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Stateside Staff

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An oil spill from a BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., this week has raised new worries about the stepped-up processing of Canadian tar sands – and threats to Lake Michigan.

Considering that seven million people in Chicagoland depend on Lake Michigan for drinking water, even a little spill might be cause for concern.

Exactly what was spilled? How far did it spread? And has BP contained the leak?

We're joined now by Michael Hawthorne, a reporter with The Chicago Tribune.

Listen to the full interview above.

A Balanced Budget Amendment making the federal government not spend more than it takes in: It sounds pretty good. Get rid of those trillions and trillions of dollars of national debt. But one economist says that's not necessarily a great plan.

Then, it feels like we hear about recalls everyday, from food, to cars, to toys. They make news, but are consumers facing so-called recall fatigue? Are there just so many recalls that we've started to tune them out?

And, you don't have to hunt too far to find critics of our schools, of the way our children are learning, what they're learning and the achievement gap within our classrooms. But are we placing too much pressure on teachers when we expect them to fix these problems?

Also, it’s official. Merriam-Webster now recognizes “Yooper” as a word.

First on the show, for years there’s been talk that Michigan needs to put more money into its roads.

Gov. Snyder has said he wants at least $1.2 billion annually for road maintenance and repair.

A new report says the state needs closer to $2 billion a year.

But negotiations at the state Capitol stalled – until the last few weeks.

Earlier this month, some $200 million was OK’d in a supplemental budget. It looks like another deal could be in the works.

Now word on the street is that this is not some grand bargain. Instead, there are reports that the amount would be closer to $300-400 million. It’s a start, but why now?

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst, and he joined us today.

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

For years there’s been talk that Michigan needs to put more money into its roads.

Gov. Snyder has said he wants at least $1.2 billion annually for road maintenance and repair.

A new report says the state needs closer to $2 billion a year.

But negotiations at the state Capitol stalled – until the last few weeks.

Earlier this month, some $200 million was OK’d in a supplemental budget. It looks like another deal could be in the works.

Now word on the street is that this is not some grand bargain. Instead, there are reports that the amount would be closer to $300-400 million. It’s a start, but why now?

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

You don't have to hunt too far to find critics of our schools, of the way our children are learning, what they're learning and the achievement gap within our classrooms.

There are countless ways, countless statistics that try to measure the problems. Here's just one, centered on the achievement gap. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, on 2007 standardized math exams, white fourth-graders performed better than black fourth-graders in all 46 states where results are available.

And we hear a steady drumbeat of criticism that students here in the U.S. are lagging behind their peers in other countries. When you look at standardized tests, American students rank 17th in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math, which puts them behind students in Poland and Slovenia.

How much pressure should we put on individual teachers to fix these problems?

Natalie Davis, Alistair Bomphray, and Martha Curren-Preis are teachers who are all earning their Ph.D.s in education at the University of Michigan. They joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Flickr user herzogbr / Flickr

Welcome, dear "Yooper." And we’re not talking specifically to those of you who live in the Upper Peninsula. We’re talking about the actual word "Yooper." It’s official, according to the 2014 edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Anne Curzan is an English professor at the University of Michigan, and she joins us every Sunday on Michigan Radio for "That's What They Say."  Anne joined us today to discuss the specifics of this new official word. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan could soon join about 20 states that are formally calling for a national convention to draft a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Michigan itself has a balanced budget requirement, but not so for the federal government.

This idea of a balanced budget amendment has really taken off in the past few years as the nation’s debt has increased.

Charles Ballad is an economist with Michigan State University, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

General Motors has been in the headlines recently over its recall of more than 1.5 million vehicles due to ignition switch problems that are being blamed for some 13 deaths.

Toyota is also in the news after having agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle with the Justice Department over a delayed recall of millions of its vehicles.

But are U.S. consumers facing recall fatigue?

