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Newsroom

Michelle Huan

Reem Nasr

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State of Opportunity

Megha Satyanarayana

Stateside

Bre'Anna Tinsley

Operations

Foreclosure sign
Jeff Turner / Michigan Radio

Wayne County has begun tax foreclosure proceedings on nearly 75,000 properties, up 34% from 56,000 last year.

Treasury workers last month began posting notices on properties the county plans to auction next fall if owners don't pay taxes or agree to payment plans.

There are 62,000 properties in Detroit owing $326.4 million in taxes, interest and fees that are set to be foreclosed. Motor City Mapping data analyzed by Loveland Technologies indicates that 37,000 of those Detroit Properties are occupied.

High school girls soccer match during the Flint Olympian Games.
Flint Olympian and CANUSA Games / flickr.com

The Flint school district is cutting funding for decades-old events to foster competition between athletes from the city and Canada.

The school board on Wednesday approved plans to eliminate funding for the CANUSA Games and the Flint Olympian Games after learning that the district's deficit grew to $21.9 million.

Detroit Observatory
Adham El-Batal / wikimedia commons

Nestled on a hill between dorms on the University of Michigan campus is a beautifully-preserved time capsule.

From the outside, the Detroit Observatory looks almost new, with its crisp white paint and sharp wooden molding. In reality, the observatory dates back over 150 years to the earliest days of University of Michigan’s founding.

History

Historically, the observatory was much more than simply a building to house telescopes.

Robert Axelrod receiving the National Medal of Science on November 20, 2014.
University of Michigan

President Barack Obama has given the nation's highest honor for achievement in science and technology to a University of Michigan political science and public policy professor.  

Obama presented Robert Axelrod with the National Medal of Science on Thursday during a ceremony at the White House. The president selected him and nine others last month for the medal.

During the National Medals of Technology and Innovation Award Ceremony at the White House, Axelrod was commended for his work:

"Rober Axelrod, University of Michigan, for interdisciplinary work on the evolution of cooperation, complexity theory, and international security, and for the exploration of how social science models can be used to explain biological phenomena."

Axelrod wrote The Evolution of Cooperation, which deals with de-escalating conflict.

Axelrod also has received a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" and has been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.

The medals have been awarded annually since 1959.

NRC

Several environmental and citizens groups argued today against extending the life of DTE Energy's Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in Monroe.

The groups presented multiple safety and environmental concerns about the plant to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. They had been granted permission to intervene in DTE Energy's application for a 20-year extension of its license to operate the Fermi 2 nuclear reactor.  

DTE wants permission to keep the plant open until 2045. Its current license expires in 2025.

Tawni Grosman Lambroff

Not much happens in the tiny Detroit suburb of Pleasant Ridge, Michigan -- I would know, because I grew up there. 

But last spring, an unlikely visitor came to town: a mother deer who was pregnant with a fawn.

People were surprised that the mother deer would choose Pleasant Ridge, because the town is wedged between Woodward Avenue and 10 Mile Road, both busy streets.

After giving birth, fears for the safety of the deer were realized. The mother deer was killed by a car on Woodward, leaving behind her fawn, now known as "Baby."

People in Pleasant Ridge wanted to be sure that the same cruel fate wouldn't befall Baby, so they began taking care of her.

Blue Ocean Faith is an all-inclusive Christian community in Ann Arbor
user Marlith / Flickr

Nine major businesses based in Michigan got top scores for workplace equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual  and transgender workers.  That's according to the 2015 Corporate Equality Index released today by the Human Rights Campaign Fund, a leading national LGBT civil rights organization.

The Detroit 3 automakers were among those ranked highest - along with Kellogg, Steelcase, Whirlpool and Dow Chemical.

user rob zand / Flickr

Monday night "The Daily Show with John Stewart" brought attention to Detroit's controversial water shutoffs during a satirical news bit.

"Daily Show" correspondent Jessica Williams interviewed Nolan Finley of the Detroit News; Detroit Water Brigade Creative Director Atpeace Makita, and attorney Alice Jennings.

According to the Detroit News, Finley was interviewed about three weeks ago. 

Finley described how he approached the interview:

"I tried to present a complex issue as fairly as possible," he said. "They taped me for 90 minutes, looking for the 'gotcha' moment, and I'm pretty sure I probably provided it for them."

