Stateside Staff

Today on Stateside:

  • Mayor Mike Duggan challenged us to "watch what happens in six months' when he was sworn in. The six months is almost up and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative will take the mayor up on his offer.
  • The U.S. Justice Department is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by the Detroit-area rap-metal duo Insane Clown Posse, which objects to a report that describes its fans as a dangerous gang.
  • Muskegon is ranked 82nd out of 82 in health behaviors. A health initiative called "1 in 21" is trying to change that.
  • A summer camp for adults is coming this summer to get adults excited about the great outdoors again. There is one catch: no smartphones. 
  • Minnesota is ranked the best economy in the Great Lakes region. What can Michigan learn from them?
  • A study shows overall poor health of patients on Medicaid, especially surgical patients.

*Listen to full show above.

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The word “drone” holds some negative connotations. However, some believe that commercial drones could help boost the economy. Aaron Cook, director of aviation at Northwestern Michigan College, is one of those people. He joined us today on Stateside.

Cook says when people understand what drones are, what they are not, and what they can do, they will realize the many business opportunities and safety opportunities these drones can provide. They could possibly improve the quality of life and increase productivity.

So what is a drone?

It’s basically a flying robot. It is an aircraft that does not need a human on board, but is controlled by people on the ground using GPS communication technology.

Cook emphasized that drones are not armed, specifically ones flying over U.S. soil, and are not intended to be used to invade citizens' privacy.

They are only meant for commercial use. BP was just approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones in Alaska to monitor pipelines, roads, and equipment. Cook said drones can be used for similar options here in Michigan.

Sean Marshall / flickr

It was during the lame-duck session late last year when the state Legislature passed a law blocking insurers from paying for abortions as part of general coverage in company health care plans.

Under the law, women would have to buy extra coverage for an abortion, even in cases of rape or when the woman's life is in danger.

The law was passed without a public hearing on the basis of petitions that had been circulated by Right To Life of Michigan. It took effect in March.

Now two lawmakers are trying to get that law overturned. Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, will introduce the measure in the Senate while Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, will do so in the House.

General Motors

General Motors CEO Mary Barra appeared this week before a House subcommittee that is investigating the automaker's ignition-switch debacle.

Barra didn't sugarcoat the fact that GM bungled this terribly. She freely admitted their engineers knew about the switch problems 12 years ago, but didn't connect that to the airbag malfunction linked to at least 13 deaths.

And Barra had a litany of changes she's instituted in response, including firing 15 high-level employees.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says this has to go deeper.

“Members of Congress, to put it gently, (are) skeptical that a company like this with the track record that it’s had, particularly in the last five years, would be able to do that,” Howes said.

Howes says with exception of the president of GM, those at the top of the company are longtime General Motors people.

On Stateside today: 

  • An update with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes on the GM ignition-switch debacle.
  • Two Democratic representatives try to overturn a law that makes women buy extra coverage for an abortion. 
  • The last day of Stateside's music series, Songs Save Lives.
  • Mary Erlewine’s seventh studio album was released today by Earthwork Music.
  • There are those who see a wealth of ways drones could help us and boost the economy. And they see Michigan as being a key player in the future of drones. But what are the regulations for commercial drones?
  • Did you know that Jiffy Mix is made in Michigan?

*Listen to full story above. 

Steven Davy / flickr

Michigan singer and songwriter May Erlewine’s seventh full-length album “Where We Are” was released today on Earthwork Music.

May tells Stateside that writing the album was a bit of a challenge, as life threw her many curve balls.

May and her husband, Seth Bernard, lost two close friends and a grandmother, and then discovered they were pregnant with now four-month-old Iris Betsy, 

“The album is sort of a time capsule of that experience and that time,” May says. “I just sort of sat down with the feelings each day and just let it flow through."

Andrew Filer / flickr

When you think of Jiffy Mix, you may think biscuits and corn muffins. But did you know they are also Michigan made?

Howdy Holmes is the president and CEO of Jiffy Mix. His grandmother is the one who started it all.

