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Stateside
11:54 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Gas prices, elections, and seasonal coincidence

Conspiracy of rats
Credit Jorge Gonzalez / Flickr

We thought about having a week dedicated to debunking conspiracy theories, but we're not Snopes nor are we The Onion.

But one theory that we just couldn't let go of, that continues to circulate, lent itself to some easy debunking.

The myth? That Americans see a fall in gas prices at election time.

It's easy to assume that there's some big conspiracy theory to make gas prices decline right before we go to the polls.

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Opinion
11:20 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Detroiters came together to solve the Devil's Night fires. Now how about rebuilding the city?

Detroit has barely half the number of people it did 30 years ago, and only about a third of its population 60 years ago.

The city is now waiting, as we all are, to see how federal Judge Steven Rhodes will rule on the city’s plan to get out of bankruptcy. Nobody has any illusions the future will be easy.

But here’s something to think about: there was no mass arson in the city last night. Devil’s Night seems truly a thing of the past.

Even that term is politically incorrect. They call it Angels’ Night now.

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Economy
11:05 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Michigan gas price average falls below $3 gallon

Gas prices from the past at the shuttered Logan's Gas and Deli near Battle Creek.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

DEARBORN, Mich. - The average price of gas statewide has dropped below $3 a gallon in Michigan for the first time in nearly four years.

Average gas prices fell 14 cents from last week and are currently about $2.99 per gallon. That's roughly 38 cents less than the same time last year.

Prices dipped below the $3 mark yesterday in metro Detroit, where the average gas price is $2.97.

A gas history report by AAA determined the average price of gas hasn't been below $3 a gallon in Michigan since December 2010. The organization says gas prices typically decline in the fall, when the industry begins offering a cheaper winter-blend and demand decreases.

Sports Commentary
9:24 am
Fri October 31, 2014

"Mr. Hockey" Gordie Howe had a surprising role in the growth of Michigan hockey

Gordie Howe's Hockey Card at age 43.
Credit Trish Thornton / Flickr

You don’t have to know much about hockey to know about Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe. 

This week, we learned his family is “expecting the worst.”  With his days numbered, you’ll be reading a lot about Howe’s hockey heroics.  He set just about every NHL scoring record, and a dozen still stand.  One of the most impressive: he finished in the top five for scoring for two straight decades.

He played in the NHL at 18, and at 51. 

Howe’s heyday paralleled his team’s, and his town’s.

The Wings were a dynasty, winning four Stanley Cups, and nine regular season titles.  No team symbolized the Motor City’s might like the Red Wings. 

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Environment & Science
8:35 am
Fri October 31, 2014

MSU grapples with Creationism & Evolution

Darwin vs the Bible on the Michigan State University campus
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A controversial conference promoting creationism takes place at Michigan State University tomorrow.

The Oklahoma-based Christian group behind the conference says university students should not be taught solely the Theory of Evolution.

Mike Smith is the founder of the Creation Summit. He insists the goal is not to ban the teaching of evolution, only to make room for a biblical view of the origins of life on Earth.

“It would be good if the students could hear from both sides and draw their own conclusions,” says Smith.

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Law
6:30 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Your house is haunted. What's a home seller to do?

Credit Morguefile

It's that time of year when we think about things going bump in the night.

So what if you believe a real ghost has taken up residence in your house and you want to move away? Do you need to tell potential buyers about your uninvited guest?

Michigan law is hazy when it comes to the seller's duty to disclose non-physical or so-called psychological defects of property, according to Gregg Nathanson, a Michigan real estate lawyer.  Haunted houses would fall into that category of property.

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Politics & Government
6:11 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Candidates making final push before election next week

Democratic nominee for governor Mark Schauer greets auto workers in Lansing on Thursday to kick off a statewide campaign tour ahead of next Tuesday’s election.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Candidates have just a few more days to convince people to show up to the polls next week and vote for them. That means campaigns are beginning their final push.

Democratic nominee for governor Mark Schauer is embarking on a statewide campaign tour. He kicked it off by greeting auto workers in Lansing as they got off their shift.  

Schauer says he is confident in his chances, especially after recent reports show strong numbers in his favor with absentee voters who have already cast their ballots.

