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Politics & Government
5:02 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Some Michiganders protest against unaccompanied minors coming here

Dozens of Vassar residents and people from out of town gathered in front of city hall Monday evening.
Credit Michelle Huan / Michigan Radio

Things got pretty heated in Vassar this week. But there's also a ton of misinformation out there.

Some of the chaos at the U.S. and Mexican border has made its way to Michigan.

About 75 protesters turned out last night in in the tiny, mid-Michigan town of Vassar, population roughly 2,600. 

That's where a juvenile center is in talks to potentially house some of the unaccompanied minors flooding into this country from Central America.

Michigan Radio's Kate Wells sent us this field report. 

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Breaking
4:46 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Michigan Supreme Court rules juvenile lifers not entitled to re-sentencing hearings

Credit user FatMandy / flickr

The Michigan Supreme Court says felons sentenced as juveniles to life without parole won’t get new sentences.

That’s despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says it’s cruel and unusual punishment.

The question was whether the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller vs. Alabama applies retroactively in Michigan to more than 300 inmates sentenced as juveniles to life without parole, or if it only applies to future cases.

A four-to-three majority on the state Supreme Court says it would present too many financial and logistical barriers to go back and find lost witnesses and evidence for new sentencing hearings.

The Miller decision says mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional because they don’t take into account each child’s circumstances.

States have split on how to handle the Miller decision, which suggests the issue could yet be headed back one day to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stateside
4:32 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

College tuition is expected to rise in Michigan

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Everyone who writes a tuition payment check has one question: Is tuition going up?

Jake Neher, Lansing reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network said that tuition is going up all over the state.

There is a limit to the increase at 3.2%, otherwise institutions will lose state aid.

“Most major universities, other than U of M and MSU, are going right up to that cap in this year’s tuition increases,” Neher said.

Neher said budget leaders and the Legislature may not be too happy about the increase, given that the governor just signed the largest increase in state aid for higher education in years.

The new budget increases higher education spending by about 5.9%.

Neher added that Michigan State University is using a two-tier tuition increase. Tuition for juniors and seniors will go up more than freshmen and sophomores. Neher said that MSU did this because it costs more money to educate seniors.

Funding for the Michigan Tuition Grant Program will also increase 5.9%. This affects students who are in financial need who want to go to private colleges. 

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
4:21 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

A new board game that explores Mackinac Island

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The board game is actually five games in one.

There is a new board game called “Mackinac Island Treasure Hunt.” It was created to get people thinking more about Michigan's natural beauty and historical treasures.

Jim Muratski, co- creator with Barbara Overdier, said they came up with the idea when they were in the woods thinking to themselves, “what’s a good way to have other people see what’s happening out here?”

“I think people are used to just visiting the downtown part of Mackinac Island and not really getting out into the state park area, which we find pretty fascinating,” Muratski said.

The board game is actually five games in one. There is a card game, a nature hike board game, a cooperative scavenger hunt game, a memory game, and a treasure hunt game.

More information on the board game is available here

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
4:19 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

The Cell Block 7 Prison Museum catalogs the prison's history

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's been known for decades as the world's largest walled prison - the State Prison of Southern Michigan in Jackson.

Now some of the very colorful stories from that prison and from Jackson are told in the new Cell Block 7 Prison Museum. It's a joint venture of the Ella Sharp Museum and the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The museum is renting part of cell block seven, which still houses inmates.

MLive’s Leanne Smith said the museum covers the history of the prison, the inmates, wardens, and guards since 1838.

“It is an actual cell block,” Smith said. “You walk in and there is no doubt as to where you are.”

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
2:30 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

"He Plays A Harp" A West Michigan Mom's story of her son with CP

Credit robertafking.com

Noah's mother, Roberta King, is from West Michigan.

His name was Noah. He was born with cerebral palsy. When he was 17, he lost his battle against infections that had ravaged his lungs.

Noah's mother, Roberta King, is from West Michigan. She has shared the story of her son's life in her new memoir He Plays A Harp.

“It’s a joy to me to bring him to people that never knew him. And I think through that I feel a little less of the loss,” King said.

The story starts with the Noah’s conscious decision to die and then walks through his parent’s journey in dealing with the loss.

“A lot of parents experience the birth of their children. And, gratefully, not a lot experience their death,” King said. “I wanted people to know what that was like to walk your child from one place to another.”

*Listen to full show above. 

Economy
2:22 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Oil, coal approaching "Kodak moment" says analyst

Large-scale oil projects are becoming too costly, says oil industry analyst
Credit Adee Braun / Changing Gears

An analyst who tracks the fossil fuels industry says natural economic and political trends will make the fight against global warming easier than many people predict.  

Phllip Verleger runs PKVerleger, LLC, which provides economic consulting to firms, governments, and individuals on energy and commodity markets.