When Howdy’s father and uncle, Howard and Dudley, were young, they had a friend who was being raised by a single parent. The young boys invited their friend over for lunch, and he arrived with a bag lunch made by his dad. Howard and Dudley’s mother was concerned about what the father had made for his son.

“She opened the bag and right on top was a biscuit, which she said looked more like a white hockey puck,” Howdy said.

Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities / University of Michigan

*Want to see how climate change will impact the economy of the Great Lakes region? Check out this interactive map from the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities at the University of Michigan.

The most recent report on the world’s climate from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that no one will be untouched by the effects of climate change. Henry Pollack is one of the contributors to the IPCC report.

Pollack said the most important message from this report is that climate change is real. Humans are the principal factor, the consequences are not pretty, and the window for fixing the issue is getting smaller and smaller.

The report is a compilation of reports from experts all over the world.  

Pollack says climate change will affect everyone in different ways depending on where they live. In Michigan we can expect to see lower water levels in the Great Lakes. Earlier growing seasons may eventually occur, which could be problematic if there were an unexpected freeze. The two principle crops in Michigan, corn and soybeans, would also be very vulnerable to high temperatures.

user: harry_nl / flickr

The word from Europe is new car sales were up in May.

It's the ninth straight monthly increase, which is good news for the U.S. carmakers who've been watching their bottom lines suffer through the European sales slump.

There were 1.1 million new cars registered in the European Union, an increase of 4.3%.

Increased auto sales include:

·         7.7% in the United Kingdom

·         5.2% in Germany

·         17 % in Spain

Stateside’s partner, BBC Business reporter Russell Padmore, says the big reason for the uptick in sales is an "aging car fleet.” During the debt crisis, Europeans held off from buying new cars to save money. Now they can’t hold off any longer. 

*Listen to full interview above. 

AP Photo

Headlines and images emerging from Iraq have put a spotlight on warfare between Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam.

But these are uneasy times for Christian Iraqis – or Chaldeans.

Since 2003, about a million Iraqi Christians have fled their home country since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein caused other groups to see the Chaldeans as U.S. allies.

Many of those Chaldeans have found new homes in Michigan.

*Listen to full interview above. 

General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
Dave Pinter / flickr

General Motors CEO Mary Barra was back on Capitol Hill today.

She was there to offer more testimony on the growing ignition switch recall problem which has been linked to 13 deaths and the recall of some six million GM vehicles.

Mary Barra was not alone. She came with independent investigator Anton Valukas and his 300-page report.

Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson says Valukas was able to answer questions about the report while Barra could focus on what GM was going to do in the future.

“Overall, the questioning was a lot gentler than last time, because the committees didn’t express frustration with Mary that she was not able to answer so many different questions,” Shepardson said.

“There are really no questions they could answer with the exception of the why.”

*Listen to full interview above.

sun rays shining through clouds
Piccolo Namek / Creative Commons

Summer will officially arrive Saturday.  

MLive and Farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa says the coming summer looks really nice, despite the thunder and rain we've been seeing.

Torregrossa says there is a hot dome of air creating a stationary front over Michigan, which is bringing in the storm system that spawned tornados in Nebraska, and he says the storms could continue over  the weekend.

He also says El Nino may have an effect on our summer.

El Nino is when a large part of the Pacific over South America and Australia begins to warm up more than normal – which could help the second half of our summer stay cooler and lead to a warmer and drier winter.

Torregrossa predicts overall precipitation this summer will likely be normal.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Today on Stateside: 

  • Mary Barra was back on Capitol Hill with independent investigator Anton Valukas and a 300-page report. 
  • European car sales are on the rise after a six-year slump.
Peter Ito / flickr

The state Senate failed to pass a road repair plan.

Drivers who vote have been clear that they want these roads fixed, yet Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says the failure was "not that big a deal, really."

Chris Gautz, the Lansing reporter for Crain's Detroit Business, explained what Richardville was trying to say.

Gautz said Richardville was trying to point out that the money budgeted for road funding would be in next year’s budget, and that money wouldn't start being generated until January.

“All of the big, monumental changes they were trying to make in the state’s transportation funding system were long-term fixes, and weren’t going to fill a pothole on your street this summer,” Gautz said.

*Listen to the  full interview above. 

