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9/11 anniversary
8:59 am
Sun August 14, 2011

Metro Detroit volunteers to mark 9/11 anniversary

Focus: HOPE

About 700 people are expected to mark the 10thanniversary of the 9-11 attacks with a day of service in Detroit.

More than ten organizations are spearheading the event, called “Acts of Kindness," or AOK Detroit.

Kate Casa is with the social services agency ACCESS. She says the success of a smaller effort last year, combined with the 10thanniversary, will make for a large turnout.

"I think those are both factors in the interest this year. I think people saw this as a really positive way to memorialize what was a sad event, and to turn that into something that can be positive."

Volunteers will be based at Focus: HOPE in Detroit. They’ll pack food boxes and clean up vacant lots in the surrounding neighborhood as part of the service project.

Politics
4:30 pm
Sat August 13, 2011

State GOP will hold closed presidential primary

The Michigan Republican Party State Central Committee has decided the state GOP will use a closed presidential primary next year.

That means voters will have to declare a party preference to participate. If Michigan sticks with a February 28 election date, the state GOP could lose half its delegates to the national nominating convention for meeting earlier than party rules allow.

Michigan GOP leaders say the early influence is worth the risk. Michigan Democrats plan to hold closed caucuses May 5, and will likely withdraw from the primary election ballot.

Education
1:20 pm
Sat August 13, 2011

Michigan State University expects its largest class of freshman

Celebrating an MSU touchdown
Flickr user SvobodaIT

Michigan State University will be a little more crowded this fall. The incoming freshman class at the East Lansing university will be the largest and most geographically diverse in the school's history.

That’s according to The Lansing State Journal.

MSU is expecting about 7,800 students.

Education
6:17 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Prosecutors drop charges against Catherine Ferguson Academy protesters

Students protest at the Catherine Ferguson Academy.
BAMN bamn.com

Prosecutors have dropped charges against 10 people who were arrested for civil disobedience at a Detroit school in April.

Students and a teacher at the Catherine Ferguson Academy for pregnant and parenting teens were arrested during a sit-on to protest the school closing.

The Detroit Public Schools later announced that a charter operator would take over the school.

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History
5:46 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Republicans and Michigan Senate races (audio)

Michigan State Capitol
John Beutlet

Historically, Republicans haven’t fared particularly well in Michigan Senate races. They’ve lost 10 out of 11 races in the last 40 years.

To give us a historical perspective we turn to Michigan Radio’s political analyst Jack Lessenberry. He tells us why Michigan Republicans have had a tough time winning Senate races.

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Offbeat
5:37 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Grand Rapids all excited about “30 Minutes or Less”

This weekend “30 Minutes or Less” comes out in theaters. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about it in Grand Rapids this week; a few are hosting movie parties. The pizza place where the main character works in the film, is giving people $5 off their order if they present a movie stub. I admit, I spent some time at work today playing the little internet pizza delivery game on the movie's page.

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Auto/Economy
5:25 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Detroit Police and businesses launch new downtown security initiative

Detroit Police and local businesses are teaming up for a new downtown security initiative.

Project Lighthouse involves more than 20 businesses in the city’s central business district. They’ll give police access to more than 300 private security cameras in the area.

Rick Fenton, Vice President of Corporate Security for Ilitch Holdings, says the initiative evolved out of private sector collaboration with federal agencies and police to monitor big downtown events.

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Science/Medicine
2:55 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Perseid meteor shower peaks overnight

One of the brightest meteor showers of the year happens overnight. It’s called the the Perseid meteor shower and although it happens for several days, it will peak around 3 a.m. Saturday.

The meteor showers happen as the Earth makes its annual trip around the sun and encounters a particular trail of comet dust.

Sally Oey is an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan. She says as the Earth travels through this comet dust, little particles enter our Earth’s atmosphere and appear as meteors or “shooting stars.”

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Education
2:52 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Michigan lawmakers address parental involvement, education

Ben Rollman Flickr

Michigan lawmakers want legislation in place to improve parental involvement in schools. The lack of involvement is seen as one cause of Michigan’s low education scores.

Representative Bob Genetski of Saugatuck is a Republican. He says welfare reform is necessary for education reform.

