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taliesin / Morgue File

In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the Obama administration announced that it will dedicate $263 million to body cameras for police officers. 

The White House has said it will match the spending of local law enforcement agencies in hopes of making body cameras more prominent.

Curwood reviewing his film, The Flaming Forest
Mitchell Speers

  Author, filmmaker, and conservationalist James Oliver Curwood was a Michigan native in the late 1800s whose stories gained popularity all over the world. When he died in 1927, he was said to be the highest-paid per-word author in the world, with much of his passion for writing about nature coming from a close encounter with a grizzly bear.

We talked to filmmaker and historian Mitchell Speers, who explores Curwood's life and works in an upcoming documentary, God's Country: The James Oliver Curwood Story.

For years now, we’ve heard it said that Rick Snyder isn’t really a politician. Well, that’s nonsense. He’s been a supremely skilled one, especially in selling the people on voting for him. Four years ago, he came out of nowhere to easily win the Republican nomination for governor, then won election in a landslide. This year, despite some very unpopular decisions, he won again.

He’s never lost an election. But the jury is still out on whether he’s an effective leader when it comes to governing.

Well, we are about to find out. The key issue is, as it has been, the roads. We spend less per capita on roads than any state in the union, and as a result, we have almost the worst roads in the nation. Given that we are the automobile state, and that we depend on transportation for our jobs and future, this is nuts.

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

Update 7:25 pm

100% of Detroit's public lighting grid was up and running as of Tuesday evening, city officials said, while noting Public Lighting Department crews were still dealing with a handful of "localized issues."

All PLD customers lost power this morning, after a "major cable failure" at the Mistursky power station. When crews tried to reconnect part of the system through another circuit, a breaker failed, triggering a system-wide shutdown around 10:30 am.

The PLD grid is being phased out over four years, and is currently serviced by DTE Energy. DTE is in the process of building a replacement grid, but is still using the old infrastructure to serve most PLD customers in the meantime. Those customers include some of the city's largest institutions--such as the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, a number of courts, many Detroit Public Schools, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

At an afternoon press conference, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the outage is "another reminder of how much work we have to do to rebuild this city."

“A bankruptcy order doesn’t solve the decades of neglect in our infrastructure, and that’s what we saw," said Duggan.

“Every month that goes by, we will be more and more on a more modern system, and the likelihood of this happening will go down. But it’s part of rebuilding the city.”

DTE Electric President Jerry Norcia said the company is in the process of inspecting the current system and making needed upgrades, but had been focusing on known weak points. 

"This was a station that had not failed before," said Norcia, who said the exact cause of the cable failure isn't known yet.

The city's police and fire stations also lost power, but the 911 dispatch system and other communications were up and running throughout. That was fortunate, as some trauma patients had to be re-routed from Detroit's Receiving Hospital, and firefighters rescued people stranded on the top floors of a few downtown buildings.

Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins said emergency personnel kept things operating with only a few minor adjustments. “They received instructions to move their vehicles outside the quarters, so we were able to respond to every call for help around this city," he said.

The Detroit Public Schools and Wayne State University canceled afternoon classes due to the outage.

Update 12:19 p.m.

Here's a statement from the Detroit Public Lighting Department:

The city’s public lighting grid suffered a major cable failure that has caused the entire grid to lose power at approximately 10:30 this morning.   The outage is affecting all customers on the PLD grid.  We have isolated the issue and are working to restore power as soon as possible.

The city’s Public Lighting Department is working closely with DTE during this process.  Mayor Mike Duggan and representatives of DTE will provide further details a 2PM press briefing at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters.

11:26 a.m.

A power outage affecting parts of Detroit closed several government buildings, including some courthouses, and left intersections without working traffic lights.

The outage happened about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Federal spending on scientific research hasn’t kept up with inflation in recent years, and it’s made it harder for researchers to fund their work. Some of them are turning to another source: crowdfunding. But this funding source raises new questions for scientists.  

Polling place.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Campaign posters, billboards, and newspaper, radio and television ads have long been the delivery methods for political candidates trying to win the hearts of voters. But more and more, campaigns are using technology to track and reach you. 

automotiveauto.info

U.S. manufacturing is heading for a slowdown, according to IHS Global Insight.

Economist Michael Montgomery says right now, manufacturers are happy because so many companies are replenishing their inventories.

However, "inventories are a short-term plus," says Montgomery. "Over the long term, they don't mean very much at all."

He says it won't be slamming the brakes on. "It's sort of a midcourse correction, as opposed to a big sea change in the world," says Montgomery. "But it's enough to slow growth."

As part of its mission to save shelter dogs from being euthanized, Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan came up with an idea: place these rescued or unwanted dogs with trainers - trainers who have the time to work with the dogs, to train them for adoption into a good home - trainers who are behind bars.

The RPSM's Correctional Companion Program places dogs with specially trained prison inmates, and what happens in the time these inmates spend with their dogs is powerful. Martin Daughenbaugh has seen this power in his own life. As an inmate of the state prison in Coldwater, Martin met a blind dog named Quinn.