Wikimedia Commons

Did you know one cow can produce 10,000 gallons of manure each year?

Now do the math: A large farm with a thousand cows means about 10 million gallons of manure every year.

Now, thanks to research from Michigan State University, that cow poo could become the source of, believe it or not, clean water.

Steve Safferman is an associate professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering at Michigan State University.

Safferman says 90  to 95% of cow manure is water.

There is a multi-step process used to retrieve the water. First the manure goes through pretreatment, then filtration, air stripping, and reverse osmosis.

Research shows that from 100 gallons of cow manure, 50 gallons of water can be retrieved.

The water is just like fresh water that comes out of the faucet. This water even has higher quality of drinking for the cows than well water.

Within a year of commercializing, there has been a lot of interest from farmers who are interested in the water-extraction system.  

Safferman said the system could be very useful for farmers who may have to sell their livestock because there is not enough water. It could also cut their water use potentially in half. 

*Listen to full interview above.

user paul (dex) / Flickr

The recall notices just keep coming.

The ignition-switch crisis took a big new turn Monday as General Motors recalled 3.4 million cars.
That's on top of the 2.6 million small cars already called back for ignition switches that can slip out of the "run" position if the key is carrying extra weight and is somehow jarred. That could cause the engine to stall and kill power steering, power brakes, and air bags.

The problem has been linked to at least 13 deaths and over 40 crashes. However, GM sales have not been greatly affected.

This latest recall comes as CEO Mary Barra prepares for what will undoubtedly be a rough session tomorrow on Capitol Hill before the House Energy and Commerce's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

*Listen to full interview above.

Here's what we talked about on Stateside today:

  • State lawmakers say "yes" to the MEAP and "no" to the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests in Michigan school. What happens for students next year?
  • Just the way students end their school year with a report card, so should our elected representatives be measured in how effectively they tackled issues important to Michigan. Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau reporter Kathy Gray breaks it all down for us in terms of pass, fail, or incomplete.
  • Stateside’s Emily Fox reports from the Upper Peninsula to see if the region has what it takes to develop a new wine region in the state.
  • With soccer, there's a lot of credence put into national identities and how teams play. But our guest Andy Markovits challenges us to think differently.
  • Stateside’s Kyle Norris talks about stories she heard when she asked this question, “Do you have a song that saved your life?”
  • Also, a Michigan traveler describes her 1,000-mile Great Lakes island adventure.

*Listen to full show above. 

You get a taste of a bigger story as people mention the songs that saved their lives, such as this one - Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams.
User: Klaus Hiltscher / flickr

Today we’re starting a new series about music. We’re calling it "What’s the Song That Saved Your Life?"

Stateside’s Kyle Norris asked a lot of people that question. She found that sometimes they have an immediate answer. And other people really have to think about it.  Kyle talked with folks at a bowling alley in Wayne, Michigan, and shares their responses.

*Listen to full interview above.

All this week we’re going to hear from people who say one song saved their life. And we want to hear from you. Do you have a song that saved your life? Tell us the story! Call us and let us know at 248-962-3806. And you can also use #song-saved-me on twitter. Stateside's Kyle Norris produced our series, and she may even use your story on the air.

Loreen Niewenhuis at Manitou Passage (Lake Michigan) with the Manitou Islands visible offshore.
User: Loreen Niewenhuis / Facebook: Loreen Niewenhuis Fan Page

After hiking some 2,000 miles around the Great Lakes, Loreen Niewenhuis is headed to the islands of the Great Lakes for another thousand-mile adventure of hiking, boating, kayaking, and bicycling.

First, she hiked completely around Lake Michigan, her "1,000 Mile Walk on the Beach." Then she decided to hike the shorelines of all five Great Lakes, another 1,000-mile adventure.

She has turned both of those into books.

Now she is working on her third journey: A 1,000-mile Great Lakes Island adventure. This month, she'll be visiting Isle Royale to help out with wolf and moose research.

Niewenhuis joined Stateside today to talk about the environmental issue she observed on her island journeys and recount her amazing experiences, including searching for moose bones on Isle Royale and hiking Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior.

