronomer in the 1930s who found something was pulling at the universe, causing it to expand. He called it dark matter.

So what does dark matter mean?

“It means that it does not shine,” Freese said. “It is invisible to our eyes and our ordinary telescopes."

Freese said scientists believe they are close to detecting it, and believe it is made of some new particle – entirely different from neutrons, protons, and everything we have learned in science class.

Freese said her book served two purposes: to talk about the hunt for dark matter, and to talk about her experience as a scientist and the fun they have.

*Listen to the full interview with Katherine Freese above. 

-Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Stateside
6:12 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

This teacher's union lost 1,500 members last year, will more opt out this year?

Credit User Motown31 / Creative Commons

There is much at stake for the Michigan Education Association in these waning days of August.

That's because teachers and school workers who are MEA members have until Sunday to decide whether to remain in their union.

Dave Eggert covers Lansing for the Associated Press. He says this is a big litmus test for right-to-work in Michigan because the MEA is Michigan’s largest public sector union, and has a one month window every year to allow members to opt out.

There are 112,000 active members right now. There isn’t an estimate on how many may opt out this month. Last year in the opt-out window only about 1,500 members dropped.

Read Dave Eggert's story in the Detroit News here

*Listen to the full interview with Dave Eggert above. 

Economy
3:54 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Report: Lower paid men in Michigan have seen big income erosion since 1979

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report shows it’s getting harder for people in Michigan at the lower end of the pay scale.

Yannet Lathrop is a policy analyst for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Her study finds the bottom 20% of Michigan's male wage earners have seen their real income, adjusted for inflation, drop by nearly a third since 1979.

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Environment & Science
3:28 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Lawmakers vote to allow wolf hunts in UP

A wolf on Isle Royale. The wolves on this island are protected from any kind of hunt.
IsleRoyaleWolf.org

Wolf hunts in the Upper Peninsula will be able to continue under a new law passed by the state House today. Groups that oppose wolf hunting say state lawmakers are trying to thwart the will of voters.

To the chants of “Let us vote! It’s our right!” anti-wolf hunting groups rallied outside the state Capitol before the House took up the bill.

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Education
3:25 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Lansing is launching a special neighborhood watch-style program at city schools

Leon Bounds stands outside Lansing's Sexton High School. He's among a handful of volunteers taking part in the city's 'school watch' program this fall
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

When the final bell rings, students stream out of Lansing’s three public high schools. And sometimes that’s when the trouble begins.

In 2013, an after-school shooting outside Lansing’s Sexton High School injured four students.

City officials are hoping a new team of volunteers may help head off problems in the future. 

Police Chief Mike Yankowski says the “school watch” program will operate similar to a “neighborhood watch”, keeping an eye out for trouble during the hours after school.

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Transportation
3:18 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Local and state road agencies deal with spike in salt prices

Credit LisaW123 / Flickr

Winter weather is still a few months away – we hope – but road agencies are already preparing for the season.

And they're dealing with a spike in salt prices. The statewide average for road salt is about $66 per ton. That's up nearly 50% from last year.

Michigan's County Road Association says high demand from last winter means vendors haven't been able to adequately restock.

Ed Noyola is the association's deputy director.

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Veterans courts
12:26 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Veterans courts expanding rapidly in Michigan

A Marine veteran places his hand over his heart as a sign of respect during a ceremony Feb. 19, 2010 at the Marine Corps League Detachment 246 meeting hall in honor of the Marines who fought in the Feb 19 - March 26, 1945 battle of Iwo Jima.
Credit Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Randall A. Clinton

There are now 17 counties in Michigan that offer special courts for veterans, to try to steer them towards treatment, instead of incarceration.

Monroe County began its new Veterans Court this month.

Melody Powers is a veterans outreach justice coordinator with the VA Health System in Ann Arbor.  She says many veterans who get in trouble with the law have untreated alcoholism or post-traumatic stress disorder.  But it's often very difficult for them to ask for help.

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Stateside
12:23 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Lovers of jazz see Detroit as the New Orleans of the north

A Detroit Jazz Festival float.
Credit Maia C / Flickr

The 35th annual Detroit Jazz Festival is this Labor Day weekend. It is the largest free jazz festival in the world, and it will be held in downtown Detroit at Campus Martius and Hart Plaza.

Chirs Collins, the artistic director, and Jim Gallert, jazz broadcaster, writer and researcher, joined Stateside today to talk about the history of this festival and of jazz in Detroit.

“The Detroit Jazz Festival celebrates not only the greater jazz landscape, but, in particular, this amazing legacy of the city of Detroit,” Collins said.

Detroit came into the jazz scene in the early 1920s. Gallert said Detroit was an important feeder city. A lot of Detroit bands set the style for bands in New York.

“Many of us think of Detroit as the New Orleans of the north,” Gallert said.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is a year round effort to spread the gospel of jazz and support jazz artists. They work with students in Detroit Public Schools in what is called the "Jazz Infusion" where professional jazz artists work with the students to teach jazz, form bands, and put on shows.

