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Science/Medicine
4:13 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

University of Michigan nurses voice frustration over contracts

Katie Oppenheim is the President of the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council (UMPNC). She was one speaker at the press conference August 2 in the Michigan Union.
Amelia Carpenter Michigan Radio Newsroom

University of Michigan nurses say the quality of patient care will suffer if they can’t reach an agreement in contract talks with management. Some nurses say they will leave their jobs. The two sides are debating financial issues including pay increases, health insurance and benefits in contract talks that resume today (Wednesday). The union representatives have added to an existing complaint with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission charging management with bad faith bargaining and making one-sided changes to some nurses’ working conditions. The union says the university made an assignment change without consulting them first.

Jeff Breslin is President of the Michigan Nurses Association. He says one of the key issues in hospitals is retaining staff.

"You get the expertise – you have nurses that can walk into a situation , assess it and know what needs to be done at the drop of a hat where new nurses – they will get to that point but they need the skill, they need the experience and they need the expertise from the people who have been there to pass that on to them," Breslin said.

The university health system said in a release they do not agree patient care will be affected with the new contract.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Auto Sales
3:54 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

GM, Ford, Chrysler all increase sales in July

General Motors headquarters, Detroit, MI
Spacing Magazine Flickr

Update:

GM sales rose almost 8% in July, while Ford sales rose 8.9% and Chrysler sales increased 20.1%.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The Detroit Three saw U.S. sales increase in July and gained market share, as a troubling economy and weeks of worries about the U.S. debt ceiling continued to hamper a recovery in auto sales.

Chrysler had its best July since 2007 to lead Detroit’s automakers with a 20.1% surge, off a 33% gain in sales to individual customers. General Motors’ U.S. sales rose 7.6% last month and Ford’s grew 8.9%. Japanese automakers continued to lose share to their American rivals as they recovered from the March earthquake and tsunami in their country.

GM forecast July industrywide sales of light cars and trucks were flat from the previous year and slightly better than June. Consumers stayed out of showrooms amid news of climbing unemployment and bitter debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling to prevent the country from defaulting on its loans tonight. President Barack Obama signed legislation today to prevent that scenario after the Senate approved the bill.

*

Original post:

From the Associated Press:

General Motors says its U.S. sales rose nearly 8 percent last month, led by fuel-efficient vehicles such as the
Chevrolet Cruze car.

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Education
3:04 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Ten-year extension sought for Michigan students to meet proficiency score

3rd Grade Class
User: Old Shoe Woman Flickr

The Michigan Board of Education wants an additional 10 years to get students prepared to meet the proficiency scores on state standardized tests. The federal goals call for all children to be proficient on state exams by 2014. State leaders want to waive the No Child Left Behind requirements for 10 years. They believe this period will prepare every Michigan student to be proficient in reading and math.  

Jeff Bean is a Flint high school teacher. He says working to get all students proficient is noble but not realistic.   

"It would be like me setting standards for medical professionals: I think everybody who goes into a cancer treatment should get cured. Let’s go for 100%. That’s a noble effort. But to dictate whether doctors get to keep their licenses or not based on whether they save every patient they see, is an incredibly unreasonable piece."

Bean believes extending the 10-year deadline is a way for certain leaders to buy time to change the federal goals. He says pre- and post-testing would be a more effective goal for students.

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, says more than 80% of the nation’s public schools could be labeled as ‘failing’ under the No Child Left Behind law requirements.

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Legal
2:59 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Michigan law school sues bloggers, law firm for defamation

s_falkow Flickr

A Michigan law school has sued a law firm and a handful of bloggers for defamation. The Thomas M. Cooley Law School says four anonymous bloggers and individuals from Kurzon Strauss law firm in New York are hurting its reputation online. One blog questions the academic quality at Cooley, noting that many graduates do not find jobs. The law firm posted several advertisements naming Cooley as a law school that manipulates post-graduate student data. The firm has posted a retraction on at least one website.

Jim Thelen is an associate dean at Cooley. He says the statements cross the line.

"People using the internet and doing so anonymously - it appears to embolden some people to say more than what they would say if they had to put their name to it," Thelen said.

