Mercedes Mejia

Reporter/Producer

Mercedes Mejia produces interviews for All Things Considered, including the music segment Songs from Studio East. She also produces content for Stateside. Mercedes relocated to Michigan from New Mexico, where she earned her BA in Latin American Studies and Journalism. She began in public radio as a reporter at KUNM in Albuquerque. She brings extensive video production skills from her work at Univision and Edit House Production.

Courtesy of Susan Hutton

We've been asking Michigan writers to share their thoughts on life before technology, the internet and social media.

Susan Hutton is a Michigan writer and poet. Before having twins, she had some idea of what parenting would be like -- along with the fears and struggles that come with it.

In her essay, Hutton tells us about parenting in the age of cell phones.

Michigan Radio wants to hear from you. If you are a writer and have something to say about life before technology, send us an email with your idea to storyideas@michiganradio.org

 

Courtesy photo / facebook.com

Freshman Republican Congressman Justin Amash opposes a bill that would give the federal government the power to detain American citizens indefinitely, if suspected of terrorist activities.

"The federal government could come to someone’s house, pull the person out of the house and the family could ask, 'why are you taking my husband away?' and the federal government can simply say, 'we don’t have to tell you, he’s suspected of terrorism,'" he said in an interview with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White.

Courtesy of Red Tail Ring

Red Tail Ring is a musical collaboration between Michiganders Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo. 

The two combine traditional American music with their own modern approach. 

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with the duo about their vocal harmonies and lyrical sound.

Here's their live performance at Michigan Radio:

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The duo Red Tail Ring goes back to traditional old-time music--because that’s what they love.

Michiganders Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo’s interpretation of Appalachian and folk songs come from their “strong connection to the outdoors and the natural world.”

Laurel is from the Upper Peninsula and Michael from the Kalamazoo area. The music they play is what you might call “backwoods music.”

“We’re modern people reaching back to older songs and traditions; we’re interpreters and explorers of older culture. Learning from the past is an essential aspect in art, and for us it’s been formative. It’s important to show how older words and melodies can be honored, not compromised, in reinterpretation, and that the world has been doing this since the beginning of time.”

This year they released two albums - the first - Middlewest Chant, is a collection of original songs.

The second album - Mountain Shout - is a compilation of traditional songs.

Red Tail Ring performed in Studio East, here at Michigan Radio, and we were all enthralled by the vibration of the fiddle and banjo--and the eerie harmonies that Laurel and Michael create together.

Here's their performance:

user: mattileo/flickr

With the legislature set to go on winter break next week, there's a flurry of activity at the state capitol. 

In this week's political roundup we look at the state senate bill, which makes major changes to worker’s compensation, the bill to restrict public employers from offering live in and same sex partner benefits, and news about the emergency manager law.

Michigan's emergency manager law was strengthened this year with Public Act 4 which gave emergency managers more sweeping powers.

PA 4 is now facing a number of court challenges.

The group Michigan Forward is gathering signature to put the law to a voter referendum on the November 2012 ballot. As of now they have over 155,000 signatures. They need 161,304 signatures or more.

If they're able to collect those signatures and the petition is approved, the emergency manager law will be suspended until the 2012 election.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder last week appointed an emergency manager to the City of Flint.

Michael Brown got to work immediately, firing seven city staffers - four of whom were mayoral appointees. He also cut pay for the Mayor and City Council.

Here to talk about how city officials and citizens are reacting to the fast action is Bill Ballenger, Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

 

Governor Rick Snyder yesterday named Michael Brown emergency manager for the city of Flint.

Brown is very familiar with Flint. He served as Flint’s temporary mayor when former mayor Don Williamson abruptly resigned. 

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Mr. Brown about his new appointment.

 

Every year the Michigan Humanities Council invites Michiganders to participate in a statewide initiative, the Great Michigan Read. This year’s selection, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, explores a crucial moment in the northern Civil Rights movement—the events leading to the trial of African American physician Ossian Sweet and his family.

On September 9th, 1925 Dr. Sweet and his wife Gladys moved into their new home, crossing the color line into an all-white neighborhood on the east side of Detroit.

