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Stateside Staff

The Detroit automakers are moving into their fifth year of recovery after the disastrous bottoming-out of 2009 when General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. Half a decade later, however, sales are brisk and auto loans are available. But is the future that bright? On today's show: Are there warning signs of another auto downturn? And, if so, what needs to happen to stop it?

Then, what will our rivers and roads look like once spring hits and the snow melts? We spoke with meteorologist Jim Maczko to find out.

Lake Erie is full of blooms of cyanobacteria (sometimes referred to as blue-green algae) and dead zones, and a new report is asking us to take action. What can be done to improve the health of this lake?

Also, how about adding smell to food advertising? 

First on the show, are Michigan veterans getting what they deserve in terms of benefits and support?

The Veterans' Administration says when it comes to per-capita spending on veterans, Michigan checks in at an average of just over $3,400 per vet. The national average is over $4,800. That places Michigan last in the nation.

What is the state doing about this and to make sure that veterans get all the benefits to which they're entitled?

The director of Michigan's Veterans Affairs Agency, Jeff Barnes, joined us today.

Wikipedia

We know that scent unlocks a wide range of emotions and memories. A whiff of Chanel No. 5 can take you right back to when you were a little kid, watching your mom get dressed up to go out.

Or smelling Paco Rabanne might remind you of your first boyfriend.

Advertisers of perfume and other personal-care products have been tapping into this for a long time; think of the scratch-and-sniff-spots on perfume ads in magazines.

A University of Michigan marketing professor decided to see if the same holds true for food.

Aradhna Krishna is an expert in sensory marketing, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

user paul (dex) / Flickr

The Detroit automakers are moving into their fifth year of recovery from the disastrous bottoming-out of 2009, when GM and Chrysler had to file for bankruptcy and Ford had to mortgage itself to the hilt to avoid the same fate.

Sales are brisk, auto loans are available and the future is bright, or is it?

Are there warning signs of another auto downturn? And if so, can the state of Michigan protect itself from getting hit as hard as it did in the last collapse?

Bridge Magazine writer Rick Haglund wrote about this in a recent piece for Bridge, and he joined us today along with Kristen Dziczek from the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

If you lived in Michigan in the 1960s and '70s, you will remember: Lake Erie was on the "critical list." It was once declared dead.

But it got back on the road to health and recovery until the mid-1990s.

That's when the lake started showing signs of distress, with large cyanobacteria blooms (sometimes referred to as blue-green algae blooms) and dead zones showing up again.

Now comes a report from an international agency that keeps a close eye on the health of the Great Lakes, and it is a clarion call to action. Among the agencies contributing to the report is the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan.

Don Scavia, director of the Graham Sustainability Institute, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story referred to "algae blooms" in Lake Erie. These are really bacterial blooms (cyanobacteria) that look like algae. The copy has been clarified above.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

We've all kept rather busy this winter tracking the seemingly never-ending snowfall. And, with nobody's friend – the polar vortex – hanging around all winter, nothing has melted. So there's a sizeable snow pack just waiting for the spring melt.

What are forecasters predicting in terms of river and road flooding this spring?

Jim Maczko is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service based in Grand Rapids. He joined us today to give us an idea of what to look out for as temperatures warm up.

Listen to the full interview above.

military veterans
John M. Cropper / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Are Michigan veterans getting what they deserve in terms of benefits and support?

The Veterans Administration says when it comes to per-capita spending on veterans, Michigan checks in at an average of just over $3,400 per vet. The national average is over $4,800. That places Michigan last in the nation.

What is the state doing about this? And what are they doing to make sure that veterans get all the benefits to which they're entitled?

The director of Michigan's Veterans Affairs Agency, Jeff Barnes, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Central Michigan University

A college class that involves poring over ancient biblical texts might not inspire much excitement.

But a college class that teaches some of the same lessons using zombies? Ah, that's going to grab 'em!

