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Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Immigration activists worry that President Obama’s recent executive order could bring scammers out of the shadows.

The new program could let up to five million currently undocumented people gain at least temporary legal status in the US.

For immigrant advocates, the concern is unscrupulous people peddling bad or even phony “help” with the application process.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Carl Levin retires from Congress at the end of the year. He

Michigan’s senior U.S. senator reflects on his career this weekend in an interview on Michigan Public Television.

Levin sat down for an interview with Senior Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick for the show “Off the Record.”

He says he first started to think about calling it quits a couple years ago. He says the decision not to seek reelection freed him up to focus on his official responsibilities without the distractions of campaigning and fundraising.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers could take up legislation next week meant to keep schools out of deficit.

The legislation would require more reporting from schools that are deemed to be in financial trouble. It could also open up more money in state grants and loans.

State Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, says he’s confident the bills will reach the governor’s desk by the end of the year.

“The more I talk about the process that we’re trying to establish the more support we get,” said Walker.

Sarah Kerson / Michigan Radio

  State officials are starting to figure out how President Obama's executive action on immigration could play out in Michigan.

Since last year, Michigan's Secretary of State has been giving out drivers licenses to so-called DREAMers, young people brought to the US as kids.

The President's recent executive action means parents of U-S citizens or permanent residents would also be protected from deportation, so long as they've been in the country for five years.

creative commons

Does a stretch of unseasonable warmth do much to influence people’s views on climate change?

One recent study suggests the answer is: No.

This study looked at two big data points. One was weather data for the winter of 2012, an unusually warm one across most of the country—and the 4th-warmest on record for the contiguous US as a whole.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Black Friday is attracting shoppers and protesters.

Picketers stood outside more than a dozen Michigan Wal-Mart stores this morning.

Marilyn Coulter is with the Coalition of Labor Union Women.    She says this is “RED Friday” for minimum wage workers in Michigan.

“Because they’re in the red because they’re working and they are not getting paid enough money to be able to live and feed their families,” says Coulter. 

State Capitol
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It looks like a decision about whether to ease restrictions on medical marijuana will come down to the final days of the state Legislature’s 2014 session.

The state Senate has been debating for almost a year whether to allow dispensaries and edible forms of medical marijuana in Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says he wants to pass House Bills 4271 and 5104 in December. But he says some groups are still concerned the legislation could lead to more illegal pot sales.

  

Sam Kim / Flickr

  Speed limits may change for Michigan's rural highways: the legislature is looking at raising them to 80 miles an hour.

State Rep. Brad Jacobsen (R-Oxford) introduced the bill earlier this month to make 80 mph the new speed limit on all highways designated "rural in nature" by the state police and the transportation department.

But that's still a long ways off - first, the bill has to get approval from the house transportation committee.

And the Michigan State Police will get to weigh in on the idea. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT  (AP) - A worker's compensation claim in Michigan could require a full tank of gas.

  The Michigan Supreme Court says a person injured on the job has no right to have a worker's compensation hearing in the same county. The court recently reversed a decision from the state appeals court in the case of Lawrence Younkin, who injured his back in Genesee County.

  Younkin sued after officials consolidated offices and moved some hearings to Eaton County from Flint, a distance of roughly 70 miles.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING (AP) - Democratic lawmakers are proposing increased state oversight of Michigan's oil and gas pipelines.

  The four-bill package announced this week would require the state Department of Environmental Quality to regularly inspect pipelines under the Great Lakes and mandate that pipeline operators submit emergency response plans to state regulators.

  Rep. Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor says he's thankful aging lines beneath the Straits of Mackinac haven't leaked. But he says more oversight is needed to "ensure Michigan's economy and natural resources are protected."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Many holiday shoppers will be hunting for bargains in their pajamas.

A new report says nearly half of all holiday presents will be bought online this year.

Pat Huddleston is a Michigan State University professor who specializes in consumer behavior. She expects 56% of holiday shoppers will buy gifts online this year, buying 44% of their presents via the web.

By comparison, online shopping amounts to roughly 12% of retail sales annually.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT - Law enforcement officials in Detroit say they have arrested dozens of people and seized illegal weapons and drugs in a coordinated enforcement effort.

  The Detroit Police Department said in a press release Wednesday that the effort dubbed "Operation Wild Turkey" focused on two precincts on the city's east side. City police worked with state and federal law enforcement agencies.

American Farm Bureau

A new survey says the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving meal is up slightly.

The American Farm Bureau says the average cost of a 10-person Thanksgiving dinner is $49.41; that’s up about 37 cents from last year.

Bob Boehm is with the Michigan Farm Bureau. He says the traditional Thanksgiving feast is still affordable. 

“For less than a lot of fast food meal, $5 a person is a pretty good deal,” says Boehm. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Customers and protesters will be at many big retailers today.

Toys R Us, Best Buy, JC Penney, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Wal-Mart and Target are just a few of big retailers open on Thanksgiving.

Several groups object to retailers being open on the holiday. They say it’s unfair to their employees making them choose between their family and their job. 

Jim Hallan is with the Michigan Retailers Association.  He says other people have to work on Thanksgiving. Why not retail workers?

Girl Scouts of Michigan

An Ann Arbor area Girl Scout troop  wants the makers of LEGOs to change how their toys portray women.

Lizzy Blackwell, a member of Troop 40466 and now a seventh grader,  said that some of the girls have enjoyed playing with LEGOs, but they noticed a lot of gender stereotyping in them.   

