Stateside

Monday-Thursday, 3pm on IPR News
  • Hosted by Cynthia Canty

Stateside with Cynthia Canty covers a wide range of Michigan news and policy issues — as well as culture and lifestyle stories. The show is a production of our partner Michigan Radio. It focuses on topics and events that matter to people all across the state.

Michigan's rate of unemployment has dropped to 8.4%.  A decline, even a small one, might be portrayed as good news.

But to put the number in perspective, you have to consider what the folks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are measuring. The unemployment rate measures the number of people in the labor force that are out of work.

A measure of the buzzing bees

Think of the labor force as the number of people who have their worker bee wings buzzing. They're revved up and ready to work.

On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide – women's reproductive rights remain in the political spotlight.

Let's turn our attention to that subject here in Michigan. It was mid-December when state lawmakers approved a controversial law requiring consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage.

This means a person has to buy a rider before knowing they need an abortion; they would not be able to buy a rider after getting pregnant. And the law does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

The law goes into effect in March, and there’s confusion over just how this is supposed to work.

Marianne Udow Phillips is director of The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation at the University of Michigan. She talks to us today and explains what the new law means.

Listen to the full interview above.

Technology has opened the doors in recent years for do-it-yourselfers to complete scientific projects without help from universities or government agencies. But space exploration is one field that has remained largely out of reach for amateur scientists who don’t have NASA-sized budgets.

One way space enthusiasts have found to get more involved in the last few years is by building little satellites themselves, called cubesats.

Basically just metal boxes about the size of a loaf of bread, cubesats are popular in the DIY space community because they can be built cheaply with off-the-shelf parts and can be stuffed with cameras and all sorts of other instruments depending on the builders’ interests.

They’re usually put together by groups of amateurs or classes who pay to have their cubesat catch a ride on bigger rocket missions and once they’re dropped off, they stay in orbit and transmit pictures or other data back down to Earth.

Now, researchers at the University of Michigan say they are working to expand the scientific capabilities of cubesats by giving them a push in new directions, literally.

They want to take the plasma propulsion systems that power big spacecraft, like communication satellites, and shrink them down so that amateurs can send their cubesats into new orbits or even off into the solar system.

*Listen to the full story above

Failure:Lab is a new 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.

From their website:

Each storyteller shares a personal failure in under nine minutes. The storyteller doesn’t share a lesson, blame-shift, or talk about where they are now.

Today on Stateside we hear from Andy Soper. He works with the Manasseh Project, developing programs to address the commercial sexual exploitation of minors.

After graduating from Bowling Green State University and without a job, he decided to join the Army – an experience that did not end well.

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


Embattled Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema is hitting back at critics of his anti-gay and anti-Muslim Web postings, saying he stands on the same issues he always has: "God, family and country."

In a Facebook post, the former state representative says people are feeding half-truths to the news media within the GOP and stirring up divisiveness.

He says he's wrongly being blamed for posting other people's comments and says it's an unfortunate and uncivil tactic to tarnish his reputation.

Rick Pluta, Lansing 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.

Let's turn to Michigan's three largest universities for a moment. The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University make up the University Research Corridor and a new report out today shows the corridor contributing more than $16 billion to the state's economy.

Lou Anna Simon is president of Michigan State University and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lawmakers in Lansing have begun holding hearings on which standardized tests Michigan students will take next spring.

The state has already decided to replace the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests and educational officials have endorsed the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

In the coming months, you’ll likely be hearing a lot about the politics of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Some lawmakers say the test takes away control from local curriculum because it’s being developed by a national consortium.

Public Sector Consultant’s Michelle Richard joined us today to discuss the new test.

Listen to the full interview above.

It's been a year and a half since state education leaders called for reforms to Michigan's "zero tolerance" discipline policies. Critics say too many students are still being booted out of school because of zero-tolerance measures and the result is the kids who are getting in trouble and being expelled are the ones who most need help. And they point to the statistics: A disproportionate number of the students who are punished are minorities.

Bridge Magazine contributing writer Ted Roelofs wrote a piece in a recent issue titled "Zero tolerance school reforms hit resistance in Michigan.” He joined us today along with Annie Salsich, director of the Center on Youth Justice at the Vera Institute, to explore zero-tolerance policies and what can be done to promote a safe and productive school environment.

