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Michigan is home to five national parks and there are lots of open spaces where you can camp, hunt and enjoy nature. But, yesterday, an Oklahoma Senator recently said two Michigan landmarks are a prime example of wasteful federal spending. We found out what’s behind the senator’s reasoning and whether there is some truth to his concerns.

 Then, we took a look at a new proposal by a group of Democrats in the Michigan House that would require the state to determine the actual cost of educating a public school student in Michigan. That got us thinking, shouldn't we already know?  We also spoke with Michigan writer Donald Lystra about his new collection of short stories. And, Ann Arbor now has its own Death Café, organized by funeral home guide Merilynne Rush. She stopped by to tell us more about it. But, first on the show, ever since the government unveiled its healthcare.gov website, the headlines surrounding the Affordable Care Act have been about the problems with the way the site was designed and the extreme difficulty Americans have had in getting on the exchange. But what about the Americans that don't need healthcare.gov? The ones who already have plans? To those consumers, President Obama has been saying this since 2009:

“If you like your current insurance, you will keep your current insurance. No government takeover, nobody’s changing what you’ve got if you’re happy with it.”

So why, then, then are some 2 million Americans - about 140,000 in Michigan - getting cancelation letters from their insurers over the past couple of weeks?

Marianne Udow-Phillips directs the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. She joined us today.

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Short stories are in the spotlight in the literary world after Canadian writer Alice Munro recently won the 2013 Nobel Prize in literature. She's widely considered to be the "master of the short story."

The Michigan writer Donald Lystra is just out with his collection of short stories called "Something That Feels Like Truth."

Donald Lystra is an engineer who turned to writing later in life. His debut novel "Season of Water and Ice" won the Midwest Book Award and the Michigan Notable Book Award.

Donald Lystra joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Robert Turney

We've welcomed autumn here in Michigan, many of us with open arms. It is a beautiful season in our state.

And one of the pleasures of changing seasons is being able to talk with poet and writer Keith Taylor.

Keith joined us today with his picks for our autumn reading, books set-in Michigan written by Michigan authors. This time, he focused on writing from the Upper Peninsula.

A recent report from Moody's suggests the future is very uncertain for public universities. Today we talked about the future of public universities in Michigan.

And, poet Keith Taylor stopped by the studios to introduce us to some Michigan must-reads for the month of October.

Also, despite our troubled economy, Michigan franchises are going strong. We spoke to DBusiness editor R.J. King about the 2013 Michigan Franchise Report.

First on the show, it’s Day Seven of the partial government shutdown.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is warning that lawmakers are “playing with fire” and he’s asking Congress to pass legislation to re-open the government, and to increase the nation’s debt limit.

Lew says President Obama has no intentions of linking either bill to Republican demands to change the health care law.

This comes as Republican House Speaker John Boehner rules out a House vote on a temporary spending bill without concessions from the President.

So, that’s where things stand as the government shutdown moves into its second week. Michigan Democratic Representative Dan Kildee joined us from D.C. to discuss the issue. 

Some thirty years after the County Jail Overcrowding Act was passed, Michigan is still dealing with overcrowding emergencies in jails across the state. On today's show: How do we fix the problem of jails filled to the brim? Do we reduce bonds? Increase rates of early release?

And, when it comes to scrap metal theft, anything goes, from manhole covers to copper Jesus statues. What can Michigan lawmakers do to crack down on these thefts?

Also, Michigan writer Natalie Burg joined us to talk about her new book. It's a memoir of her experience living on a Swedish farm.

First on the show, it’s day two of the government shutdown.

Democratic Congressman Gary Peters joined us today. He represents Michigan's 14th Congressional district. 

And former Congressman Joe Schwarz joined us to give us his perspective on the issue as well.

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Corruption. Political shenanigans. Murder. 

That may sound like life in a big city in 2013. 

But Kalamazoo-based writer D.E. Johnson says think again. His latest novel is set in the Detroit of 1912. From his research, there was plenty of crime and corruption happening in those good old days. 

This year’s Great Michigan Read selection is Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret, by Steve Luxenberg.

The autobiographical memoir tells the story of one man’s surprising discovery of his aunt, Annie, who he only learns of after his mother’s death. This is a fascinating read: its part mystery story, part family history and part exploration, as the author relearns who his mother and aunt really were.

This week, host Jennifer White talks with the author, Steve Luxenberg about why it was important for him to write such an intimate story about his family.

