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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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Stateside
5:12 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

The cold winter helped bring in a big apple crop in Michigan

Credit dailyinvention / Creative Commons

While we were begging for winter to end, the Michigan Apple Committee was happy for the cold temperatures.

As a result, the 2014 Michigan apple crop is expected to be 28.74 million bushels. That’s about 435 million apple pies.

Diane Smith, executive Director of the Michigan Apple Committee, said that apple trees like the cold winter. The past lengthy winter allowed for the trees to stay dormant, and not wake too early before the spring.

“The apples look beautiful, there aren't any issues, and everything’s coming along the right way,” Said Smith.

*Listen to the full interview with Diane Smith above. 

Stateside
5:12 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

36% of Americans don't have enough money saved for retirement

Credit American Advisors Group / Flickr

A recent survey by Bankrate.com found this stat.

Detroit News personal finance writer Brian O’Connor said this number is not that surprising when looking at what has 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. And although jobs are coming back to Michigan, they are not paying what they used to.

Sixty-nine percent of younger Americans, between ages 18 and 29 don’t have anything saved. That’s understandable as 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.

“When it comes to retirement security, we are in a situation that is just like health care,” he said.

O’Connor said we wound up with this employer based system and it’s become too easy to lose it all.

O’Connor said it’s never too early to start saving, and opening a 401k plan can be useful.

*Listen to the full interview with Brian O’Connor above. More on his latest book, "The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese," can be found here

Stateside
5:11 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

11 Michigan counties failed to report crimes commited by concealed weapon permit holders

Credit Augustas Didzgalvis / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan law requires each county to file an annual report spelling out crimes committed by concealed handgun holders.

These reports were ordered by lawmakers at the same time they were overhauling Michigan's concealed handgun law to make it easier to obtain permits.

The reports were supposed to make it easier to take away the permits of any concealed gun holder who broke the law.

However, some counties are not filing the mandated reports.

John Barnes dug into this story for MLive. He found that last year, 11 counties broke this law.

Barnes says the main reason given for not filing the reports is that the law was an "unfunded mandate."

From 2011 to 2013, there has been an estimated 50% increase in people who have concealed gun permits. One in 16 adults have the permit, but that does not meant that they are all carrying a gun.

Barnes said there is not a penalty for counties who do not comply.

“What you see are some extreme examples of people who commit heinous crimes, who continue to carry gun permits, even though they are in prison,” Barnes said.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
5:10 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Wolf hunt, LGBT rights, and IBM ruling all await Michigan lawmakers tomorrow

Does this wolf look any different to you? It's an Eastern Wolf; a separate species from the Gray Wolf. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say they're working to set the record straight on where these wolves historically ranged in the U.S.
Christian Jansky wikimedia commons

  Lawmakers in the state House are back for a special summer session day tomorrow. It’s just one day and it’s the last session day before the Legislature returns from its summer break in September.

MLive’s Lansing reporter Jonathon Oosting joined Stateside today to talk about what will be covered in the session.

First: Wolf hunting.

Oosting said the Senate initiated legislation would enact the third wolf hunting law in as many years. Two of those have already been suspended by anti-wolf-hunting groups. This third law would render those two moot. If the House approves this legislation tomorrow, wolf hunting will continue to be allowed in Michigan regardless of what voters say in November.

Second: Building protection for LGBT rights.

Oosting said legislation still needs to be introduced. Lawmakers have been debating the issue behind the scenes for months. There is a possibility legislation would appear tomorrow, but we're more likely to see it in September. Republicans seem to be willing to have the discussion, but are still sympathetic to arguments regarding religious freedom.

Third: IBM ruling

It is a Supreme Court ruling dealing with tax liability in the state. Oosting said the Supreme Court found that the state left a few loopholes in place when it eliminated the Michigan business tax. As a result, IBM is owed what could be $1 billion by next year.

*Listen to the full interview with Jonathon Oosting above. 

Stateside
5:09 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Challenge accepted: Cross Lake Michigan on a paddle board

Credit user: The.Rohit / Flickr

If you've spent any time in Michigan, chances are strong that you've enjoyed the beauty of the Lake Michigan.

We've talked to scuba divers, snorkelers, even surfers who love Lake Michigan. Well, how about this: crossing Lake Michigan on stand-up paddleboards.

That's what Andrew Pritchard and four of his friends are planning to do.

