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William Foster


Only a few manufacturing facilities in the world measure over a million square feet. These marvels of modern industrialism are massive operations, and often heavily impact local economies. So when the residents of Vernon Township, a quiet agricultural community in Shiawassee County, heard rumors that an unknown company wanted to build a 24 million square foot manufacturing facility right next door, they naturally had some questions.

But local officials offered few answers. Citing non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from revealing most details, neither the township nor the city of Durand, the town nestled in the middle of the Vernon Township, have unveiled the identity of the company, or what type of facility it would be.

Donald Trump speaking at a rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Gage Skidmore / wikimedia commons - CC BY-SA 3.0

The Trump administration is expected to release a NAFTA negotiation plan soon, which could have a large effect on Michigan's economy. NAFTA is opposed by many American workers, who say the plan has taken U.S. jobs to Mexico.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, says Trump's NAFTA plan should reflect the promises made during the campaign. In several states, including Michigan, Trump said he would pull the United States out of NAFTA. He has since decided to renegotiate.

The Riyadh, Saudi Arabia skyline
B.alotaby / creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

A human rights organization says a Saudi-Arabian man who was traveling to visit Western Michigan University when Saudi officials arrested him for allegedly attending pro-democracy protests could soon be executed.

According to the human rights group Reprieve, Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat was detained at a Saudi Arabian airport on his way to visit WMU in 2012, and he’s been imprisoned ever since.

Joan Larsen faces a tangled path to a plum spot on a federal appeals court. The only thing standing in her way is Michigan’s two U.S. Senators.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week, attorneys representing four Michigan school districts will argue that the state overstepped its bounds when it threatened to close three dozen low-performing schools earlier this year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint voters will decide if they want to make changes to their city charter on August 8.

If it passes, it will be the first time the city’s charter will be changed in four decades. A special panel has spent two years designing the 83-page charter update.

black and white photo of people rioting in downtown Detroit
Walter P. Reuther Library: Wayne State University

Describing events is tricky business. It’s something we do a lot in the news, and one word can completely change the tone of a story. 

Michigan Radio is marking the 50th anniversary of the unrest that happened in Detroit with a two-week series on "Morning Edition" and "Stateside." But what do we – and should we – call the events of 1967? And how do those choices affect our view of this important part of Michigan’s history?

Sometimes when we're annoyed or exasperated, it feels pretty good to shout out, "Oh, for Pete's sake!" But if we're going to do things for Pete's sake, shouldn't we at least know who he is?

Before we get to Pete though, let's start with the basics. A few weeks ago Tyler, a colleague at Michigan Radio, asked where the word "sake" comes from.

"I was so glad Tyler asked, because while I knew a little bit about 'for Pete's sake,' I hadn't thought a lot about just the word 'sake.'" English Professor Anne Curzan said.


A November ceremony will celebrate the beatification of Father Solanus Casey -- a significant step toward canonization as a saint for the beloved Detroit priest.

The ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 18 at Ford Field, home of the NFL's Detroit Lions. The stadium will be configured to accommodate about 60,000 people.

Pope Francis in May announced the beatification of Casey, who died in 1957 at age 86.

teacher with student
BES Photos / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder signed a handful of bills this week, including one that will change the retirement system for new teachers starting in 2018. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about the implications when it comes to attracting new teachers to Michigan.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

After a year of dithering, a bipartisan bloc of state lawmakers scored this week for competition.

You see, Michigan is an economy that’s been riding a seven-year expansion in auto sales, corporate tax reform and smarter fiscal management. But it hasn’t been enough to compete against fellow industrial states and then some.

Not against Ohio, for example, where economic development incentives are financed partly by booze. Buy a bottle of whiskey, and a slice of your buck goes to wooing corporations to the Buckeye state.

state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state officially has a spending plan for 2018. Governor Rick Snyder signed a $56.5 billion budget Friday.

Typically the governor wants the budget signed by July 1 of every year. But things got a little bumpy this time.

The governor was even kicked out of negotiations for a little while. But state Senate Appropriations Chair Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, said eventually differences got settled.

“Glad to see this one got done because it was a little bit more of a challenge than in the past. But we got it done,” he said.

Kym Worthy
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is adding staff to look into possible wrongful convictions.

"No prosecutor wants to be party to knowingly convicting or keeping someone in prison that is either factually not guilty or a case we can't sustain," Worthy told the Associated Press. "We should not be afraid to have a unit like this."

Ethel Rucker and her children
Courtesy of Ethel Rucker

Social assistance programs that serve the poor are targeted for budget cuts in President Trump’s proposed budget.

While Congress approaches its fall deadline to set a federal budget for the next fiscal year, Stateside set out to talk with people whose voice isn’t often a part of the conversation: people who are struggling to live paycheck to paycheck, the so-called “working poor”.  

Worker at the Flint Engine plant.
Steve Fecht / General Motors

It's common knowledge that most politically conservative-leaning people are no fans of organized labor. The popular thinking is that labor unions damaged the economy and led American corporations to move overseas. In short, unions hurt capitalism. Good riddance.

