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Politics & Government
3:33 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Candidate reunites 'West Wing' cast, but will going viral help campaign?

Political campaigns are using viral videos to promote their candidates.
Bridget McCormack YouTube

Why would a political campaign want to release an online video that’s part of a genre best known for piano-playing cats?

Why would it risk handing over control of its message to the unruly masses of YouTube and Facebook commenters?

Well, this very article is one reason.

The campaign viral video relies on big names, controversy, or just downright strange content (see Carly Fiorina's "Demon Sheep") to garner the attention of social media users. If all goes well, media outlets will pick up the story.

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Economy
3:38 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Michigan unemployment rate rises for fourth consecutive month

August data from Michigan's DTMB show a four percent increase in the unemployment rate.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

The unemployment rate in Michigan is up four-tenths of a point from last month to 9.4 percent says a new report released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

This marks the fourth consecutive month that Michigan's jobless rate has increased.

The data reveal little change in the labor force, as the total number of unemployed increased by 16,000.

From the report:

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Election 2012
1:35 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Obama, Stabenow remain on top in new Michigan poll

Debbie Stabenow maintains a lead over Pete Hoekstra in a new Michigan poll.
Office of Senator Stabenow

A recent poll of likely voters by Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group has President Barack Obama and Senator Debbie Stabenow maintaining slim leads in Michigan.

MLive has the story:

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Election 2012
1:27 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Nearly 4,000 Michigan voters are not U.S. Citizens says Secretary of State Johnson

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson released a statement claiming nearly 4,000 registered voters in Michigan are not U.S. citizens.
michigan.gov

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson released a statement claiming as many as 4,000 registered voters in Michigan are not U.S. citizens. David Eggert of Mlive has the story:

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Auto
12:06 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Canadian Auto Workers inch closer to deal with GM, Chrysler

Chrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant.
Chrysler

The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union says General Motors is waiting for a counter proposal from the union, and he says there has been significant progress toward a new labor deal.

CAW President Ken Lewenza says the union will make the offer today. He also says progress has been made with Chrysler.

The union reached a tentative deal with Ford earlier this week.

From CBC News Windsor:

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Internet
5:16 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Why are you so mean online?

Social scientists believe anonymity may be the cause of what they call the "online disinhibition effect."
X2N flickr

People are mean on the internet.

This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with chat rooms or the comments sections of blogs. But why do people say things online that they would never say out loud?

A recent article in the Detroit Free Press asked a few experts what they thought.

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Economy
3:34 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency set to layoff 432 employees

The Michigan Unemployment Agency will cut over 400 jobs reports an article from The Detroit News.
Bytemarks flickr

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency will lay off over 400 employees, according to the Detroit News.

The department will lay off 255 permanent full-time employees Oct. 1, on the heels of the Aug. 31 layoffs of 177 part-time temporary workers who were brought in to relieve congestion at the height of the recession. The staffing moves leave about 800 employees with the agency, including about 100 answering phones at the agency's Lansing Call Center.

According to the News, the jobs were covered by federal unemployment funds. As Michigan's jobless rate has decreased, so has the agency's need for supplemental employees.  Spokesman Chawn Greene-Farmer is quoted saying that the 432 layoffs will save about $35 million annually.

But critics of the agency say that service is bad enough as it is.

Kenneth Hreha, 55, of Dryden said he worked more than two years as an unemployment insurance examiner before he was laid off Aug. 31. He said his own claim was delayed because he couldn't get through on the phones. He called 15 times before anybody answered, he said.

"Governor Snyder called taxpayers (the state's) customers,"Hreha said. "When I call Consumers Power, I don't have to call 15 times."

The Detroit News reports that fewer than ten percent of the more than one million calls to the agency's customer service lines in August were answered.

In June, Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reported on citizens dissatisfaction with The Michigan Unemployment Agency's automated response system, MARVIN.

Since then, the agency has reported that it will be getting a $69 million upgrade for it's phone and computer system.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics & Government
1:27 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Update: Voters' rights coalition sues Secretary of State over citizenship checkbox

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is being sued over a controversial citizenship question on this November's ballots.

As Rick Pluta reported yesterday, a coalition of voters' rights groups has filed a federal lawsuit to prevent Secretary of State Ruth Johnson from including a citizenship question on Michigan's November ballots.