Thelen says he knows they can’t police the internet, but wants the posts taken down. A partner at Kurzon Strauss declined to comment.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Politics
2:32 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Genesee and Berrien Counties have high recall rates

voting booth
User: silatix Flickr

Genesee and Berrien Counties may each have 2 dozen recall requests on the ballots this fall. Many are at the township level.

Tom Frazier is with the Michigan Townships Association. He says there are lots of reasons for a recall.

"Many recalls happen because somebody is disgruntled from the previous election. Perhaps someone who ran did not win and might start a recall petition against the person who did win."

There are also efforts underway to recall Governor Snyder and many state legislators.  

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Science/Medicine
2:04 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Giving blood: Your responses

John Chevier Flickr

This morning we posted Mark Brush's story about giving blood, including why some people are disallowed from giving.

The story started with a post to Facebook about giving blood, and the comments you posted about the rules for giving.

Now that the final story has been posted, people are still reacting.

Anita Weber says, "Here's one way they can start...by using different sized needles! I've been turned away three times because they only use one size of needle. I avidly exercise so I'm not buying them telling me to lift weights more! My veins are the size they are! Their loss! I wanted and still want to donate!"

Carrie Paps responds, saying, "I give all the time, 2 gallons so far, but I understand the issues. Sometimes my iron is too low and sometimes they can't find a vein."

Craig Hennigan still objects to rules for giving blood. He says, "The lifetime ban for gay men is still stupid, homophobic, and wrong."

Read more
Education
9:21 am
Mon August 1, 2011

Michigan educators feel pressure to cheat

Shannon Muskopf Flickr

A number of Michigan public school teachers are feeling pressured to cheat. A recent Detroit Free Press survey shows one-third of Michigan educators feel pressure to cheat on standardized tests and adjust students’ grades. The problem has surfaced in public schools across the country.

Emily Richmond is with the National Education Writers Association. She says measuring teacher performance and political pressures are the reason.

"Teachers are feeling a lot of pressure – I think a lot of them are feeling threatened and I think they feel their job security is on the line," she said.

About 3-hundred public schools in the country have recently faced suspicions, claims or cases of cheating to improve test scores.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Technical Difficulties
1:49 pm
Fri July 29, 2011

Michigan Radio's streaming is back up!

Update 1:49 p.m.

A power surge fried some of our equipment this morning. Including a DAT player where streaming wires were plugged in. We pulled the plugs out of the DAT machine, connected the two wires, and Voila! our stream is back up!

7:46 a.m.

Due to technical difficulties, Michigan Radio's live-streaming is currently unavailable. We hope to have the problem, which we believe was caused by last night's thunderstorms, fixed shortly. We are sorry for the inconvenience!

Auto/Economy
10:54 am
Fri July 29, 2011

Luxury cars may not be as enjoyable as people think

Black Bentley
UggBoy UggGirl PHOTO//WORLD//TRAVEL Flickr

University of Michigan researchers suggest owning a luxury car, like a BMW or Lexus, is not as enjoyable as people think. Norbert Schwarz is with Michigan’s Ross School of Business.  Schwarz says most people appreciate a luxury car when they are driving for pleasure.

"A luxury car is indeed more pleasant than an economy car, but most of the time it really makes no difference whatsoever except for these very very rare episodes when you take your car for a fun drive and you really attend to your car, which is less than 2% of your driving."

Schwarz says consumers who are test driving a car should consider how often they will drive the car only for pleasure.  

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Investigative
10:26 am
Fri July 29, 2011

CeaseFire offers Flint criminal suspects a chance to change

Genesee County Courthouse
User: sarrazak6881 Flickr

Flint officials have offered seven nonviolent criminal suspects the chance to enter a program that could change their lives for the better. Five suspects accepted the offer to join CeaseFire, an initiative to end violence in U.S. cities. One of the suspects is already seeking help in another program.

Jackie Poplar is president of the Flint City Council.  She says the suspects will be working with prosecutors and social workers.

Read more
Science/Medicine
2:17 pm
Thu July 28, 2011

Anti-malaria drug may help battle autoimmune diseases.

An anti-malaria drug may provide better treatment to those with autoimmune diseases like arthritis and multiple sclerosis, according to a study by the Van Andel Institute.