“My mother had a secret, which she kept her entire life. She didn’t tell her children that she had a sister who was institutionalized for 31 years at a Michigan Hospital called Eloise. When we found out about this, I needed to re-imagine my mother and my entire family story because when my mom was growing up she told elaborate stories about how she was an only child. Those stories turned out not to be true," Luxenberg said.

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Anyone who's been lucky enough to be a parent has likely been unlucky enough to have had the excruciatingly embarrassing moment when your little darling lets loose with a word that he or she undoubtedly picked up at school or day care, never at home.

That universal family moment is the subject of a wonderful new children's book written and illustrated by our next guests.

It's called "The Very Inappropriate Word." It’s about a typical little boy named Michael who loves collecting words, all kinds of words.

Author Jim Tobin joined us today in the studio along with illustrator Dave Coverly, who draws the award-winning cartoon strip Speed Bump and who works out of his attic studio in Ann Arbor.

Jim and Dave will be signing copies of “The Very Inappropriate Word” and will give a short presentation, including live drawing, about the process of creating the book in November.

There will also be paper and pencils available for kids who want to draw along with Dave.

You can find more information about the event at bookbugkalamazoo.com/

Listen to the full interview above.

Some of Michigan’s preschoolers are paying the price as federal sequester cuts sink in. On today’s show we take a look at what the cuts mean to families who rely on Head Start in Michigan.

Later in the hour, we speak with Blaine Pardoe, author of the new book Murder in Battle Creek: The Mysterious Death of Daisy Zick.

But first, Congressional leaders met today with President Obama to talk about the situation in Syria. Over the weekend, the President called for the United States to take action against Syria for their alleged chemical weapons use.  But the President said he wanted Congressional support for the action first.

Also, we hear from Congressman Justin Amash of west Michigan about his thoughts on the situation in the Middle East.

Finally, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen has been in continuous operation on Detroit's East side since the Great Depression starting in 1929, and the friars' mission in the city dates back even further to 1883. Brother Jerry Smith, director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen discusses how the face of poverty has changed over 130 years.

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“Dancing in the Street,” written by Mickey Stevenson, Ivy Jo Hunter and Marvin Gaye, and recorded in two takes, less than 10 minutes, by Martha Reeves. For many, that song is Motown.

Little did they know after slapping down Martha’s vocals in that studio in Hitsville on West Grand Boulevard, they had created a song that would come to represent a watershed moment in history--Motown’s history, Detroit’s history, and America’s history.

Writer Mark Kurlansky talks about the story of how this hit Motown song became the rallying point for these important moments in history in his newest book, “Ready For A Brand New Beat: How ‘Dancing in the Street’ Became the Anthem for a Changing America.”

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The prolific author Elmore Leonard died yesterday, but his writing is still here. So are his rules on how to write well.
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When you talk about the outdoor offerings of Pure Michigan, you just cannot overlook her rivers.

For every person who can’t wait to get to the lake, put in the boat and go sailing or water skiing, there’s someone else who can’t wait to get to the river and put that paddle into the water. Some of Cynthia Canty’s best memories of Michigan summers were the days she spent canoeing along the Manistee River, thanks to the little cottage her family had right along the river’s banks, not too far from Kalkaska.

The “bible” for Michigan paddlers is, without a doubt, the book “Canoeing Michigan Rivers” by Jerry Dennis and Craig Date. It was first published in 1986. 

Now they’ve released the updated edition of “Canoeing Michigan Rivers.”

Jerry Dennis joined us today from Traverse City.

Listen to the full interview above.

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A group of Michigan writers is headed to the Upper Peninsula where they are going to spend a couple of weeks making stops to talk about books, writing, and presumably talking a little bit about Michigan.

On the tour is Bonnie Jo Campbell, a Michigan author. Her works include the bestselling novel Once Upon a River and American Salvage, a collection of short stories. Ron Riekki, is also a Michigan author and the project director of the book tour.

They both joined us today to talk about the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour.

Listen to the full interview above.

Still not sure what the Affordable Care Act means or what it does or doesn’t do? You’re not alone. Politics aside, we took a closer look at Obamacare and what it all means for you.

And, the unseasonable cool weather in Michigan is probably good for you, but not so good for the crops. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about what is causing it.

And, a Detroit native joined us today to tell us how he sees the city's bankruptcy as a new opportunity.

Also, the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour is about to begin. We spoke with a couple Michigan authors who will be participating.

First on the show, by now you’ve heard a bit about Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. About half of Detroit’s nearly $20 billion in debt is due to shortfalls in the funds for retiree benefits. According to emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s estimates, the pension funds are behind by about $3.5 billion. Unfunded health care obligations are pegged at about $5.7 billion.