That's the idea behind a religion class at Central Michigan University that has, indeed, grabbed a lot of attention. It's called "From Revelation to 'The Walking Dead,'" and it’s taught by religion professor Kelly Jean Murphy.

CMU student Carl Huber is a junior who is double-majoring in Comparative Religion and Sociology, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

http://buildthedricnow.com/

President Obama recently submitted his budget proposal for fiscal year 2014-2015, and you could almost hear the sighs of exasperation on both sides of the Detroit River.

That's because missing from the nearly $4 trillion budget was the $250 million needed to get construction started on that new bridge across the Detroit River – specifically, the U.S. customs plaza for the New International Trade Crossing bridge to Windsor.

Canada is footing most of the cost of building the bridge, so that missing $250 million is the only piece of the project that the U.S. would kick in.

And it wasn't in Obama’s budget plan.

Windsor Star reporter Dave Battagello joined us to give us the latest on this story.

*Listen to our interview above.

Today on Stateside, Benton Harbor's financial emergency is over, according to Gov. Rick Snyder. An emergency manager was appointed four years ago; he and his successor have been successful in rehabilitating the city's finances. 

The challenge to Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage is coming to an end in federal court. Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown joined us today to discuss the issue. 

Proposed changes to special education rules are causing alarm and concern for parents. Marcie Lipsitt, founder of Michigan Alliance for Special Education, joined us today to talk about the potentially devastating effects of the rule changes. 

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

A challenge to Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage is coming to an end in federal court. Arguments have ended and we are waiting for a ruling from U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman within the next two weeks. 

The case involves a lesbian couple from Oakland County and their adopted children. The women want legal joint custody of each other's children for purposes of inheritance, benefits and guardianship, should one of them die.

But state law does not allow gay marriage. Michigan passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 banning same-sex marriage. 

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown wants to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above. 

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Gov. Rick Snyder says Benton Harbor's financial emergency is over.

It's been four years since the state appointed an emergency manager to run the city's finances. 

Snyder attributes Benton Harbor's success, in part, to the new emergency manager law he signed after voters repealed a former version. The law gives managers broad powers to fix the finances of the cities and school districts. 

Snyder also gives Benton Harbor's most recent emergency manager credit for building trust in the community.

Listen to the audio above.  

Everybody’s got a story.  Some are very extraordinary stories.  It might be a good for somebody to look into theirs, because a story is the shortest distance between two people.

The Living Room is our ongoing storytelling series, curated by Allison Downey.

This story is the first in our series about identity and acceptance in West Michigan’s LGBT community.

Rachel Gleason spent much of youth at her church; worshipping, studying, singing, babysitting.

The church was her life.

But that began to change when Rachel started to understand who she really was.

*Listen to Rachel’s story above.

Allison Downey curates stories for our ongoing series The Living Room. This story was produced by Zak Rosen. Support was provided by a Kalamazoo Community Foundation grant from the Fetzer Institute Fund.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As we gingerly pick our way through Michigan's pothole-ridden and crumbling roads, state lawmakers are hashing out just how much money to spend on fixing the state's roads and highways.

Chris Gautz, the Capitol correspondent for Crain's Detroit Business, gave us an update.

*Listen to our interview above.

Flickr user Frank Juarez / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Proposed changes to special education rules in Michigan are causing alarm and concern for some parents.

You can read about the proposed changes here.

Marcie Lipsitt is the founder of the Michigan Alliance for Special Education, a grassroots organization that advocates for special education students. 

The proposed rule revisions would be "catastrophic," according to Lipsitt.

*You can listen to her thoughts above.

Ron Reiring / Flickr

When Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans on August 29, 2005, we here in Michigan – along with the rest of America – watched in horror and shock. The scenes from New Orleans were practically beyond comprehension.

It's been eight and a half years since Katrina. New Orleans is still rebuilding and still recovering.

And, in the process, lessons have been learned that might benefit Detroit as it struggles back from bankruptcy and years of shrinking resources and population.

