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  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Higher Ground

War on drug tourism

As America relaxes some laws on pot, Europe gets paranoid

Lately I've been fascinated by the remarkable disparity between the progress America seems to be making toward legalizing marijuana and — dare we say it? — all recreational drugs utilized by U.S. citizens to get high on, and on the other hand the regressive direction taken by Canada and the European Union to reverse the positive effects of well-established social policies centered on tolerance and "harm reduction" for recreational drug users

The wildly successful medical marijuana movement in America has severely altered the public perception of pot smoking in a positive way and helped pave the path to the eventuality of full legalization — because, after all, why should we all have to be sick in order to get high without risking arrest?

While things look better for legalization in America than at any time in at least 50 years, a terrible turn to the idiotic right is being taken by the government of the Netherlands — the center of sane and sensible drug policy since the 1970s — and by the European Union itself.

In a disgusting new development, the EU's top court ruled Dec. 10 that Dutch authorities can bar foreigners from cannabis cafés as a legally acceptable measure to combat "drug tourism."

A 2005 law enacted in Maastricht, a town positioned near the Belgian and German borders, prohibits local coffee shops from admitting non-Dutch patrons. In September 2006, the city's mayor shut down the Easy Going coffee shop after it admitted two EU citizens who were not residents of the Netherlands.

The proprietor, Marc Josemans, appealed the mayor's ruling on the grounds that the law mandates unequal treatment of EU citizens. But the European Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg, ruled that coffee shop owners are not protected by the EU's freedom of movement and nondiscrimination principles when they are in the business of marketing cannabis.

"That restriction is justified by the objective of combating drug tourism and the accompanying public nuisance," the court said, adding that drug tourism "is a concern for the public order and health of citizens" in all EU states.

The court noted that Maastricht's 14 coffee shops attract around 10,000 visitors every day — that's 3.9 million visits a year — and 70 percent of them are not from the Netherlands, according to data provided by the city of Maastricht.

What a terrible nuisance! That's an awful lot of local business to be chasing away for the sake of what — a higher place in heaven at the final judgment? A seat at the right hand of God? Seventy black-eyed virgins? After all, there's no intelligent rationale available to the opponents of marijuana use, particularly in terms of the "health of citizens." This is a medicine!

Even in the coffee shop setting, there's a lot to be said for the medicinal qualities of smoking some good herb, enjoying the fellowship of like-minded citizens and imbibing some good music over the sound system. The uplifting effect on one's mental health alone is a benefit you can't say too much about.

What powers the drive to prohibit and punish recreational marijuana use? The mountains of public gibberish and the draconian laws drawn up and enforced by the drug-war establishment against the benign marijuana smoker attest to nothing less than some kind of religious war against people who don't worship the right gods in the correct way.

Let's say it right out: My nearly 50 years as a daily smoker of marijuana have led me to conclude that there's no public harm from marijuana use. No deaths result from marijuana use. There's no ill effect on one's health except for the possibility of weight gain from indulging the munchies. There's never been anything at all wrong with marijuana, and there never will be. It's a good thing, a gift from the gods one might say, and to persecute persons who are inclined to have a few puffs in the privacy of their own lives is simply the height of cruelty and outright meanness.

But the jackboots are marching even closer to home: Cannabis Culture reports that the Canadian Senate has passed Bill S-10, which includes mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana offenses. The bill has to be approved by the House of Commons for a vote before it can be enacted into law.

If passed, Jeremiah Vandermeer writes, "S-10 will bring mandatory minimum jail sentences for marijuana offences to Canada for the first time, including six months for growing as few as five marijuana plants and 18 months for extracting hash or making pot edibles and sharing them."

A conviction for growing or dealing near a school or park increases the mandatory sentence to two years, and other "aggravating factors" can add more time. According to Vandermeer, the bill even includes life sentences for nonviolent marijuana crimes.

Liberal Sen. Tommy Banks pointed out on the Senate floor that "yes, there are circumstances that none of us would think of as trafficking in a controlled substance which are caught by this bill.

"Giving your friend a Tylenol because he or she has a headache is an offense under this bill. Growing six marijuana plants in order to have a party with your friends at graduation is an offense under this bill. No money made, just doing it for friends.

"We have to look at what the law says, and it says, among other things, that if I give Sen. Baker a Tylenol 3 because he has a headache and if we happened to be near a school, whatever that means — 'near' is not defined — that is trafficking and I can be prosecuted."

A rare bright spot on the contemporary international horizon is the rational but politically brave stance just taken by former British drugs minister Bob Ainsworth, who proposed to the House of Commons that all drugs, including heroin and cocaine, should be legalized to beat dealers and "make the world a safer, healthier place, especially for our children."

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