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Switchblade ban repeal headed to House

Apr 22, 2017
A switchblade.
Torus Mastaz / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Michigan's ban on switchblades could soon be repealed.

The state Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of repealing the ban.

The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, was inspired by 1950s Hollywood movies depicting their use in gang violence. Jones says those depictions were unrealistic and the law is outdated. He says that a switchblade is no more dangerous than other types of small knives, and is not being used in any significant numbers in violent crime.

Humane4 / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Clothing donation bins operated by Houston, Texas-based A.T.R.S. are labeled with claims that 100% of the market value of every donation is given to the Michigan Humane Society. However, an investigation by the Michigan attorney general's office revealed that the company only passed on 6% of its revenues from sales of the donations to the charity, and pocketed 94%.

Chris Chan / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

JCPenney released its list of 138 planned store closures nationwide, including seven Michigan stores. The closures are part of a plan to "optimize its national retail operations" in order to return to profitability, according to the company. It will also relocate a supply chain facility in Buena Park, California. The closures will cut about 5,000 jobs nationwide. JCPenney says it will provide outplacement support services for eligible associates. Liquidation of the stores will begin April 17.

The stores to be closed in Michigan are:

Lakeview Square Mall, Battle Creek

Goats can prove useful in managing urban weed populations.
User rlsycle / flickr.com

Battle Creek residents may soon be able to keep hens, rabbits, miniature goats, and honey bees in their back yards. City commissioners are holding a public workshop on Tuesday, March 21, to discuss the proposal. 

The ordinance would include some limitations. It would not allow roosters, or on-site slaughtering. Licensing and permits would be required to keep the animals, and there would be some guidelines for distance from neighbors and shelters for the animals.

Relative sizes of ticks at different life stages.
CDC

Ticks that carry Lyme disease have become active in Michigan with the recent unseasonably warm temperatures. The range for ticks has been expanding in Michigan for years, bringing with it a spike in Lyme disease cases. 

Jean Tsao, an associate professor at Michigan State University's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, said that a student brought in several ticks that were found on a dog in Lansing.

"The ticks that are out now are the black-legged adults. Those usually overwinter. But they can become active if you have several days that are warmer," says Tsao.

Michigan Dept of Corrections

Lamarr Monson is a step closer to being a free man, after serving nearly two decades in prison for a murder he likely didn’t commit.

A Wayne County judge today ordered a new trial in Monson’s case. New evidence suggests a different man used a toilet tank lid to bludgeon a 12-year-old girl to death in 1996.

Monson was arrested by police shortly after the murder of Christina Brown. 

Donald J. Trump takes the Oath of Office and becomes the nation's 45th President.
White House

Donald Trump became the nation's 45th President at noon on January 20, 2017. 

We provided live annotations and analysis of Trump's speech. NPR reporters, editors, and producers transcribed his remarks in real time and provided footnotes with analysis, context, and fact-checks.

You can watch the inauguration here, or below:

The U.S. Capitol at 6:31 a.m. ET this morning.
Steve Inskeep / NPR

The country inaugurated a new president on Friday, January 20, 2017

Donald J. Trump became the 45th U.S. President after he took the Oath of Office at noon eastern time on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Gov. Snyder delivers his 2017 State of the State address.
House TV

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder delivered his 2017 State of the State address last night.

Snyder focused much of the annual address on his achievements as governor, while insisting there is more work to be done. See more analysis of his speech here.

You can watch the address below:

President-elect Donald Trump.
user Gage Skidmore / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The NPR Politics team and reporters across the newsroom live-annotated a news conference with President-elect Donald Trump. 

Photo of President Obama speaking in Ann Arbor.
Melanie Kruvelis / Michigan Radio

The NPR Politics team and reporters across the newsroom gave us live-annotations to President Obama's farewell address in Chicago on Tuesday night.

You can watch the address here, or below:

General Motors

In another tweet targeting a U.S. company, President-elect Donald Trump is threatening to slap a tax on General Motors for importing one model of a compact car to the U.S. from Mexico.

Fermi 2 plant renewed for 20 more years

Dec 16, 2016
Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station
Nuclear Regulatory Agency

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant's operating license for another 20 years. That will extend the plant's operating license through March 20, 2045.

The approval follows safety and environmental impact studies showing that the plant met standards for its license to be renewed.

"The NRC found that there's reasonable assurance that the plant's systems and functions can still operate safely and be conducted in a safe manner to go ahead and grant the license renewal," says Prema Chandrathil, a spokesperson for the NRC.

Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

As this infographic shows, only Pennsylvania ranks higher than Michigan when it comes to handing out life sentences without the possibility for parole to juveniles.

The U.S. Supreme Court says states have to review these sentences for all those who were convicted and sentenced as juveniles, and that "life without the possibility of parole" should only be reserved for "the rarest of juvenile offenders, those whose crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility."

Click on the graphic to see more.

Device generates energy from movement

Dec 9, 2016
Smart phone
Johan Larsson / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new device developed by researchers from Michigan State University may soon be available for development of wearable devices that harvest energy from walking, touching, or other human motions. The film-like device produces an electrical potential when moved. The researchers showed that it can power an LCD screen, a bank of 20 LED lights, and a keyboard. 

