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Technology
1:17 pm
Sun October 9, 2011

Smart phone app helps kids with autism

Sosh focuses on what its creators call "the five R's."
Mark Bowers

Two Michigan psychologists have created a smart phone app to help kids with autism develop better social skills. Kelly Bowers and her husband Mark are both psychologists who work with kids. They watched their patients learn social skills in workshop settings, but noticed the kids had a harder time applying those skills to real-life situations.

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Economy
1:00 am
Sun October 9, 2011

Wayne County set to start second round of tax auction

Detroit1701 flickr

People interested in purchasing tax-foreclosed properties in Wayne County have until Friday to submit deposits.

The second round of this year’s auction starts the following week. The minimum bid for all properties is $500.

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Environment
1:16 pm
Sat October 8, 2011

Leaked oil still sits on river bottom & banks

Last summer an oil sheen could be seen along the Kalamazoo River.
State of MI

The Environmental Protection Agency says most of the oil still remaining from a July 2010 pipeline leak in
West Michigan sits on the floor of the Kalamazoo River and along about 200 riverbank sites.
    

EPA on-scene coordinator Ralph Dollhopf tells the Battle Creek Enquirer that cleanup work has yet to be done on those riverbanks near Marshall, about 60 miles southeast of Grand Rapids.
    

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Politics
12:23 pm
Sat October 8, 2011

Justice will not remove himself from emergency manager challenge

Justice Stephen Markman
(official court portrait)

A state Supreme Court justice is refusing to remove himself from hearing a challenge to the Michigan’s tough new local emergency manager law. Supreme Court Justice Steve Markman says he has no conflict of interest even though his wife worked on a challenge to the law in federal court.

Kathleen Markman is an assistant state attorney general who did what was described as procedural work to defend the law against the federal court challenge. She has since been removed from the case.

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Arts/Culture
10:01 am
Sat October 8, 2011

History of Amtrak rolling into Jackson this weekend

A view of Jackson's train depot
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Jackson will be the place to be this weekend for Amtrak aficionados. 

The national passenger rail service is marking its 40th anniversary this year.  This weekend, Amtrak is bringing a rolling museum of its four decade history to Jackson’s rail road station. 

Christina Leeds is an Amtrak spokeswoman.  She says passionate lovers of all things Amtrak have been flocking to the rolling exhibit’s previous stops around the country. 

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Politics
8:14 pm
Fri October 7, 2011

Dearborn Yemeni community rallies around protester, Nobel winner

A Dearborn soccer field was the site of a traditional Muslim prayer service Friday.

But it was more than that—an effort to show visible solidarity with protesters in Yemen, who have spent nine months in mass demonstrations against the 34-year regime of President President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Like the recent pro-democracy movements in other Arab countries, the protests in Yemen have been fueled by youth frustrations.

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Environment
5:26 pm
Fri October 7, 2011

Research buoy testing winds in the middle of Lake Michigan

The eight-ton research platform was lowered into Muskegon Lake Friday afternoon. It'll head out into Lake Michigan next week.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

An eight ton research buoy is out gathering wind data in Lake Michigan. The $1.3 million buoy launched in Muskegon Friday will collect detailed wind data over the next ten years.

Chris Hart is an Offshore Wind Manager at the U.S. Department of Energy.  He says there’s only three of these high tech bouys in the world. This was the first one launched in the United States. He says the data will be more detailed than anything they have now.

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Environment
3:35 pm
Fri October 7, 2011

Green building conference: standing out from the crowd

The U.S. Green Building Council’s annual conference was held in Toronto this week.  “Greenbuild 2011” was four days of seminars, classes, and discussions about how to construct buildings and homes, using more environmentally friendly methods. 

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Commentary
12:09 pm
Fri October 7, 2011

Shared Sacrifice? Not So Much

When your local state legislator campaigns for reelection next time, or runs for some other office, they may remind you of how they helped save the state by gallantly giving up their retirement health care benefits.

When and if they do, you might want to remember that this is mostly a form of horse exhaust. With a very few exceptions, they didn’t vote to give up their benefits at all.

They voted to deny benefits to other people who haven’t been elected yet, and who could theoretically change the law back.