The anti-malaria drug, chloroquine can be used to replace anti-inflammatory medications like steroids.

Read more
Politics
11:54 am
Wed July 27, 2011

Michiganders remain split on debt ceiling debate

The debt ceiling debate is still getting attention in Michigan. Many are voicing their opinions to government officials. One congressman says calls to his office are running about 50-50. Many support raising the debt ceiling and others want to reduce future debt by making cuts.

Michigan Congressman Bill Huizenga is a Republican from Zeeland. He says his concern is that the debt ceiling could double in the next ten years.

"All we need to do is have a slight hiccup in our interest rates – something that just even brings us back to historical averages of the last ten years and our spending on interest is going to explode. We’ve got to get this under control," Huizenga said.

The deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling from the current 14-trillion-dollars must be found by next week, or the nation could default on its debt.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

WFUM
9:09 am
Wed July 27, 2011

WFUM 91.1 Flint off air Today for about an hour.

WFUM 91.1 in Flint will be going off the air around 10a for about an hour. This outage is required so our engineers can safely continue repairs to one of the aircraft warning lights on our Flint area broadcast tower. Reception on WUOm 91.7 and WVGR 104.1 will not be effected.

Civil Rights
5:13 pm
Tue July 26, 2011

Justice Department agrees to help Michigan Muslim group

user: modenadude flicker.com

The Justice Department has expressed an interest in helping a Muslim civil rights advocacy group in Michigan. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is concerned the Pittsfield Township community may influence the approval of a neighborhood Muslim school. The Michigan Islamic Academy in Ann Arbor wants to move to a new building in Pittsfield to accommodate its growing student population. In a meeting last month, some people spoke against the Muslim school. C-A-I-R asked the Justice Department to monitor the next meeting on August 4.

Lena Masri is the staff attorney representing the Michigan Islamic Academy. She says some comments were blatantly racist.

"Comments against Muslims, Islam and the operation of a Muslim school in their backyard, but also concerns such as traffic and noise and light – concerns regarding issues that are non-issues," Masri said.

The Pittsfield Township Planning Commission did not return calls for comment.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Education
3:16 pm
Mon July 25, 2011

University of Michigan to offer entrepreneurship masters degree

The University of Michigan will offer a year-long masters degree in entrepreneurship starting fall 2012. The joint program between the College of Engineering and Ross School of Business aims to combine the wealth of technological ideas with business expertise.

David Munson is the College of Engineering dean at the University of Michigan. He believes the partnership is the first of its kind.

"The uniqueness really stems from the quality on both sides and bringing that quality together to try to produce what we hope will be the best program of its kind in the country," Munson said.

Munson expects many engineering students to enroll in the entrepreneurship program after they graduate. Entrepreneurship will likely have a place in each department at the university in coming years.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Arts/Culture
11:44 am
Fri July 22, 2011

A path through the darkness: An interview with Bonnie Jo Campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell
Bonnie Jo Campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell not only writes great Michigan books, she knows a lot about great Michigan books, too.

Campbell's most recent book, the novel Once Upon a River, earned a profile in Poets and Writers Magazine and was listed on Newsweek's  10 Must-Read Summer Books.

It has received critical acclaim from the New York Times Book Review, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Parade, NPR, and Booklist.

Her previous book, American Salvage, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Before coming into the studio, we had spoken about Michigan books, and to my surprise Campbell came into the studio with a big box full of books  - books either about the state or by Michigan writers.

We couldn't talk about all of them in the interview, so here's the list of books that Bonnie Jo Campbell brought:

  • How to Fly by Rachael Perry
  • Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open by Diane Seuss
  • Autopsy of an Engine by Lolita Hernandez
  • The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway
  • Within the Lighted City by Lisa Lenzo
  • The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
  • Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
  • Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle
  • Freshwater Boys by Adam Schuitema
  • The Legend of Sleeping Bear by Kathy-Jo Wargin
  • Eden Springs by Laura Kasischke
  • Laughing Whitefish by Robert Traver
  • Stitches by David Small
  • Of Woods and Other Things by Emma Pticher
  • Michigan's Eastern Massasauga--An Historic Distribution by Tom Beauvais
  • "Brown Dog" by Jim Harrison
  • "Wanting Only to be Heard" by Jack Driscoll
  • "The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit" by Michael Zadoorian

Campbell had a couple of other recommendations, though she didn't bring the books with her: 

  • The Lake, the River, and the Other Lake by Steve Amick
  • The Women Were Leaving the Men by Andy Mozina

We spoke in Michigan Radio's studios about why people are drawn to dark books and what the difference is between why Hemingway's characters hunt and why Campbell's characters hunt. And despite her protest, we think she sounded awfully sophisticated throughout the entire discussion.