Two days later, a crowd of whites gathered in the street to drive the family away. Dr. Sweet and 10 others chose to stay, armed and barricaded inside the house, to defend against the mob. Tensions reached their limit and someone fired into the crowd. Two whites were shot and killed, and the 11 people inside the Sweet home were charged with first degree murder.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice.

Thanksgiving will be celebrated across the country tomorrow. Many of us will spend the day with friends and family, but it’s not always time spent peacefully and harmoniously, especially when our plans for the holiday are challenged.

Michigan based writer, Wade Rouse has been bringing us stories about the holidays throughout the year. Today, he reflects on Thanksgiving traditions and how important it can be to be open to change.

Wade Rouse lives in Michigan and is the author of "It's All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays and 50 Boxes of Wine.”

If you think about it, class is a tricky word. What does it even mean? How do you define it?

Michigan Radio reporters and producers take a look at how social class impacts our lives - from the way we plan our cities and neighborhoods, to the way we’re treated in a courtroom.

We also hear from folks around the state as they share their thoughts on class.

Part 1

This idea of class – class warfare, class resentment. It’s everywhere. And yet, how are we defining class?

Ifmuth / Flickr

Detroit’s financial troubles have been in the news quite a bit recently with Mayor Dave Bing announcing a plan to lay off 1000 city workers and the looming possibility of the state assigning an emergency manager to take over the city’s finances. Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry took a look back at Detroit's history of financial problems.

Technology surrounds us. It seems we’re always connected to something…the internet, cell phones and social media. It can be difficult to unplug sometimes.

As part of our series Before Tech, Michigan writers share stories about their relationship to technology.

Today, writer Natalie Bakopoulos tells us about her college days, before the phenomena of social media.

She is an English professor at the University of Michigan.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

We've been talking a lot about class, what it means, and how we define it.

We took a trip to St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. They’re called the Twin Cities, but they're different.

In Benton Harbor forty-three percent of families live below the poverty line.

In St. Joseph it’s six percent.

And, families in St. Joseph earn more than twice as much as their neighbors across the river.

Here's a video produced by Meg Cramer and Mercedes Mejia who spoke to residents on both sides of the river.

What does Republican Paul Scott's recall mean for Michigan politics and around the nation?

Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service joined Michigan Radio's Jennifer White to talk about the aftermath.

The Michigan Education Association put a lot of money behind the recall effort, but the margin for the vote was very slim.

“If you look at the money spent the pro-Scott forces like the Michigan Republican Party and the state chamber of commerce actually out spent the MEA 2 to 1,” said Demas.

According to Sikkema, Michigan is not alone when it comes to voter's discontent with Republican lawmakers.

He said, “Ohio you saw a rejection of the collective bargaining reform championed by Governor Kasich. Arizona the state senator who introduced the very controversial immigration bill was recalled. So, there’s a larger national context here where there’s a real question whether Republicans are over reaching. ”

Cars, agriculture, tourism, it’s all fair game for people who want Michigan to tap into the Chinese market.

But what does that really mean and who really stands to benefit?

Governor Rick Snyder recently led a Michigan delegation to China.

He says strong economic ties between Michigan and what is now the world’s fastest growing economy are essential to Michigan’s economic growth.

Part 1

Technology surrounds us. It seems we’re always connected to something…the internet, cell phones and social media. It can be difficult to unplug sometimes.

As part of the series, Michigan writers will share stories about their relationship to technology.

Today,  writer Wade Rouse tells us about his rather close relationship to his favorite piece of tech.

Michigan Municipal League

The Occupy movement has expanded beyond Wall Street. A number of cities in Michigan have Occupy demonstrations, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing.

Lansing Mayor, Virg Bernero says he's been "..protesting Wall Street since before it was fashionable." He welcomes the demonstrators.

"It costs money to arrest people and to cordon off areas. And so our goal was to not arrest anybody, and we made that clear when they got here."

Michigan Municipal League

A vote on a bill to build a new Detroit to Windor bridge crossing has failed in the Senate Economic Development Committee. That means the bill won’t be presented to the full Senate. Here to look at the politics surrounding the bridge and what options the Snyder administration has now are Ken Sikkema former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Mercedes Mejia

The City of Benton Harbor says the beach season at Jean Klock Park was a success this year.