Writer Campbell Robertson's recent piece in the New York Times, A Lesson for Detroit in Efforts to Aid a New Orleans Devastated By Katrina, gives Detroiters and decision-makers much food for thought.

Robertson joined us today.

*Listen to the audio above.

YouTube screenshot

There is little question that the Affordable Care Act is a game-changer for Americans who had jobs where no insurance was available from their employer, or who had pre-existing conditions, or whose incomes did not qualify them for Medicaid, or who could not afford to buy health coverage.

But as the health care picture brightens for these Americans, there are others who are, frankly, sick of the ACA and the upheaval it has brought to their lives.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes took a look at what the ACA has meant for a typical small Michigan business.

Howes joined us today and we asked him to tell us about American Gear & Engineering. It’s the company he profiled in today's column of the Detroit News.

rollingroscoe / Morguefile

Life without parole used to be the automatic sentence for juveniles who were tried as adults and convicted of first-degree murder. That was until 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that automatic life without parole for juveniles was unconstitutional.
 
But a question remains: What happens to the more than 350 juvenile lifers here in Michigan who were sent to prison before the decision?

The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments on that question today, and our Lansing Bureau Chief of the Michigan Public Radio Network, Rick Pluta, was in the courtroom.

*Listen to our interview above.

wikimedia commons

There's quite an excited buzz happening among the ranks of writers.

Amtrak is putting together a "writers' residency" program – free, or-nearly free – train rides to writers.

You write while you're chugging along the tracks, send out a few tweets about your travels and let Amtrak interview you for their blog at the end of your trip.

Today, we found out how this came about, how it might work, and who might be eligible.

Our "resident expert" in all things Amtrak, Adie Tomer of the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, joined us today.

– Listen to the audio above.

What can Detroit learn from the city’s efforts to rebuild strategically post-Katrina?

Also on today’s show, we spoke with Daniel Howes who looked at what the Affordable Care Act has meant for one small Michigan business-owner.

But first on the show, we talked about “juvenile lifers” in Michigan.

Life without parole used to be the automatic sentence for juveniles who were tried as adults and convicted of first-degree murder.

That was until 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that automatic life without parole for juveniles was unconstitutional.

But a question remains: What happens to the more than 350 juvenile lifers here in Michigan who were sent to prison before the decision?

The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments on that question today, and Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network Lansing Bureau Chief ,was in the courtroom. We checked in with Rick.

Failure:Lab / YouTube

It was Bill Gates who declared,"It's fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure."

And it's good to realize that we all fail at times. It's just that most of us try to cover that up, or, at the very least, we don't broadcast our failures.

But that’s not how it works at Failure:Lab.

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

You can see our past Failure:Lab posts here.

Today, we hear about Ellie Rogers’ failure.

She works for leading furniture maker Herman Miller. She has an eight-year-old daughter, Campbell, and has found personal struggles to be overwhelming at times.

This is the story that Ellie shared at Failure:Lab Grand Rapids on May 23, 2013 at Wealthy Theatre.

Check it out below, or at this link.

automotiveauto.info

We've all heard the familiar idiom "every cloud has a silver lining."

But when it comes to the healthy profits being earned by the Detroit automakers and the profit-sharing checks that will be going to autoworkers, my next guest points out, the converse is true: "Every silver lining has a cloud."

Detroit Free Press Business columnist Tom Walsh joined us today.

The sales of electric vehicles are growing at a steady pace, and now EVs are selling at a faster rate than hybrids.

Electric car-charging stations are popping up across the country's highways and in the cities. Is it a fad, a trend, or a major shift for the car industry? We'll explore that on today's show.

Also, more than half of Detroit’s students are now enrolled in charter schools – and those traditional schools are struggling to keep their doors open. With so many charter schools in Detroit, how do we know the smarter choice?  

But first on the show, when it comes to funding for higher education, it's hard to believe that in 2000, all but three of the 50 states contributed more per college student than each student paid.

That came to a screeching halt in Michigan, starting with deep cuts to higher education funding by the Granholm administration. The cuts picked up steam as the economy worsened.