Verleger thinks global oil use will plummet much faster than most people believe, for three main reasons.

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Stateside
1:47 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Why were 30 million pounds of tart cherries left to rot on the ground?

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Michigan Radio

Get this, 75% of the nation's tart cherries are grown in Michigan, most of that in the northwest Lower Peninsula.

But every year the industry that brings us cherry pies and the Traverse City Cherry Festival faces restrictions set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ron French, the Senior Writer for Bridge Magazine, said because so many tart cherries are grown in such a small area, the weather can greatly affect the crop. So the USDA puts a limit on the percentage of Michigan's tart cherry crop that can be sold so prices don't swing too dramatically.

“The result of that is that in some years as much as one half or more in cherries produced in Michigan is left rotting on the ground,” French said.

Most growers favor restrictions, but one food processing company in Elk Rapids is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

French said Elk Rapids is hoping to remove the restrictions on cherries completely.

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Law
12:30 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Music duo Insane Clown Posse loses gang lawsuit

Fans of the band Insane Clown Posse, known as Juggalos and identified by their grease facepaint, have been accused by the FBI of gang activity.
Credit Jen Sadler / flickr

DETROIT - A judge has dismissed a lawsuit aimed at scrubbing an FBI report that describes fans of the rap-metal duo Insane Clown Posse as a loosely organized gang.

Detroit federal Judge Robert Cleland says the government isn't responsible for acts by local police agencies that use the 2011 report.

Fans of Insane Clown Posse are known as Juggalos. The FBI report labels the Juggalos as a "loosely organized hybrid gang," although that description isn't part of the most recent national report on gangs.

Juggalos say their reputations have suffered because they have jewelry or tattoos with the group's symbol, a man running with a hatchet.

The lawsuit was dismissed last week. The Insane Clown Posse is Joseph Bruce, known as Violent J, and Joseph Utsler, known as Shaggy 2 Dope.

Auto
12:01 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Ann Arbor latest city to tangle with Uber, Lyft

Screen for getting a ride on Uber or Lyft
Credit Flickr

The app-based, taxi-like services UberX  and Lyft are in talks with the city of Ann Arbor - after the city sent the companies a "cease and desist" letter. 

This is just the latest of many legal tangles across the country for the companies, which are operating in a new grey area of transportation-for-hire. 

The companies say they are "rideshare services."  State and local transportation officials call them "transportation network companies," but insist that many of the regulations applying to traditional taxis also apply to these new services.

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Stateside
11:48 am
Tue July 8, 2014

What will get "millennials" into the voting booth?

Credit Theresa Thompson / Flickr

“With our generation and having Twitter and Facebook, we are blasted with a lot of the 24 hour news cycle

The curtain is closing on baby boomers, as the so-called "millennial generation" is taking up a larger share of the electorate. This voting block surpasses seniors who are eligible to vote.

But many millennials are not politically engaged.

“We feel that as one voice, as a younger person, we don’t have a lot of say in politics and I think that also drives their decision to remain out of the discussion as well,” said Connor Walby, a millennial and the campaign manager for State Rep. Frank Foster, R-Petoskey.

Walby also said the negative messages in politics that are seen on social media affect millennials' decision to vote as well.

“With our generation and having Twitter and Facebook, we are blasted with a lot of the 24 hour news cycle. And with that you also get a lot of the negative news coverage,” Walby said.  “I think a lot of our generation is pretty sick and tired of some of the policies that have been put in place and they are just sick of the politicians and the political atmosphere in general.”

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Health
11:15 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Detroit, Flint get $9 million for doctor training

Credit User apoxapox / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit and Flint areas are getting nearly $9 million to help train new primary care providers.

Most of the money announced Monday goes to the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority for training in family medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. Flint's Hamilton Community Health Network is getting $900,000 for family medicine training.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the money is part of $83.4 million in Affordable Care Act funding to support primary care residency programs nationwide. Overall, it will help train more than 550 doctors during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Opinion
10:54 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Her feisty character and other reasons to remember Michigan's only First Lady

Patricia Hill Burnett, who was famous back in the 1970s as sort of the quintessential Republican feminist, will be 94 in a few months.

She is still defiantly pro-Equal Rights Amendment, pro-choice, and on economic issues, Republican to the core.

She was runner-up to Miss America 72 years ago, and went on to become both Michigan’s unofficial state portrait painter and the woman who started the state chapter of NOW, the National Organization for Women.

Comfortably wealthy, she always dresses and talks, as Detroit News columnist Laura Berman says today, “like a local, more highly educated version of Zsa Zsa Gabor.”

I went to see her earlier this year when she was recovering from a brief illness, and she told me that she felt sad that many young women did not want to be called feminists any more.