The Detroit Jazz Festival runs this Labor Day weekend in downtown Detroit. You can get schedules, artists and all the information at their website.

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Collins and Jim Gallert on Stateside at 3:00 pm. Audio for this story will be added by 4:30 pm. 

Stateside
12:15 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Grand Marais is home to the Pickle Barrel House Museum

The Pickle Barrel House in 2008
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Michigan boasts a fine array of museums. It seems there's something for everybody: 

  • The Henry Ford in Dearborn
  • The Gerald R Ford Museum in Grand Rapids
  • The Sloan Museum in Flint
  • The Great Lakes Children's Museum in Traverse City

And how about "The Pickle Barrel House Museum" in Grand Marais?

Pat Munger, president of the Grand Marais Historical Society, said the museum was originally built for William Donahey, a cartoonist and author of children’s books from 1914 to 1972.

His cartoons were about people who were about two inches tall and lived in the woods around Grand Marais.

For a promotional campaign for Monarch Food’s Pickles, Donahey drew a tiny family that lived in a pickle. The pickles were put in little pickle barrels.

One of the owners of Monarch Foods, named Mr. Murdock, was friends with Donahey and built him a pickle barrel house as a surprise to Donahey’s wife.

That house now serves as a museum.

*Listen to the full interview with Pat Munger on Stateside at 3:00 pm. Audio for this story will be added by 4:30 pm. 

Politics & Government
11:43 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Pro and anti-wolf hunting groups square off at Michigan's Capitol today

Many wolf hunt opponents complain state lawmakers are circumventing November's two referendums.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People for and against a wolf hunt in Michigan are at the state Capitol today.

Orange-wearing hunters are mixing with people waving signs calling for protecting Michigan’s wolves.

The state House is poised to vote on the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The act would open the door once again to wolf hunting. The state Senate has already voted in favor of the act.  

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Opinion
11:01 am
Wed August 27, 2014

What do we need in politics today? Adults who treat us like adults

Normally journalists never say how they vote, but I am about to violate that rule. Eight years ago, I voted to re-elect Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. I thought she was doing a good job; I still think she was less partisan and more practical than others who have held that post.

Yet I have a hard time recognizing that official in the Terri Lynn Land now running for the U.S. Senate. And yesterday, she unveiled an idea that may be one of the worst I’ve ever heard. If you ever leave your house, you know many Michigan roads are in bad shape. Gov. Rick Snyder does.

He’s been trying to get lawmakers to come up with $1.2 billion a year in new money to restore our crumbling roads and bridges. Actually, experts with the Michigan Department of Transportation, now say more like $2 billion a year is needed. The governor suggested getting this from a combination of increased registration fees and raising the state gas tax.

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Environment & Science
10:45 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Residents of Pelee Island in Lake Erie warned not to drink or bathe in their water

A lighthouse on Pelee Island in Lake Erie.
Credit Richard Hsu / Flickr

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Residents of a small Canadian island are being warned not to drink their well water because of potentially toxic bacteria in Lake Erie.

Cyanobacteria blooms causing the warning are the same stuff that contaminated the drinking water of about 400,000 people in the Toledo area earlier this month.

Some 300 people who live on Canada's Pelee Island year-round are also being told not to bathe or cook with water from their private wells that draw water from the lake.

The warning from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in Ontario also says residents and visitors to the island shouldn't swim in the lake.

The island about 50 miles east of Toledo is situated along the U.S.-Canadian border in Lake Erie.

This Week in Michigan Politics
10:02 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Lessenberry explains how the November election is getting in the way of issues in Michigan

Credit World Resources Institute

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss U.S. Senate Terry Lynn Land's plan to fix Michigan's roads, if residents can have an impact on oil drilling and fracking in their communities, and how Michigan won't be a a dumping ground for other states' radioactive waste.

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 8/27/14

Education
6:00 am
Wed August 27, 2014

After public backlash, Detroit Public Schools changes budget cut tactics

DPS emergency manager Jack Martin
Credit Detroit Public Schools

After a public outcry, the Detroit Public Schools is walking back plans to cut teacher pay and boost class sizes.

The district is battling a $127 million deficit, and the Michigan Department of Education approved its revised deficit elimination plan last week.

It called for cutting teachers’ pay by 10% (on top of another 10% pay cut imposed in 2011), and putting up to 43 students in some classrooms.

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Politics & Government
8:05 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Battle Creek military base may host U.S. missile base

People at last night’s public expressed some concern about making Battle Creek a military target. But more were interested in the potential jobs the missile complex may deliver.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A decade from now, Battle Creek could be a key component of the nation’s missile defense program. 

Fort Custer is one of several sites in the eastern U.S. being reviewed for an expansion of a missile interceptor system.

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Law
6:09 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Education groups join calls for LGBT rights in Michigan

Credit user Marlith / Flickr

The list of groups calling on state lawmakers to pass protections for LGBT people is growing. Organizations representing Michigan college, university, and school officials now say they support the measure.

They join more than 50 business and non-profit groups urging lawmakers to pass the legislation, which the coalition expects to be introduced next month.

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