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Curfews have always been about keeping us safe. What has changed is what we’re being kept safe from.

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan says the word "curfew" has a long history that goes back to fire.

"The word first comes into English in the 14th century from Anglo-Norman, and the root of it is the word 'cover' and the word 'fire,'" Curzan says. "And for people who know French, 'couvrir' and 'feu' –  and that gives us curfew."

The story is that in medieval Europe, at a fixed hour in the evening, a bell would toll. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Before dawn this morning, five Satanists erected what they call a "snaketivity" on the east lawn of the state Capitol.

A fake snake coils its body around the display, which features the phrase “The Greatest Gift is Knowledge.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Environmentalists raised their voices in song on Friday to express their disappointment in the Michigan Legislature this year.

The group that gathered to sing carols at the foot of the holiday tree outside the state Capitol on Friday were not the best singers. But with songs like “Smoggy the Coalman," the quality of their singing was obviously not the point. 

Satanic Temple

The Michigan State Police will keep an eye on Christian and Satanic displays on the state capitol lawn in the days leading up to Christmas.

Christian groups were outraged when permission was given for a display honoring Satan to be placed on the east lawn just before Christmas.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak is not seeking another two-year term, which means someone else, will lead the party through the 2016 election cycle.

user Tqycolumbia / Wikimedia Commons

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss a long-awaited plan to fix Michigan’s roads, job cuts to one of the state’s largest agencies, and some holiday cheer from Rep. John Dingell.

Roads deal

After weeks of hemming and hawing over how to fix the state’s roads, Michigan lawmakers have OK'd plans for a sales tax hike.

There’s just one catch.

The state Legislature decided to give Michigan voters the final call on the 1% increase in a special election this May.

Lessenberry said he can see why the state’s politicians like the plan, but he’s got one question.

Governor Rick Snyder ended the lame duck session closer to his goal of more money for roads. But, we’re not ready to put this one in the ‘win’ column for the governor. Not yet, at least.

 That’s because the state won’t see a dime of this money unless voters approve the package in May. If voters reject the ballot question, the deal falls apart and the governor is back to square one.

Campaigner-in-chief

If the governor wrapped up his November reelection assuming he was done campaigning, he was sorely mistaken. We know voters say they want the roads fixed, but they don’t necessarily want to pay for it.

In order to get voters to actually go to the polls in May and vote themselves a tax increase, it will take a strong message and serious finesse. It will also take money.

U.S. Treasury

Almost six years to the day it was bailed out by the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, Ally Financial has exited.

"With this sale, we are exiting the last major TARP investment and winding down the Auto Industry Financing Program," said Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. "This program was a crucial part of the Obama Administration’s effort to stop the financial crisis and protect the economy from slipping into a second Great Depression.  At the peak, more than 700 institutions were in the TARP bank program. Today, just 35 remain. " 

Grey wolf.
IsleRoyaleWolf.org

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - A federal judge has overturned an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list.

The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections from those wolves in 2012 and handed over management to the states.

In an order Friday, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the removal was "arbitrary and capricious" and violates the federal Endangered Species Act.

The site of the former Velsicol Chemical Corporation in St. Louis is going to take a long time to clean up.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The city of St. Louis, Michigan would much rather be talked about as the geographic center of the Lower Peninsula.

Instead, there's a lot of focus on the legacy of pollution here.

The story of Velsicol Chemical in St. Louis, Michigan is quite complicated. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This holiday season, two very different religious beliefs will be on display at the state Capitol in Lansing.

A small crowd sang Christmas carols outside the state Capitol today. They were there to see a small nativity scene erected. The figures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph will stand in stark contrast to a display featuring a snake that Michigan Satanists plan to put up on Sunday. 

This week, we’ve told you about efforts to clean up the old Velsicol Chemical plant. There’s a threat to the local drinking water supply after the first attempt to clean up the plant failed. Birds still die from DDT, decades after the plant stopped producing it.

But we haven't told you who's paying to fix it.


Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign legislation that changes pollution clean-up procedures in Michigan. Senate Bill 891 is backed by the Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

The DEQ argues too much money is being wasted by the costs of cleaning up inconsequential amounts of pollution. The agency says it should assess risks to human health and use more cost-effective methods when determining pollution clean-up requirements. Leaving some contaminants behind in an area not used by people would allow the agency to deal with more of the clean-ups that do threaten public health, the agency believes.

http://buildthedricnow.com

The $1.1 trillion  budget that President Obama signed this week did not include money for a customs plaza in Detroit.