Sonari Glinton covers the auto industry for NPR, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

user: arvindgrover / Flickr

When you think of inequality in higher education, things like tuition, price of textbooks and food probably come up.

But what about inequality when it comes to the party scene in college?

A new five-year study found that if a young woman chooses the so-called "party path" rather than rigorous studying, and if she's from a working class or low-income family, the party path might not lead to a great college experience, or a promising career. 

The research was done by sociologists Elizabeth Armstrong of the University of Michigan and Laura Hamilton of the University of California.

They've turned this research into a book, Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality

After a dizzying three days, what's next for the historic same-sex marriage case in Michigan, and what is the legal status of all those gay couples who lined up to get married on Saturday?

Some in the Michigan Legislature want to expand the number of troubled schools that can fall under Michigan's Educational Achievement Authority. Is it too soon to expand the EAA? We spoke with Kathy Gray of the Detroit Free Press. 

Also, a new book compiled from research by two female sociologists investigates what happens to college women when they put partying above studying. The researchers joined us today to talk about what they found.

And we discuss the possibility of year-round schools in Michigan.

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state House has approved a measure to expand the controversial Education Achievement Authority. The EAA is the agency that is supposed to turn around some of the state’s most struggling school districts.

A final version of the bill could be voted on as early as this week by the state Senate and sent to Gov. Snyder for his signature.

The legislation passed the House last week by just one more vote than was needed.

Critics of the EAA, mostly Democrats, say student test results don’t support putting more schools into the authority.

Supporters, mainly Republican, say the legislation allows for more tools to be used to turn around failing schools.

Kathy Gray has been covering the EAA for the Detroit Free Press, and she joined us today.

Listen to the interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some at-risk schools in Michigan could soon get more state funding if they agree to go year-round.

In his budget address in February, Gov. Snyder called for a state pilot program to encourage year-round schooling. School districts could get money to add air conditioning and other upgrades to old buildings so they could operate during the summer.

Supporters of the measure say students lose a lot of what they learn during the school year after long summer breaks.

State Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, is sponsoring year-round education legislation. He says teachers have to reeducate students in September and October.

“You could have 30 and even up to 60 of the 180 days of kids relearning what they should already know,” said Schor.

But do these measures actually work?

Harris Cooper is professor and the chair of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He joined us today to share his thoughts.

Listen to the interview above.

The Justice Department is investigating General Motors for delaying a recall of more than a million and a half cars. On today's show: how is this recall affecting GM's reputation?

And, a new Michigan law will now allow you to literally BYOB, bring you own bottle of wine to a restaurant.

Also, starting a business can be hard, but what about starting a business with a mission to help end homelessness? That's exactly what the Empowerment Plan aims to do. 

First on the show, Rick Pluta, Captiol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics, joined us to talk about how Lansing plans to spend surplus money.

Three wine bottles from the neck up.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new Michigan law will now allow you to literally BYOB, bring your own bottle of wine to a restaurant. Chris is the Chief Restaurant Critic and Wine Writer at Hour Magazine, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

pile of one dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There is almost a billion dollars worth of state surplus. Should the state spend it or give it back to taxpayers? Should we get a rebate, or should that money be put towards fixing roads and helping schools? And what about the Detroit bankruptcy? 

Also, March Madness is upon us. President Obama chose Michigan State to win the NCAA basketball championship. But who did Governor Snyder pick?

Rick Pluta, Captiol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

user paul (dex) / Flickr

It was announced yesterday that Toyota has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle with the U.S. Justice Department over a delayed recall of millions of vehicles.

The Justice Department is also investigating General Motors for delaying a recall of more than 1.5 million cars. The cars have defective ignition switches that can turn the car off at high speeds.

There's also news that GM executives are being summoned to D.C. to face Congressional inquiries.

Daniel Howes, business columnist at the Detroit News, joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

http://failure-lab.com/

Failure:Lab is an event that's been happening in Michigan and is spreading outside the state.

