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Stateside
8:02 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Michigan bird species threatened by climate change, report says

The common loon is one of the climate-endangered species in Michigan.
Credit User: jackanapes / Flickr

 

A recent report from the National Audubon Society points to troubling times ahead for our bird population.

Climate change could make some huge changes for birds in North America: About half of our 650 species would be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find totally new places to live or become extinct – all of this in just the next 65 years.

Jonathan Lutz is the executive director of the Michigan Audubon Society. He says in Michigan, about 50 species are vulnerable to the changing climate.

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Stateside
7:58 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

A preview of Affordable Care Act marketplace, year 2

Credit healthcare.gov

 

Health insurers and Healthcare.gov are now gearing up for year two of the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment begins two months from today – November 15. And this year, there's a new twist: renewals and plan changes.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan. She says consumers have to do their homework to compare different health plans this year.

"Some [rates] are up, and some are down ... Even those who have coverage now, it would be very important for consumers to actually look at the choices again and see what is the best match with the premiums and the networks that are offered," says Udow-Phillips.

* Listen to our conversation with Marianne Udow-Phillips above.

Stateside
7:54 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Love the online quest for a sweet deal on airfare or hotel rooms? You may be wasting your time

Ellen Creager is basically saying people like the Priceline Negotiator are lying to us.
Credit User: Austin Yoder / Flickr

 

Are you one of those travelers who scours the web, checking for the very best prices on all of the travel sites, big and small?

How much time does it take to find that "best" airfare or hotel room price?

Detroit Free Press travel writer Ellen Creager says if you're just looking for a hotel room or airfare, there really is no point spending hours comparing deals, because the travel sites have all turned into something she calls "inbred goldfish." 

"Let's say Expedia. They own hotels.com, Hotwire, Venere and TravelTicker. Priceline owns Kayak and booking.com. And Sabre Holdings owns Travelocity but they just firmed out their search to Expedia ... they all have ties and links to each other," says Creager.

For those of you who are hunting for travel bargains around the Web, Creager suggests keep looking, just don't spend too much time looking. 

"You can check 100 places, and you are basically going to find the exact same fare," says Creager.

* Listen to the interview with Ellen Creager above.

Stateside
7:49 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

DIA director talks about Detroit bankruptcy battle

Bank of the Oise at Auvers by Van Gogh, owned by the DIA
Credit user: Maia C / Flickr

 

As the Detroit bankruptcy trial moves into its third week, the spotlight has often been trained on the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The discussion over whether the DIA can and should be forced to sell its treasures to help offset Detroit's insolvency has been one of the most hotly debated issues of the bankruptcy.

DIA director Graham Beal recently wrote a letter that was published in the museum's newsletter and then posted on Deadline Detroit under the headline "Museums Should Step Very Carefully 'In Times Of Crisis.'"

Here's an excerpt of the letter:

In the Great Depression, the DIA remained open and staffed, largely thanks to the secret support of Edsel Ford. The city of Detroit arts commissioners could have sold the van Gogh self-portrait, Matisse's The Window, Ruisdael's Jewish Cemetery, or even Breugel's Wedding Dance, but the thought never seems to have crossed anyone's mind.

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Stateside
7:45 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Michigan-made Aeron chair was designed to break away from predictable office style

Credit User: Matt Carey / Flickr

The Aeron Chair: It's the instantly recognizable mesh-backed, ergonomic office chair.

Nearly seven million Aerons have been sold to date by the Herman Miller Company of West Michigan.

But the chair that epitomizes today's office actually began life as something designed for a completely different consumer.

Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf designed the Aeron for Herman Miller. 

Chadwick joined Stateside today. He says that the they believed that what had been done before and what was currently available would not satisfy their approach.

That's why they set out to take a totally different look at how an office chair looks, how it works, and how it responds to the environment it's to be used in.

"To be blunt, a lot of them were boring, because they were predictable," says Chadwick.

* Listen to the full interview with Don Chadwick above.