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:30 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

What politicos are watching as we count down to Election Day

Polling place
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

We're just a few days away from the Nov. 4 midterm election. Republicans and Democrats are using these last days to push their messages out to voters.

I spoke with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, about what they'll be watching in these final days.

Here's our conversation:

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Arts & Culture
5:10 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Yankee Air Museum gets new home, name, and mission

The Yankee Air Museum met its initial fundraising goal to save part of the Willow Run plant
Credit Tracy Samilton/Michigan Radio

The former Yankee Air Museum is getting a new name, to go with its new home in part of the historic bomber plant at Willow Run.

The name, "The National Museum of Aviation and Technology at Historic Willow Run," will likely be reduced to a nickname in common parlance over time, says consultant Mike Montgomery.

He says a lot of effort went into salvaging a part of the Willow Run plant before the rest was demolished.

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Investigative
3:43 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

More and better jobs?

Photo tweeted by Snyder campaign.

Incumbent Republican Governor Rick Snyder has been vague about what he would do in the next four years in office, saying only, "We're on the road to recovery." He also says he'll pursue "more and better jobs." Political observers expect Snyder will continue on the path he's established, working to stimulate businesses while keeping a tight rein on state spending.

In an ad, Snyder says, "Our unemployment rate is the lowest in six years with nearly 300,000 new private-sector jobs." 

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Offbeat
3:03 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Guy behind the street harassment video also made Grand Rapids viral videos

You probably know Rob Bliss, even if the name doesn’t ring a bell.

He’s the guy behind the Grand Rapids lip-dub video, the Pure Michigan sing-along ad, and now, the street harassment video that’s racked up 16 million views on YouTube.

In case you still haven’t seen it, the two minute video follows a young women in jeans and a t-shirt walking through New York. Bliss says they spent 10 hours filming with a hidden GoPro as the actress, Shoshana B. Roberts, endured more than 100 instances of street harassment, including stalking.

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Election 2014
2:21 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

In one word, how are you feeling about next week's election?

2012 election results as depticted by a cartogram - a map adjusted for population size.
Mark Newman Dept. of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan

Next week, we'll chart another course for our democracy by heading to the voting booth.

By this time next week, we'll know which party will rule the day in Congress and in our state Legislature. We'll also know who Michigan's next governor will be.

So how are you feeling about this big day?

I'm sure we could all take a lot of time to articulate exactly how we're feeling about next Tuesday, but can we find one word that captures it?

That's the challenge we're putting to you here:

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Environment & Science
12:47 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

After decades of effort, 2 major pollution sites in Michigan finally cleaned up

A picture of the White Lake Montague dump site contaminated decades ago by a tannery and chemical company before the cleanup.
EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today two toxic hot spots in Michigan have been cleaned up.

Work is now complete at White Lake in Muskegon County and Deer Lake in the Upper Peninsula.

The sites are on a list of about 40 toxic hot spots surrounding the Great Lakes; 14 sites are in Michigan.

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Offbeat
12:24 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

GM's "Chevy Guy" creates a memorable World Series moment

The moment GM's Rikk Wilde became the "Chevy Guy."
screen grab from YouTube video

The "number one" fear got the best of GM regional manager Rikk Wilde last night as he presented the Most Valuable Player award to San Franciso's ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner.

Watch Wilde tell Bumgarner about the Chevy Colorado's "class-leading technology and stuff" here:

GM got publicity for presenting the award, and is getting more publicity this morning as bloggers write about last night's awkward moment.

Some are writing about Wilde's "bumbling" performance, while others say he "stole the show."

Good presentation or not, GM says he was there because he loves baseball.

From Jim Lynch of the Detroit News:

On Thursday, a spokesman for General Motors Co. said Wilde is not a regular public speaker but a rabid baseball fan.

"He is a life-long Kansas City Royals fan, so he was suffering the woes of having watched his team just lose Game 7," said Mike Albano, Chevrolet's director of communications. "His day job is selling cars and trucks and that's what he'll be back doing again today.

"And nothing he said was wrong. We've got a lot of stuff in the Chevy Colorado."

A new ad for GM?