Today, Michigan is among the many states to shift the burden of paying for a college education onto students. We now rank 40th in per-student higher education spending.

Brian Smith joined us today. He wrote about this for MLive.

user jdurham / morguefile

It's no secret that Detroit schools have been failing their students for a long time.

In 2009 Detroit's public schools racked up the worst scores in the history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, and the scores haven't really improved since then.

Charter schools were launched to offer Detroit parents a choice. But my next guest believes the unregulated environment for charter schools has wound up hurting the kids who most need help and a sound education.

Robin Lake is director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington in Seattle.  She recently visited Detroit and came away with some unsettling views of the condition of Detroit's charter schools.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crash_test_dummy

Think for a moment about what you see when you're behind the wheel of your car.

Everything from the padding on the dashboard to the thickness of the windshield is designed to help keep you alive in the event of a crash. That  knowledge comes from experiments and crash tests conducted on crash test dummies. Whether we like to think about it or not, the crash tests often are conducted on human cadavers.

Because engineers and designers need to know exactly what it takes to injure every major organ and bone in our bodies and try to design vehicles to protect us from those forces.

The first place to ever conduct cadaver testing was Wayne State University in Detroit.  Its Bioengineering Center has studied impact biomechanics since 1939.

We wanted to learn more about this research and what it means to our safety every time we climb into a vehicle.

We're joined by Albert King, who is a distinguished professor in biomedical engineering at Wayne State.

Sami / Flickr

How would Laura Ingalls Wilder describe the winter of 1880-81, when blizzard after blizzard pounded the settlement town of DeSmet, in what was then Dakota Territory?

National Weather Service meteorologist and climatologist Barbara Mayes Boustead joins us today to put that long, difficult winter into perspective. 

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

As our long, cold, snowy winter has dragged on, one result can be seen with stunning clarity from outer space. Satellite photos prove that the Great Lakes are nearly totally covered with ice, and we're close to setting a record for the most ice cover in 34 years.

We wondered if we might break that record, and we wondered what this will mean for the Great Lakes once spring finally gets here and that ice melts.

Alan Steinman, director of the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University joined us today.

Education Trust-Midwest

In 2000, all but three of the 50 states contributed more per student than each student paid for their college education. That came to a screeching halt in Michigan, starting with deep cuts to higher education funding by the Granholm administration and picking up steam as the economy worsened.

Today, Michigan is among the many states to shift the burden of paying for that college education onto students.

We now rank 40th in per-student higher education spending. Michigan's per-student spending works out to just over $4,600 per student, compared to the nearly $9,900 per-student cost to enrollees.

MLive's Brian Smith wrote about this, and joined us today.

Michigan lawmakers appear to be on their way to handing you a much better chance of selling a ticket for a sports or entertainment event at whatever price you can get.

The state House has voted to repeal a 1931 law and allow people to resell tickets above face value. In other words, it voted to legalize ticket scalping.

Here to tell us more is Dave Eggert, Lansing correspondent for the Associated Press.

Wayne Baker

When you look at the gridlock in Washington, the Red Blue state stereotypes, divisive and alarming messages blasted out at us from advertising, websites, TV networks, many talk radio shows and columnists, it's easy to conclude that our nation is divided and bitter.

But what does science tell us about what is truly in the hearts and minds of Americans?

My next guest has applied the science, asked the questions, and come up with an answer that is as surprising as it is reassuring: We are much more united as a people than you might have thought.

Wayne Baker is an author and sociologist. He's on the senior faculty of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and he is with the U-of-M Institute for Social Research.

His newest book is called "United America: The Surprising Truth About American Values, American Identity and the 10 Beliefs That a Large Majority of Americans Hold Dear."

Wayne Baker joined us today.

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Today we looked at Flint Mayor Dayne Walling’s annual state of the city speech. He gave his speech yesterday and we got him on the phone today.

*Listen to the interview above.

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