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Offbeat
10:57 am
Thu August 28, 2014

This guy gets all offended when you call him "algae"

That's me in the studio at Michigan Radio with ATC host Jennifer White. I think she finally gets it.
Credit Steve Chyrpinski

If you go out in western Lake Erie right now, you'll see us.

We turn the water green. The wakes of the boats -- normally a frothy white -- we turn them a frothy green.

We've been at it for billions of years, and the more you feed us (thank you farmers and the people of metro Detroit), the more we multiply in your warm slow moving waters. But when experts and reporters talk about us, they call us "toxic algae."

Algae? Seriously? Just because we look like plant-scum growing in the water doesn't mean that's what we are.

We are the only kind of bacteria that can release the microsystin toxin into water supplies.

Scientists are starting to call us by the right name. My scientist-friends talked with Rebecca Williams about it today for the Environment Report, thank goodness.

And now I'm trying to work on the reporters and hosts at Michigan Radio. 

See for yourself:

Opinion
10:33 am
Thu August 28, 2014

For the bridge to go up, we must do right by the community it will run through

Last week, I went to see Douglas George, Canada’s top diplomat in Detroit, mostly to talk about where things stand with the New International Trade Crossing Bridge over the Detroit River.

The bridge is now almost certain to be built, but there are a few hang-ups, and one is the concerns of the residents in the Delray neighborhood where the American footprint of the bridge will land.

Those who live there want to make sure they aren’t trampled on. Now, they finally are having their voices heard, thanks in part to Detroit’s new system of electing council members by district.

Exactly a month ago, Detroit City Council was expected to approve the sale of 301 city-owned parcels of land in that neighborhood to the state of Michigan.

Michigan would then buy them with money provided by the government of Canada, and transfer the land to the new International Authority, which is to oversee bridge construction.

But the land sale was delayed.

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The Environment Report
9:39 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Green goo growing in Lake Erie is not what you think it is

Western Lake Erie turns green from cyanobacteria blooms.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

The Environment Report for Thursday, August 28, 2014- Experts debate proper terminology for Lake Erie's green slime
 

Lately, that green slime in the lake has been all over the news after it shut down Toledo’s water supply.

Journalists, city and government officials have been calling that green slime  “blue-green algae”, “toxic algae” or “toxic algal blooms.”

Well, turns out that’s not exactly right.

“That’s just maddening,” said James Bull, a professor of biology and environmental science. He works at Wayne County Community College and Macomb Community College.

He says it’s not accurate to call the green slime that shut down Toledo’s water system “a toxic algal bloom.” 

He wrote to Michigan Radio because we were some of the people using the wrong term.

“It’s wrong because even though these organisms superficially look like algae, I think we ought to understand that these really are a kind of bacteria,” Bull said.

He says scientists used to call this stuff “blue-green algae.” Now they call it “cyanobacteria”. He says calling cyanobacteria "algae" is like calling a dolphin a fish.

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Environment & Science
8:27 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Toxic bacteria bloom is back, closing Pelee Island's beaches

Some of the toxic bacteria that got into Toledo's drinking supply is now hitting Pelee Island.
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The same type of toxic bacteria bloom that threatened Toledo's water is now affecting a small 

Canadian Island on the western end of Lake Erie.

Health officials on Pelee Island have closed the beaches and are warning people not to drink the water.

This is crummy timing, since the Labor Day weekend is usually good business for the island's tourist economy.

Rick Masse is the mayor.

"It's not a really good advertising for our community,” he says.

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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 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.

Detroit Free Press business columnist 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 says it's a common practice and could generate a lot of state tax revenue from out-of-state visitors.

Walsh says the payback from the first few events is about $20 million in state tax revenue.

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

Read more 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 answering 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 the answer is surprising ,and finding it begins by starting with what we do know.

“Your body, the air, the walls, let’s even throw in the stars and planets. 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.

*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. There's a one-month window every year to allow members to opt out.

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

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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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

This story was updated at 8:07 on 8/28/14.

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.

Chris 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.  

Read more
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.

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