Pritchard said the idea started about a year ago. He and his friends decided it would be a fun challenge a great way to raise money. They hope to raise $10,000 for the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

The trip would be 58 miles, starting in Algoma, Wisconsin and paddling straight east to Frankfort, Michigan 24 hours later.

They will have a support boat with them, equipment with communication and emergency gear. They will keep food and refreshments on their boards so that they won’t have to step foot on the boat.

Go to here to find out how to support Andrew and the guys in their stand-up paddleboard trek across Lake Michigan.

*Listen to the full interview with Andrew Pritchard above. 

Stateside
5:08 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

How fur trapping has changed over time in Michigan

Fur pelts.
Credit Ari Moore / Flickr

You could say Michigan was built on fur pelts.

Native tribes were trapping animals for fur long before the French founded Detroit in order to control the rich fur trade in the Old Northwest.

We wondered what trapping is like in Michigan today.

Roy Dahlgren is the man to ask.

He's the District 3 President of the Upper Peninsula Trappers Association.

Dahlgren said trapping was at its peak before Michigan was a state, and that Mackinac Island was built to protect the fur trade.

Dahlgren said fur trapping has become a hobby where you can make a little money on the side. There are still some who rely on it as a good source of income.

In addition to supporting today's trappers, Dalhgren’s organization also works to get children involved in trapping.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Health
3:05 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Affordable Care Act funding supports construction projects at 7 Michigan health care centers

Outside the Community Health and Social Services Center in Detroit.
Credit CHASS / Facebook

Part of the Affordable Care Act calls for big investments in community health care centers to increase access to primary health care services. The health care law calls for a total investment of $11 billion over a five-year period “for the operation, expansion, and construction of health centers” throughout the country.

Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced that $35.7 million in Affordable Care Act funding will go to 147 health centers in 44 states.

The funding will support 21 new construction projects and 126 renovation projects.

Seven of those health centers are in Michigan. These seven centers will split close to $1.7 million to support construction and facility improvements.

Here’s the list of health centers receiving funding:

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Offbeat
1:00 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Take it from this "Trustafarian," these judgy maps are meant to make us laugh

This map of metro Detroit is all wrong.
judgmentalmaps.com

Want to know where the "Millionaires who like country music" and the "Intensely Boring" live in southeast Michigan? You can find them on this handy "judgmental map."

The wholly inaccurate, satirical map takes a jab at just about everybody in the region. 

It's the latest in a series of "judgmental maps" of major metropolitan regions across the U.S.

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The Environment Report
12:59 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Debate ongoing over fish farming in the Great Lakes

Harietta Hills Trout Farms co-owner Dan Vogler is in favor of fish farming in the Great Lakes.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Environment Report for Tuesday, August 26, 2014- Fish Farms in the Great Lakes?

Michigan took a big step forward this summer in the business of fish farming. The state issued a permit to expand the Grayling Fish Hatchery more than tenfold.The hatchery raises trout for restaurants and grocery stores.

The expansion comes as interest in fish farming is growing nationwide and there is now talk of going offshore into the open waters of the Great Lakes.

The Grayling Fish Hatchery could soon be the largest aquaculture operation in Michigan by far.

Dan Vogler is one of the owners of Harrietta Hills Trout Farm based near Cadillac. He hopes the expansion is a sign of a growing fish-producing industry in Michigan.

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Stateside
12:01 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Michigan might take radioactive sludge after other states refused

Credit Eusko Jaurlaritza / Flickr

Michigan officials might allow up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Pennsylvania into a landfill in Bellville after other states have refused to accept it.

The technical term for this sludge is "technologically enhanced, naturally occurring radioactive materials," or TENORM. The waste comes from oil and gas drilling.

Keith Matheny’s article in the Detroit Free Press prompted action by Governor Snyder, who announced he will convene a panel to look at the situation.

Matheny said in another article that EQ, a USEcology company, announced yesterday that they have decided to voluntarily stop taking oil and gas related waste while this panel makes its decision.

State Representative Dian Slavens, D-Canton, plans to introduce a House bill to ban importing radioactive waste into Michigan. And State Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he will do the same in the Senate.

*Listen to the full interview with Keith Matheny above.

Opinion
11:50 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Michigan voters don't know much about the candidates for state board of education

Okay, now, here’s a test: How many members of the state board of education can you name?  Don’t feel bad.

I can’t name them all either.

What’s more, many people don’t even realize we elect these folks, and the trustees who run our three major universities. This might not be a bad idea if the campaigns involved honest debates over education policy.

But that almost never happens.