In the video, Finely's opinion strongly supports the idea that people should pay their bills and shouldn't be entitled to free water, an opinion the "Daily Show" unsurprisingly mocked.

Some tweeted their support for Finley:

In another tweet, Finley explains that during the initial taping he tried to avoid any further "gotcha" moments.

 

Makita's segment was taped Oct. 23 at the Detroit Water Brigade Headquarters and a viewing party was held last night at Anchor Bar.  You can view the full "Daily Show" interview below. (Go here if you don't see the video below.)  

The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,The Daily Show on Facebook,Daily Show Video Archive

 - Tifini Kamara, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

The Human Rights Campaign has issued this year's Municipal Equality Index, which measures how LGBT-friendly cities are.

Michigan's results are rather divided. East Lansing received a perfect score, making them one of only 15 cities in the country to get 100. Warren, on the other hand, received only a 10.

“We need to not have gaps in the state,” Sommer Foster of Equality Michigan said. “I think we can't have one place where they have a 100% score and another place where they have a 10% score.” 

School bus traversing the snow.
User Kristin Andrus / flickr.com

The latest inspections by the Michigan State Police have cataloged problems in the state's school bus fleet.

And according to Francis Donnelley of the Detroit News "small, rural school districts were experiencing the most problems with their buses during the 2013-14 school year."

According to the "School Bus Inspection Results for School Year 2014" issued by the Michigan State Police, 1,739 buses out of the 16,984 in the state's fleet failed inspection.

Some counties had worse records than others. 

  • In Mason County Central, 13 of 18 buses failed inspection.
  • In Ubly Community Schools in the Michigan Thumb, 9 of 12 failed.
  • In Vestaburg Community Schools in central Michigan, 9 of 9 buses failed.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An audit of the Flint Community Schools has revealed that the district's deficit has risen to $21.9 million dollars. The district is searching for possible solutions, one of which may be state intervention or an emergency manager.

School officials know a solution is necessary, but they disagree that state involvement is the best way to solve their problems. Isaiah Oliver is the president of the Flint School Board. 

Early snowfall and cold temperatures are causing a hold up on dog sled training in the Upper Peninsula.
User Frank Kovalchek / flickr.com

Though seemingly counterintuitive, early snowfall and cold temperatures are causing a hold up on dog sled training in the Upper Peninsula.

The dogs at Team Evergreen Kennel in Skandia Township were excited when the first snow fell, as Tim Wood, Lead Handler, explained to Jennifer Perez from WLUC-TV:

You will let [the dogs] out into the backyard that first snow fall and they just tear around like demons because they know what this time of year means and they get really excited.

Last week, a several-day storm brought up to 42.5 inches of snow to parts of the Upper Peninsula. The dog teams need packed snow to travel on, so they rely on groomed trails for training. Musher Lisa Dietzen explains why trails haven't been groomed yet:

"Some of the trails that we have to use are opened from the snowmobile trail and our snowmobile trail won't open until after gun season, which is another two weeks. So, some of those trails that we rely on to be groomed out aren't going to be groomed out any time soon."

The mushers at Team Evergreen say they're limited as to where they can run their dogs without these groomed trails. For right now, they're running them on a small track on their property.

Michigan's big dog sled race, The UP 200, is scheduled to take place from February 12 - 16.

-Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Farver has been deer hunting for a lifetime.
User Smudge 9000 / flickr.com

Floyd Farver's passion for hunting has spanned decades; at 103 years, he is the "oldest hunter" in the state, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Farver says his grandfather, a civil war veteran, taught him how to hunt more than 70 years ago. Since then, he has gathered countless stories and experiences in deer camp - some he's willing to share, others not so much.

In a conversation with Lydia Lohrer from the Detroit Free Press, Farver recounts his experience hunting during the years of the Great Depression:

“There were no deer in the southern peninsula in those days. We had to go north. We stayed in tents. No one could cook, so we ate mostly beans. And there were no deer. We thought they were mythical creatures,” he says, laughing. “When I finally got one I had to pinch myself.”

Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Paige Pfleger

In a city like Detroit, urban art and outdoor art installments have become a way to beautify neglected spaces. The alleyway between the Z Garage, called The Belt is one of the most recent spots in Detroit to get a facelift — it has been turned into an outdoor gallery where international, national, and local urban artists have contributed murals and graffiti pieces.

Ron, East Side Riders
Corine Vermeulen / Courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts

A new Detroit Institute of Arts exhibit features stories of Detroit residents through portraits taken around the city.

The DIA commissioned Dutch-born Corine Vermeulen to photograph people in diverse communities for the exhibit that opens today and runs through May 17, 2015.

Vermeulen took photos of hundreds of Detroit residents in temporary portrait studios and asked them questions about their current and future vision of Detroit. 

The DIA says the exhibit includes more than 80 photographs from the sessions, including portraits of students, protesters and even custom-bike enthusiasts.

One such custom-bike enthusiast is "Ron," a member of the East Side Riders. Along with having his portrait taken (pictured above), Ron shed some light in an interview with Vermeulen on the reactions he and his fellow East Side Riders have received:

“I mean it was different reactions, some people laughed. A lot of people laugh when they hear the radios on the bike. They go, ‘I can’t believe that’s no radio on there.’ When they get up close, they be like, ‘that’s real nice. That’s real nice.’ But they were just laughing at us. But we still have fun. We just keep it moving. East Side. Keep moving.”

For more portraits and interviews, check out the Detroit Institute of Arts website.

- Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Virginia Gordan

There's a digital divide in health care.

Less than one third of Americans over 65 go online to get information about their health, according to a new University of Michigan study.

And barely 10% of older Americans with low health literacy – that is, who have difficulty finding their way around the health system – use the Internet to access health information.

Helen Levy, research associate professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research and lead author, said the digital divide could lead to disparities in health care and health outcomes.

Michigan State University

Researchers at Michigan State University have developed software to help nab criminals when there is no photo of a suspect or when the photo or video is of very poor quality.

The new FaceSketchID System matches police sketches with large photo databases of mug shots and drivers licenses.

Anil Jain, an MSU professor of computer science and engineering, led the research team.  He said this is another tool for identifying a possible suspect when the police only have visual descriptions from witnesses. "The face-recognition systems which we have match two photos," he said. "But they don't do very well in matching a composite with a photo. So that's the gap which we have filled through our research."

The University of Michigan Health System and the state's largest nurses union have signed a contract that protects nurses who care for an Ebola patient. 

The health system and the Michigan Nurses Association announced the agreement Monday. It includes standards for training and protective equipment, as well as provisions on unchanged salary for a quarantined nurse or a nurse who is infected with the virus.

The hospital has agreed to pay for all medical treatment and follow-up, including psychological testing, for nurses who need it.

Detroit's Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas made their television debut on David Letterman last night.

The band, which hails from southwest Detroit, performed their song "Sorry I Stole Your Man" from their album "Secret Evil."

The group was well received, and at the end of the performance Letterman said, "Wow, that's tremendous! That's it, no more calls! We have a winner ladies and gentleman, right here! Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas!" 

You can watch their performance here: 

Roger Greil, manager of LSSU's Aquatic Research Laboratory, holds up a container full of Atlantic salmon fry that were hatched in the wild, not in the lab's hatchery.
John Shibley / LSSU

Lake Superior State University researchers have determined that Atlantic salmon are naturally reproducing in the St. Mary's River.

The prized game fish were originally native to Lake Ontario, but experienced a massive population decline by the late 1800's. Today, Atlantic salmon are stocked in the St. Mary's River and in other parts of the upper Great Lakes.

Though the Atlantic salmon population remained healthy when maintained by the St. Mary's fishery, the salmon population did not take root naturally, apparently due to a thiamine deficiency.

While conducting research for his senior undergraduate thesis on sturgeon, Stefan Tucker found what he suspected were Atlantic salmon fry in the St. Mary's River. His identification was later confirmed by University of Michigan taxonomist Gerald Smith. Tucker and a team of researchers concluded that the Atlantic salmon population is indeed naturally reproducing.

A press release from Lake Superior State University explains the implications of this finding:

The discovery is not only exciting for those at LSSU, the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, and others who have been involved with stocking Atlantic salmon in the upper Great Lakes for more than two decades, but also to anyone who follows the changing dynamics of the Great Lakes, especially in relation to lake trout and salmonids.