It's a program designed to get us thinking about the meaning of failure, to realize that failure happens to everyone and perhaps to inspire us to take intelligent risks.

You can see our past Failure:Lab posts here. And on April 1, you can hear Michigan State University Athletic Director Mark Hollis and other Failure:Lab speakers talk about their experiences at MSU's Wharton Center. More on that here

Today we heard from Andwele Gardner.

Andwele Gardner, better known by his stage name Dwele, is a singer-songwriter and record producer from Detroit. He's released six albums including his last Greater Than One. He was featured on multiple Kanye West tracks and brought his vintage soul to the stage once again – to share a story behind the songs.

This is the story that Dwele shared at Failure:Lab Detroit on November 21, 2013 at the Detroit Opera House.

Marijuana plants
Flickr user A7nubis / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan residents suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will now be able to get medical marijuana, marking the first mental-health disorder approved for medical marijuana use.

The decision came yesterday, as the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs signed off on the proposal from the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review panel.

As Michigan Public Radio Network’s Jake Neher explains, the decision is the result of months of deliberation.

How will the decision affect veterans who apply for federal benefits? Is Lansing considering adding other conditions to the issue?

Listen to the full interview above. 

NHTSA

Last month, General Motors recalled 1.6 million vehicles because of faulty ignition switches linked to 13 deaths and at least 31 crashes.

That has grown into that biggest crisis GM has faced in years, and an early and severe test for its new chief, Mary Barra.

Yesterday she released a video making a public apology:

“Something went wrong with our process in this instance and terrible things happened. As a member of the GM family and as a mom with a family of my own, this really hits home for me. And we have apologized. But that is just one step in the journey to resolve this.”

Also yesterday, the automaker announced another recall: more than 1.7 million vehicles in three new campaigns.

Wikipedia.org

If you grew up in Michigan, chances are when you thought of the very first signs of spring you thought of crocuses and robins. 

But have you noticed that in recent years, something has changed– that robins are pretty much with us all through the winter?

Why has this happened, and do we have any reason to worry about robins in this exceptionally harsh winter?

Julie Craves, director of the Rouge River Bird Observatory in Dearborn, joined us. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Adrian Clark / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

March 31 looms ever closer.

That's the deadline for you to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. After then, you'll only be able to get insurance on the health care exchange when there's a big change in your life: a birth, divorce, death, losing your employer-sponsored insurance, or moving to another state.

The latest numbers show 144,586 people in Michigan have gotten health insurance under Obamacare.

And, with more people covered, doctors and hospitals are expecting an uptick in treating one of our state's biggest health challenges: obesity. 

We're joined by Heather Howard, program director of the State Health Reform Assistance Network. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Vistavision / Flickr

Get those fruits and grains straight out of the Michigan farm field, and right into a bottle of Michigan beer, wine, mead or cider. 

That's the idea behind a bill introduced in Michigan's House by state Rep. Doug Geiss, D-Taylor. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Richard Bartz / Wikimedia Commons

It has been a little over a month since a closely watched vote at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. By a very close margin, hourly workers at the plant said no to having the UAW represent them.

But that is not the end of things at the VW plant. The UAW appealed the results of the National Labor Relations Board, because of what the union calls a campaign of intimidation by outsiders, including an apparent promise from Tennessee's senator – a promise that has yet to materialize. 

Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson joins us today. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

Michigan Radio

It's Thursday. Time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes.

It’s hard to believe it will be one year ago tomorrow that Kevyn Orr was appointed Detroit's Emergency Manager. Orr sat down to talk to the Detroit News. What does he say about these past 12 months?

Daniel Howes joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Research.
user mudowp / Twitter

It was late last year that state lawmakers passed The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act.

Starting this Friday, insurance companies will not be allowed to sell policies that include abortion coverage as a standard feature.

Customers would have to buy separate add-ons, riders, to cover abortion and they would have to do it before ever knowing whether they will want to obtain an abortion.