Rick Pluta / MPRN

We followed the twists, turns, and drama surrounding Michigan's presidential recount. Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested the recount in Michigan (and in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania) after stories circulated about the need for a robust auditing system of elections in the U.S. (Read more about that here.)

The number of hate incidents logged during the 10 days after the general election.
Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center released a new report showing that it received 40 hate incident complaints in the 10 days following the U.S. general election on Nov. 8, 2016.

Hate incidents are defined as acts of hostility directed at a person based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The center recorded 22 incidents in Ohio, 16 in Indiana, 25 in Illinois, and 13 in Wisconsin. There were 867 incidents nationwide.

Many hate incidents have been reported by the media in Michigan.

Ann Arbor-based Esperion Therapeutics is riding a wave of renewed enthusiasm for pharmaceutical stocks since the presidential election. Esperion is developing a cholesterol-lowering drug, bempedoic acid, that experts believe may be more effective and less expensive than drugs currently on the market. Bempedoic acid is in Phase III clinical trials and, if all goes well, is expected to hit the market as soon as 2019. 

flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Hundreds of people gathered on U of M's Ann Arbor campus yesterday to protest Donald Trump's election. The president-elect used sexist and racially charged speech for the majority of his campaign.

David Schafer is a senior at U of M.

He says the key for students is to stay involved after the vigil.

“I think it's ensuring that our work does not start and stop tonight or even tomorrow or next week,” he said. “I think it's continuing to challenge people who might be saying problematic things.

Charles Pugh

A former Detroit City Council president and Channel 2 anchor was sentenced to five and a half to fifteen years in prison for criminal sexual conduct with a minor by Wayne County Circuit Judge Thomas Cameron.

The victim, Austin Williams, previously testified that he met Pugh at the Channel 2 (Fox TV) station in March 2003 when Pugh worked there. At the time the sex acts occurred, Williams was 14, below the legal age of consent. 

Williams filed charges in 2013. By that time Pugh had moved on to become Detroit City Council president. 

A classroom in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In what used to be a perfect time for a lesson in how government works, the tone of the presidential campaign is creating uncomfortable conversations in many high school classrooms.

With the presidential election focused on the antics, accusations and scandals involving the candidates, some civics instructors say they've faced questions that typically would not be topics of conversation in their classrooms.

And the degrading talk about women and immigrants in the presidential race is making some students uneasy, says biology teacher Frank Burger of Flint Township.

An emerald ash borer
User: USDAgov / flickr

The emerald ash borer is spreading westward again in Michigan. One of the insects was discovered in a trap set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA placed 122 traps in Upper Peninsula counties that had not yet been invaded by the ash borer. 

West Midlands Police / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

MSU scientists proved that you can trick commercial fingerprint scanners with a 3D-printed fake hand.

The finding was incidental to their goal of testing the accuracy of a set of fingerprint scanners like those commonly used in airports, banks, and police stations.

Detroit Bike City Kendra / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Detroit's popular weekly Slow Roll bike ride was canceled for the second week in a row due to competing events.

About 13% of Michiganders are undecided – enough to possibly make a difference this year
User: Keith Ivey / flickr

As the presidential race tightens, voter turnout could play a decisive role, and a new study warns that some Americans may have a harder time casting ballots than others.

Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, says data from the last presidential election points to serious shortcomings in how polling is managed in communities of color.

Deb Nystrom / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Update Friday, September 23:

Recreation on the Huron River has been resumed and, so far, water tests show no threat to human health, according to an updated press release by the city of Ann Arbor.

It is believed that the leak was caused after a motorist drove through barriers near the entrance to Gallup Park. The investigation of that incident is ongoing.

Raw sewage flowed out of the pipe from Saturday, September 17 to Monday, September 19.

More from the city’s press release:

Courtesy Photo / Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Raymond Harvey has become a familiar face in Kalamazoo. He’s been conducting the state’s third largest professional orchestra for 18 years.

For the past two years, Harvey has taught music at an opera center at the University of Houston. In a letter to the orchestra board this week, Harvey said teaching has always been his calling.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Bicyclists in Kalamazoo are asking city leaders to adopt local laws to help safeguard them against drivers.

The push came after a man struck nine people riding bikes just north of Kalamazoo back in June. 

Charles Pickett Jr. allegedly took prescription drugs before the crash, killing five and injuring four other bicyclists.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

It’s a big week for parents, kids and school administrators. If last year is any indicator, roughly 1.5 million Michigan kids are heading back to school.

Larry Johnson heads security at Grand Rapids Public Schools. This week, his message is simple.

“Pay attention to this yellow bus. It’s important. Our kids will be getting dropped off. They’re not paying attention. They’re excited to get to school,” Johnson said.

In Grand Rapids, people will see more police officers hanging out in school zones, making sure drivers are aware of reduced speed limits near schools.

surgical instrument tray
wikimedia / creative commons

Michigan's Bureau of Community and Health Systems has launched an investigation into dirty, broken, and missing instruments at Detroit Medical Center hospitals.

The investigation was prompted by a report in the Detroit News showing a pattern of improper cleaning and sterilization at DMC facilities,  putting patients at risk for over eleven years.

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