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Economy
8:42 am
Thu September 22, 2011

New census data: More Mich. residents in poverty

New census data show more Michigan residents are living in poverty.

The 2010 numbers from the American Community Survey released Thursday show the poverty rate rose from 16.2 percent in 2009 to 16.8 percent in Michigan. The percent of children under 18 in poverty in Michigan rose from 22.5 percent to 23.5 percent.

In Detroit, 37.6 percent were in poverty and 53.6 percent of children.

Median household income fell more than 1 percent from 2009 to $45,413 as more people worked in the lower-pay service industry than in manufacturing.

Help shape stories on this topic. Answer our news questions related to this story:

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Arts/Culture
5:00 am
Thu September 22, 2011

Ann Arbor Film Fest celebrates 50th anniversary

The 50th Ann Arbor Film Festival runs March 27 - April 1, 2012
User mconnors MorgueFile

The experimental and sometimes controversial Ann Arbor Film Festival turns 50 next year, but festival organizers aren’t waiting until then to celebrate.

They’ve put together a five-part retrospective series, the first of which screens tonight. The retrospective series will lead up to the actual festival, which runs March 27 - April 1, 2012.

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Environment
12:08 am
Thu September 22, 2011

The Enbridge oil spill's effect on wetlands

It’s been more than a year since a pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy ruptured. More than 843,000 gallons of tar sands oil spilled into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River.

The Environmental Protection Agency says much of that oil has been removed from the creek and the river. But the EPA says there are still close to one hundred areas of submerged oil on the bottom of the river. Enbridge is now working to remove that oil.

The company recently missed an EPA deadline to clean up all of the submerged oil and contaminated soils.

Jason Manshum is an Enbridge spokesperson.

“Well, you know, while we have focused on completing that directive by that deadline, we have not been willing to sacrifice that work quality solely in order to meet a specific date on a calendar.”

Manshum says they ran into a number of obstacles... hot weather, storms, and a shortage of the special equipment they need. And the biggest challenge: those areas of submerged oil expanded.

“Keep in mind, the river is obviously a moving body of water, nothing stays constant, nothing is the same. So we found some of those submerged oil locations had shifted and some had expanded.”

Both Enbridge and the EPA have previously stated that it’ll be impossible to clean up every last drop of oil.

“It’s pretty common, most people think it should be easy to get it all out, and it’s just really not.”

Mike Alexander is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He’s one of the incident commanders on the cleanup site.

“When you get down to smaller quantities, they get harder to get, just the nature of how the river’s different at different locations, it gets trickier, it’s not an easy project, it’s going to take time.”

The spill happened smack in the middle of some of the most sensitive wetland areas in the state.

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Politics
5:43 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Lawmakers pass ban on controversial abortion procedure

At the state Capitol, the House and the Senate have approved separate measures that would ban a controversial abortion procedure that’s already illegal under federal law. Both bills were approved by commanding majorities.

Democratic state Representative Jimmy Womack is also a minister and a doctor. He was a “no” vote.

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Politics
5:37 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Politics of Language (Part 1)

user: Christopher Woo/flickr

Political rhetoric can be confusing and combative. We hear lots of political phrases that we quickly find absorbed into our everyday conversations. But what influence do these powerful words and phrases have on us? Over the next few days we’ll be taking a look at the politics of language. In part one of our series Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Dr. Sarah Thomason, Chair of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Michigan.

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Politics
5:34 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Snyder: Anti-obesity effort not government overreach

snowpea&bokchoi flickr

Governor Rick Snyder says it is critical to Michigan’s economy and its quality of life that the state reduce the number of people who are obese or overweight.

Almost a third of Michigan’s children and adults are considered obese. Two thirds are either obese or overweight.

The governor says obesity is a factor in diabetes and other chronic conditions that add $3 billion to the total costs of medical care in Michigan.

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Arts/Culture
5:26 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

ArtPrize 2011 kicks off in Grand Rapids

More than 2,400 people have already started checking out ArtPrize. The art contest began in Grand Rapids Wednesday afternoon. 1,582 artists are competing to win a $250,000 top prize.

Even before ArtPrize opened, thousands of people had already preregistered to vote in the contest. Those who vote determine the winner.