She was also sad that younger women didn’t know anything about Betty Ford.

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Culture
9:56 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Philanthropist and former Steelcase chairman Peter Wege dies at 94

Peter Wege.
Credit Steelcase

"Do all the good you can for as many people as you can for as long as you can."

- Peter Melvin Wege

The Former Steelcase Inc. chairman and philanthropist Peter Wege died at his home in Grand Rapids yesterday.

He was the son of Peter Martin Wege, who founded Steelcase more than a century ago. Steelcase and rival office furniture manufacturers Haworth Inc. and Herman Miller Inc. anchored the Grand Rapids area's economy for decades.

Peter Melvin Wege created his foundation in 1967. It has given away millions, much of it in his hometown.

More about Wege from his obituary:

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Stateside
4:39 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Michigan's K-12 budget, who gets what?

Credit user: Jimmie / Flickr

Democrats are accusing Governor Snyder of gutting public education, but Governor Snyder says that’s not so. This year’s education budget is a billion dollars more that it was in 2010, the year before he took office.

There is nearly $14 billion in the education budget.

“It’s really a fight over how we want to spend this large sum of money that we are setting aside for schools every year,” said Brian Smith, MLive education reporter.

In the budget, each school district will get a minimum of $50 additional dollars per pupil, while those who have lower funding may receive an extra $175 equity payment.

Critics say this method disproportionately distributes more money to charter and cyber schools.

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Environment & Science
4:33 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Demolished GM plants could get cleaned up next year

Credit Sean_Marshall/ flickr

Three demolished General Motors plants could get state approval for cleanup, starting next year.

The Racer Trust took over all of GM's shut down sites after the company's bankruptcy in 2009. Now the trust is awaiting approval from the Department of Environmental Quality for a remediation plan for the Lansing-area properties.

The goal is to redevelop them for other uses, like industrial parks or housing units.

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Law
4:31 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Protests Monday night against migrant children coming to Michigan

Credit via Center for American Progress

UPDATE 10:49 PM 

Some 75 protestors and several police officers filled the front lawn of Vassar's city hall Monday evening.  

Even though officials say these kids would stay in the juvenile camp for housing and school while they're going through the asylum, or more likely, the deportation process, lots of people expressed concern about what it would mean for the town. 

"More crime," said Josh Barnes, of Vassar, when asked why he was worried enough to come out and protest.

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Stateside
4:15 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

HIV cases in Washtenaw County hit a 15 year high

Scanning electron micrograph of HIV particles infecting a human H9 T cell, colorized in blue, turquoise, and yellow.
Credit NIAID / Flickr

A total of 33 new HIV cases were reported in Washtenaw County in 2013. That's 37% more than the cases reported in 2012. This is the highest number of cases in the County since 1999. This also reflects a trend happening in Southeast Michigan.

Cathy Wilczynski is a nurse practitioner and program supervisor at Washtenaw County Public Health. She said most of the newly infected are younger.  

“We have ten new cases between the ages of 15 and 24. That is unheard of,” Wilcynski said.

The cases are clustered in the African-American and gay communities. Nearly 80% of the cases in the region involved men who identified themselves as men who have sex with men.

Wilcynzski said one of the reasons for the increase could be that the message that HIV exists is not real to those under 30.

“We need to come up with a new message. We need to figure out what message is going to work,” she said. “I had someone tell me the other day that there is no ownership to that message anymore.”

*Listen to full story above. 

Stateside
4:09 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

The untold story of the gay rights movement in Detroit

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Every movement has its landmarks and history, and that holds true for the gay rights movement.

LGBT history has landmarks in New York, with The Stonewall Inn, Christopher Street, and the theater district.

San Francisco has the Castro and Market Districts, and the San Francisco City Hall where Harvey Milk was assassinated.

Chicago has the Old Town Triangle District and the home of early gay rights leader Henry Gerber.

But what about Detroit? LGBT historian Tim Retzloff says there is a rich history of Detroit’s gay community that has not been properly told.

Retzloff corrected that omission with the dissertation that earned his PhD from Yale: two volumes, 680 pages, taking an exhaustive look at gay life and history in Detroit and its suburbs from 1945 to 1985.

“Detroit had a different story than what you are finding in New York and San Francisco, or even the other cities that had been done,” Retzloff said.

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Environment & Science
4:00 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Vacant lots in Flint are becoming urban gardens

Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

There are more than 12,000 vacant lots in Flint, and Genesee county is trying to change that.

Edible Flint is a non-profit organization that helps residents turn these vacant lots into urban gardens.

The group offers classes, resources and helping hands to get new gardeners started.

This year the group will host its sixth annual Food Garden Tour.

The tour will provide transportation to 15 gardens around the city that showcase different techniques of local growers.

Deb Hamilton is with Edible Flint.

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