But some residents are upset that 22 acres of park land is now used by Harbor Shores Golf Course (see slideshow above to get a sense of how it looks).

The City of Benton Harbor says the golf course has created jobs and provides revenue for the city, but some people argue it’s not enough.

Julie Wiess is with Protect Jean Klock Park.

 “It’s gone through with very little scrutiny actually, of the numbers that have been presented as far as job creation, as far as the amount of development or revenue that will be generated from this development and it’s all pie in the sky and no one has really taken a sharp pencil and figured whether this is realistic," said Wiess.

Tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., a group of Benton Harbor residents will argue in federal appeals court that the golf course developers should not have been given permits they received to build on park land.

Harbor Shores Development is already operating the championship golf course; the opponents say the environmental permits allowing the development were not fair.

user: AMagill / flickr

Third quarter fundraising results are being reported by those in the race for Michigan’s U.S. Senate seat. Here to to look at why the money matters are Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

We also talk about Governor Rick Snyder's comments about his decision to run for a second term.

 

The Cuban hip-hop group Obsesion is in Ann Arbor this week.

Alexey Rodriguez Mola and Magia Lopez Cabrera mix African and Cuban rhythms with hip-hop and world beats. They will perform on Thursday, October 6 at the Michigan League Underground.

Here’s a song titled Tu con tu ballet from their current album “El Disco Negro de Obsesion."

Rapper Magia Lopez says her Afro-Cuban culture is what inspires her.

“The hip-hop culture is very much rooted in the 'barrios,' and in Cuba the majority of people are black, although we have mixed races, so we talk a lot about race issues, what we see and our reality as Afro-Cubans," says Lopez.

user: Widjaya Ivan / flickr

This week we are talking about the politics of language. In the third part of our series we examine how internet technology is being used to disseminate those political catch phrases and messages we all hear and quickly repeat.

Cliff Lampe is assistant professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He says politicians are using social media to their advantage.

user: James Jordan / flickr

The autumnal equinox happened today at 5:05 a.m. ET. It marks the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern hemisphere.

It’s the time of year when temperatures start to drop and the days start to get shorter.

Every year there are two equinoxes, one in March that marks the beginning of spring and one in September that marks the beginning of fall.

National Geographic explains:

The autumnal equinox and vernal equinox are also the only days of the year when a person standing on the Equator can see the sun passing directly overhead. On the Northern Hemisphere's autumnal equinox, a person at the North Pole would see the sun skimming across the horizon, signaling the start of six months of darkness. On the same day, a person at the South Pole would also see the sun skim the horizon, beginning six months of uninterrupted daylight.

Equinoxes explained:

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Today we continue our series on political language. In part one we spoke to a linguist about the power of language and the effect it has on our view of world. In part two, we’re going to look more closely at the political strategy behind language use. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Craig Ruff, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants. Don't forget to check out the extended audio below.

Language is being used more strategically in politics than it has been in the past. Ruff says:

user: mattileo / flickr

The Republican Senate Majority Leader, Randy Richardville, says he favors a right-to-work law that would only apply to teachers and other unionized workers in education. Here to explain the political implications of such a law are former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, Ken Sikkema, and political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, Susan Demas.

 

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.

user: Ed Yourdon / flicker

Gov. Rick Snyder outlined his plan for making Michigan a healthier state. The plan includes the utilization of technology to help track health statistics and to guide people into making healthier choices.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Victor Strecher, Professor at the University of Michigan’s Center for Communications Health Research. Strecher has been working with Gov. Snyder on developing the new health initiative and talks about health issues in Michigan and changes residents can make to improve their health and well-being.

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Gov. Rick Snyder presented a health address on Wednesday that outlines his plan to improve the health of Michigan residents. Here to take a look at the politics behind the plan are Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants. How are Democrats and Republicans reacting to the governor's plan?

 

user: mattileo / flickr

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether a new pension tax law is legal. The revenue from that tax is, “an essential part of keeping Michigan’s budget balanced," according to Governor Snyder. Every week we explore what's happening in state politics. Today we talk with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

 

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