“I believe much more in workfare than in welfare,” Genetski said. “I think that we need to instill in our kids that nothing comes free and that you earn everything you get.”

Representative Tim Melton of Auburn Hills is a Democrat. He says Child Protective Services should be involved if younger children don’t come to school every day.

“These kids are going to end up in the system either way,” Melton said. “If they’re not showing up at school, that’s an early warning sign of child neglect.”

Melton says Child Protective Services has said they don’t have the resources to take this project on.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Environment
2:37 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Lake Michigan receives 'C' grade on new report card

Kevin Dooley Flickr

Lake Michigan gets an overall ‘C’ grade on a new report card from the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. Beach water quality and lake water levels got ‘D’ grades, scoring lowest on the report card. Superfund cleanup efforts got a ‘B’ and the fight against invasive species like Asian carp got a ‘C.’

Matt Doss is with the Ann Arbor-based Great Lakes Commission. He says the poor grades will help the state.

“It’s going to help hold us all accountable for improving these grades moving forward,” he said. “We can do better and we need to do better.”

The Great Lakes Commission works to improve the health of all five Great Lakes.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Environment
2:07 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Mosquitos gone wild: It's extra bad out there

Michael Kaufman Michigan State University

It’s not your imagination: The mosquitos are really bad in Michigan right now, and they’re not going away anytime soon.

It’s been a hot summer, with lots of rain, some dry spells in between, then lots more rain.

Perfect, if you’re a mosquito.

Mike Kaufman is a Michigan State University entomologist. He says not only do we have our usual crop of mosquitos, we’ve got psorophora ciliata, a big mosquito with a big bite. It’s native to Michigan, but fairly rare.

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Economy
12:03 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Heating assistance for low-income Michiganders might be in trouble

(flickr sgreech)

Thousands of Michiganders could lose access to tens of millions of dollars in home heating assistance this winter. Last month, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that Consumers Energy no longer has to collect money from its natural gas customers for a low-income energy assistance program.

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Sports
11:15 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Saying goodbye to an old friend

by Rebecca Williamson flickr.com

It wasn’t that long ago that if you wanted to buy a book, there was no Kindle or Nook or amazon.com – or even the internet.  There weren’t even big-chain book stores.  You had to go to one of those narrow stores in mini-malls that sold paperback best-sellers and thrillers and romance novels. 

But then the Borders brothers changed all that. They decided to go big, opening a two-story place on State Street in Ann Arbor.  They stocked almost everything, they gave customers room to relax and read, and they hired people who weren’t just clerks, but readers.

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Election 2012
10:29 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Snyder to endorse Hoekstra

Governor Rick Snyder will endorse former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra as the GOP's nominee against Debbie Stabenow in the 2012 U.S. Senate race, according to Rick Pluta. A date for the official announcement is unknown.

The back-story:

Yesterday, three high-profile Republicans endorsed a candidate for the 2012 U.S. Senate race. Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis (who, at one point earlier this year, was thought to maybe want to throw his hat into the Senatorial race himself), former U.S. Senator Spence Abraham (who lost his Senate seat to Senator Stabenow in 2000), and ex-Michigan Republican Chairwomen Betsy DeVos announced that they will back Clark Durant in the GOP race against Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow. Durant, however, has not yet entered the race.

I called Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio's Lansing Bureau Chief, to get a little bit more information about the endorsement. We got to talking about what the endorsement will mean for the perceived front-runner in the race, former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Pluta let me know that Governor Snyder intends to endorse Hoekstra. Interestingly enough, Governor Snyder ran against Hoesktra in the GOP gubernatorial primary in 2010.

For all of you politicos, you can take a listen to my conversation with Pluta about yesterday's endorsement and Governor Snyder's decision to back Hoekstra below:

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Commentary
10:28 am
Fri August 12, 2011

A Senate Surprise

Well, yesterday was not a great day for Pete Hoekstra, the former congressman from Holland. Two days ago, he was seen as the all-but-certain Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate next year.

With the nation’s economic crisis continuing, and more and more voters worried about the future, there seemed to be a growing chance that incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow may be vulnerable. Hoekstra, who got into the race last month after initially declining to run, thought he had a clear shot.