And it's a story worth sharing.

Paul Engstrom/Skillman Foundation

About 50 civic leaders met today in Detroit to develop a plan to improve life outcomes for young men of color.

The group is taking up the challenge of President Barack Obama's "My Brother's Keeper Initiative," launched early this year to address the growing disparities faced by African American and Latino boys and young men. The group is working to come up with a report and a set of recommendations in 120 days.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said his priority for 2015 is to create opportunities for Detroit youth.

net_efekt / Flickr

Michigan lawmakers are back this week, after a two-week break. And Governor Snyder is pushing hard for a deal to boost road funding as the Legislature's "lame duck" session winds down. 

Gov. Snyder took his case on the road today, with stops in southeast Michigan to highlight the need for better roads.

One bill would effectively double the state’s gasoline tax to raise up to $1.5 billion a year for roads.

My parents have been dead for a long time, but I feel I owe them a long-overdue thank you for saying no half a century ago, when I wanted an air rifle, otherwise known as a BB gun.

I had read about them in Boys’ Life, and believe I had ambitions of shooting birds in the backyard.

Today, I would be horrified at that, but young people can be insensitive. My mother’s refusal to let me have a gun probably had, however, little to do with birds, and more to do with Larry, an older kid in the neighborhood. Larry once had a friend with a BB gun, and as a result, Larry had a glass eye.

Well, our representatives in the Legislature, or at least those who give them campaign money, apparently would have thought my momma a spineless wimp. They are seriously considering an eight-bill package that would dramatically loosen restrictions on pellet guns, or other weapons that power a bullet by gas, spring or air.

Currently, it is illegal for anyone under eighteen to have a BB gun unless they’re with an adult. That’s something that seems common sense. But that’s not how the National Rifle Association sees it. They want that law repealed – and the Michigan House has already done so. Now, it’s up to the Senate.

What I can’t understand is why anyone thinks this is a good idea. I know all the arguments for rifles and handguns. Those who support what they call gun rights say we may need them to defend ourselves, against criminals or an evil government.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI, is the "richest" member of Congress from Michigan, according to CQ Roll Call.
Republican Conference / Flickr

Since 1990, CQ Roll Call has collected financial disclosures from all 541 Senators, Representatives and delegates and compiled an annual list of the "richest" and "poorest" members of U.S. Congress.

Below are the top 3 "richest" members of Congress and their minimum net worth for 2014:

  • Rep. Fred Upton R-Michigan: Net worth $7.3M
  • Rep. Dave Camp R-Michigan: Net worth $6.59M
  • Rep. John D. Dingell D-Michigan: Net worth $3.52M

Below are the top 3 "poorest" members of Congress and their net worth for 2014:

cdc.gov / cdc.gov

As the weather gets colder, warming centers are opening their doors around the state.

In Flint, the Catholic Charities Holy Angels Warming Center runs 24/7, starting today through the end of March.

It’s not intended as a shelter, just a safe place out of the cold where people can get a meal.

But Catholic Charities’ Vicki Schultz says people end up staying permanently over the winter.

The center can fit about 65 people a night and is intended for adults, but last winter was so brutal, 179 kids came in over the season.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s a cold day in East Lansing, but many are braving the cold to catch a glimpse of the next major step in a $730 million nuclear physics project. 

Over the next day or so, truckload after truckload of concrete is being poured into a deep pit on the Michigan State University’s campus.

At the bottom of the 65-foot-deep trench, the concrete will form an 8-foot slab that will support a key portion of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.    

Time to turn Michigan's "three economies" into one

Dec 1, 2014
Wikimedia

When it comes to economic growth in Michigan, one size does not fit all. Take a look at the varying scope and scale of companies here and you’ll find a general pattern of three different types of businesses associated with different regions:  large multinational corporations in Southeast Michigan, small high-tech start-ups in Ann Arbor, and family-owned, mid-size companies in Western Michigan.

Pothole in a road.
Wikimedia Commons

State lawmakers return to Lansing this week after a two week break for deer hunting and Thanksgiving.

Every Republican and Democratic leader at the state Capitol says fixing Michigan’s roads will be the top priority between now and the end of the year.

“Certainly, the primary focus will be on discovering a solution for funding of transportation in Michigan, specifically roads and bridges that are in desperate need of repair,” said Ari Adler, a spokesperson for state House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall.

Adler says the speaker wants more taxes paid at the pump to go to roads.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Staff at the Palisades Nuclear Plant will highlight the work done to update the plant, during a public open house in South Haven tonight.

Spokeswoman Lindsay Rose says they’ll talk about a big project to replace almost all the control rod drives that have been problematic over the past decade.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_Aids_Day_Ribbon.png

Health officials across the state are urging people to get tested for HIV. Monday is World AIDS Day.

There are an estimated 21,300 people living with HIV in the state, according to Michigan’s Department of Community Health. The number of diagnoses outpaces deaths associated with the virus, so the number of people living with HIV is up.  

