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Offbeat
1:01 am
Sun April 24, 2011

Michigan grocery stores can now give free samples of wine and beer

Stores that sell beer and wine for take-out can now give free samples
mconnors MorgueFile

Free wine and beer samples may soon be regular features at Michigan grocery stores. A law passed last November allows businesses already licensed to sell wine and beer for take-out to apply for an additional license to distribute free samples. This includes supermarkets and party stores.

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Auto/Economy
2:02 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Stabenow says manufacturing and agriculture will revitalize Michigan economy

Stabenow says Michigan can still benefit from the auto industry
Office of Senator Stabenow

Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says the future of the Michigan economy depends on a strong auto and manufacturing base, as well as agriculture:

“You can’t have an economy in this country unless you make things and grow things. And the fundamental part in making things really is the auto industry and manufacturing. ”

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Science/Medicine
5:46 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

University of Michigan gets $56 million gift for medical research

A. Alfred Taubman has donated millions to the University of Michigan
The University of Michigan

The University of Michigan Medical Research Institute received a gift of $56 million from A. Alfred Taubman, a real estate developer and philanthropist from Michigan. The funds will be used for stem cell and cancer research.

U-M President, Mary Sue Coleman, says the money will go toward what is called high-risk research:

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Education
3:20 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

No buses for Ann Arbor Public High Schools next year?

High school students may need to take city buses or carpool to school next year if bus service is cut.
04deveni flickr

Ann Arbor public schools may stop all busing to and from its high schools next year to save money.

The proposal to the Ann Arbor School board also includes bigger class sizes and cutting staff. Ann Arbor Public Schools is facing a $15 million budget deficit for next year.

Liz Margolis is a spokesperson for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

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Politics
4:35 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Lawmakers debate penalties for illegal teacher strikes

Noah Smith Flickr

Michigan lawmakers debated today whether teachers should face more stringent penalties if they were to participate in an illegal strike.

The state House Education Committee heard testimony for and against a bill that would revoke teachers' licenses for at least two years if they went on strike.

Republicans claim that the law needs to be strengthened to act as a successful deterrent. Democrats claim the measures punish too severely and and also unfairly, compared to other public employees.

Greg Baracy, superintendent for the Wayne-Westland Community Schools district, testified in favor of the stricter bill; his teachers went on a 4-day strike in 2008.

But David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers - Michigan, says strikes like that are rare. And he says teachers shouldn't lose their careers over a strike:

"This has nothing to do with preventing strikes, because they already really don't happen. This is just another attack on teachers and education employees."

This debate occurs as the possibility of an actual statewide teacher strike looms.

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Consumer Protection
2:02 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Fake news websites taken to court over acai berry claims

One of the fake news sites that "reported" on the benefits of acai berries
Federal Trade Commission

Two men from Michigan were named in a series of lawsuits filed by the Federal Trade Commission for making false claims about the health benefits of acai berries. The FTC filed a total of ten cases against similar websites across the country.        

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Sports
5:08 pm
Mon April 18, 2011

Michigan House Bill regulates amateur mixed martial arts fights

Amateur mixed martial arts is not regulated in the state of Michigan
mickepe MorgueFile

Amateur mixed martial arts fights may soon be regulated by the state. A bill introduced to the Michigan House would require both promoters and fighters to be licensed by the state. The bill would also create a commission to enforce the rules and investigate complaints.

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What's Working
7:05 am
Mon April 18, 2011

Children focus in on nature

Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior
user Rhonda Noren Flickr

With the spread and advancement of home technology such as televisions, computers, cell phones, and video games, American children are spending less and less time outdoors. A baseball glove has been traded in for a remote control, and parents have gone from fretting over grass-stained jeans to fretting over their child’s apparent reclusiveness. Most kids today are more comfortable walking a parent through setting up Facebook account than they are walking through a forest. But the Udall Foundation, based in Arizona, is trying to reacquaint kids with the joys of exploring the natural world with their Parks in Focus program.

Parks in Focus is all about bridging the gap between technology and nature. Children, mostly middle school aged, are put in touch with Parks in Focus through the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters. After providing each child with a digital camera to document their explorations, Parks in Focus program leaders take the children on camping and hiking trips in some of America’s most scenic parks. While trips originally went only to the Grand Canyon, Parks in Focus has expanded to several other states, including Michigan.

Bret Muter is the Michigan Program Coordinator for Parks in Focus. He says digital cameras act as security blankets for the kids, allowing them to have a familiar piece of technology in an unfamiliar world of mountains, streams, and creepy crawlies.