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Politics
5:17 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Richardville talks about fall agenda in Michigan Senate

Lester Graham Michigan Radio

State Senate Republicans say they want to focus on proposals this fall that will help businesses create jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says eliminating the Michigan Business Tax on small businesses was a good start. He says now it’s time to get rid of the Personal Property Tax that businesses pay.

“The government itself does not create jobs, all we can do is better the environment. And that’s what we’re attempting to do with the legislation we’ve put on the table so far, and what we’ll continue this fall.”

Richardville says the Senate will also take up measures this fall to reform education and regulate the medical marijuana law.

The law was approved by a wide margin of voters in 2008.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says the law is too vague.

“I have a real concern about those that would abuse this law and that somehow more would illegal marijuana would end up on the street, and eventually find its way into our school yards. That’s my big concern here.”

Senate Republicans also plans to take up legislation to eliminate the tax on businesses and factory equipment. Education reforms, and a ban on a controversial abortion procedure are also at the top of the party’s fall agenda.

Politics
4:35 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Bill would reduce jail cell size requirement

Inmates in Michigan's county jails could be housed in smaller cells under a bill passed by the Michigan house this week.
rollingroscoe Morguefile

Michigan’s county sheriffs would be given more leeway in how they run their jails under a bill passed by the state House this week.

The bill targets jail overcrowding by subdividing cells. The required 52-square-feet per inmate would be cut nearly in half.

It also allows for an inmate with no prior criminal convictions to be double-bunked with a convicted felon.

State Representative Matt Lori co-sponsored the bill.

"It’ll make things a lot easier for the sheriffs to keep inmates behind bars as opposed to releasing them when their population gets to the point they have to declare an overcrowding emergency," Lori says.

John Walsh is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Grand Valley State University. He says smaller jail cells could increase safety risks for inmates and staff and lead to lawsuits.

Education
4:28 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

EMU and part-time faculty approve contract

Eastern Michigan University
user krossbow Flickr

Eastern Michigan University's Board of Regents has approved a contract that will bring more job security and better wages to part-time faculty at Eastern Michigan University.

The regents unanimously approved the agreement on Tuesday. The contract takes effect immediately.

Politics
3:50 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Latinos, Muslims protest Detroit border patrol

Some people in southwest Detroit say the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol continues to practice racial profiling in their community. Detroit is home to the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada.

Residents say Customs and Border Protection agents regularly question and detain people who look Hispanic.

At a press conference Wednesday,residents produced pictures they say show a young Latino man being handcuffed without cause by Border Patrol agents in July. It happened outside a Catholic church during Mass.

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Politics
2:29 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Expert to examine Michigan Humane Society practices

The Michigan Humane Society will have an outside expert review its practices.
user ak_rus Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Humane Society's board is bringing in an outside expert to evaluate how the organization decides which dogs go for adoption and which dogs are killed.

The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press report the board voted Monday. Kelley Bollen, director of behavior programs for the Maddie's Fund Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, will evaluate "canine evaluation protocols."

A broader examination could be considered later.

Four of 18 board members at the Michigan Humane Society have  resigned since June amid questions about the rate of euthanizing dogs and cats. The organization's overall euthanasia rate has been 70 percent for the past four years, including 17,000 in 2010.

The organization defends its practices, noting it takes in all types of animals, including abused ones.

Politics
1:00 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

Bill would ban use of government property for political purposes

Michigan teachers and other government worker would not be allowed to use public property -- including computers, phones or copiers -- to conduct political activities.
ronnieb MorgueFile

A bill in the state House would ban public employees from using most government property or services for political or union purposes. 

 Under the bill, anything that belongs to the government would be off-limits for public employees to use for fund-raising, lobbying  or campaigning -- including e-mail, phones and copiers.

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Changing Gears
11:03 am
Wed September 21, 2011

Midwestern union workers have hope for their jobs

Navistar Springfield, Ohio plant manager Jim Rumpf with one of the four models of trucks now produced at the plant.
Niala Boodhoo

Navistar builds trucks across North America, at non-union factories in the South and Mexico, as well as union shops in the Midwest. The UAW members at the Navistar plant in Springfield, Ohio say a year of changes has made them competitive with those non-union plants – and they’re optimistic about the future.