*Listen to the full interview with Loreen above.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

One of the many decisions made by state lawmakers during their budget actions last week was to keep the MEAP in place for another year.

The more than 40-year-old MEAP exam stays put even though Michigan adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. And the state's education department has been working for the past three years to bring in the new testing that is aligned to the Common Core. That new test is called the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

The state lawmakers' recent decision could mean that educators and students have to hit the reverse button and go back to MEAP. But State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in April that the MEAP was simply “not an option."

Brian Smith has been reporting on the Common Core and Smarter Balanced vs. MEAP tussle. He said that as the issue moved forward, the Department of Education started to talk to testing vendors and see what could possibly be done.

Playing styles of these soccer players from Brazil and Croatia might not reflect their national characteristics.
User: Diário do Nordeste / flickr

Last Thursday afternoon, the 2014 World Cup began as Brazil and Croatia ran out onto the pitch in Brazil. And with that, fans of Association Football (aka “soccer” here in the USA) plunged into a month of the High Holy Days: World Cup action.

Many fans of “the beautiful game” get downright nationalistic as they cheer on their favorite team, whether it be England, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast ... and of course, the U.S., which opens its World Cup bid this evening at 6 against Ghana.

With soccer, there's a lot of credence put into national identities and how teams play. But, if you think the playing style of your favorite team somehow reflects some deep cultural trait of that country, Stateside guest Andy Markovits says think again.

Markovits is a University of Michigan political scientist and lifelong soccer fan. He joined us today to talk about how generalizations of national characteristics can be superficial and dangerous. 

*Listen to the conversation above. 

pixabay.com

As school ends and summer gets underway, the challenge in many Michigan households is teens trying to find a summer job.

The unemployment rate for teens is expected to hit 26.5% this summer, somewhat better than last year's level.

It certainly matters to parents who aren't thrilled about a 17-year-old sitting around all summer playing X-Box. But how much does it matter to Michigan's economy and to the teens?

Charles Ballard is an economist with Michigan State University.

Ballard says teen unemployment has always been higher than adult unemployment, which isn’t surprising, when teens have the least experience and skills.

One thing to remember is that the unemployment rate is the rate of people who are actively seeking work. A lot of teens may have an unpaid internship, studying abroad, participate in athletics, or are in summer school and are not considered unemployed.

Ballard said that the statistics are not always entirely reliable, as they don’t accurately measure those who are earning money in other ways, such as babysitting or yard work.

The state figuring showed about 170,000 teenagers from ages 16-19 will be working, leaving almost 64,000 actively looking teenagers unemployed.

One of the problems that may be keeping teenagers out of the workforce is adults who are taking jobs from teens due to the recession.

Ballard said another reason more teenagers are not working is also because of the different options available for earning money. It does not mean that all those who are considered unemployed are not just twiddling their thumbs.

However, not having a job in your teenage years may have negative effects for some, such as those who dropped out of school and did not work. They would have a harder time finding employment as adults.

Ballard said that he would like to see Michigan try to improve the educational outcome by having a longer school year. Though it may limit the time students have to work in the summer, it will provide them with a better education and skills which they need in order to get some of these jobs.

Ballard added that he will keep making the case for longer school years.

“When we look at all the other developed countries in the world, they have a longer school year than the U.S. And in an awful lot of cases they have much better educational outcomes,” Ballard said. 

*Listen to full interview above. 

-Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom. 

Wikimedia Commons

The United States has lagged way behind other nations in high-speed rail – which includes trains with top speeds of up to 180 miles an hour. What would it take for us to catch up?

Those are some of the questions being tackled in a study digging into Americans' thoughts on high-speed rail. Wayne State University, in partnership with the University of Michigan and Drexel University, has launched this two-and-a-half-year study.

The study looks into the future of transportation and how high-speed rail in the United States will fit into that future.

The study focuses on how people feel about high-speed rail and how they envision the future of transportation.

Allen Batteau is the leader of the study. He is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor of anthropology at Wayne State University.

Batteau’s hope for the study is to move the discussion of high-speed rail away from "how much will it cost" to forming a vision of how high-speed rail can help bring us together.

Susan Zielinski is the head of the Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation (SMART) at the University of Michigan.

