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Michelle Huan

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State of Opportunity

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Vu Bui / Flickr

Friends, partners or neighbors in Michigan who make legal medical decisions for a person when alive are not allowed the same right when the person passes away.

House Bill 5162 would change that by allowing someone who is not related to the individual to be designated as his or her funeral representative.

Anita Clos, assistant director of medical social work at the University of Michigan, says social workers witness the trauma families experience because of the way current law works.

Jennifer Guerra

For a kid caught stealing a $30 bracelet from a store,  juvenile court would likely be the next stop.

But a "teen court" program in Detroit gives some teenagers a chance to avoid the juvenile justice system. It's one of about 1,000 programs across the country.

The teen court model still doles out consequences for kids who break the law, but the idea behind it is less about punishment and more about getting kids on the right path. Teenagers are involved in every aspect of the program. They are "lawyers" and "jury members," not just defendants.

Fuddy duddy!

If you use the word ‘fuddy duddy’, young people might just think you are one.

This week on That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan talk about the rise of fashionable words.

After using the word in class, Curzan states that her students had no idea what she was referring to. When she asked whether they knew what she was talking about, only a few students knew what a ‘fuddy duddy’ was.

A young man (no relation to Andersen) sitting near Brighton Mill Pond. Was he whispering expletives under his breath too?
User: raymond beardsall / Flickr

The name of the rally was coined after a phrase uttered by a Brighton 19-year-old.

According to Amanda Whitesell of LivingstonDaily.com, Colin Andersen was hanging out in Brighton with his friends when things went wrong:

Colin Andersen, 19, was hanging out with friends April 11 in a parking lot next to the pavilion and Imagination Station when he became upset that a friend, who had been ticketed for skateboarding, was told by police to leave. He said he swore under his breath, saying “This is f------ bulls---.”

He said no children were around or heard him swear.

However, police ticketed him for disorderly conduct. Andersen challenged the ticket in court and lost; he was fined $200.

user Tyrone Warner / Flickr

A new poll done by EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV indicates that same-sex marriage has lost support in Michigan. 

In 2013, the poll indicated that 51% supported same-sex marriage, and 41% said they opposed.

If it were put to a vote now, however, the poll found that only 47% would vote yes and 46% would vote no. The other 7% were either undecided, or refused to say. (The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4%.)

You can see the results from EPIC-MRA here (see question 26).

Stephen Harlan / Flickr

new report from the Blight Removal Task Force says that there's a lot of buildings that need to be eliminated in Detroit.

Yesterday, Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace interviewed Erica Gerson.

She's the chair of Detroit's Land Bank Authority. The organization deals with identified blight in the city and makes buildings usable again.

Listen to their conversation here:

Update: May 28, 2014

The one-minute story-writing contest will be featured on Stateside. Listen to the audio by clicking the link above. 

Michigan Radio has selected the winners of the station’s Great Michigan Read “One Minute” story-writing contest. The theme for the contest was “Hidden branches of your family tree: Unexpected stories that changed the way you think of yourself or your family.” Listeners were asked to submit a maximum 120-word story on the topic, and more than 175 stories were submitted. 

The winners selected were:

The Cracked Mirror, by Christopher N. Blaker (Click here to read the full story)

Story read by Michael Arnold

The Revelation, by Mary Seelhorst (Click here to read the full story)

Story read by Kathleen Beardmore

Pen Pals, by Jennifer Young (Click here to read the full story)

Story read by Adrienne Pisoni 

The story-writing contest was held in conjunction with the Michigan Humanities Council’s Great Michigan Read program. The Great Michigan Read aims to connect Michigan citizens by exploring our history, our present, and our future as discussed in a single literary title. 

XGamesDetroit / YouTube

Imagine the streets of Detroit running rampant with car races, motocross competitions, skateboarding, and other insanity. 

That's what the organizers of ASSEMBLE pictured when they created this video to convince ESPN to choose Detroit as the new home for its summer X Games. 

Despite the epic video, ESPN chose Austin for the games. But the energy and the spirit of the campaign lives on in ASSEMBLE, a group that aims to use community engagement to rebuild Detroit.

One of the recent efforts of ASSEMBLE is offering a way for new voices to become a part of important policy conversations in Michigan – the kinds of conversations that happen at the upcoming Mackinac Policy Conference put on by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

For those of you who can't afford the $2,700 ticket, ASSEMBLE@Mackinac(ish) could be for you. 

Garret Koehler and Kevin Krease, the co-creators of ASSEMBLE, and they joined us to share what exactly ASSEMBLE@Mackinac(ish) hopes to accomplish. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

– Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week on All Things Considered, host Jennifer White talks about the status of state support for the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings and the risk of political fallout for lawmakers who support such measures.We have that conversation with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, 

Recently, Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by billionaires David and Charles Koch, announced they would run ads against a grand bargain for Detroit and against any Republican lawmaker who votes to support such a plan.

According to Ken Sikkema, while there may be some political risk involved for Republican lawmakers, it is imperative that the Legislature moves on this issue to get Detroit out of bankruptcy promptly.