Economy
6:32 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Report: Exports, foreign investment boost Michigan economy

Credit denise.weerke / Flickr

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Michigan's exports in 2013 totaled $58.7 billion. More than 90 percent stemmed from Detroit, Warren and Dearborn. And about twenty percent of the Michigan exports were generated by small and medium size businesses with less than 500 employees.Michael Finney heads the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. He said exports improve the state's employment picture, diversify the economy, and provide a hedge against domestic economic downturns.

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Education
3:21 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Legislation would force new Michigan teachers into a 401(k)-style plan

Senator Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Twp, introduced Senate Bill 727.
Credit Michigan Senate Republicans

New legislation in the state Senate would close Michigan’s teacher retirement system to new teachers. Instead, all new teachers would get a “defined contribution” 401(k)-style plan.

Under a partial overhaul of teacher retirement approved by state lawmakers in 2012, new teachers can choose between that or a “hybrid” plan, which combines elements of a defined contribution plan and a traditional pension. The new legislation would end that choice, giving new teachers only the 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

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Families & Community
3:13 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Michigan refugee services in danger of losing $800,000

May Anayi is an Iraqi refugee now working for St. Vincent Catholic Charities, a Lansing refugee service organization that stands to lose $165,000 this year.
Credit St. Vincent Catholic Charities

May Anayi was forced to flee her home in Baghdad after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. She’s a teacher. But her certificate is not valid in the United States.

She says finding a new career in Michigan seemed almost impossible. She had trouble just figuring out how to cross the street. She says she once stood for 15 minutes waiting for the crossing signal to change, not realizing she had to push a button first.

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Stateside
2:30 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Do Michigan employers face a "job skills gap," and, if so, what can be done about it?

Credit User: andjohan / Flickr

Even with the unemployment rate at 7.5% in Michigan, employers say they still can’t find the skilled workers they need to fill available jobs.

But other voices question the skills gap, calling it "overblown", even a "myth" and suggesting that it’s really more the fault of the companies.

Lou Glazer is president and co-founder of Michigan Future. He says companies should take the responsibility making jobs more attractive.

“When you look at the package employers have put together to attract people to the industry, it ain’t so great,” says Glazer.

For cyclical industries like manufacturing and construction, when the employment package is not great, the employers likely get a small pool of entrants.

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Transportation
2:24 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Revisiting the origin of the "Michigan Left"

A sign indicating a "Michigan Left".
User diablo234 SkyScraperCity

As part of our M I Curious project, Nick Ochal asked Michigan Radio this question:

What is the origin of the infamous "Michigan Left" that befuddles so many out-of-staters?

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Law
1:18 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

3 indicted in mismanaged Wayne County jail project

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Credit Wayne County

DETROIT - A grand jury has indicted a former chief financial officer, county attorney and contractor in a mismanaged Wayne County jail project.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy says Monday ex-chief financial officer Carla Sledge and chief assistant corporation counsel Steven Collins are charged with misconduct and neglect of duty. They are accused of giving false or misleading information on the project's cost.

Contractor Anthony Parlovecchio is charged with neglect of duty and accused of not fully informing officials about the project.

Construction has been halted on the 2,000-bed jail which was more than $90 million over-budget.

Sledge's attorney Harold Gurewitz says she is innocent of the charges. Parlovecchio's lawyer Ben Gonek says the project was within budget when his client was running it.

The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from Collins.

Opinion
11:06 am
Mon September 15, 2014

New polls suggest we may have the closest governor’s race in 30 years

Six months ago, I was convinced Rick Snyder would be reelected in November -- not by the 18 point landslide he scored four years ago, but by a fairly comfortable margin.

Yes, I knew there was lingering anger over the pension tax and right to work, maybe other issues, but I figured that Snyder’s Republicans would have so much money they’d overwhelm Mark Schauer, his Democratic opponent, with broadcast commercials, the “air war” of modern politics.

Then too, Republicans have a built-in advantage over Democrats in midterm elections. Turnout is always smaller, and Republicans are better about showing up.