As for our current band of elected leaders - they are mostly keeping their benefits, thank you very much.

Here’s what’s really going on. Retired Michigan legislators have, in fact, been getting taxpayer-subsidized health care benefits since the nineteen-fifties. By the way, it was a solidly Republican legislature that first voted to do this. Contrary to some propaganda you may have been hearing, the benefits aren’t completely free, and they don‘t kick in till the ex-lawmakers reach age fifty-five.

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Arts/Culture
12:04 pm
Fri October 7, 2011

Fall season ticket sales show promise for Michigan's arts organizations

The Marriage of Figaro is part of the Michigan Opera Theatre's 2011-12 season. This photo is from a 2007 production of the opera.
Photo courtesy of the Michigan Opera Theatre

Michigan’s ballet companies, theatres and opera houses are kicking off their 2011-12 season this fall, and it appears box office sales might be trending up.

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Politics
11:08 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Gov. Snyder challenged to live on food stamps for a week

Gov. Rick Snyder
michiganradio.org

A Michigan lawmaker is challenging Gov. Snyder to experience firsthand how poor people live.

Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Detroit, says the governor should try living on food stamps for one week.

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm did it in 2008, and lived on $5.87 worth of food per day, per person.

Tlaib  hasn't heard from Gov. Snyder, but she thinks he'll respond.

"I actually think Gov. Snyder might take on the challenge," Tlaib says.

Tlaib’s challenge comes after the state put a 48-month lifetime limit on cash assistance benefits.

Arts/Culture
10:40 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Introducing the winner at ArtPrize 2011 (video)

Rick DeVos and ArtPrize winner Mia Tavonatti answer media questions after the announcement Thursday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

ArtPrize 2011 organizers held a press conference introducing the winner, Mia Tavonatti, last night, and Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith was there.

For receiving the most votes, Tavonatti took home the top prize of $250,000 (Tavonatti placed second last year and won $100,000).

She lives in California now, but Tavonatti is originally from Iron Mountain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Smith described the winning piece this way:

The piece towers in the same performance hall where the winner was announced last night. It’s 9 feet across, 13 feet tall; made up of tiny pieces of stained glass that make up a vision of Jesus Christ dying on the cross.

Tavonatti said "when you bring Christ to town. I just knew he had certain things in store for me. And I wasn't going to tell him how to do his job."

Tavonatti's win was bittersweet. Her mother died early yesterday morning after a bout with pneumonia.

Here's the video of the press conference:

Sports Commentary
9:57 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Wildcats Football: Northwestern's miracle season

Fans at a Wildcats football game.
Derek Tam Flickr

The University of Michigan football team plays Northwestern in Evanston tomorrow for the first time since 2007.  The undefeated, 12th ranked Wolverines are seven-point favorites, but beating the Wildcats is no longer the easy game it used to be.  Whatever happens this weekend, it can’t match what happened back in 1995 – one of my favorite sports stories.

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Your Story
9:26 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Empty buildings: Eyesore or untapped potential?

An empty building in Elk Grove Village, IL. Cities across the Midwest are faced with large amounts of abandoned and empty buildings.
Sarah Alvarez

An abandoned building can be a potent symbol of a depressed area or a bad economy. Ruin porn has been decried and criticized as unhelpful voyeurism, but the pictures of crumbling buildings in places like Gary, Indiana and Detroit, MI continue to multiply on photo sharing sites across the web.

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Politics
9:15 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Why Michigan voters might be cut out of the auto no-fault debate

Flickr

Hundreds of people showed up at the Capitol this week to speak for or against a proposal that would dramatically alter Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law.

The overwhelming majority of the people were in favor of keeping the state’s lifetime medical coverage for injured people.

If the law is passed, and people don’t like it, the Michigan Constitution allows voters to challenge it with a referendum, but the Republican sponsors have found a way around that.

At the end of the 42-page bill that would require drivers to choose the level of auto insurance coverage they want, and end guaranteed lifetime medical coverage, there is an appropriation of $50,000.

The stated purpose of the $50,000 appropriation is to help implement the change in law.

Republican state Representative Pete Lund said the money is needed for a report and study on the effects of the law.