The customs plaza is needed for the New International Trade Crossing, the bridge to be built between Windsor and Detroit.

Here are the stories from the Michigan Radio website with the most traffic from Jan. 1, 2014 to Dec. 15, 2014, according to our data. 

Your most-read stories ran the gamut from news to politics to sports to Stateside with Cynthia Canty interviews with scientists and artists. 

There’s a great deal of celebrating over the fact that the Legislature reached a last-minute deal to fix the roads. Gov. Rick Snyder and the establishment Republicans are happy.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Last month the ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of eight Highland Park students was thrown out by the Michigan Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision.

The suit says the schools didn’t provide students with even basic literacy or math skills, and that therefore the state and the district should be held responsible for that failure.

But the court of appeals tossed the suit, basically because of three points.

A musician who was jailed last summer for refusing to stop playing his guitar on a sidewalk is suing the city of Saugatuck in federal court.

The city says the sidewalks are too packed in the summer to allow unrestricted entertainment. Musicians can play in city parks without permits.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A proposed tax hike aimed at improving Michigan's transportation infrastructure and schools is heading to voters.

  The Michigan Legislature has put a sales tax increase on the May statewide ballot as part of a road funding plan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s already proving to be an intense flu season at many Michigan hospitals.

“It’s been a very heavy season so far. We’ve had about four times the normal number of flu cases as we had at this time in previous years,” says Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infectious disease research at Beaumont hospitals.

Other hospitals in the region are reporting a similar spike.

Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans Founder and CEO
Quicken Loans

There was some recent sand-throwing between Oakland County's feisty executive, L. Brooks Patterson, and Dan Gilbert, who is arguably Detroit's No. 1 booster, both in terms of buying, building, and enticing companies to move to Detroit. 

Billy Strings and Don Julin

If you haven't heard of Don Julin and Billy Strings, then you probably haven't been hanging around Traverse City. 

Michigan lawmakers want you to decide on roads.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders have struck a deal on road funding.

After many, many closed-door meetings, the announcement was made at a news conference at the Capitol.

To get to more than $1 billion in funding, the centerpiece of the plan is an increase in the state sales tax. It’s something voters would have to decide in a ballot question in May.

Snyder says that’s OK with him.

Listen to our conversation with Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark below.

Migrant Legal Action Program

President Barack Obama's recent executive order on immigration could be a boost for Michigan's economy, according to a panel of experts convened by Michigan United, a coalition of faith, labor, business, social service, and civil rights members.

The order allows undocumented parents of children legally in the U.S. to apply for a temporary work permit, as long as they have resided in the U.S. for five years or more, undergo a criminal background check, and pay taxes.

Michigan lawmakers want you to decide on roads.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Human Services said it is eliminating jobs because of a $7.5 million dollar budget cut.

According to spokesman Bob Wheaton, the department has notified employee unions.

Wheaton said it is too soon to know the net reduction in jobs or the total number of layoffs.

"There certainly will end up being some people who are laid off," he said. "But we're hoping it will be as close to zero as possible."

There’s a reason college professors historically were given tenure. It was so they couldn’t be fired for politically unpopular views.

Velsicol Chemical operated on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan from 1938 to 1978. It was the site of the infamous PBB mixup. The entire plant was buried in place and now it's leaking.
Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force

There are a lot of former industrial sites in Michigan that need to be cleaned up, but the Velsicol Superfund sites in St. Louis, Michigan are unusual in their size and in the amount of nasty chemicals lurking in the ground where people live, work and play.

The company tried to contain the pollution before, but its solution didn’t work. Ask some of the community members about that original plan and they say they could have told you it wasn’t going to work.

User _chrisUK / flickr.com

Governor Rick Snyder and legislative leaders have struck a road funding deal. It would be paid for by asking voters to approve a sales tax increase from the current 6 percent to 7 percent. That would be on the statewide ballot in May.

The Republican-led Legislature is expected to vote on the plan later today.

Founders Brewing Company

A 125-year-old, seventh-generation, family-owned Spanish brewery, Mahou San Miguel, has bought a 30% interest in Founders Brewing Co., based in Grand Rapids.

Founders CEO Mike Stevens said the craft brewery has succeeded in its search for a long-term partner that will allow it to thrive for many generations.  

  If you're dashing around trying to take care of your holiday to-do list, it might be time to think back and remember a time in Michigan when a bowl of oyster stew was your Christmas dinner and a $1.75 pair of gloves took care of your Christmas gift for the wife!

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