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Education
5:13 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Detroit Schools in the wake of the Robert Bobb ruling

Robert Bobb's authority over Detroit Public Schools was curtailed after a judges ruling yesterday.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Update: 5:13 pm:

Emergency financial manager Robert Bobb and his team have already put in place several classroom reforms. Some of the reforms include two hours of math and reading instruction every day for elementary students, requiring all 7th graders to take pre-Algebra, and conducting "quarterly assessments" of students' skills.

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Environment
4:45 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Enbridge oil spill sickened hundreds, according to a new report

Clean up workers along the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek in August, 2010
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new report finds last July’s massive oil spill in mid-Michigan sickened many people, but the long-term effects of exposure to the spill is unclear. 


The Michigan Department of Community Health worked with local health departments in Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties to compile data on people who were affected by the Enbridge Energy oil spill.

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Crime
4:33 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Michigan home health care agencies indicted for Medicare fraud

First page of the unsealed indictment
Department of Justice

Four Detroit-area residents have been indicted by the federal government for Medicare fraud.

The Department of Justice says Medicare fraud schemes were operated out of Patient Choice Home Healthcare and All American Home Care.

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Politics
4:18 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Grand Rapids' Mayor George Heartwell to seek a 3rd term

Mayor George Heartwell speaks in support of Kids Food Basket
Steven Depolo

“There are so many exciting things happening in Grand Rapids right now when so much of the rest of Michigan is in chaos that I just quite honestly feel its fun and a great honor to represent this city as its mayor.”

Heartwell’s current term expires at the end of next year. If he’s elected and serves out a third term, Heartwell would tie his predecessor John Logie as the Grand Rapids’ longest serving mayor. Grand Rapids is the state's second largest city.

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Sports
2:51 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Pontiac Silverdome preps for HBO boxing match

WBC champion Devon Alexander and WBO champion Timothy Bradley pose for pictures at the announcement of their 140 lb super lightweight championship bout January 29th at the Pontiac Silverdome.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The owners of the Pontiac Silverdome are making plans for the aging football stadium’s first significant sporting event since they bought it over a year ago.   But the event is more about raising the Silverdome’s profile than making a lot of money.


 When a Toronto developer bought the 80 thousand seat stadium last year for about 600 thousand dollars…he said he had big plans.   But during the past year…the Silverdome has played host to only minor events.  

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State Law
12:24 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Cities react to medical marijuana

Cities across Michigan are slowly reacting to Michigan's medical marijuana law
USFWS

Michigan's medical marijuana law is intended "to provide protections for the medical use of marihuana."

But a) it conflicts with federal law, and b) it does not provide details on how and where registered medical marijuana users can get their pot. Confusion reigns around these issues and court battles are heating up.

Some cities accept the state law and are regulating pot dispensaries through ordinances or zoning laws.

Others are refusing to accept the law and are passing ordinances that effectively ban medical marijuana.

Here we plan to keep a running tally of how cities across Michigan are reacting to the medical marijuana law. Let us know if you have more information that should be posted here!

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Nuclear Power
11:27 am
Tue December 7, 2010

Radioactive Water Spill from Fermi 2

Everything’s back to normal at the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in southeast Michigan after a spill last week.

A drain valve for a filtering system failed and 100,000 gallons of slightly radioactive cooling water overflowed a holding tank. The water contaminated the shoes and outer clothing of some plant workers, but no one was harmed.

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Governor-elect Snyder
10:57 am
Tue December 7, 2010

Snyder's inaugural to be a low-key affair

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder takes the oath of office in Lansing on January 1st, 2011 and The Detroit Free Press is reporting it will be a low-key affair.

Geralyn Lasher will be Snyder's Communications Director.  She told The Detroit Free Press that the Snyder inauguration will not be lavish:

We want people to have the opportunity to participate in a celebration. But there's going to be work to do the day before and the day after ... and the day after that.

Last month The Associated Press reported that Snyder will take the oath of office outdoors and give his inaugural speech on the Capitol steps.