MDCH reports an average of 809 new cases were diagnosed each year from 2008 to 2012.

Almost two-thirds of those living with the virus live in metro Detroit. The impact on black males is the greatest.

Sean MacEntee / creative commons

Federal law enforcement agencies are warning online shoppers to be on the lookout for potential scams this “Cyber Monday” and beyond.

The Monday after Thanksgiving has become the busiest online shopping day of the year for American consumers.

And the FBI says it’s noticed a significant uptick in fraud schemes that start then, and last through the holiday season.

IIHS

Auto sales continue to perform well in 2014, say analysts, even though one of the usual ingredients in that success is missing -- strong GDP growth.

"The economy has not necessarily cooperated yet," says Jeff Schuster of LMC Automotive.  "Not to the level, that 3% level, which is typically expected to support auto sales.  And we haven't really had that."

Schuster thinks 2014 vehicle sales will end up around 16.4 million.

Jessica Caldwell of Edmunds.com is just slightly more optimistic.  She thinks the industry could sell 16.7 million by the end of December.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT - A lawmaker from western Michigan is leading an effort to possibly save millions of dollars in the criminal justice system.

  Rep. Joe Haveman, a Republican from Holland, hopes to bring a pack of the bills to the House floor this week that would make changes in the parole process and create a commission to study sentences.

  Haveman wants to try to get more people out of prison if they're eligible for parole and not a risk to the public. He's been working with prosecutors, judges, sheriffs and defense lawyers on a compromise.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Holiday shoppers are feeling better about the U.S. and Michigan economies.

Economists credit holiday shoppers having a few extra dollars in their pockets this season.

Robert Dye is the chief economist for Comerica Bank. Dye points to falling gasoline prices and an improving job forecast as just a couple of factors helping boost consumer confidence over the holidays.

“I do expect the holiday shopping season to reflect a more secure, a more confident, and a more employed U.S. consumer,” says Dye.

But there is a dark cloud on the horizon: Inflation.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Monday is the deadline to give federal regulators feedback on a plan to cut carbon emissions in the United States by 30% by 2030. The Environmental Protection Agency says more than 1.6 million comments have been filed so far.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING - Auditors say the state was moderately effective in monitoring Michigan school districts to ensure they have effective special education programs.

  A state audit released last week says the Office of Special Education didn't flag students' noncompliance with annual goals and didn't ensure there were appropriate caseloads at four of seven audited school districts and charter schools.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

TOLEDO, Ohio  - Ohio's lawmakers are moving toward taking on the algae that has plagued Lake Erie in recent years.

  New legislation recently approved in the state House would ban farmers in much of northwestern Ohio from spreading manure on frozen or saturated fields.

  Farmers also would need to hold off if heavy rains are in the forecast. Another provision would set new rules on the dumping of dredged sediment in the lake.

Sometimes we have words in our sentences that don't seem to mean anything, but they have to be there.

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan says the word "do" is a good example.

"It does a lot of work in English, and it's almost invisible work, because it often doesn't mean anything," Curzan says, "but it has to be in the sentence to make it grammatical. 

"The verb 'do' goes all the way back to old English, but its use as an auxiliary verb, as a helping verb, goes back only to the Renaissance. This would be in a sentence like, 'I do not know.'"

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More students from Wisconsin might go to college in Sault Ste. Marie next year when out-of-state tuition is dropped.

Inquires at Lake Superior State from Wisconsin students are up more than 20 percent this fall.

LSSU is the only university in Michigan to go to one tuition rate.

President Tom Pleger hopes the change will boost enrollment in some of the school’s more prominent programs like fishery science and geology.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Many trips to Michigan shopping malls this weekend will end with a minor fender bender in the parking lot. 

Carinsurance.com says the most common accident is hitting another car.   But drivers also admit to hitting poles, shopping cart corrals, even people.

Michelle Megna is with carinsurance.com.   She says the driver’s gender may play a role, especially when there’s fights over parking spaces.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING (AP) - Michigan lawmakers have three weeks left in their lame-duck session to enact a potentially wide-ranging assortment of bills, topped by a measure to significantly boost road funding.

  The Republican-led Senate's recent approval of a bill to more than double state gasoline and diesel taxes over four years faces an "uphill climb" in the GOP-controlled House, says Speaker Jase Bolger. He's floating an alternative to gradually eliminate the state sales tax at the pump while raising per-gallon fuel taxes a corresponding amount.

Morgue File

The Michigan Public Service Commission says there was a nearly four-fold return on utilities' energy efficiency programs in 2013.

State natural gas and electricity providers spent $253 million on programs to weatherize homes and replace inefficient water heaters, HVAC systems, and boilers with efficient models.

The MPSC report says that will save customers $948 million over the life cycle of the replacements and upgrades.

Electric utilities are required to spend 1% of retail sales on energy efficiency programs, and natural gas providers, .75%. 

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