Kary L. Moss, executive director for the ACLU of Michigan, said in a press release that Secretary Johnson was "not above the law."

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Education
1:34 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Does everyone need a four-year college degree?

In a speech yesterday, Governor Snyder highlighted the importance of vocational and career training. Do you agree with him?
American Panel

Yesterday, Rick Pluta reported on a speech by Gov. Rick Snyder that called for a reemphasis on vocational and community college education over more  traditional four-degrees.

We posted his story on Facebook, and many of our fans responded with their thoughts. We decided to continue the discussion by sharing some of their comments here.

Facebook fan Karen Hupp Taylor was surprised to find herself agreeing with Gov. Snyder:

I never thought I would see the day I would agree with Governor Snyder, but this is one place that I do. Not everyone should go to college. A lot of young people do because they have been told they will never amount to anything if they don't. Lots of them would like to be carpenters, electricians, and other trades people.

Nothing wrong with a women getting into many of these professions.

So how many women seek this kind of education?

A report by the National Center for Education Statistics notes that participation in vocational education, also known as career and technical education (CTE), is higher for women than men.

Read more
The Environment Report
9:00 am
Fri September 14, 2012

Asian Carp & the Great Lakes: Investing in Carp (Part 5)

Mayor Tom Thompson and Lu Xu Wu, CEO of Wuhan Hui Chang Real Estate (speaking through an interpreter). Wuhan Hui Chang is a part investor in American Heartland Fish Products LLC., based in Grafton, IL.
Adam Allington

by Adam Allington for the Environment Report

As the nation’s civic leaders search for a permanent solution to keep invasive Asian carp from spreading, other parts of the country are betting on the carp’s future.  Across the Mississippi Valley, fishermen and exporters are teaming up to develop the market for carp, and carp products.  Some people hope that selling carp might be the best method for checking their expansion.

When the French explorer Père Marquette traveled down the Illinois River in 1673, his journal tells of encounters with “monstrous fish” so large they nearly overturned his canoe.   

In all likelihood the fish Marquette was talking about were channel catfish, but nearly 340 years later fisherman Josh Havens says it’s bighead carp... and silver carp which now harass boaters on the Illinois (silver carp are the jumpers).

“Oh everybody hates ‘em, except for people that shoot ‘em and stuff like that.  I hate ‘em when I’m trying to tube with my kids, but then when we’re trying to shoot ‘em I like them.  So it’s a love-hate thing.”

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Law
5:21 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Parents sue Michigan DHS over special needs children

Michigan’s Department of Human Services is being sued for failing to disclose to parents that their adoptive children had special needs and therefore qualified for federal aid.

David Kallman is an attorney representing 8 families in the case.  He says because they didn’t know their children had disabilities, so they missed a deadline to claim these benefits for their adopted children, and are now struggling with major medical bills.

He says the families love their kids and want to help them.   But the expenses are decimating them.

A spokesman for DHS says they can’t comment on the case, since the suit won’t be filed until tomorrow, but that they investigate all allegations into wrongdoing.

- Chris Edwards, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Law
1:08 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Four ideas for dealing with poverty, from the man who inspired the welfare reform movement

American Enterprise Institute

Libertarian author and commentator Charles Murray sat down with State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer yesterday to discuss his new book, Coming Apart, which highlights the growing stratification of wealth in America. 

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Politics & Government
11:40 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Michigan seeks to establish veterans' courts

The Michigan Senate passed legislation today establishing a system of veterans' courts.
cedarbenddrive Flickr

A set of bills passed by the state Senate today, the anniversary of 9/11, lays the groundwork for establishing a system of veterans' courts.

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Jake Neher reports:

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Health
4:14 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

West Nile cases significantly higher in Michigan

West Nile virus cases are up.
user trebol-a Flickr

So far this year, Michigan has seen four times as many cases of West Nile virus as it did in all of 2011.  The reason is the dry Michigan weather. 

Angela Minicuci is with Michigan’s Department of Community Health, and says the problem is worse in urban areas, like Metro Detroit particularly, and Kent county which have seen higher case numbers.  Urban areas are where this particular mosquito thrives.

People over 50 are most at-risk for infection, along with people with weakened immune systems, and children.

To minimize exposure, it's recommended that people drain standing water around their homes, repair any holes in screens, and wear insect repellent or avoid the outdoors around dusk and dawn.