Energy
10:34 am
Tue December 7, 2010

Large scale wind turbine assembly plant lands in Michigan

A wind turbine blade nearly 150 feet long is slung gently onto a flatbed at the Duluth port. A modified trailer is needed to transport the blade.
Stephanie Hemphill MPR

The Detroit Free Press reports that a large scale wind turbine manufacturer plans to locate in Saginaw.

Northern Power Systems of Barre, Vt., intends to use a facility in Saginaw to manufacture its next-generation large wind turbines, expected to be the first ones built in the U.S. using 100% American-made parts.

Building wind turbines has been touted as a way to diversify a manufacturing base built around the automobile. Many auto suppliers in the state are also building parts for wind turbines. No report yet on how many jobs will be created.

But the future of wind power is uncertain. Tax credits and grants to develop wind energy are expiring at the end of the year. And with an ethic of austerity moving into Washington, there are little signs that they'll be renewed.

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Opinion
9:59 am
Tue December 7, 2010

Commentary: Helen Thomas, Again

- By Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's Political Analyst

George Seldes, the great journalist who lived to be almost a hundred and five, said that if you live to be 90, the public forgives all your sins. In some cases, that certainly has been true.

Ronald Reagan’s policies fiercely divided Americans while he was in office, but by the time he died six years ago, he had become  a national icon. But that certainly isn’t always the case.

And sometimes, people’s legacies might have been better if they had lived shorter lives. Take Jack Kevorkian, the apostle of assisted suicide. Had he died fourteen years ago, history would see him differently.  He was regarded as a hero by many people in 1996. Juries had refused to convict him in five separate trials in which there was no doubt whatsoever that he had helped suffering patients commit suicide. Prosecutors in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties said they would no longer press charges against him, making what he did de facto legal.

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News Roundup
9:07 am
Tue December 7, 2010

In this morning's news...

Unemployment benefits deal reached

President Obama says he has reached a deal with Republican lawmakers to extend unemployment benefits. 180,000 Michiganders were going to see their benefits expire by April if a deal was not reached. In exchange for the benefit extensions, Obama agreed to extend the Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels, including the wealthy. The New York Times reports that Obama said the deal is "not perfect, but this compromise is an essential step on the road to recovery." But a battle may still remain, congressional democrats say they have not agreed to any deal yet.

City bans medical marijuana

A fourth city has banned medical marijuana. Wyoming, a suburb of Grand Rapids, passed the ban last night in a unanimous city council vote. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reports that Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll says the ban is not a rebuke of medical marijuana rather "this is a vote against the way it is being dispensed."  Medical marijuana dispensaries have been popping up in different parts of the state after voters approved the medical marijuana law in 2008. The dispensaries are often in nondescript storefronts. The Detroit Free Press reports that Mayor Poll, a pharmacist himself, says medical marijuana should be dispensed like other legal drugs, presumably at mainstream pharmacies.

State to honor Pearl Harbor Day

Governor Granholm is asking Michigan residents to lower flags to half staff today to honor Pearl Harbor Day.  Sixty-nine years ago this morning, Japan attacked U.S. Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 2,334 servicemen and servicewomen were killed. 1,143 were wounded. Granholm says the action also honors current  service men and women:

"We also salute the brave men and women currently stationed around the world, including those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are defending and protecting the freedom our nation holds so dear." 

Medical marijuana
10:07 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

Despite potential legal case, recall effort, city approves medical marijuana ban

People for and against the ban pleaded their case to city council Monday
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A Grand Rapid’s suburb is the latest city to adopt a ban on medical marijuana. Wyoming City Council voted unanimously in favor of local laws that reflect federal rules governing marijuana over the state’s new laws allowing medicinal use.

Mayor Jack Poll, who is also a pharmacist, says they would like to see medical marijuana dispensed as any other drug for the safety of the patient and the city’s neighborhoods.

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Auto/Economy
5:38 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

Granholm hails economic recovery at Chrysler event

Governor Granholm says she’s happy to leave office at a time when there’s good news about Michigan’s economy.