“If kids aren’t comfortable with nature, they’re typically comfortable with technology such as a camera, even if they don’t own one. So cameras serve as that safety net for exploring the environment, which may otherwise be unfamiliar or even scary to some kids.”

On top of just making the children more comfortable with the initial shock of being out in the middle of the woods, Muter says the cameras allow the kids to interact with their surroundings more than they normally would.

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Science/Medicine
4:57 pm
Fri April 15, 2011

No cancer cluster in White Lake

A cancer cluster has not been confirmed in White Lake
White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce

Residents of White Lake gathered this morning to dispute their inclusion on a list of cancer clusters in Michigan. The list was compiled by the National Disease Cluster Coalition.  

Claire Schlaff  started the White Lake Cancer Mapping Project after her son passed away from a rare cancer. She says the National Disease Cluster Coalition misinterpreted information from the White Lake Cancer Mapping project:

“The materials they put out kind of made it look like all of these were confirmed clusters, including ours, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Although we’re looking into it, nothing has been confirmed.”

Schlaff said the White Lake Mapping Project data will not be ready for analysis for at least a year. She says the project was meant to find a link between cancer and the environment:

“I’m not looking for a yes or no answer about whether there’s a cancer cluster here. What I am trying to do and what our group is trying to do is to learn more about the connection between the environment and cancers.”

White Lake was put on a list of toxic hotspots in the mid-1980s because of pollution from the Occidental Chemical Company.

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Transportation
2:44 pm
Fri April 15, 2011

More Michiganders riding Amtrak

Amtrak lines in Michigan get more riders
cbassweb MorgueFile

Michiganders are taking the train more than they have in the past. Amtrak officials say they've seen an increase in the number of riders on all three of their Michigan lines. Two of those lines are supported by the state.

Amtrak’s Blue Water Service runs from Port Huron through Lansing to Chicago. It had one of the largest increases in ridership in the nation.

Janet Foran  is with the Michigan Department of Transportation. She says some of the growth is likely from the rise in gas prices and the interest in building high speed rail in the state:

“Because of the talk about high speed rail in the State of Michigan, this has actually been a major factor in increasing the interest of people to try passenger rails.”

M-DOT said ridership usually increases during the holiday season and summer. They expect ridership will continue to grow in the state.

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Politics
1:32 pm
Fri April 15, 2011

Making sense of redistricting

Michigan State Capitol
user cncphotos / flickr

The 2010 Census figures, released last month, announced that Michigan was the only state in the nation to lose population in the last decade. Now it is up to the states to redraw their congressional districts based on the findings of the Census.

Redistricting can play a big role in the political makeup of both state and federal representation. In Michigan, citizens are waiting to see how the Republican-dominated Legislature will handle the task of reshaping the state’s congressional districts.

The main objective of redistricting is to create congressional districts with roughly equal populations in each district, says John Chamberlin, Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

“It takes account of the fact that people move around the state or people move out of the state. In 2010, if you looked at the populations in state House districts, for instance, there are disparities. So redistricting resets the clock back to roughly equal populations.”

Each state handles the task of redistricting differently. In Michigan, redistricting is treated as legislation, with the Legislature creating a bill for passage by the governor. Because the Republican Party controls the Michigan state Senate, House, and governorship, the task of redistricting will fall solely to the Republicans.

Due to the fact that Michigan lost population since the last redistricting took place, the state will lose one member in the U.S. House of Representatives. Through redistricting, the Michigan Legislature must determine where to combine districts in order to eliminate the district of one U.S. Representative, explains Chamberlin.

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Politics
3:33 pm
Thu April 14, 2011

Inkster Judge investigated for spending after audit

Judge Sylvia James is on leave while being investigated by the State Supreme Court

The State Supreme Court began the investigation of Judge James after frequent charges of financial mismanagement by Inkster city officials.

The state supreme court is investigating Inkster’s chief judge. An audit found several unusual expenses were paid for with court money. Judge Sylvia James has been placed on paid administrative leave because she could not explain why court funds were used to pay for travel, clothing, and other expenses.  Retired judge Vladimir Washington will take Judge James’ place.

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Environment
3:33 pm
Wed April 13, 2011

Michigan ecologists want new strategies to manage zebra mussels in Great Lakes

Zebra mussels continue to cause problems forecosystems in the Great Lakes
United States Geological Survey

Ecologists from the University of Michigan say invasive zebra and quagga mussels are causing dramatic changes to the ecosystems in northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Their report says action must come soon to stop the spread of the mussels in the Great Lakes.