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Auto
10:37 am
Mon September 15, 2014

19 death claims due to GM faulty ignition switch approved for special compensation so far

Credit GM

For months, General Motors has estimated 13 people were killed as a result of accidents linked to a faulty ignition switch in Cobalts, HHRs, Saturn Ions, and some other small cars.

But it appears the estimate was low.

GM has established a special voluntary compensation program for victims or families of victims who can prove serious or fatal accidents were linked to the defective switch.

The program began taking claims on August 1.

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Transportation
9:55 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Ceremony planned this morning for the M-1 rail project

Preparing track for the M-1 rail project in Detroit.
M-1 Rail Facebook

Dignitaries including Michigan Gov. Snyder, Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, Representatives John Dingell and John Conyers, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and business leaders Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert were on hand for a "track signing" ceremony this morning in Detroit.

The M-1 rail project is streetcar line planned for a 3.3. mile stretch along Woodward Ave. in Detroit. The project has received more than $35 million in federal funds, but the majority of its financing comes from private backers.

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Politics & Government
8:00 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Orr, Duggan want more properties to go to Detroit land bank

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council is slated to vote this week on a plan that would speed big city property transfers to the Detroit land bank.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr proposed the measure last week, allowing the city to transfer some city-owned properties directly to the land bank without Council approval.

It would move up to 45,000 tax-reverted properties to the Detroit land bank’s control, and convey any such land the city acquires in the future directly to the land bank.

Currently, the City Council has some say in how the city disposes of those properties.

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Investigative
7:00 am
Mon September 15, 2014

After Detroit bankruptcy, is there enough money?

The pieces are falling into place for Detroit to eventually emerge from bankruptcy with a lot less of its budget-servicing debt. But the city of Detroit’s budget could still be a house of cards. Many of its revenue sources are not stable.

Bankruptcy does not mean Detroit escapes all of its money problems.

It’s heavily dependent on a city income tax. If another economic dip is around the corner, that source of revenue would shrink.

Casino taxes are stagnant.

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Health
6:00 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Flint officials working to resolve water issues

Flint Public Works director Howard Croft explains what the city is doing to resolve problems with the city's water system during a news conference this week.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint may be a bit wary of drinking water from their taps these days.

Several boil water advisories have been issued in the past month, after tests showed potential problems with bacteria.   The latest pair of advisories were lifted last week.

Howard Croft is Flint’s public works director. He says the problems are due to Flint’s aging infrastructure. 

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Education
2:50 pm
Sun September 14, 2014

Exercise before school may reduce ADHD symptons in some kids

MSU researchers studied the effects of moderate to vigorous exercise on young school children at-risk of developing ADHD.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Moderate to vigorous exercise in the morning may help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder be better prepared for the school day.  

Michigan State University researchers studied 200 kindergarten, first and second grade students for 12 weeks. They found children at-risk for developing ADHD were more attentive in class after exercising.

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Sports
1:01 pm
Sun September 14, 2014

Jackson's 'Field of Dreams'?

If Jackson builds it, will people come? A group is conducting a market study to see if people in Jackson want a downtown baseball stadium.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Backers of a plan to bring pro-baseball to downtown Jackson may make their pitch official this week.

The group behind the ballpark plan isn’t saying much just yet. But they do have a website.

It says the group is conducting a market study. They’re trying to gauge potential public support for the plan which would include a privately financed stadium and possibly a crowd-source funded team of players.

There are about a half dozen minor league and independent baseball teams in Michigan:

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That's What They Say
12:48 pm
Sun September 14, 2014

Some words don't mean what you think they do

    

If some one gives you fulsome praise, is that good or bad?

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan says that question came up during a family game of "Cranium" recently. 

These were the choices:

  1. Excessive or fake praise
  2. Disgusting or offensive
  3. Abundant or copious

That game was stacked, because Curzan happens to be on the usage panel for the American Heritage Dictionary, which tackled "fulsome" in 2012.

It turns out there's a lot of confusion about what "fulsome" means.

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