Instead, we rely on the political parties to select nominees who will devote themselves to mastering the issues and helping run our educational institutions with integrity.

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Culture
11:13 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Jimmy Carter to speak at Islamic Society of North America conference in Detroit

Jimmy Carter at a book signing in 2010.
Credit Geoff Holtzman / Talk Radio News Service/Flickr

The former president, who will turn 90 on October 1, will be the keynote speaker at the annual conference for the nation's largest Muslim group.

The Islamic Society of North America's 51st annual conference will be held at the Cobo Center from August 29 through September 1. The theme of the conference will be on "elevating Muslim-American culture."

More from the Toledo Blade:

President Carter will talk on the subject of his latest book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, at a luncheon Aug. 30.

That night, at a session called “Generations Rise: Elevating Muslim-American Culture” -- the same title as the entire conference theme — the outgoing president of ISNA, Imam Mohamed Magid, and four other Muslim speakers will offer ideas for Muslim-American advancement over the next five years. A “secret special guest” is also on the bill.

The Blade reports Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will speak at the opening of the conference, which will also feature "Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the national leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim member of Congress."

Here's one of the Society's promotional videos for the conference:

Auto
10:56 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Car customer satisfaction slips for almost all, more for non-U.S. brands

Chevrolet and Buick were the only two brands to see an increase in customer satisfaction in the 2014 American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Credit GM

Customer satisfaction with new cars declined for the second year in a row. 

This year, satisfaction with new car purchases declined a little more than one percent, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. 

Founder Claus Fornell says car companies are churning out cars pretty fast these days to meet the high demand.  That may be increasing quality problems - and  recalls.

"It's a nuisance or worse, for consumers," says Fornell, "and therefore, it's not surprising that customer satisfaction is lower for those people who have had a recall."

But Fornell says satisfaction with cars is still quite high compared to most industries. That's because there's been a dramatic improvement in car quality.

"Compared to let's say 20-25 years ago, all these products are very good.   It is not low satisfaction compared to other industries, but it is going in the wrong direction."

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Families & Community
10:10 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Dearborn Muslims rally against ISIS, pray for family of James Foley

Several clerics spoke to the crowd on the steps of Dearborn's City Hall.
Credit Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Muslim clerics held a vigil in Dearborn last night to show their opposition to ISIS, and to pray for the family of James Foley, an American reporter killed recently by the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

The small crowd held candles and signs saying “Muslims against ISIS.”

Sara Albusaid immigrated to Dearborn from Iraq.

She says her husband and son are still in southern Iraq, where they're being inundated with people fleeing the violence in other parts of the country.

"I mean, it's not just my country. I'm very worried about all the world. It makes me cry a lot, because I see you know, innocent people [have] died. I have to raise my voice" said Albusaid.

Albusaid says she’s frustrated with U.S. forces for leaving Iraq and creating the political vacuum that has allowed ISIS to spread.

"I feel very angry because, you know, when they go inside Iraq they said we are the big help for Iraqi people, and then after that, they don't care," she said. "Or there is something they wanted from Iraq, and they take it and they leave."

More than one cleric told the crowd they have to publicly stand up against any group that commits violence in the name of Islam.

Investigative
7:00 am
Tue August 26, 2014

What’s news, what’s fake news, and do all voters know the difference?

This online site has the appearance of being a news website or a news blog, but the Republican group responsible for it says voters know the difference between fake news and a political attack piece.

A Republican group is attacking Democratic congressional candidates, using online sites that resemble news websites. One of those 20 websites is called the “South Michigan Update.”

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Law
7:59 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Judge dismisses longstanding court orders against Detroit police

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A federal judge has dismissed two federal consent decrees against the Detroit Police Department, freeing it from strict federal oversight.

The department has been monitored for compliance with the decrees since 2003, after a US Justice Department investigation found a “pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing.”

The problems included unlawfully detaining witnesses, “deplorable” holding cell conditions, and chronic use of excessive force.

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Stateside
6:08 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Construction labor shortage may slow new home building for years in Michigan

Credit User: Cathy / Flickr

Michigan has a serious labor shortage in home construction which will slow the pace of new home building for at least the next six years.

Usually some 28,000 new homes are built each year in Michigan. This past year, there were just 13,000. Bob Filka, CEO of the Homebuilders Association of Michigan, says this is in part because of a workforce shortage.

That shortage of labor include framers, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians. According to Filka, Michigan lost approximately 60,000 workers in the industry during the downturn. They left the state, retired, or changed careers, and many of them are not coming back to the job in the sector.

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