There were a few minor candidates, but they lacked funding or name recognition. But then yesterday, three longtime Michigan GOP heavyweights staged a coup of sorts. Two former state party chairs, Betsy DeVos, wife of Amway heir Dick DeVos, and Saul Anuzis, joined former U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham in endorsing a candidate.  And it wasn’t Pete Hoekstra.

Matter of fact, it wasn’t even someone who is formally in the race yet, though that will quickly change. The Big Three came out strongly for Clark Durant, a Grosse Pointer who is the founder of Cornerstone Schools, a group of charter schools in Detroit.

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State Legislature
7:45 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Claims tax awaits lawmakers’ return

A new tax on all health insurance claims waits for approval from lawmakers in the state House. As Michigan Public Radio’s Laura Weber reports, the tax is essential to balance the budget for the coming fiscal year.

Lawmakers must approve the health insurance claims tax in order to replace the existing tax on Medicaid HMOs. The federal government is expected to rule later this year that the existing Medicaid tax is illegal. To continue to receive funds from the federal government to help pay for Medicaid the state must approve the new tax on insurance claims.

Some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said they do not like the new tax proposal – Republicans saying they will not vote for a new tax, and some Democrats arguing that it would disproportionately affect some seniors who had their pensions taxed earlier this year.

The House is expected to approve the tax changes when lawmakers return in a couple weeks.

Election 2012
6:21 am
Fri August 12, 2011

High profile endorsments change things up in GOP Senate race

Well, this changes things. Since former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra announced he would run for the Republican nomination to try and unseat Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow in 2012, he was considered by many to be the GOP race’s frontrunner.

But, yesterday, three high-profile Republicans endorsed a candidate who isn’t really even a candidate yet. Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis (who, at one point earlier this year, was thought to maybe want to throw his hat into the Senatorial race himself), former U.S. Senator Spence Abraham (who lost his Senate seat to Senator Stabenow in 2000), and ex-Michigan Republican Chairwomen Betsy DeVos have announced that they will back Clark Durant in the GOP race.

Durant, however, has not yet entered the race. From the Associated Press:

Durant is a charter school executive. He tells The Associated Press he hasn't yet declared his candidacy, but the endorsement "makes it so much easier to make that decision." Durant lost a Senate primary bid in 1990.

Anuzis, Abraham, and DeVos announced their support for Durant in an open-letter posted on Anuzis' website. An excerpt:

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Education
6:51 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

First board meeting for statewide school district held in Detroit

Roy Roberts

The board that will run the statewide district for Michigan’s lowest-performing schools met for the first time in Detroit Thursday.

Governor Snyder says the Education Achievement System will eventually take on the bottom 5% of schools across the state, starting in Detroit in 2012.

Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts is also heading the EAS. That’s a concern for some, including Detroit Federation of Teachers Vice President Mark O’Keefe.

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Auto/Economy
5:46 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

President Obama talks economy, political gridlock in Holland

Obama toured a Saft-Johnson Controls joint venture in Holland before speaking to an invitation-only crowd of about 200 people.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

President Obama toured an advanced battery manufacturing plant in Holland Michigan this afternoon. The newly retooled plant will produce batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The facility is one of two new advanced battery plants in Holland that recieved money from president Obama’s stimulus package. The president called the plant “one the most advanced factories in the world.”

He says the new plant is leading the way in the advanced battery industry.

“That just doesn’t mean jobs in Michigan you’re buying equipment and parts from suppliers in Florida and New Mexico and Ohio and Wisconsin and all across America.”

Listen to Obama's full 25 minute speech here.

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Politics
5:38 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

The politics of Michigan's redistricting plan

New congressional district maps. Close up of southeast Michigan. Click on image to see another map.
Michigan House of Representatives

Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation that sets new congressional district boundaries. The maps were designed and passed by the Republican legislature earlier this year.

Today we take a closer look at the implications of the new district boundaries with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow for Public Sector Consultants.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Demas and Sikkema about who wins and who loses with these changes, as well as what voters should know before they head to the polls in November. 

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