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ACLU: ICE is releasing Iraqis it has imprisoned since summer of 2017

This week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is expected to release many of the roughly 100 Iraqis it has detained since the summer of 2017. That's after a federal judge gave the government a deadline of December 20th to let them go.

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Judge Paul L. Maloney entered the courtroom when the clock on the wall read 9:08. He strode to the bench and settled into his chair. Behind him, mounted on the wood paneled wall, was a large round seal of the United States Federal Court Western District of Michigan. The hearing was off to a late start, but only by eight minutes. And, given that everyone was here to try to settle a dispute that dates back more than a century and a half, those eight minutes didn’t seem like much.

In front of Maloney in the wood-paneled courtroom at the federal building in Kalamazoo sat more than a dozen attorneys. Maloney called out each of them by name for the record.

“That took longer than usual,” he joked at the end.

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

The state Legislature is in its final week of the lame duck session before the holiday break, and the bills are not slowing down.

Bills covering everything from shielding donor identities in campaigns to legislation on cleanup of toxic sites advanced in the Legislature Tuesday.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A controversial bill setting new standards for cleaning up contamination is on its way to the governor.

The state House approved the legislation Tuesday by a narrow 56 to 53 vote margin. The bill has already passed the state Senate.

Person driving a go-kart.
Takashi Azuma / Flickr

Today on Stateside, a scientist on the state's PFAS Scientific Advisory Committee breaks down the group's official report on how Michigan should deal with PFAS contamination. Plus, after her sister suffered permanent brain damage on a go-kart ride in 2015, Corri Sandwick has been pushing the state to make amusement parks safer. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

Rachel Gibbs with her youngest son Jake before her 2015 accident at AJ's Family Fun Center.
Courtesy of Corri Sandwick

It was supposed to be a day of fun at AJ's Family Fun Center near Grand Rapids in 2015. Rachel Gibbs wore a scarf on the cool August day.  Staff at AJ's made no mention of the potentially dangerous item as Gibbs and her youngest son loaded into a go-kart and zipped off. During the ride, Gibbs’ scarf got caught in one of the go-kart’s axles, snapping her windpipe. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The governor’s desk is the next stop for a bill to protect the identities of non-profit donors, including to political advocacy groups.

It would be a misdemeanor for a public official to require non-profits to disclose their donor list for government review under the legislation the state House approved today. 

State Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) defends his bill against charges it’s intended to shield big name political donors trying to influence Michigan politics.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

53rd District Court judge Theresa Brennan was arraigned Tuesday on three felony counts: tampering with evidence, perjury, and corruption in office.

The hearing was brief.  Appearing by video conference, Judge David Guinn read Brennan her rights and asked if she understood them. She said she did.

car with dented bumper
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Plans to change Michigan’s auto no-fault law will likely not make it to the governor’s desk this year. Lawmakers in the state House have been considering taking up the issue – and they still might. But with only days left in this session, the Senate is unlikely to follow suit.

Lee Erck smokes his pipe in the basement of his home just outside Marquette.
Dan Wanschura

Just off U.S. Highway 41 outside of Marquette, there’s an old man who lives alone in a small, one-bedroom house. Most days he's upstairs sitting at his desk or downstairs in his workshop. There he makes some of the best tobacco pipes in the world.

Not just blowing smoke

“My name is Lee Erck. I am a tobacco-smoking pipe maker. I live here in Negaunee Township,” he says on a cloudy Friday afternoon.

The A.V. Club has named the Believed podcast from Michigan Radio and NPR as the “Best Coverage of a News Story” podcast its annual “Podmass Superlatives” list, 2018. The entertainment webzine gives this nod to the investigative reporting podcast just as the Believed series wraps up with its Epilogue episode, “No Pretty Bows” released this week.

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A 9-part podcast about a team of women who won justice in one of the largest serial sexual abuse cases in U.S. history.