And how that might or might not happen is pretty confusing.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, and she joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

A decision on the legal challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is expected by the end of next week.

Yes, there has been much debate in federal court about whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, but what about homosexuality in religious institutions?

Today, on Stateside just how open should churches be when it comes to embracing gays and lesbians.

Then, prisoners in Michigan share their profound life experiences through poems, essays and short stories. That story later this hour.

But first, 95 years ago, the Detroit Institute of Arts was in deep financial trouble. It kept the doors open by turning over the building and its art to the thriving City of Detroit in exchange for annual funding. And now it stands, poised to flip that arrangement upside down, hoping to cut Detroit's ownership of the DIA in order to protect its treasures from hungry creditors.

There's quite a long and complicated history between the DIA and the City.

Detroit Free Press writer Mark Stryker recently explored this giving us the past, present and the future of the DIA's predicament.

Lowe Campbell Ewald video. / YouTube.

The South by Southwest festival is happening right now in Austin, Texas. It's where the cutting edge of music, technology and new thinking all come together.

And that's where our next guest has been busy pitching Detroit to all those creative entrepreneurs. Earlier this week, he hosted a session called "We're Moving to Detroit, and So Should You."

Iain Lanivich is the digital creative director of Lowe Campbell Ewald, and he joins us from Austin.

Listen to the full interview above.

Heywood Banks

One of Michigan's big contributions to the world of comedy is Heywood Banks.

Whether he's playing his guitar or his trusty toaster, he's made audiences laugh all over the country.

He's appeared on A&E, MTV, and Entertainment Tonight. And he was the MC for both nights of the 2012 Ann Arbor Folk Festival.

He'll be playing at The Ark on March 15; he joined us today on Stateside.

Listen to the full interview above.

PCAP / University of Michigan

Just because you've been found guilty of a crime and sentenced to prison, doesn't mean you no longer have a voice, an opinion, something to say.

And that's why each year the Prison Creative Arts Project puts out the call to prisoners all around Michigan: Send us your poetry, your essays, your short stories.

PCAP goes through each submission and selects work to go into its annual Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing.  They're about to release their sixth volume. This one is called "The Sky Is On Fire, After All."

Philip Christman edits the Review, and he's an English Department instructor at the University of Michigan. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above. 

LGBT flag
antiochla.edu / Antioch University

There can be little doubt that we are living at a time when our attitudes as a society are undergoing a tremendous shift in what we think of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Recently, we spoke on this show with Michigan State University professor Charley Ballard, who directs the state of the state surveys. The most recent MSU survey found, for instance, that 54% of Michiganders support gay marriage, with 36% opposing it.

Just four years ago, gay marriage was opposed by 51% and favored by 48% of those surveyed.

That is the view from social science. But what about the view from the pulpit?

Ken Wilson is pastor of Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor. The evangelical minister has spent years wrestling with this question:  Where do we – as a Christian faith community – draw the line on the gay marriage issue?

His journey to rethinking his beliefs about where LBGT people fit into what he calls “the company of Jesus” is spelled out in his new book “A Letter to my Congregation:  An evangelical pastor's path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender into the company of Jesus.”

Listen to the full interview above. 

Ninety-five years ago, the Detroit Institute of Arts was in deep, deep financial trouble.

It kept the doors open by turning over the building and its art to the thriving city of Detroit in exchange for annual funding.

And now it stands, poised to flip that arrangement upside down, hoping to cut Detroit's ownership of the DIA in order to protect its treasures from hungry creditors.

There's quite a long and complicated history between the DIA and the city.

And yet, despite nearly a century tied together, the reaction of Detroiters to the proposed spin-off of the DIA is pretty muted – certainly much different than the reaction when the state took over operations of Belle Isle.

Detroit Free Press writer Mark Stryker explored this in his piece for last Sunday's paper.

Listen to the full interview above.

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