Blackwell said it's a problem that LEGO's action series  characters – like police, superheroes, pilots, and construction workers – are all male. "I'd like to see them portrayed in an equal way with women being shown as being just as capable as men to do these sorts of things," she said.

The Parade Company / via city of Detroit

Things might be a little tighter than usual at Detroit’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade this year.

The parade will take its usual route down Woodward Avenue. But there will be several “pinch points” due to ongoing construction for the M-1 rail project.

City spokesman John Roach says that means parade-watching will be restricted in some areas.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A former Kent County commissioner was sentenced to a year in jail this week.  Michael Wawee Junior pleaded no contest earlier this fall to a felony embezzlement charge.

Wawee is accused of overcharging families for the engraving of grave markers while working as a salesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.

The Republican from the Grand Rapids suburb of Walker was arrested earlier in February. He resigned later that month.

Wawee will also have to pay more than $200,000 in restitution. He’ll be on probation for three years.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Theresa Ely, a former custodian at Dearborn Heights school district No. 7, is suing her old employer for allegedly covering up asbestos exposure to some staff and students.

According to her lawsuit filed November 25th, Ely and another custodian were instructed in the summer of 2011 to speed up their work by cleaning asbestos-contaminated floor tiles in the schools with abrasive sandpaper, rather than removing the old floor wax with water as originally instructed.

Today on Stateside:

  • A look at how Michigan has recovered from the Great Recession.
  • Cultural map-making from the New York Times and the German potato salad that "evokes" Michigan.
  • Music from Lac La Belle.
  • Taking back Thanksgiving.
  • And a history of the Ohio-Michigan rivalry.

For their United States of Thanksgiving story, the New York Times picked German potato salad as the recipe that evoked Michigan.

Priscilla Massie of Allegan contributed the recipe. She's the author of Walnut Pickles and Watermelon Cake: A Century of Michigan Cooking.

Massie felt that German potato salad was a Michigan dish, as 22% of Michiganders have German ancestry. In addition, she notes that the potato was a food staple for pioneers and is still a big crop within the state.

Massie says that the foods one chooses for Thanksgiving is a reflection of family heritage. In her case, the German potato salad recipe she contributed to the New York Times is a recipe that came through generations of her family.

Massie stresses the importance of food, saying that it is one of the things held in common by everyone. Massie says that you can go anywhere in the world and talk about food with someone, as food ties everyone together.

Listen to our conversation with Massie below.


David Haines / Flickr

In recent weeks it has been impossible to go on Facebook without encountering many posts from groups trying to convince retailers to resist the urge to open on Thanksgiving Day.

More retailers are doing just that. K-Mart, for instance, opens at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and will remain open 42 straight hours.

Among groups trying to push back against this growing trend is the group "Take Back Thanksgiving."

Its founder Annie Zirkel joined us today. Listen to our conversation with Zirkel below.


The abandoned Packard Automobile Factory is emblematic of the financial stress of many minority Michigan communities.
Albert Duce / Wikimedia Commons

Which areas of Michigan are bouncing back from the Great Recession?

As our next guest has discovered, the economic "report card" for Michigan is, as they put it, "a grab bag of the promising and the troubling."

Ted Roelofs dug into those numbers for Bridge Magazine.

Listen to our conversation with Roelofs below.


Toledo, Ohio
OZinOH / Flickr

This weekend's Michigan-Ohio State game not only focuses attention on one of the longest, deepest rivalries in college sports, it also reminds us that Michigan and Ohio have been at loggerheads for the better part of 200 years.

drtel / Creative Commons

Plans for a new school in West Michigan for students in kindergarten through college are moving forward. The school will focus on science, math, technology, arts and engineering.

There was some controversy when news of the school first came out this spring.

Jerry Zandstra represents the non-profit group that’s buying the massive pyramid-shaped building from furniture-maker Steelcase.

Dennis Allain Renderings

The Detroit City Council has postponed a key vote for the city’s new hockey arena.

Developer Olympia Entertainment asked Council to delay re-zoning for the new Detroit Red Wings arena, slated to open in 2017. Olympia is the development arm of businesses run by the Ilitch family, owners of the Red Wings.

Eva Petoskey

State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra talks to members of two Michigan tribes about the incredibly high rate of suicide among young American Indians. It's a devastating issue some say is fed by a community level sense of hopelessness and "code of silence."

Read or listen to the entire story at State of Opportunity.

Jennifer Guerra from the State of Opportunity team checks in with members of two Michigan tribes about some of the issues faced by the young people in their community.

Jennifer Guerra from the State of Opportunity team checks in with members of two Michigan tribes about some of the issues faced by the young people in their community.

SEMCOG

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to lower the allowed level of ozone from 75 to 65 to 70 parts per billion.

Ozone is a dangerous chemical that forms when sunlight and heat interact with emissions from cars, factories, and power plants.

"Even going to 70 (ppb) will be a monumental challenge for us in the region," says Joan Weidner of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). 

SEMCOG is the group which monitors ozone levels and coordinates actions to reduce ozone. 

There are those with some understandable skepticism about political junkets to other countries in search of jobs. Former Governor Jennifer Granholm was forever jetting off on trade missions to Sweden or Germany, say, and then announcing with great fanfare that some company had agreed to create maybe a dozen new jobs in Michigan.

This raised a number of questions, such as, would those jobs have come here anyway? Incidentally, I’m not sure anyone ever followed up to see if the promised jobs actually happened.

On top of that, you had to wonder if the governor’s time and energy might better have been spent elsewhere.

Especially when you saw stories about a handful of new junket-generated jobs next to other stories about hundreds of domestic jobs being eliminated through plant closings or downsizings.

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