- Chris Edwards, Michigan Radio Newsroom

9/11
4:02 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

World Trade Center artifact goes on display at Saginaw history museum

A piece of aluminum cladding from the World Trade Center is going on display at Castle Museum in Saginaw.
Jeff Schrier Saginaw News

A permanent exhibit commemorating the events of September 11, 2001 opens today at the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, reports Emily Pfund at Mlive.com.

A piece of aluminum cladding about 5 feet long and 4 feet wide is the latest addition to the lobby of the museum, 700 Federal in downtown Saginaw.

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Asian Carp & the Great Lakes: Industries worry about basin separation (Part 2)

A sightseeing boat on Lake Michigan near Chicago. Barge and tour boat operators, among other businesses and industries, are concerned about proposals to permanently separate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River system.
Rebecca Williams/Michigan Radio

The issue of keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes has implications for a variety of industries.  Midwest officials are weighing a range of options, including severing the connection between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins.  In the second part of our series on Asian carp, Adam Allington examines the potential economic implications for keeping the carp out of the lakes now, and in the future:

It’s a scorching hot day in East St. Louis, Illinois.  Down by the Mississippi River a tugboat is pushing a flotilla of six light green barges. This 70-mile stretch of river is one of the busiest inland ports in America—a place where grain, aggregate and steel are loaded and shipped up and down the river.

“We operate about 200 barges in all parts of the inland waterways, anything that’s connected to the Mississippi.”

Mark Fletcher runs Ceres Barge Lines.  At any point roughly a quarter of his business is tied up moving freight in and around the Chicago area.  As far as he’s concerned, any carp mitigation strategy that closes or slows shipping on the Chicago canals would be a disaster for his business.

“It would affect us terrifically and it affects the whole industry terrifically because you’ve got so much tonnage that does move up the Illinois River trying to get into the steel mills of Burns Harbor, Indiana, Indiana Harbor, south of Chicago.”

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Agriculture
5:17 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Orchards in Michigan selling more than apples after bad crop

Apple orchards don't just sell apples anymore.
erikadotnet Flickr

Michiganders  heading to their local cider mills and apple orchards this fall might be surprised by what they find. According to an article by the Detroit Free Press, unprecedented damage to Michigan's apple crop has forced local operations into finding new ways to turn a profit.

Writer Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki reports on the extraordinary steps orchards are taking to offset losses:

"We're a little bit like riverboat gamblers this year," said Pete Blake of Blake's Orchard and Cider Mill in Armada. They have six attractions this year, instead of the usual one, including more children's activities and a haunted paintball safari.

According to Walsh-Sarnecki, Michigan's apple crop produced just 2 million bushels this year. That's down from the 26 million produced last year.

In order to keep up with customer demand, orchards and ciders mills must pay two to three times normal apple prices. That means higher prices for consumers along with more hay rides, more haunted houses, and, yes, more "haunted paintball safaris."

Read more
The Environment Report
9:00 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Asian Carp & the Great Lakes: Separating the Basins (Part 1)

The way things were, circa 1900 (before the construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal).
Great Lakes Commission

by Adam Allington for the Environment Report

Earlier this spring, the Obama administration ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speed up a five-year study of options to block invasive Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.  Many biologists say the best solution would be complete separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River watershed.  But basin separation comes with its own multi-billion dollar price tag... and it would require re-plumbing the entire City of Chicago.

This story begins with a nice round number, and that number is 1900… the year the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal was complete. 

Back then, the canal’s opening was touted as one of the biggest civil engineering feats of the industrial age—significant, for completely reversing the flow of the Chicago River away from Lake Michigan and taking all the sewage from the city of Chicago with it.

Over 100 years later, that canal is still doing the same job.

“On any given day, depending on the time of year, approximately 60-80 percent of the volume of the Chicago River is treated municipal wastewater.”

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morning news roundup
8:23 am
Mon September 10, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Lower lake levels-- the good and bad news

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Tue September 4, 2012

State lawmakers propose changes to how land is preserved in Michigan

The Headlands in Emmet County
emmetcounty.org

by Peter Payette for The Environment Report

For decades, communities in Michigan have been preserving land with help from the Natural Resources Trust Fund.  The Mackinac Headlands, Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area and William Milliken State Park in Detroit were all purchased with the help of these grants.  But now some state senators want to change the way the system works.  Some of the groups that use the trust fund say the changes are radical. 

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