Read more
Environment
3:51 pm
Thu July 21, 2011

Michigan among worst for toxic air pollution from power plants

mdprovost ~ Prosper in 2011 Flickr

Michigan ranks seventh worst in air pollution on a list the Natural Resources Defense Council calls the “Toxic 20.” The NRDC study found almost half of all toxic air pollution comes from coal and oil-fired power plants. Detroit Edison’s Monroe Power Plant ranks fourth among power plant polluters in the country. Ohio took first before Pennsylvania, Florida and Kentucky.

Hugh McDiarmid is with the Michigan Environmental Council. He says Michigan is on its way to less toxic energy usage.

"We’re on sort of the verge of a new era where we’re going to use as much renewables as we possibly can, we’re going to look at efficiency because that provides power to about one tenth the cost of a new coal plant and we’re going to maximize those two efforts," McDiarmid said.

McDiarmid says Michigan’s rank on the “Toxic 20” is an opportunity to work toward less harmful energy use in the future.

The "Toxic 20" are:

  1. Ohio
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Florida
  4. Kentucky
  5. Maryland
  6. Indiana
  7. Michigan
  8. West Virginia
  9. Georgia
  10. North Carolina
  11. South Carolina
  12. Alabama
  13. Texas
  14. Virginia
  15. Tennessee
  16. Missouri
  17. Illinois
  18. Wisconsin
  19. New Hampshire
  20. Iowa 

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Arts/Culture
3:45 pm
Thu July 21, 2011

Youth showcase art at Ann Arbor Street Art Fair

2011 Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
photo by Traci Currie Michigan Radio

Eighteen students from the Arts League of Michigan will showcase their drawings, paintings, and jewelry at the 2011 Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. The students are a part of a five week program that exposes them to different types of art from all over the world.  

Arrion Drumgoole is a student with the Arts League of Michigan.

"We’ve learned different techniques like shibori, which is Japanese dyeing on silk scarves. We’ve done kimonos, jewelry and paper sculptures. And we’ve also done stamping and cards and printing."

Arts/Culture
3:21 pm
Thu July 21, 2011

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair (audio slideshow)

Crowds at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.
Ann Arbor Street Art Fair

I am Traci Currie, and I spent the first day of the 2011 Ann Arbor Street Art Fair talking to people who ventured out into the blazing sun to enjoy all sorts of art from all over the nation.

Most people mentioned the weather, while others talked about their love of art. Some talked about both.

Here are their comments along with some photos I took at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair:

- Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Transportation
2:40 pm
Wed July 20, 2011

Airport shuttle service to double number of trips with new route

Jerry Wong Flickr

A new airport shuttle between East Lansing and Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Interstate 96 will make twice the number of trips this fall. The new Michigan Flyer route will stop in East Lansing, Brighton/Howell, Ann Arbor and both airport terminals. If the federal government awards Michigan Flyer with the 1-point-5 million dollars it asked for, the route will be self-sustaining after the first year.

Ody Norkin is vice president of Michigan Flyer. He says the goal is for airport shuttles to run hourly.

"People come home to Detroit Metro Airport they don’t want to wait two hours especially if they’re in Washtenaw or Livingston only a half-hour or 45 minutes away from the airport," he said. "They’re not going to wait for the shuttle if we are operating only two to two-and-a-half hours."

Norkin says the new route will be successful based on current usage.

"We have a very high end product with brand new motor coaches that are attracting not only those who can’t drive or can’t afford to drive but also those who own vehicles and choose to set them aside either for environmental reasons or just because we’re so convenient.," Norkin said.

Prices on the new route will likely be the same as their southern route along I-94.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

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