The Governor celebrated the addition of a second shift at Chrysler’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant Monday.

Granholm says the announcement shows the domestic auto industry “is back.” She also cited recent economic data showing an uptick in manufacturing.

The Governor did bemoan the State Legislatures’ failure to approve a new international bridge crossing between Detroit and Ontario.

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Education
5:15 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

Detroit Board of Education wins lawsuit against Robert Bobb

State-appointed emergency financial manager Robert Bobb with a student.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Update: 5:15 pm:

Anthony Adams, president of the Detroit Board of Education, spoke with Michigan Radio about Judge Baxter's ruling. Adams says the ruling "isn't a victory per se":

"The only victory that we’ll have in the city of Detroit is when every child can read, can write, can learn to the best of their abilities, and we as adults have to sit at the table and make sure that we work together in a cooperative fashion."

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Offbeat
5:07 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

High Court rules on "bizarre" toilet paper dispenser case

The Michigan Supreme Court
Michigan Supreme Court court.mi.gov

The Associated Press reports "the Michigan Supreme Court, in a 4-3 order, has refused to throw out Sheri Schooley's lawsuit against Texas Roadhouse in suburban Detroit."

Schooley sued the restaurant after a mishap with a toilet paper dispenser.  Schooley said she was injured in the restroom at the Texas Roadhouse.

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Auto/Economy
3:20 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

Gov. Granholm makes announcement in Sterling Heights

Inside Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant
Barack Obama's Flickr photostream

Update: 3:20pm:

The Detroit Free Press reports on what we expected from the announcement at Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant.

Chrysler will add a second shift in early 2011 of about 900 additional workers. Many of those workers will be workers who are called back from temporary layoff.

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BUSINESS
2:12 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

Borders buying Barnes & Noble? "Bonkers"

Border's shareholders making a quixotic move?
Ildar Sagdejev creative commons

Update: 2:12pm:

Since we posted this story we found this analysis piece by Sarah Weinman of Daily Finance News. She also calls the notion that Borders Books could buy Barnes & Noble a story that has "entertainment value" not much more. Weinman says of Borders Books:

"If a merger was its plan for saving itself, expect B&N's rejection of the deal to accelerate its downward spiral -- an end that, sadly for the publishing industry, is likely to come sooner rather than later."

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Education
2:05 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

MSU receives a spike in illegal file sharing complaints

Students at MSU have received more than 700 complaints of illegal file sharing so far this school year.
User: Extra Ketchup creative commons

Michigan State University students received more than 700 complaints of illegal downloading since September. That’s up from the nearly 200 complaints MSU received this time last year.

Here's how it works:

If a group like the recording industry or a movie studio thinks someone is downloading files illegally, they contact the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and issue what’s called a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint.

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Energy
12:50 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

Testing the offshore winds in Lake Michigan

You have to go into European waters to find offshore wind farms today. The Middelgrunden wind farm near Copenhagen Denmark.
Ilmari Karonen

There are no offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes... yet.

The Muskegon Chronicle reports that "the first floating buoy to test offshore wind energy in Lake Michigan is planned for six miles off the Muskegon shoreline next spring."

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Politics
11:50 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Helen Thomas fires back at Wayne State University

Helen Thomas was a fixture in the front row of the White House press briefing room. Here she waits for a news conference in 2007.
user kellerbn creative commons

Detroit native and a longtime journalist Helen Thomas is outspoken when it comes to defending her controversial comments.

Last week, Thomas defended the comments that got her fired over the summer. In that defense Thomas said that many American institutions are controlled by Zionists.

Here are her comments posted by Politico

"Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is. ... We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way."

The Anti-Defamation League said Thomas has "revealed herself as a vulgar anti-Semite."

After her remarks last Thursday, the Detroit Free Press reports that Wayne State University ended the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award. When the paper called for a comment, Thomas had this to say:

"The leaders of Wayne State University have made a mockery of the First Amendment and disgraced their understanding of its inherent freedom of speech and the press."

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