Listen to the full interview above.

Open Books

It's finally summertime – time to relax on that lawn chair out in the sunshine and read a good book. 

Amazon.com has published its fourth annual list of the most well-read cities in America, and Ann Arbor is ranked sixth.

The ranking is determined by compiling sales data of all books, magazines, and newspapers,  published in print or online. 

At the top of the list is Alexandria, Virginia, followed by Miami, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee. Ann Arbor is followed by other college towns, like Berkeley, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Andrew Kopietz

Writer's residencies are common, but Write A House offers a residency that might only be possible in a city like Detroit. The group renovates vacant houses and gives them away, for free, and forever. 

The unique program has opened up its application process, and in a few months, a panel of judges will select one fiction, nonfiction, or poetry writer to live in the inaugural house. 

Write A House Vice President Sarah Cox told Michigan Radio reporter Kate Wells that they want to draw more literary talent to Detroit.

Many writers get tripped up about when the word “its” has an apostrophe and when it does not.

On this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss the oftentimes confusing placement of the apostrophe.

The word “it’s” with an apostrophe is a contraction of “it is,” just as “can’t” is a contraction of “cannot.” If “its” is referring to the possession of something, no apostrophe is required. The same is true for the pronouns hers, ours and yours.

Luke Hayter / Flickr

All honorably discharged military veterans would be guaranteed in-state tuition at Michigan's public universities and community colleges, under a plan that has cleared the State House.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, says the proposed constitutional amendment would benefit the state economically. He says it would attract veterans and their families to live and work here.

Larry Farr / Morguefile

Helping prison officials and the families of prisoners communicate better is the goal of a pilot project at three Michigan prisons. So is providing support to the families of prisoners.

The privately funded Family Participation Program will partner with the Michigan Department of Corrections.

MDOC spokesperson Russ Marlan says it's hard for family members to negotiate the unfamiliar world of prisons. 

He said having an independent liaison for each prison will make it easier for family members to get their questions answered.

What the GIF?

On this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss the pronunciation of the word “GIF” and the role of technology in producing new words.

Technology has given us the new word GIF and we have to figure out how to pronounce it. According to Curzan, there is a debate about that.

“A ‘GIF’ is a computer file format used for the compression and storage of digital video images. It’s an acronym for Graphic Interchange Format, which goes back to 1987,” Curzan says.

Upon further investigation by Curzan into the word GIF, she found that the original creator of the word elaborated on the proper pronunciation of GIF.

Image made by Mark Brush

A recent Gallup poll found that 37% of people in Michigan would rather live somewhere else. But only 11% of those polled were "extremely likely or somewhat likely" to move in the next 12 months.

So that sparked a question: Why do people stay in Michigan?

Why do you stay?

Is it Lake Michigan? (Maybe.) Your family? Your job that you love? The Lions? (doubtful...) 

Whatever your reason, share it with others.

The Michigan State Capitol.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the state legislature has been steadily moving on a number of items that had trouble gaining traction in the legislature. Progress has been made on funding for roads, teacher evaluation legislation, and state support for the Detroit bankruptcy. With both the August primary and the November election approaching, state lawmakers moved on these issues in order to complete the budget by early June.

Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, spoke with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, about the recent developments in the state legislature.

user: Vanillase / Wikimedia Commons

A recent Oxford University report estimates that robots could replace nearly half of the current U.S. workforce.

The report found that office administrators, sales personnel, and those in the service industry are among those at risk of losing their jobs to robots.

Robots have become common in many workplaces since General Motors installed the first robot at a plant in New Jersey in 1961 ("Unimate," as it was called, could weld and move parts that weighed up to 500 pounds).

So can humans keep up, or at least keep ahead of the technology that is changing the workforce?

These are especially important questions here in Michigan, with its historic ties to the auto industry that makes up about 40% of the global supply of industrial robots. 

Stephen Spurr, Chair of the Department of Economics and professor at Wayne State University, joined us today to explore the possibilities (You can listen to our interview with Spurr above.)

 

#155118225 / gettyimages.com

People seeking Ann Arbor city jobs will no longer need to disclose criminal convictions on their job application forms.

If you learned to type on a typewriter, you probably learned to put two spaces after a period.

On this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss the online debate raging about the number of spaces to place at the end of a sentence.

User: mattileo/flickr

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

This week, Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, examines the latest developments surrounding the Detroit bankruptcy case. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr spent two days in Lansing this week, trying to galvanize lawmakers to support a grand bargain to reinforce Detroit pensions while protecting the Detroit Institute of Arts. The state is being asked to contribute $350 million, but House Speaker Jase Bolger has balked at the proposal.

Ken Sikkema emphasizes that because it is an election year, Speaker Bolger will have a difficult time getting full Republican support to contribute state money to help with Detroit’s financial woes, and that in order for a deal to proceed where the state will contribute financially, it will rely on bipartisan support.