Detroit is not unique in its unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Other municipalities in the state are also behind.

Anthony Minghine is the chief operating officer of Michigan municipal league.  He joined us today.

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While Detroit embarks on the beginning days of its bankruptcy, the city’s Big Three automakers are reemerging from their own financial crises. It was four years ago that GM and Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

And as this month marks the 150th year after Henry Ford’s birth, we take a look at what it takes to run a big auto company, and the future of Michigan’s automakers.

Bob Lutz has held top positions at GM, Ford, Chrysler, and BMW. His most recent position was that of Vice Chairman of GM from 2001 to 2010.

His newest book gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the bosses Bob Lutz has worked for, some of the most legendary names in auto history. It's called Icons and Idiots, out from Portfolio/Penguin.

Bob Lutz joined us today to talk about his book.  

Listen to the full interview above.

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It's been nearly 70 years since the last bomb fell and the last bullet was fired in World War II, but stories from the war are still being unearthed.

One of these stories is told in the new book "The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines" by Cate Lineberry.

A plane carrying nurses and medics crash lands in Albania behind Nazi lines, and you would not believe what it took to get these Americans to safety.

It's the kind of story that would make a powerful movie. It has been largely hidden and unknown all these years, and figuring in this story are five nurses and medics from Michigan.

Author Cate Lineberry joined us today from New Orleans.

During World War II, a plane crashed behind Nazi lines. Thirty nurses and medics, five of them from Michigan, survived. Their incredible story is finally being told.

And, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the drive-in movie theater. Did you know Michigan once had more than 100 drive-ins? Today just a hand full are in operation. Also, Kevyn Orr canceled the bus tour he was supposed to take the Detroit's creditors on today. We spoke with Nancy Kaffer about why this happened. First on the show, this has certainly been a wet and muggy summer. Michigan farmers endured a hot and dry summer in 2012, so we wondered what the soggy summer of 2013 is doing to crops and to farmers. Is it better than the scorcher of 2012? 

Ken DeCock is a third-generation farmer in Macomb Township where his family owns Boyka's Farm Market. He joined us today to give us the farmer's-eye view of our weather.

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There has been a firestorm of protest in Highland Park after the discovery that a large collection of history books, film and tapes from the city's high school was tossed in the trash.

Some 50 protestors gathered outside the high school in Highland Park, a member of the school board quit, and several people climbed into dumpsters to retrieve what they could.

The protests focused not only on the discarded books but on the way Highland Park's emergency manager Donald Weatherspoon is running the district.

One of those people who searched through the dumpsters to retrieve as many books as possible is Paul Lee. He is a Highland Park resident and an historian who helped build the collection of black history books, videos and movies.

Here is a video he shot while looking through the dumpster:

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One of the best things about sharing each other's stories is how we can learn from each other.

And especially as Michigan has weathered the Great Recession, so many people in our state have had to face challenging periods, times when money was tight when you dreaded finding another past-due notice in the mailbox or phone call from a creditor.

Then factor in the challenges of being a single parent trying to raise a family and stretch a dollar.

That's the story Mardi Jo Link shares in her new book: "Bootstrapper: A Memoir. From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm," published by Knopf.

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Now that summer has truly taken us into her embrace, we’ve been thinking of some of our favorite summer pleasures. And it was fairly unanimous: one of the sweetest times of summer is lounging around in the sun, maybe on a beach, maybe your favorite spot on your back porch or yard, and in your hands is a good book.

Keith Taylor coordinates the undergraduate program in creative writing at the University of Michigan, he is a poet and a writer, and he is simply the best at uncovering hidden gems for us to read and enjoy.

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Think back to the last time you visited your local library. Did you check out a new best-selling book? Borrow a DVD? Meet your study group? Look something up in the reference section?

Since the early 20th Century, libraries have been a fundamental piece of the services people expect from their cities or counties.

But the library we grew up with is changing. The way we interact with the library and the services it offers is also changing.

With new technologies changing the way we access information, we wondered: what does the future hold for libraries?

Joseph Janes, the Chair of Library and Information Science at the University of Washington and the Founding Director of the Internet Public Library joined us along with David Votta, the Community Engagement Library at Midwest Collaborative for Library Services to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

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When you are a parent, you’re making choices for your kids day-in and day-out.

Life can throws plenty of curve balls to a family, whether health, financial, or emotional. So how do families weather life’s challenges and make the right choices?

Michigan writer Robert Omilian tackles those key questions in his book, No Fear, No Doubt, No Regret: Investing In Life’s Challenges Like A Warrior.