Donald Scavia  is the Director of the University of Michigan Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute. He's one of the authors of a new report that says the changes are happening quickly and require more attention than they are getting now:

“Our management strategies need to be able to be reviewed and modified every couple of years rather than every couple of decades.”

Scavia said the zebra mussels make it difficult to predict the conditions of the Great Lakes from year to year.

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Sports
3:18 pm
Wed April 13, 2011

MSU player receives probation sentence for Aspen brawl

A Spartans footballer has been sentenced to a year on probation and a fine for his role in a bar fight last month.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Michigan State tight end Brian Linthicum was sentenced Tuesday to one year of probation in connection with a March 10 arrest in Aspen, Colo., according to Pitkin County Court records.

Linthicum, who will be a senior and possible starter in the fall, accepted a plea deal without appearing in court, knocking misdemeanor third-degree assault and eluding-police charges down to misdemeanor harassment.

He must take an anger-management class (at least eight hours), perform 40 hours of community service and pay $100, plus court costs. According to a court clerk, other conditions are that he cannot be arrested nor drink excessive amounts of alcohol. A review hearing for which Linthicum must be present is set for Oct. 11.

 Max Bullough, a Michigan State linebacker, was also charged in the incident. His hearing is set for Tuesday.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Corrections
12:55 pm
Wed April 13, 2011

Michigan sees decline in prisoner return rate

Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for prisoner rehabilitation
Kevin Rosseel morguefile

Michigan is one of the nation’s leaders in prisoner rehabilitation according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. The number of Michigan parolees who return to prison has declined 18 percent since 2000. The Pew Center credits the drop to Michigan’s Prisoner Re-Entry Program (MPRP).

John Cordell is with the Michigan Department of Corrections. He says the MPRP reduces crime rates, "which results in less spending on corrections here in Michigan."

Not all parolees are part of the MPRP. Cordell said the programs are based on need:

“The Michigan’s Prisoner Re-Entry Program, we target parolees that are more likely to fail, in the community, with re-entry services.”

Before the program began in 2005, half of Michigan’s parolees returned to prison. Now, only one in three return.

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Politics
1:38 pm
Tue April 12, 2011

DEA raids medical marijuana dispensaries

Michigan's medical marijuana law is not protecting users and dispensaries from federal investigation
the Equinest flickr

The Drug Enforcement Agency is raiding some Detroit area medical marijuana dispensaries. The DEA says it is working with state and county officials on the raids. They would not comment further on what they say is an ongoing investigation.

Matthew Abel is a lawyer who works on marijuana cases. He says federal enforcement of marijuana laws seems to be increasing.

"The federal memo had said that generally the federal government would stay out of prosecuting medical marijuana patients as long as those operations were in full compliance with state law."

Earlier this week, a Saginaw area doctor was indicted on federal drug charges for aiding marijuana distribution. More details of the DEA’s most recent raid will be coming throughout the week.

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Politics
3:33 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Bart Stupak announces new position

Former Michigan Representative Bart Stupak has accepted a new position in the Legislative and Government Affairs Group at Venable LLP, a law and lobbying firm.

Representative Stupak received national attention for his last minute decision to support the White House-led health care reform effort, which he had previously opposed.

CNN reports:

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Auto/Economy
1:54 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

What effect will rising gas prices have on Michiganders?

Robert Couse-Baker Flickr

If you seek rising gas prices, look about you.

Gas prices in Michigan have ticked up over the course of this past week, an increase of 11 cents, bringing the statewide average up to $3.86.

But what will the effect on Michigan drivers be?

Mantill Williams, a spokesperson for the American Public Transportation Authority, says there is a tipping point at which people begin to consider changing their driving habits.

From ABC News:

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What's Working
9:50 am
Mon April 11, 2011

Day of service expands in Lansing

The Grand River in Lansing
user brianhef / flickr

This week’s guest for “What’s Working” is Julie Powers, the Director of the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council. Ms. Powers has been involved in the planning and organizing of a day of community service in Lansing, set to happen this year on May 14th. The event is entitled, “Adopt-Your-Place.”

Volunteers will be led by event organizers in such tasks as water testing and clean-up along the Grand River, planting and mulching public gardens throughout the area, clearing trails, repairing eyesores, and generally giving some TLC to local sites in need.

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Sports
5:02 pm
Fri April 8, 2011

U-M Wolverines in men's hockey championship

The men's hockey tournament bracket
NCAA.com

How’s your bracket look?

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is over, but the men’s hockey tournament is still going

And the Wolverines are in the final

The San Jose Mercury News reports:

Unfamiliar foes Michigan and Minnesota Duluth will face off for the NCAA hockey championship.

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