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A Catholic support group for families with gay children is meeting in a private spot in suburban Detroit today, rather than a Detroit church as planned.

That’s because the Detroit Archdiocese wouldn’t permit Fortunate Families, a support group for Catholic families with LGBT children, to meet there.

“The downtown Archdiocese people denied our use of any Catholic facility,” said Tom Nelson, who helps run the Michigan chapter of Fortunate Families with his wife Linda Karle-Nelson. “Which came as quite a shock to us, because we’d done this before.”

Wikimedia Commons

Nestled on a hill between dorms on the University of Michigan campus is a beautifully-preserved time capsule.

From the outside, the Detroit Observatory looks almost new, with its crisp white paint and sharp wooden molding. In reality, the observatory dates back over 150 years to the earliest days of University of Michigan’s founding.

History

Historically, the observatory was much more than simply a building to house telescopes.

Vacant lot in Detroit.
University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment / Flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss Gov. Rick Snyder’s Asia trip, the financial status of Michigan’s schools, and a new plan to sell Detroit land.


user Marlith / Flickr

Supporters of adding LGBT protections to Michigan’s civil rights law say they have enough votes in the Legislature to pass a bill before the end of the year. But they say that’s only if Republican leaders take up a version of the bill that includes protections for gender identity.

Activists say a bill that leaves out protections for transgender people would cause more harm than good.

NOAA

President Barack Obama has given the nation's highest honor for achievement in science and technology to a University of Michigan political science and public policy professor.  

Obama presented Robert Axelrod with the National Medal of Science on Thursday during a ceremony at the White House. The president selected him and nine others last month for the medal.

During the National Medals of Technology and Innovation Award Ceremony at the White House, Axelrod was commended for his work:

"Rober Axelrod, University of Michigan, for interdisciplinary work on the evolution of cooperation, complexity theory, and international security, and for the exploration of how social science models can be used to explain biological phenomena."

Axelrod wrote The Evolution of Cooperation, which deals with de-escalating conflict.

Axelrod also has received a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" and has been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.

The medals have been awarded annually since 1959.

Yost Arena
University of Michigan

The University of Michigan's Board of Regents has approved an interim athletic director appointment and a $5.8 million upgrade to a hockey arena.

The board signed off Thursday on Jim Hackett's appointment and the renovations to Yost Ice Arena's rink floor and refrigeration system. The meeting moved from the Michigan Union to an administrative building after a group of protesters interrupted to voice concerns over minority enrollment.

Hackett was introduced as the interim athletic director on Oct. 31 when former athletic director Dave Brandon's resignation was announced. Hackett will be paid $600,000 per year for an “indefinite” period of time. He is a former Michigan football player and recently retired as CEO of Grand Rapids-based office furniture maker Steelcase Inc.

Construction on the arena is expected to be completed by next summer.

Michigan had the lowest turnout in a Governor’s race this year since the John Engler-Geoffrey Fieger face-off of 1998. And, while a lot of Republicans sat out this year, it was mostly Democrats who stayed home in droves on Election Day.

So, despite the low turnout, conservatives can rejoice because Republicans will remain in control in Lansing for at least the next two years. But progressives can, perhaps, find some solace in the fact that getting initiatives and challenges on the ballot will be easier than it has been in 16 years.

(Shout-out to the Lansing political consulting firm Sterling Corporation and its attorney Bob LaBrandt for being the first to point this out.)

Proposals are by and large put on the ballot by petition drives. (The Legislature can also put questions on the ballot.)

The number of signatures required to get a petition on the ballot is based on the number of people who voted in the previous election for governor. So, fewer voters in 2014 means fewer signatures needed to get on the ballot in 2016.

There’s a century-old red brick building that used to be a convent in Detroit, in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge.

It’s next to the city’s oldest Roman Catholic Church, St. Anne’s. Inside that church is a rough-hewn box holding the bones of an immigrant who arrived without papers, a priest by the name of Gabriel Richard, one of the founders of the University of Michigan.

Inside the old convent are 40 living undocumented immigrants from 18 different countries, people who fled torture and murder, fled for their lives, and are here seeking asylum.

They are in less fear of deportation than most of our nation’s eleven million “illegal” immigrants. This is a place called Freedom House Detroit, and for more than 30 years, it has helped such folks win asylum in the United States and Canada.

That has become harder in recent years, and the refugees, who are usually destitute, are not allowed to work while they await a decision on their fate. But the ones in Freedom House nearly always win asylum in the end.

Our Constitution firmly establishes the right of victims of persecution to asylum.

user memories_by_mike / Flickr

 Welcome back to ArtPod, the arts-obsessed home for Michigan’s movie, music and book lovers.

Here’s what we're talking about right now:

1)      Matt Jones. The Ypsilanti indie-rocker with a cult following, a great new album (arguably his best yet) and a serious Civil War obsession. We’ll talk with him about alcoholism, getting through a self-destructive phase, depression and making great music with people you love.

