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Environment & Science
1:54 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Agencies begin new search for Asian carp near Lake Michigan

Silver carp leaping out of a river.
glfc.org

Crews will begin an intensive search for Asian carp in the Chicago area tomorrow after finding more DNA evidence of the fish in waterways close to Lake Michigan.  Officials found the genetic material above a system of electric barriers that are intended to keep carp out of Lake Michigan.

Chris McCloud is with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He says crews will go out this week on the North Shore Channel and an area of the Chicago River and look for carp.

"We are very confident that if there are Asian carp present in the Chicago Area Waterway System, that they are in very, very low numbers."

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Politics & Government
1:02 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Commentary: Shame of the UAW

As you probably know, a Titanic battle has been going on for years now over whether to build a new bridge over the Detroit River.

On one side is Governor Rick Snyder, the government of Canada, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, and the chambers of commerce. On the other side, Matty Moroun’s family, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, who right now have a monopoly on moving billions in heavy automotive components from Detroit to Ontario.

The Moroun family, that is, together with those who support their position because of their money.

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Health
11:20 am
Mon October 15, 2012

First cases of seasonal flu reported in Michigan, heed your grandmother's advice

Weekly influenza activity across the U.S. and its territories. Michigan is listed as "sporadic."
CDC

Flu season is officially underway.

Michigan Department of Community Health officials said today that 12 influenza cases are the first seasonal flu reports they have confirmed in Michigan during the 2012-2013 season.

They  said the illnesses occurred in children and adults in lower Michigan.

Two people were hospitalized. Nine cases have been confirmed as influenza B viruses, two as influenza A (H3N2) virus and one as influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus.

Officials say it's too early to tell what influenza viruses will circulate this influenza season or how severe it might be.

Officials recommend flu shots as a way to prevent the disease.

Michigan's flu activity is listed as "sporadic," the lowest of four levels of influenza activity.

Several years ago I interviewed Peter Palese, a microbiologist and Chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

They were researching why the flu virus spreads in cold weather.

They found that once the flu virus is airborne, it survives longer in cold air and low humidity. It doesn't survive as long in higher temperatures and higher humidity.

Palese said age old maternal advice held up in their research:

They tested guinea pigs infected with the flu virus - and found that the animals are more contagious when they're in a colder environment. They believe that's because their bodies don't get rid of the virus as fast in cold temperatures...

"So that makes sense when your grandmother told you 'don't go out when it's cold, and stay warm and you might get the flu,' she was probably right," said Palese.

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Politics & Government
9:28 am
Mon October 15, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Schools might get a break on standardized tests

"The Michigan Department of Education is considering a proposal to give schools a break on standardized test accountability. The proposal would amend the department's accountability system to allow students who fail a Michigan Educational Assessment Program exam to be considered proficient on the test if they show significant improvement. The Detroit Free Press reports the change would mean some schools could get a better rating from the state," the Associated Press reports.

More money spent on TV ads for  ballot proposals than candidates

"Interest groups are spending unprecedented amounts of money on TV ads supporting or opposing initiatives to amend the state constitution. That’s according to a report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Since August, groups have poured about $30 million into TV ads. That’s far more than what’s being spent on individual candidates, including those running for president or US Senate," Jake Neher reports.

Asian carp search begins this week

"Federal and state officials will hunt for Asian carp near Chicago starting Tuesday, after finding more DNA evidence of the fish close to Lake Michigan. Crews will go out this week on the North Shore Channel and an area of the Chicago River," Rebecca Williams reports.

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Health
8:41 am
Sun October 14, 2012

More products recalled in salmonella outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — A New Mexico food company that produced the peanut butter linked to an outbreak of salmonella poisoning has expanded an ongoing recall of its products to include raw and roasted peanuts.

The federal Food and Drug Administration said Saturday that Sunland Inc. added raw and roasted shelled and in-shell peanuts sold in quantities from two ounces to 50 pounds to its recall. FDA inspectors have found salmonella in raw peanuts from the Sunland processing plant.

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Culture
3:42 pm
Sat October 13, 2012

Cheers for beer! Grand Rapids offers a toast, celebrates “BeerCity USA” title

These rare, green and amber glass Fehsenfeld beer bottles are from before 1900.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A new You Tube video features a tour of 15 breweries with loads of people giving a toast to the “BeerCity USA” title bestowed upon Grand Rapids earlier this year. Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell joined in, although he and city council celebrated with their own press conference a few months ago.

Ashville, North Carolina and Portland, Oregon; those are the cities known for their microbreweries. But Grand Rapids?

“We’ve in the industry put in a lot of time and a lot of effort. We deserve it for sure, yeah,” Steve Smith assured me. You’ve got to love Smith’s title; chief beer geek at HopCat. The bar was named the third “Beer Bar on Planet Earth” by Beer Advocate magazine this year.  