Listen to the full interview above.

It's commonly accepted that the American Civil War began with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina on April 12, 1861.

But some make a case for the start of the Civil War being the October 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry by abolitionist John Brown. It was his failed attempt to spark an armed slave revolt and it ended with John Brown being hanged for treason in December 1859.

The story of John Brown, the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad in Detroit is the subject of a new documentary called "Madman or Martyr."

The documentary will premiere on Jan. 31 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

Filmmaker and actor Luke Jaden produced "Madman or Martyr." Jaden is from Clarkston in Oakland County and he is 17 years old.

Carol Mull is a founding member of the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission, an author and scholar of Underground Railroad history in Michigan.

They both joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

You know this guy, right?

The beloved Gumby was created by animator Art Clokey. His son Joe Clokey joined us on Stateside today to describe how Michigan inspired his dad to come up with Gumby.

Listen to our interview with him here:

Gov. Rick Snyder delivers his fourth State of the State address tomorrow night. Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, co-hosts of Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics, talk about what we can expect to hear in the governor’s address.

Listen to the full interview above. 

It's been a little over two weeks since the Affordable Care Act officially kicked in.

How many people have been able to enroll? How many are getting financial assistance to help pay for their plan? And what deadlines do we need to be aware of?

Joining us once more is Don Hazaert, director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, one of Michigan's four navigator agencies for the ACA.

Listen to full interview above. 

Why do we care so much about famous people? What they wear, what they eat, how they live?

Well, there is an old house in Ann Arbor where renowned playwright Arthur Miller lived while he was a student at University of Michigan and there are those who are intensely interested in preserving that house.

The house is right next to the U of M's Institute for Social Research. The university's expanding the Institute and wants that old house out of the way. And if they can't get someone to buy it, it will probably be demolished.

This story got us thinking about just why we tend to care so much about celebrity homes and just what is behind our seemingly bottomless fascination with celebrities.

We're joined today by Daniel Kruger. He's a professor and a researcher at the University of Michigan and he's done research into that fascination we have for famous people.

It was 1883 when the Detroit Zoo first opened its doors at Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street, across from what would become Tiger Stadium.

By 1928, the zoo had moved its current home at 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue. It's the No. 1 paid tourist attraction in Michigan, drawing more than 1.1 million visitors every year.

The zoo's mission has evolved  since those early days, shifting from animal care to animal welfare. It's a leader in animal conservation and welfare.

Detroit Zoo Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Ron Kagan  gives us a closer look at the ways the zoo has become such a leader in protecting and preserving animal species.

Listen to the full interview above.

How about some respect for dads, everyone?

How about we stop with the marketing and entertainment cliches portraying Dad as a big ol' doofus who can't boil a pot of water or change a nasty diaper? And we start recognizing that men play a very active role in the home life and they are not the opposite side of the coin to the "supermommy."

This has been the mission of our next guest. Doug French been one of the nation's leading "daddy bloggers" ever since launching his blog "Laid Off Dad" over 10 years ago. And in July 2010, he created another blog, When the Flames Go Up, blogging with his ex-wife about co-parenting after divorce.

He's also the co-founder of the upcoming Dad 2.0 Summit, which aims to raise the profile of America's dads in the eyes of companies and marketers.

He does all of this as he practices the fine art of being a dad.

Doug French joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

The data and numbers crunchers have been working away, trying to peer into the future to figure out what lies ahead for Michigan over the next 10 years in terms of jobs and pay.

And the verdict: Michigan's economic axis is tilting west.

Rick Haglund's recent story for Bridge Magazine is headlined: "Future job growth favors West Michigan."

And Don Grimes is with the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy at the University of Michigan.

They both joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

It's starting to make its presence felt in empty chairs at the workplace and sad little Facebook status updates saying, "I'm sick."

Flu season is upon us.

Federal officials report 35 states are now experiencing widespread influenza activity with young and middle-aged adults being hit hardest this year rather than the usual pattern of seniors or children.

Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of  Community Health and a professor at the University of Michigan, joined us today to give us an idea of what the flu season looks like in Michigan.

Listen to the full interview above.

There are nearly 2,600 dams in Michigan, and more than 90% are going to hit or exceed their design life by 2020.

That's according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave Michigan a grade of "D" on the condition of its dams.

Keith Metheny looked into the issue of Michigan's aging dams in a recent piece in the Detroit Free Press, where he is the environmental reporter. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Gov. Snyder delivers his State of the State address a week from today. He'll likely talk about new policy initiatives and proposals and issues concerning everything from transportation and infrastructure to education. Lisa Wozniak, however, will be listening intently to what the Governor has to say about one specific topic: the environment.

Lisa Wozniak is the Executive Director of the Michigan League for Conservation Voters, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

After 40 years of decline, Detroit has become a haven of so called ruin porn, with people flocking from all over the country and the world to photograph the city’s many decaying buildings.

Once winter was in full swing, a video went viral on social media. And it’s an epic, not to mention adventurous example of ruin porn.

Stateside’s Emily Fox has more.

Listen to the full audio above.

Watch "Tracing Skylines":


In China, more and more cities are seeing their streets filled with smog as cars and power stations pollute the air. One response by the Chinese government is to launch a major push for cleaner renewable energy. China is now the world's leading producer of wind power and it has plans to install thousands of turbines every year, especially in the remote regions in the country's far west.

That's where the BBC's science editor David Shukman is, and he sent us this report.

Listen to the full audio above.

A young woman entered college, full of the dreams she’d been holding tight since early grade school: dreams of being a doctor. She entered college in pre-med as a biology major. The biology part of pre-med went just great. But the chemistry was tough, and, in the middle of her sophomore year, when she saw she’d gotten a “D” in organic chem lab, that was that. She dropped out of all her science classes, switched over to History and tried to forget that she’d ever wanted to be a surgeon.

Today she’s glad to be hosting Stateside here on Michigan Radio!

But even after 34 years in radio and TV, Cynthia Canty still finds herself wondering what if she had not let that one “D” chase her out of her science major? And why did no one try to encourage her to keep plugging away?

So when the New York Times Sunday Magazine recently ran a long piece by writer Eileen Pollack titled “Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?” it struck a very personal chord.

As Eileen finds, women are still underrepresented in the STEM classes and careers that are so crucial to our country’s future prosperity.

But the University of Michigan is working hard to find ways to nurture and support women students and faculty in the sciences.

We were joined today by the author of that New York Times piece. She is one of the first two women to earn a bachelor of science degree in physics from Yale. Today she teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan.

Tim McKay is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Michigan, and he directs the undergrad honors program.

Abby Stewart is a professor of psychology and women’s studies at Michigan. She directs the university’s advance program.

The three of them joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Emergency unemployment benefits and senatorial "jitters" over an Enbridge oil pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac: Both are issues consuming attention from Michigan's congressional delegation.

More than a week ago, a federal unemployment benefits program expired, leaving 1.3 million jobless Americans without aid. Some 45,000 of them are here in Michigan.

The program is the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. In Michigan, the EUC added 36 more weeks to the state's regular 20 weeks of benefits.

On Capitol Hill today, Democrats are trying to pressure House Republicans to extend the program for three more months.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is trying to ease concerns over an oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler joins us now to tell us more about these issues.

Listen to the full interview above.

Dec. 10, 1971. Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor. John Lennon steps up to the microphone.

"It ain't fair, John Sinclair…” the former Beatle sings.

In his new book, "The Walrus And The Elephants: John Lennon's Years of Revolution," author James Mitchell tells the story of Lennon’s trip to Michigan, and why Ann Arbor was the perfect launchpad for Lennon's new life as a revolutionary.

Listen to the full interview above. 

It’s been seven years since America hit the accelerator on corn-based ethanol fuels. Homegrown corn became the centerpiece of a push to find an alternative to foreign oil.

President Bush signed this expansion of the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007, promising it would make us “stronger, cleaner and more secure.”

But, as is so often the case, something that offers great promise on one hand, takes its toll on the other hand. So the view of corn-based ethanol very much depends upon which side of the fence you’re standing on.

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