In the final assembly department at Navistar’s Springfield, Ohio, plant, Veronica Smith is helping her team put the finishing touches on a truck. The cab is being mounted to its frame.

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Politics
10:49 am
Wed September 21, 2011

The Bridge: Beyond Any Doubt

Pretend you are a judge, let me give you some undisputed facts, and then tell me how you would make up your mind.

The top business leaders of this state strongly support a new bridge over the Detroit River. So do the major leaders of both political parties. The bridge wouldn’t cost the taxpayers of Michigan a cent.

What’s more, the bridge would instantly mean billions of dollars and thousands of desperately needed jobs for our poor battered state.  Not when it was completed, but right away, right now.

That’s because the federal government has agreed to count money Canada is giving us to  cover our costs as state matching money for federal highway funds. That would mean two point two billion dollars to fix our roads and bridges.

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Auto/Economy
10:24 am
Wed September 21, 2011

Moody's downgrades Fiat's credit rating

Fiat's credit was downgraded by Moody's.
Fiat USA

MILAN (AP) - The ratings agency Moody's has downgraded the credit rating Fiat SpA citing financial risks tied to the integration with Chrysler Group LLC.

Moody's on Wednesday downgraded the Italian automaker to Ba2 from Ba1.

The ratings agency said it expects integration of the two automakers will mean they will have "to support each other in the event of financial difficulty."

Fiat took an initial 20 percent stake in Chrysler in exchange for engine technology and management prowess. It currently holds a 53.5 percent share.

Moody's said it made the downgrade even though Fiat does not guarantee Chrysler's debt, and that the two companies' finances remain separate.

Auto
7:30 am
Wed September 21, 2011

The latest on UAW contract negotiations

Union leaders at General Motors' factories across the U.S. are endorsing a tentative contract with the automaker. 

In an unprecedented press conference yesterday, UAW President Bob King discussed details of the 4-year-contract. The rank-and-file will vote in the coming days. General Motors is the first automaker to reach a deal with the UAW. And,  these negotiations are the first since the federal government stepped in to help GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy in 2009.

We caught up with Tracy Samilton, Michigan Radio's auto reporter, to talk about the tentative contract and what it means for GM, the UAW, and the state's economy.

Politics
6:31 am
Wed September 21, 2011

Snyder signs Medicaid claims tax

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

Governor Snyder has approved a one percent tax on health insurance claims to ensure that medical coverage for low-income families is not slashed by almost a billion dollars.

Everyone who files a claim for a treatment or a checkup will now pay the one percent tax. It will not apply to co-pays or deductibles.

It replaces a six percent tax on Medicaid HMOs. Michigan’s system for financing the Medicaid program for covering low-income families was on the cusp of being thrown out by federal authorities because it did not spread the burden wide enough.

Governor Snyder had a difficult time winning the votes for the health claims tax in the Republican-led Legislature. But he said he was committed to not rolling back health coverage for the poor during tough economic times. The Snyder administration has come under fire by human services advocates for rollbacks in other types of aid for low-income people, including new limits on cash assistance and food stamps.

Arts/Culture
8:57 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

A Michigan play receives national publicity

A Michigan play about bullied teenagers who commit suicide has received national publicity. The Bullycide Project is a play written by Fenton High School teacher Lori Thompson. It was featured on the CBS news program 48 Hours last Friday. 

Thompson says as a theater teacher, the stage is the most effective vehicle for creating social awareness.

When we hear about Tyler Clementi, the young man from Rutgers, or Phoebe Prince, the young lady from Ireland that came here and lived in Boston; I mean these are all national stories, and then there are all the stories that happen locally. 

The Bullycide Project will be performed at the Flint Youth Theatre on  September 24th.

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Politics
5:35 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

Deficit reduction: A conversation with Senator Carl Levin

U.S. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.

Michigan Democratic Senator, Carl Levin, has proposed a 7-point plan to reduce the federal deficit by at least one trillion dollars over 10 years. His proposal comes amidst discussions within the special bi-partisan subcommittee charged with balancing the federal budget. Several of the points in the plan deal with closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations and wealthy Americans. Is it possible to move those points of the plan forward in the current political climate?

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