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat October 13, 2012

The week in review

User: David Defoe flickr

Every Saturday Michigan Radio's Rina Miller talks with political analyst Jack Lessenberry about the week's top regional news stories. This week they talk about Proposal 5 which would require a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature in order to raise taxes and the cost of campaigning in the state.

Education
7:00 am
Sat October 13, 2012

Irregardless of its reputation, a word perseveres

Though it may be underlined in red immediately after I type it, “irregardless” is indeed a word.

Anne Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan, confirms its legitimacy ; but its usage, she warns, only invites contempt.

“A year ago I was talking with someone, and I said, ‘You know, people use it, it’s in most dictionaries.' And you could see that his respect for me and my scholarly perspective was shaken,” says Curzan.

The word comes from a blend of “irrespective and regardless.”

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It's Just Politics
7:00 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Election 2012: Is Michigan a true battleground in the race for the White House?

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

With just 25 days to go before the Presidential election, and a week since the first Presidential debate, a few pollsters and at least one analyst are putting Michigan into swing-state territory even though, as we’ve noted before, President Obama’s generally been given the edge in most polls in the state.

This week, Michigan enjoyed a round of visits from top flight presidential candidate surrogates starting with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Monday. And, just today, we saw Anne Romney stumping for her husband, Mitt Romney, in the couple’s native-state.

So, the question remains, after five presidential election cycles with Michigan falling into the Democratic column, is Michigan an actual battleground state in 2012?

The right-leaning website Real Clear Politics says so. A Detroit News/WDIV poll shows the Obama lead shrinking since last week’s debate and a Gravis Marketing poll also puts the race for Michigan’s 16 electoral votes much closer than it has been. President Obama still leads, according to these surveys, but the momentum is moving toward Mitt Romney.

And, as we’ve said before, Michigan seems like it should be attainable for the GOP. It’s not like a Republican can’t get elected here statewide. Just ask Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette or Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

But, aside from the Real Clear Politics call, no one else is really putting Michigan into that list of eight or nine states that are the focus of the fiercest competition (states like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada and Iowa). And, we’re certainly not seeing a big re-allocation of resources by the campaigns that would suggest things are changing in the mitten state.

One question that gets bandied about is: if Michigan isn’t a battleground state, then why are high profile campaign surrogates making regular stops here? Well, there are lots of reasons why candidates and their surrogates visit a state – fundraising, a quick visit to make sure a safe state stays that way. But President Obama hasn’t been here since April; Romney since August. In fact, this was the first time in decades that neither presidential candidate themselves visited Michigan during the entire month of September. In 2004, George W. Bush made John Kerry work for Michigan, which maybe meant he wasn’t able to spend as much time and money in places like Ohio and Florida – true swing states with lots of electoral votes.

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Health
3:56 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

University of Michigan Health System reviewing policies in wake of national meningitis outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control's current map of confirmed cases linked to the national meningitis outbreak
CDC

The national meningitis outbreak has officials at the University of Michigan Health System reviewing their policy for where they get some drugs that are in short supply.

The outbreak has been linked to tainted steroid injections from a ‘so-called’ compound pharmacy.     Four Michigan clinics used the tainted steroids to treat people with back pain.   None of the clinics are associated with UMHS. 

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Politics & Government
3:48 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

UAW-Moroun quid pro quo could backfire

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."    

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The Detroit Free Press reports that the United Auto Workers union - no friend to Governor Rick Snyder - is considering a deal with billionaire Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun - also no friend to the Governor.

The deal would involve Moroun helping the union pay for ads in support of Proposal 2, which would enshrine labor organizing rights in the state constitution.

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Offbeat
3:44 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

A Hoffa-themed scam in Roseville, Michigan

ROSEVILLE, Mich. (AP) - Authorities say someone's trying to scam residents of a Detroit suburb into believing that missing Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa could be buried on their property.

Roseville police are warning city residents about a letter that purports to be from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The letter says a recent dig at a Roseville home for Hoffa was a ruse to keep the media away from the real site.

The letter's author implies the true Hoffa dig site is at the recipient's home.

Several residents received a copy of the fake letter as a lure to get them outside while thieves go inside their homes.

Roseville police investigated a claim last month that Hoffa was buried in a backyard, but testing on soil samples showed no traces of human decomposition.

Election 2012
3:08 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Bridge group releases statement on today's Detroit Free Press report

Concept NITC Drawing
NITC

Mickey Blashfield, Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun's director of government relations and head of the Moroun-financed group "The People Should Decide" released a statement following a report from the Detroit Free Press on a possible deal between the UAW and Moroun.

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Arts & Culture
1:52 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Detroit's art scene gets a $4 million boost

The Detroit Children's Choir is one of 60 city arts organizations that will share the funding.
Photo Courtesy of the Detroit Children's Choir

From potters to puppeteers, there are some very relieved artists in Detroit this week.  More than 60 of the city's cultural groups are splitting a $4 million grant from the Kresge Foundation.