Either way, the Internet has a new star

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The Environment Report
12:21 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Researchers find natural way to fight honeybee-killing bacteria

Professor Sandra Burnett, left, and her student Bryan Merrill, have developed a treatment for the devastating American Foulbrood disease. The bacteria that cause the disease kill off bee larvae, and the disease can lead to hive collapse.
Brian Wilcox BYU

There are all kinds of diseases and other problems that are hurting honeybees. One of them is a bacterial infection called American Foulbrood and it’s been a problem for bees around the country for decades. The disease kills bee larvae and can lead to the entire hive collapsing.

Researchers at Brigham Young University have come up with a natural way to fight back. They’re using a kind of virus — a phage — that infects and replicates within a bacterium.

"This is using nature in order to fight nature, basically," says Sandra Burnett, an associate professor of microbiology and molecular biology at Brigham Young.

"We see phages naturally in the environment, so what our goal has been is to find phages that will infect this bacteria, and capture [these phages] and have them ready to actually do an attack and kill the bacteria for us."

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Business
11:46 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Detroit developer buys more than 6000 properties, looks for "public-private alliance"

Herb Strather announcing his plans for the "blight bundle."
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A Detroit developer who just bought a massive chunk of city land says he wants to help community groups revitalize their own neighborhoods.

Herb Strather bought a package of more than 6000 properties from the Wayne County tax foreclosure auction for just over $3 million.

That “blight bundle” was actually meant to discourage bidders from buying up huge numbers of cheap, distressed properties.

But Strather says the land was still at risk of going to “outside” investors, and he bid to prevent that.

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Opinion
11:24 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Inattention may be the most dangerous foreign policy of all

Yesterday I talked about Congressman Kerry Bentivolio, who is running a write-in campaign to try to keep his seat after losing the Republican primary to David Trott. Bentivolio, who represents a collection of Oakland and Wayne County suburbs from Birmingham to Livonia, told me there was an unwritten rule, at least among Republicans, that you don’t challenge a congressman of your own party in a primary.

That is, as long as that congressman is doing a decent job. However, as I pointed out to Bentivolio, he did just that two years ago; he filed to run against Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.

McCotter later self-destructed and was disqualified from the ballot, but Bentivolio didn’t know that would happen when he filed.

He then told me why he did it. Bentivolio, a Vietnam veteran who is now 63, volunteered to serve in Iraq. His neck was broken, and he had to be evacuated.

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Families & Community
10:23 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Tricycles and crowdsourcing help Detroiters stay in foreclosed homes

The Tricycle Collective says many of the homes on Wayne County's tax foreclosure list are well-maintained because they are occupied. But once they become vacant, they quickly turn to blight
Credit Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr

Ten Detroit families still have their own roofs over their heads, thanks to the Tricycle Collective.

The group crowdsourced money so the families could bid on the homes they were living in at a tax foreclosure auction.

Michele Oberholtzer started the collective.

Oberholtzer says until she contacted them, the families had no idea they could buy their tax-foreclosed homes – often for as little as $500.

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Opinion
9:29 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Yes, there is room for black people in the new Detroit

Joe Louis Mural at Berts in Detroit Eastern Market Photo by Michigan Municipal League

Recently, Suzette Hackney of POLITICO wrote an article that asked the question, “Is There Room for Black People in the New Detroit?” Her account begins at the corner of Agnes and Parker at a local restaurant where she describes seeing “designer dogs” and “tattooed millennials."

From her piece: 

The whole scene was a far cry from when I lived in the adjoining apartment building in the early 2000s... but this is the new Detroit.

I live in the neighborhood she describes, and even though Craft Work could be considered a “hip” establishment, I'm a little sad the area she described was reduced to a gentrified stereotype.

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Politics & Government
7:26 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Wild card candidate, negativity define race for 11th Congressional District

This attack ad against Trott has been called "brutal."
Credit macombpolitics.blogspot

An ad run by Democrat Bobby Mckenzie in Michigan's 11th Congressional District race won a dubious distinction recently.  The Washington Post called it "one of the most brutal attack ads you'll ever see."

"Foreclosure King David Trott has made millions foreclosing on Michigan's families," says a narrator, over a slightly ominous soundtrack.  "Trott profited from human misery as tens of thousands of Michiganders were evicted from their homes."

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