2)      But first, let’s go back to a story that was just cool and different and got some press in the papers but nothing that really did it justice.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

ArtPrize, the big art competition in Grand Rapids, announced Thursday it’ll debut in Dallas in 2016.

But the real news isn’t Dallas so much. It’s that there’s talk of even more competitions in cities across the country. And it means that ArtPrize in Grand Rapids will make money from licensing the brand to those cities.

In ArtPrize, the public votes for the winner. Juried prizes are awarded too. Those juried prizes have been getting bigger each year. Winners get cash. More than $500,000 was awarded to the winners this fall.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Many in Detroit's immigrant community are welcoming President Obama’s change of course on immigration.

The crowd at Detroit’s El Nacimiento restaurant listened quietly as the president outlined his executive order Thursday night, but broke into cheers and shouts of “bravo!” as he wrapped up.

The order makes a number of changes to immigration policy, affecting up to five million currently undocumented people.

Cadillac logo and grille
Flickr user Eric E Johnson / Flickr

Cadillac is moving its headquarters, and over 100 employees, to New York City. Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes tells us the move shows that Cadillac is looking to gain more customers of money and influence on the East coast.

Cadillac’s vehicles will still be developed and engineered here in the Midwest.

Listen to our conversation with Howes below.


Shervin Lainez

 

Tony Lucca has had long and fruitful show business career, from becoming a finalist on the second season of NBC’s “The Voice,” to his early start as a Mouseketeer in the 1990 season of The Mickey Mouse Club.

The Waterford native talked to us about how his Michigan roots have influenced his music and what he has planned for his show Saturday at the Magic Stick in Detroit.

Listen to our conversation with Lucca below. 


Nativity Scene
Flickr user Stereogab / Flickr

Someone has asked to set up a Christmas Nativity scene on government property, but where does this lie in the separation of church and state vs. free speech?

MLive’s Capitol reporter Jonathon Oosting joins us to discuss the request. According to Oosting, the recently formed Michigan State Capitol Commission is reviewing the request and they are currently seeking legal advice on the issue.

 Listen to our conversation with Oosting below.


NRC

Several environmental and citizens groups argued today against extending the life of DTE Energy's Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in Monroe.

The groups presented multiple safety and environmental concerns about the plant to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. They had been granted permission to intervene in DTE Energy's application for a 20-year extension of its license to operate the Fermi 2 nuclear reactor.  

DTE wants permission to keep the plant open until 2045. Its current license expires in 2025.

Official photo / House Democrats

A state Representative from Kalamazoo says he wants the votes from November’s election recounted.

Democrat Sean McCann ran against Republican State Rep. Margaret O’Brien for the state Senate. He lost by 59 votes. That’s less than one-tenth-of-one-percent of the total votes cast.

“We really want to make sure that everyone’s vote counted. We heard of some people with problems at precincts – some tabulators jamming,” McCann said.

“When I ran for student body president at Western Michigan University the race was pretty close, too, but not by this close of a margin,” he added. McCann won that race.

McCann will have to fork over at least $1,000 to pay to recount the 80,000 plus votes.

“We don’t necessarily know whether or not the outcome will change. You know it only takes one vote in the end to win,” he said.

The Capital Dome in Lansing, Michigan.
Joe Dearman / Flickr

Each week, Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, join me to talk Michigan politics.

This week, we talked about a plan in the State House that would change how Michigan distributes its Electoral College votes.

You can listen to our conversation below.


Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Bills that seek to reduce prison spending in Michigan seem to have momentum going into the last weeks of the Legislature’s 2014 session.

Michigan spends about $2 billion every year on prisons. The legislation seeks to reduce the length of some prison stays and provide more supervision for people after they are released from prison.

The most widely supported proposal would create a commission to oversee sentencing guidelines and discuss other corrections policies.

“It creates a forum for exploring all this. And it’s something Michigan badly needs,” said Barbara Levine with the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending.

Freshman year in Congress isn't that different from freshman year in college.

Michigan has five new "rookie representatives-elect" that now have to worry about making new friends, finding a place to live, and even taking part in a freshman orientation before they can begin their work.

We talked to Sheryl Gay Stolberg, author of the New York Times piece After Victory Laps, Settling In As Rookies, about what new Congressional members go through during the transition to Washington.

Not much happens in the tiny Detroit suburb of Pleasant Ridge, Michigan -- I would know, because I grew up there. 

But last spring, an unlikely visitor came to town: a mother deer who was pregnant with a fawn.

People were surprised that the mother deer would choose Pleasant Ridge, because the town is wedged between Woodward Avenue and 10 Mile Road, both busy streets.

After giving birth, fears for the safety of the deer were realized. The mother deer was killed by a car on Woodward, leaving behind her fawn, now known as "Baby."

People in Pleasant Ridge wanted to be sure that the same cruel fate wouldn't befall Baby, so they began taking care of her.

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