While four million bucks spread across 60 groups may not sound like a lot, it could actually be what keeps the lights on for some of them. Especially teeny groups, like the Detroit Children’s Choir.

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Election 2012
1:48 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

4 things to know about Proposal 6: The bridge vote

The Ambassador Bridge.
Lester Graham

Proposal 6 was introduced by the owner of Detroit's Ambassador Bridge as a direct reply to the proposed New International Trade Crossing (NITC).

The new bridge was first proposed in 2004, after a long-term study highlighting the need for a new crossing was commissioned by the Border Transportation Partnership--a coalition of Canadian and American transportation authorities.

It would be sited two miles south of the Ambassador Bridge and would connect directly to the Canadian highway.

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Environment & Science
1:09 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Proposal 3: 25 x '25 would amend Michigan's Constitution to increase use of renewables

cwwycoff1 flickr

This is a story I produced for NPR's Morning Edition.  Editors were interested in Proposal 3 in Michigan because, if it passes, it would be the first time a state constitution would be amended for a Renewable Portfolio Standard. We'll be looking at this proposal in more detail in future reports.

There are business effects to some of the more than 170 statewide ballot measures to be decided in next month's elections. In California, voters will determine if labels should be required on genetically-modified food. People in Arkansas will vote whether to increase taxes for highways and bridges. And one measure in Michigan is capturing attention - whether the state constitution should be amended to change how utilities get their electricity.

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Politics & Government
12:53 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Commentary: Challenging Brooks; Challenging Oakland

For the last 40 years, two things have been true. Oakland County, home to most of Detroit’s white-collar suburbs, has been Michigan’s richest county. And L. Brooks Patterson has been Oakland’s dominant
personality, first as county prosecutor, then as county executive. When his current term ends in January, he will have held that office for 20 years.


That’s exactly as long as his longtime political enemy, Coleman Young, was Mayor of Detroit. But while Coleman finally retired after 20 years, Brooks is, at age 73, running again.

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11:53 am
Fri October 12, 2012

Free Press reports on a UAW, Matty Moroun backscratching deal

Lead in text: 
Nathan Boomey and Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press have a report on a "2 for 6" deal between the UAW and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun. 'You support my proposal.... I'll support yours.' Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton is following up on this report.
The UAW and Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun are discussing a deal that calls for the billionaire to pump cash into a labor-sponsored ballot initiative in exchange for the union's support for a Moroun-backed campaign to block a new international bridge from Detroit to Windsor, according to a senior auto executive and several local political leaders.
Politics & Government
11:27 am
Fri October 12, 2012

Ann Romney gushes love for Michigan, praises Paul Ryan's debate performance

A few hundred people showed up to a conference center outside of Grand Rapids early Friday morning to hear Ann Romney speak.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Ann Romney is making stops across Michigan Friday. The wife of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney started early at conference center in Hudsonville, just outside of Grand Rapids.

Ann Romney has been doing a lot of campaigning for her husband. So she says she made one “special request” of planners; “Will you please send me to Michigan?”

Standing in front of a “Women for Mitt” banner, Ann Romney held up her hand, pointed to her hometown and confessed her love for the state.

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Politics & Government
8:21 am
Fri October 12, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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No more Senate candidate debates

"It appears there will be no debate between Senator Debbie Stabenow and former Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Stabenow called off talks to schedule the debates, saying her opponent won't negotiate in good faith. Hoestra says Stabenow is afraid to debate him. Senate candidates usually hold at least two debates. One debate has traditionally been held at the Detroit Economic Club. Hoekstra says the sticking point was holding debates in a medium that lots of voters could see. Hoekstra says he wanted debates on major TV networks," Tracy Samilton reports.

Meningitis cases continue to rise in Michigan

"There’s been a big jump in the number of people in Michigan affected by that national fungal meningitis outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control says 39 people in Michigan have contracted fungal meningitis from tainted steroid injections. Just Wednesday there were only 28 confirmed cases in Michigan. Three Michigan women have died since receiving the injections which were intended to treat back pain," Steve Carmody reports.

Medical Marijuana discussed in Michigan Supreme Court

"The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether the state’s medical marijuana law allows dispensaries and growing cooperatives. The court heard arguments in two medical marijuana cases today Thursday. Prosecutors say patients have to either grow their own, or get it from a licensed caregiver. Prosecutors say patients have to either grow their own, or get it from a licensed caregiver. The operators of a marijuana dispensary are challenging the county’s decision to shut down their operation. A man who ran a growing cooperative is also trying to fend off a charge that he exceeded the 12-plant limit in the law. The court is expected to rule in coming months. In the meantime, the Legislature is also looking at adding some definition to the medical marijuana law that was approved by voters in 2008," Rick Pluta reports.

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