Zielinski says transportation is evolving into many different options and it is important to look into those options as our society evolves with it. 

*Listen to full interview above.

– Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Here's what we talked about on Stateside today:

· Attempts in the state Senate to come up with more than a billion dollars a year to fix roads fell apart last night, after lawmakers spent 15 hours in session. They only have one more day before summer campaigning.

· One couple’s attempts to live off the grid were almost foiled after local officials said their living arrangements were against the public health code.

· Two Michigan destinations made the top 10 , but there are plenty of other spots that are underappreciated.

· A study looks into the future of high-speed rail in the United States and the future of transportation. 

· The unemployment rates of teens for the summer hit 26.5%. How much does this matter to Michigan’s economy and the teenagers?

*Listen to full show above. 

Brendon Connelly / Flickr

Michigan destinations are working their way into these lists: Saugatuck was voted No. 1 Summer Weekend Escape in America in a recent USA Today reader poll. And a somewhat obscure Upper Peninsula drive got on a top 10 "Best U.S. Road Trips" list.

Ellen Creager, a Detroit Free Press Travel writer, says the big reason for the publicity is the Pure Michigan campaign. However, don’t limit yourself to “Cool Places to Visit” lists when choosing your next Michigan vacation spot.

36th Constitutional Convention

Dennis Williams is the new president of the United Auto Workers Union, and members appear to be very optimistic about the leadership.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes told Stateside that the union views Williams as somebody who can be an innovative bargainer and bring a new perspective.

Howes in his column today said that Dennis Williams has his work cut out for him to correct the mistakes of his predecessor, Bob King. 

Williams is the first UAW president who never headed one of union’s main three departments: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. He is also the first who has never worked in an auto plant.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

After 15 hours in session, the state Senate failed to come up with a plan for more than a billion dollars a year to fix roads.

Today is the last day to come up with a solution before lawmakers leave town to start summer campaigning.

President and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Rich Studley, said the Chamber is pushing for lawmakers to come up with almost $1.6 billion in road funding.

Studley said the governor put forward a plan to invest $1.2 billion, and the state House has approved a plan to reallocate $450 million into road funding.

A statewide public poll showed that motorists are strongly in favor of fixing the roads and are willing to pay for it.

Studley said there is no good reason for the Legislature to recess for the summer.

“Our message is stay in session and do your job,” Studley said. “While Michigan lawmakers have been talking about this issue, virtually every other state in the country has tackled this problem.”

Studley added that for every year the state doesn’t take action, the state loses almost $100 million in value with deteriorating roads and bridges.  

“Michigan’s motorists now in effect pay an inaction tax of over $300 a year in unnecessary road repairs,” Studley said.

*Listen to the full interview above.

– Bre’Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.

User: Daniel Kulinski / Flickr

One state lawmaker says it's "like controlling very large purse strings with very little accountability."

Since 2011, more than $65 million in state money has been awarded to businesses all around Michigan, all on the signatures of just two individuals.

Is this a worrisome lack of transparency? Or a good effort by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to be nimble, to be able to get state incentives into the hands of businesses to help them grow and strengthen Michigan's economy?

Chris Gautz reported on this for Crain's Detroit Business.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When you are a school district where more than 80% of your students live in poverty, every penny that helps those students is critical.

And that's why there has been a collective gasp of disbelief, even anger, with the news that Detroit Public Schools has lost $4 million in Head Start funding.

The reason DPS lost the money is because they missed the application deadline.

A school spokesperson blamed a technical problem in uploading the application.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joined us on our show.

*Listen to our conversation with Rochelle above.

User: Goodiez / flickr

 

Why is it that one product will resonate with a group of consumers, while a similar one just can't quite catch on?

It's the sort of dilemma you can imagine Don Draper and Peggy Olson trying to figure out in an episode of "Mad Men."

Turns out, it was a dilemma for a major tobacco company: trying to figure out why Detroit smokers were so loyal to the competition – in this case, Kool cigarettes in the 1970s.

Steve Neavling is an investigative journalist who looked into this bit of tobacco history for Motor City Muckraker.

*Listen to the full interview above.

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