Though this discovery answers one question, it begs others.

Tucker concluded his thesis by stating that "the extent of natural reproduction and mechanisms influencing reproductive success are unclear and warrant further attention."

- Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

LGBT flag.
Guillaume Paumier / Flickr

A coalition of business and civil rights leaders is expanding an effort to lobby Michigan's Legislature to make it illegal to discriminate against gay and transgender people.

The Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition consists of representatives from over two dozen local and national companies, including Google, Dow Chemical Company, and Zingerman's, as well as various local associations and chambers of commerce.

Map showing counties with the highest and lowest voter turnout.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The overall voter turnout for Michigan was a bit underwhelming this election cycle - less than half of those people eligible to vote in Michigan showed up at the polls on Election Day.

But what about individual counties? Which had the best voter turnout, and which had the worst?

Here's what we found from data provided by the office of the Michigan Secretary of State:

Counties with lowest voter turnout:

A scene in Portland.
user Ian Sane / Flickr

On November 4, voters in five Michigan cities voted to decriminalize marijuana possession.

  • Berkley
  • Huntington Woods
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Port Huron
  • Saginaw

These are the most recent cities to do so. But decriminalizing a federally illegal substance is complex. These laws leave a lot up to the interpretation of local law enforcement officials. 

Decriminalizing marijuana began back in 1972 in Ann Arbor, and has really picked up steam over the last few years. Here's an overview of the cities that have decriminalized marijuana in Michigan, when they did so, and what it means for residents and law enforcement.

Michigan Humane Society

The Michigan Humane Society recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art animal care center in Detroit.

The new facility will offer improved animal housing, expanded veterinary and rehabilitation services, a home for its cruelty investigation and rescue operations, and a community dog park.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor Public School voters have rejected a proposal to annex Whitmore Lake Public Schools.

Scott Menzel heads the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

He says it's hard to know what will happen next.

“We've got an Ann Arbor (School) Board election. They'll have at least two new board members on the board and they'll have to decide what they want to do,” Menzel said. “With respect to Whitmore Lake, they're going to go back to the drawing board and do what they need to stay out of deficit.”

Amtrack will be adding 18 trains to its Wolverine Line over Thanksgiving.
JP Moore / flickr.com

Amtrak announced on Saturday that it will be adding 18 trains in Michigan during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

According to an Amtrak press release

The busiest travel days are the Tuesday and Wednesday  before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday. Other than Thanksgiving Day, morning  trains typically have more available seats than those in the afternoon and evening.

Over the past few months, Michigan Radio hosted live call-in shows with the candidates for Michigan governor and U.S. Senate.

The broadcasts were part of the Michigan Public Radio Network’s “Michigan Calling” series of 2014 election specials.

Rick Pluta, the Michigan Public Radio Network’s state Capitol bureau chief, hosted each hour-long program.

Listeners had the choice of calling in or submitting questions via Facebook at “Michigan Calling,” or Twitter using the hashtag: #MICalling.

You can watch or listen to the programs below.

Andrea Church / Morguefile

Whistleblowers in Michigan could earn up to a $5,000 reward if their tip leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the abuse of farm animals. The Humane Society of the United States has launched a national tip line where callers can report animal abuse at farms, slaughterhouses or livestock auctions.

Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States, says as a result of their undercover investigations, they have found animal abuse at factory farms and slaughterhouses is rampant in the U.S.

An "exoplanet" orbiting a distant sun.
Jet Propulsion Lab/CalTech

In recent years, more than 1,800 exoplanets (planets that orbit a sun outside of our solar system) have been discovered across the universe by telescopes such as the Kepler Space Telescope. Hiding among these planets are some that researchers hope could perhaps be hospitable for life. 

The International Astronomical Union is now opening up the opportunity for the public to become involved with this exciting age of planetary discovery through its "Naming Exoworlds Contest."

Estimates of homeless people by state.
US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Federal and state officials disagree on the number of chronic homeless that are living in Michigan.

In its 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that Michigan had a 6.1% increase in homelessness cases from 2013 to 2014, one of the highest in the nation, up 700 from 11,527 to 12,227. 

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