User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

State Senate passes Medicaid bill

Yesterday, the Michigan state Senate passed a bill to expand Medicaid.  The legislation is now headed for the state House.  However, Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports that the bill may be delayed because the Senate did not vote to put the bill into immediate effect.

State will re-tabulate some Detroit ballots

The state elections department will recount some of the ballots from Detroit's mayoral primary.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that "state elections director Chris Thomas says they won’t discount any votes because of how they were marked."  Thomas says "you can’t disenfranchise voters because election workers make a mistake, or don’t do what they’re supposed to do.”

Michigan congressmen request collaboration between President Obama and Congress on Syria

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and Upper Peninsula Representative Dan Benishek joined seventeen other representatives requesting that President Obama consult Congress before taking action against Syria.  Many countries, including the U.S., are considering military action against Syria in light of recent chemical attacks against civilians.  Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that "isolationists in Congress oppose another U.S. military intervention in the Middle East."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Two Michigan Congressmen have signed a letter demanding the White House consult with Congress before taking military action against Syria.

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and Upper Peninsula Representative Dan Benishek joined 19 other Republicans and one Democrat lawmaker in sending a letter to the president.

They want President Obama to get an authorization from Congress before taking any military action against Syria.

Ryan Garza / Detroit Free Press

Last month, a Michigan woman became the first American killed in the Syrian civil war.

Over the weekend, Niraj Warikoo at the Detroit Free Press profiled Nicole Mansfield, a 33-year-old Grand Blanc native who was killed on May 29 in the Syrian city of Idilib.

According to Mansfield’s family, Nicole’s conversion to Islam “five to six years ago” raised red flags and strained familial relationships. From Warikoo’s article: / YouTube

Update 11:03 a.m.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is following this story for us. The Associated Press has this update on Nicole Lynn Mansfield. They report the family didn't know she was in the Middle East and that Mansfield wanted to be a "peacemaker."

Relatives of a 33-year-old Michigan woman killed in fighting in Syria say they didn't even know she was in the Middle East but that she always wanted to be a peacemaker.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michelle Rhee advocates for Common Core

Michelle Rhee spoke yesterday at the Mackinac Policy Conference in favor of maintaining the Common Core curriculum in Michigan. According to the Associated Press,  

“Rhee is a self-described lifelong Democrat who has clashed with teachers' unions, one of the party's key constituencies. During her speech, she called for honoring the teaching profession but demanding more accountability and rewarding the best teachers with more pay.”

Michigan woman killed in Syrian conflict

33 year old Nicole Lynn Mansfield of Flint, Michigan has been killed while fighting for the Syrian opposition movement.

“Speelman's mother Monica Mansfield Speelman tells the Detroit Free Press that her niece was a convert to Islam who married an Arab immigrant several years ago but later divorced him. Syrian news reports say that Mansfield and two other westerners killed with her were fighters for the opposition to Syria's government and were killed in a confrontation in Idlib,” the Associated Press reports. 

Michigan universities produce young entrepreneurs

A new report from the Anderson Economic Group states that Michigan’s three largest universities produce twice as many entrepreneurs as the national average.  According to Rick Pluta,

“The report says almost half of the new businesses started by college grads have been started or acquired in Michigan. University officials say they’ve revamped their curriculum in recent years to encourage entrepreneurship among students.”


The Syrian conflict seems distant to most of us, but one of the opposition leaders lives here in Michigan.

She's one of the few women within the effort seeking to overturn the Assad regime.

Click the audio above to hear our conversation with her.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Members of Michigan’s Syrian community are stepping up to help refugees fleeing the bloody conflict in that country.

Some lawyers in particular are helping Syrians seeking “temporary protected status” or political asylum in the United States.

Kate Wells /

For a few hours Saturday morning, the Troy Public Library became Syrian immigration base camp. Some two dozen Syrian nationals came out to a makeshift legal clinic held there. Their visas are about to expire or already have, and the federal government’s offering a special extension due to the crisis in their country.

But as pro-bono lawyers explained to one family after another, Syrians who fled escalating violence in the last three months aren’t eligible; they’ve already missed the program’s crucial window.

That window ended March 29, when the Obama administration declared Syrians in the United States could receive Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. That lets Syrians stay here even after their visas expire.

Troy Public Library
Troy Public Library /

A group will hold a town hall meeting and legal clinic in the Detroit area on Saturday designed to provide assistance to Syrians looking to temporarily stay in the United States beyond the expiration of their visas.

The Obama administration has said it will allow Syrians to temporarily stay beyond the expiration of their visas and not deport those in the country illegally due to deteriorating conditions in their native country.

The United for a Free Syria-hosted event will be held at the Troy Public Library  tomorrow where immigration lawyers will take questions from attendees. 

UFS is a pro-democracy nonprofit organization based in Flint.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in March said Syrians will get temporary protected status because they'd face "serious threats to their personal safety" if they were to return to Syria.

Under the terms of the notice, Syrian nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since March 29 of this year can apply for the status.

Serene Katranji-Zeni is a TPS Coordinator who works with United for a Free Syria.

She says the clinic is the second of its kind in Michigan, and she anticipates helping those eligible complete the time-consuming task of filling out necessary paperwork.

Although she can't say to how many Syrians in Michigan could qualify for the status, she says her office has fielded several requests for help, though many are not eligible.

"The major issue we're running into is that many more people have come into the country since [the March deadline] who want the status, but they don't qualify," she said.

According to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website, the temporary protected status for Syrians is designated through September of next year.  USCIS currently lists seven other countries on its list for foreigners in the United States who may qualify for temporary protected status.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

cell phone picutre via Associated Press

Two Michigan Congressmen are urging President Obama to renew—and strengthen—sanctions against the Syrian government. Livonia Republican Thaddeus McCotter and Detroit Democrat Hansen Clarke say they both support renewing targeted sanctions that lapse next month. Both Congressmen also support strengthening those measures to include freezing Syrian officials’ U.S. assets, and prohibiting business with American companies. Both say the sanctions should also be extended President Bashar Al-Assad’s, and other top official’s, families. Clarke says if the U.S.