“The speaker is walking a fine line here, between driving a hard bargain to show that Republicans actually got something in the way of more accountability so that this doesn’t happen again,” Sikkema explains. “Down in Detroit, the pieces are starting to fall into place to make this happen and the last big piece is state participation. But he’s never going to get full Republican support for this, particularly in an election year, it’s going to have to be a bipartisan vote.”

Detroit News Staff / Walter P. Reuther Library

In the 1920's, Belle Isle was a secret port for smuggling alcohol into the U.S. from Canada. The island was teeming with mobsters on little motor boats who brought liquor over by the jug-full. 

Now that Belle Isle is a state park, alcohol is back to being outlawed, and the place is being patrolled by state police and the Department of Natural Resources.

Many Detroiters have complained that the police are unfairly targeting drivers on the island.

According to Joe Guillen of the Detroit Free Press, since becoming a state park earlier this year there have been about 500 arrests. Among those who were pulled over were Detroit's city clerk, and even the city's mayor Mike Duggan. 

Cedar Bend / Flickr

Michigan voters could see a question about increasing the minimum wage on the ballot this year. A petition drive is under way to collect enough signatures. But one Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill to increase the minimum wage in Michigan. Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, wants to increase the minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 an hour and an increase from $2.65 to $2.75 an hour for tipped workers.

“I’m suggesting that this is a good alternative," Jones says. "I don’t want to see all these waiters and waitresses lose these jobs; many of them are single moms who depend on this income and this is very good income for somebody typically with just a high school diploma."

Jones believes that minimum wage is intended as a starter job and that there are good jobs in Michigan, but that companies are having a difficult time filling those positions. Jones emphasizes that people need to understand the risks behind a possible ballot proposal to increase the minimum wage.

    

We have found many ways to say curse words without actually saying them.

On this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss euphemisms for taboo words.

The presence of euphemisms shows how impactful words can be. Curzan describes, "Words are enormously powerful and they can do a lot of damage, which is why with some of them, we find ways to get around actually saying them."

One of the first English-language euphemisms for a taboo word was "criminy," which showed up in 1681. Speakers used this word to avoid saying "Christ."

The origins of "gee," as in "gee willikers" or "gee whiz," are less clear. Some linguists believe these euphemisms came from "gee willikens" as a substitute for "Jerusalem," which was a common exclamation of surprise in the 19th century.

Spendthrifts are more spendy than thrifty, so the word spendthrift doesn’t seem to make much sense.

This week on That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss the seemingly oxymoronic word spendthrift.

While thrifty refers to being economical with money, spendthrift means the exact opposite—someone who spends money irresponsibly. Curzan explores the etymology of thrifty to get to the bottom of spendthrift.

Office of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor

A bipartisan bill in the state Senate would speed up the testing of rape kits.

It proposes a set of deadlines for law enforcement agencies to pick up rape kits from medical facilities and have them tested at crime labs. The time limit from pickup  to completion of the lab analysis would be four months.

The bill is in response to the discovery in 2009 of about 11,000 untested rape kits in a Detroit police storage unit. The kits went back 25 years.

Kym Worthy, the Wayne County prosecutor, collaborated on the bill. 

user: Beverley Goodwin / Flickr

America, on average, gets to work at 7:55 a.m. People who are employed in Ann Arbor get to work at 8:15 a.m. That's not very impressive. Granted, it's better than New Yorkers, who leisurely arrive at 8:24 a.m. –nearly 30 minutes later than the national average.

All of these numbers are from Nate Silver's blog.  He analyzed and explained data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau's "American Community Survey."

Google Maps

People are getting poorer in Oakland County.

This is the major finding of a report released by Lighthouse of Oakland County today. After analyzing census data, Lighthouse President John Ziraldo says that between 2005 and 2012, the number of people living under the federal poverty line has grown about 77 percent. That's 118,000 people now living in poverty in a county whose overall population hasn't changed much in the same time frame, even if the socioeconomics of the people has.

On top of a rise in people living in poverty is a rise in the working poor – people whose income isn't enough to meet basic needs. Ziraldo says these folks often don't qualify for government programs, but they still need help paying bills and getting enough to eat.

"For all of Oakland County, there's probably between 15 and 20 percent of our overall population that really struggles, every month, to meet their basic needs," he says.

Oakland County is expensive, he says. It's the wealthiest county in Michigan, and the Michigan League for Public Policy says the amount of money a three-person family needs to cover the basics is $47,000.

gracey/morguefile.com

Hundreds of girls from across Michigan will have the chance to try out some hot technology this week in the hopes they see a fit for themselves in a high-tech career. Eastern Michigan University will host the fourth annual "Digital Divas" conference on Friday.

EMU Program Manager Bia Hamed says the free one-day event for middle and high school girls aims to help close the gender gap when it comes to careers in science, math, engineering and technology-related fields, often referred to as "STEM."

Humane Society of Huron Valley / Facebook

Why did the turtle cross the road? The answer is that it is just that time of the year again. Michigan's turtles are hitting the roads to go and lay their eggs on the other side.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley is urging drivers to keep on the look out for these little guys making their way across our roads, and to avoid them as safely as possible. If the mood strikes you, get out and nudge them in the direction that they are headed. 

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