The framers of the Michigan Constitution wrote that any law that appropriates money is referendum proof, and they did that to ensure that the full faith and credit of the state is not jeopardized.

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News Roundup
8:52 am
Fri October 7, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, October 7th, 2011
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Snyder Planning on a Second Term

Governor Rick Snyder has laid to rest speculation that he might not seek a second term, Rick Pluta reports. From Pluta:

The governor told a collection of local government officials his plan is to serve eight years, if voters let him."I'm not announcing my candidacy yet, but as a practical matter I do intend to be around for eight years, assuming the voters go along with that and the family is supportive, which they have been consistently," said Snyder. There was speculation the governor would choose to serve only one term based on remarks he made last month on Mackinac Island.

Michigan Gets ‘Occupied’

The “Occupy Wall Street” campaign is starting to pop up in towns and cities across Michigan. Steve Carmody was in Ann Arbor last night and reports:

A crowd of about a hundred gathered on the University of Michigan campus to talk and listen. Many in the crowd have been inspired by the anti-corporate protest that’s been taking place on Wall Street for the past several weeks. Others were just curious.The‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement is planning on large scale protests in Lansing, Detroit and Grand Rapids later this month, meanwhile social media websites are popping up calling for grassroots groups to sprout up around Michigan.  

ArtPrize Winner

The winner of the 3rd annual ArtPrize was announced last night. Mia Tavonatti, an artist originally from Iron Mountain in the U.P., took home the $250,000 top prize. Her piece, titled, “Crucifixion,” is a large-scale mosaic depicting Jesus Christ dying on the cross. “More than 1,500 artists from across the United States and 39 other countries competed in ArtPrize this year. More than 382,000 votes were cast by those who visited the event in Grand Rapids. Organizers estimate around 500,000 people came to the event, which runs through Sunday,” Lindsey Smith reports.

State Legislature
7:22 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Michigan State House approves cut to lawmakers' retiree health benefits

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

The state House passed legislation yesterday that would eliminate retiree health care benefits for future and some current state lawmakers. The state Senate passed the measure earlier this week. The Associated Press reports:

The retiree benefit will be eliminated for lawmakers who have not served at least six years in the Legislature before Jan. 1, 2013.

Most current state senators would remain eligible for the benefit once they retire and reach age 55. Most current members of the Michigan House would be ineligible for coverage because they don't have enough years of service.

Lawmakers have debated the issue for years but didn't agree on a final version of the plan until this week.

The legislation now goes to Governor Snyder for his signature.

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Environment
6:33 am
Fri October 7, 2011

EPA: Enbridge Mich. river cleanup plan due Oct. 20

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given Enbridge Inc. until Oct. 20 to submit revised plans for additional cleanup work from a July 2010 Michigan pipeline leak that spilled more than 800,000 gallons of gasoline into a Michigan river system.

On Sept. 26, the Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge said it was increasing its estimate of the cleanup cost by about 20 percent to $700 million.

The EPA issued the order Thursday, saying the cleanup of the submerged oil is expected to last through 2012.

The spill was discovered July 26, 2010 and polluted the Kalamazoo River system in the Marshall area, from Talmadge Creek to Morrow Lake. The pipeline runs from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario.

ArtPrize
3:30 am
Fri October 7, 2011

ArtPrize 2011 winners; thrilled, controversial, bittersweet

ArtPrize winner Mia Tavonatti and her brother Darren Tavonatti pose for a picture in front of 'Crucifixion' Thursday night. Darren helped transport and install the piece in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

(This article was altered to fix two grammatical errors.)

More than 1,500 artists from across the United States and 39 other countries competed in ArtPrize this year. More than 382,000 votes were cast by those who visited the event in Grand Rapids. Organizers estimate around 500,000 people came to the event, which runs through Sunday.

The winner – “Crucifixion” Mia Tavonatti

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Afghan War Anniversary
1:01 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Peace activists to hold silent vigil for Afghan war anniversary

Coalition soldiers on patrol
(courtesy of BIGHABER.com)

A silent noon-hour vigil at the state capital in Lansing will mark the tenth anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan.  Its organizers say the U.S. has not learned the lessons of the war. 

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