The book was published by Ferne Press of Northville.

It recently won the 2013 Pinnacle Award for Parenting Books.

His insights were hard-won as he walked alongside his son Alan, who was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. The disease unfortunately, claimed his life in July of 2010.

You can listen to the full interview above.

Robert Turney

Let's cross our fingers and hope that spring is here to stay. As the grass gets greener and flowers begin blooming, why not welcome the warmer weather with some light spring reading?

Keith Taylor, a poet and writer, as well as a professor at the University of Michigan, has given us a few suggestions for our spring reading lists.

Don't worry, they're short.

"We should be getting outside, and working in the garden...we don't want to start reading Anna Karenina outside right now," Taylor said.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual commemoration created by Congress to honor the millions of Jews who died in the Nazi Holocaust, as well as millions of others. 

It is linked with the Holocaust Remembrance Day that Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion started 60 year ago. 

Though the ranks of survivors are dwindling, those who are still here continue to share their experiences with the goal of preserving history and preventing future genocides. 

This year's theme for the National Days of Remembrance is "Never Again: Heeding the Warning Signs," and encompasses the stories of many survivors, including Ann Arbor resident Miriam Garvil.

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Many of us are book lovers.

An e-book reader is convenient in the sense that you can store dozens of books on it. It's also great if you're traveling and don't want to lug a big chunky book in your carry-on bag.

But if you believe there is no substitute for picking up a book, leafing through the pages, and exploring shelves of books, then the Curious Book Shop in East Lansing is the place to be.

Owner Ray Walsh carries the banner for wonderful old books, which includes the 57th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show.

Dave Kampfschulte

We are all going to die. It's one of the sadder facts of life.

For most people, it's also one of the hardest things to talk about.

In 1986, Dave Kampfschulte's good friend was dying of lung cancer, even though he had never smoked a cigarette.

Dave's experience made him realize that we all could benefit from more preparation and conversation about death.

What do we lose if we choose not to have these conversations?

After 25 years of hospice volunteering, Kampfschulte has writen a book called I'm Dying to Talk with You:  Twenty-five years of conversations on end of life decisions in which he discusses conversations we need to have with ourselves and with others about end of life experiences. 

To hear the full interview, click the link above.

Stateside: An author's love letter to the Midwest

Nov 15, 2012
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To Mike Draper, the Midwest is a mystery.

Draper is the author of “The Midwest: God’s Gift to Planet Earth,” a jovial investigation of the region and the major figures who have come from it.

Deemed by those on the coast as “flyover country,” the states of the Midwest receive the portrayal of a land populated only by farmers and fried food junkies.

But the image is a false one.

Without the Midwest, New Yorkers would have no planes in which they could fly across the country.  

“The Midwest is viewed as the American Gothic farmland, which as a region, is only a minority of it. The Midwest has never been a primarily agriculture economy,” said Draper.

When doing his research for the book, interesting Midwesterners seemed to manifest themselves in every corner of the history books through which Draper flipped.  

The Wright Brothers and Henry Ford reinvented the ways Americans could inhabit the world.

Using their literary prowess, authors like Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain formed new standards for American fiction.

With such rich cultural icons as these, one begins to wonder how anyone could dismiss the Midwest as plain or timid.

It is a question Draper raises throughout “God’s Gift.”  

And with its mysterious beauty, the Midwest provides its answers on every page of his book.

-Cameron Stewart

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

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As you hurry through your day, checking your watch, checking the clock, trying to squeeze more and more into your waking hours, did you ever stop and wonder...

What would it be like to live without an awareness of time?

How does that constant awareness of time passing, time running out, affect our very existence?

Mitch Albom got to wondering about these very questions.

The result is his latest novel, The Time Keeper.

 Cyndy spoke with Mitch and asked him how he would describe his book.

Ask Harry Dolan to take you for lunch at a restaurant he's written about, and he won't disappoint. In downtown Ann Arbor, Mich., on Liberty Street, the vegetarian restaurant Seva serves mushroom sliders and yam fries that both the crime writer and his characters are quite fond of. With any luck, you'll also catch the perfect song playing in the background — "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads.

Normally at this time of day I talk to you about some current political or economic shenanigans. And I could talk today about the continuing election-rigging scandal in Grand Rapids, or about the rising unemployment rate across the state.

Well, there will be lots to say about those and many other problems before long. But it’s the last weekend before the final Labor Day holiday. The weather may even be nice enough to go sit on the beach and avoid political ads.

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