However, there are some conservatives who don't subscribe to that thinking. 

Richard Wershe Jr. ("White Boy Rick") received a life sentence because he was caught as a 16-year-old with eight kilos of cocaine in Detroit in the 1980s.
Michigan Department of Corrections

After almost 30 years in prison, Rick Wershe, better known as White Boy Rick, has been paroled. Wershe claims he is is the nation's longest-serving non-violent juvenile drug offender. He was serving a life sentence because he was caught as a 16-year-old with eight kilos of cocaine in Detroit in the 1980s.

Kevin Dietz, a reporter with WDIV Local 4 who talked to Wershe after the decision was announced, joined Stateside to talk about the case and what's next for Wershe.

A police officer with his back to the camera.
Sasha Kimel / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Police departments across the nation are using new methods to try to predict where crime is likely to happen and who is more likely to be a victim of crime or become a criminal element. Predictive policing is already being used. There are many approaches.

It is not without its critics, for a variety of reasons.

Money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder got what he wanted from the state legislature this week. Wednesday, state lawmakers passed a package of bills designed to give big tax incentives to large employers that create new jobs in Michigan.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Kate Lewis is adding to a big plastic bag of clay balls before she begins work at her pottery wheel.

Teacher and students at Flint's Southwestern Academy.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

George Orwell’s classic Cold War novel 1984 depicted a world where everything was controlled by a nightmarish dictatorship where history was constantly being rewritten to suit the needs of the moment, and where the meaning of words was turned into their opposite: War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, et cetera. I was reminded of that yesterday, when I got an Orwellian press release from the governor’s office.

person shaking prescription pills from bottle into hand
flickr user frankileon / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State officials say overdose deaths jumped by 18% last year in Michigan with the majority of cases involving opioid abuse.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that nearly 1,700 of the 2,335 overdose deaths in 2016 were opioid-related.

Taisha standing behind a sign that says neighborhoods of hope
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Family visits for kids in foster care often take place in a foster care agency’s office, which is not always the homiest setting. But a new program launching in Wayne County wants to change that.

Neighborhoods of Hope is a collaboration between the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and community partners in Detroit.

The centerpiece of the project is a townhouse in the GardenView Estate public housing development in Detroit. The furnished home has a cozy living room, a full kitchen, and a play area in the backyard.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

We've all been caught in the grinder — whether it's government (the IRS saying you owe money for a property you never owned), business (the cable company charging you for a box you returned in 1997), or even a well meaning non-profit (you accidentally getting signed up with Pups That Poop —  a canine rescue for large dogs with bowel control issues — who now contact you every day to insist a Great Dane named Balthazar would be perfect for you and your studio apartment).

Courtesy of Detroit Kite Festival

Bringing people together through the age-old practice of kite flying: That is the goal of the Detroit Kite Festival, happening this Sunday on Belle Isle.

Becky Johns / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

There’s good news to talk about in the re-invention of Detroit and the push to wean Michigan’s economy away from big manufacturing.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes thinks Michigan is “open for business, again.”

F. D. Richards / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Fast food is not good for us. That's not exactly a secret.

Nutritionists point to all that fat and salt in fast food as one of the main causes of the growing obesity rate in this county, and elsewhere around the world.

There's a commonly held belief that poor people eat more fast food than any other group.

University of Michigan-Dearborn Economics Professor Patricia Smith decided to test that belief in a study on fast food consumption. She found that the poor don’t actually eat more fast food than anyone else. It is those who are busiest, often the middle class, that do.

Mary Hornbeck and her husband struggle to support themselves and their four children in Albion.
Alli Billings / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump's budget plan contains cuts to programs like housing subsidies, child care assistance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and other programs that serve the poor.

With so many of the programs under threat, Stateside set out to talk to people who are struggling with living paycheck to paycheck. The series takes a look at the so-called "working poor" – who they are, what challenges they face, and what policy changes might help the most people.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law controversial changes to the state’s public school employee retirement system.

Starting in February of 2018, new teachers will get a new choice about their retirement savings. They’ll automatically be put into a straight 401(k) plan. But they can enroll in a hybrid plan if they want. That hybrid plan also includes a pension, but it’s more expensive for the teacher. 

Senator Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair says 401(k)s are the way of the future.

Jeff DeGraff: It’s now reasonable to assume that everything you do or say in any quasi-public space is being recorded, either inadvertently or intentionally.
Nicolas Nova / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Approximately 70% of all Americans have a smartphone: 24/7 internet access, touch screen apps, and a video camera. A quick glance at any news feed or social media site reveals how these small, cheap and mobile devices are putting everything in our lives on the record. Teenage altercations in the cafeteria, body shaming photos taken in the women’s locker room, and racist epithets at the grocery store. It’s now reasonable to assume that everything you do or say in any quasi-public space is being recorded, either inadvertently or intentionally.

Judge's gavel
Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Iraqi nationals facing possible deportation from the U.S. won an important victory in court this week. Tuesday, Detroit U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a ruling that put a pause on any government plans to deport an estimated 1,400 Iraqi nationals living in the United States with final orders of removal.  

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