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    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 make money 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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Politics & Prejudices

What might have been

A glimpse into an alternate past, and the way forward

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You may be reluctant to be dragged back into thinking about Sept. 11, now that we've just completed a weekend of wallowing in remembrance of the tragedy that killed nearly 3,000 people.

No, nobody breathed a word, so far as I can tell, about the more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians who died as a consequence of our actions following the terrorist attacks.

Nor did anyone say much about the nearly 7,000 U.S. soldiers and "contractors" who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since, in wars still going on for no apparent rational reason.

That doesn't mean Sept. 11's victims of irrational Islamic terror shouldn't be remembered. Just that we should not forget that their families aren't alone in suffering, or that countless other nameless families weep in nameless villages as a result.

And we should remember too, that it could have been very different. What follows is what I wish I could have written this week:

 

When we look back on Sept. 11 today, it is hard to imagine that it could have been worse.

Much worse. Just consider — what if Al Gore had not been elected president 10 months before? What if we'd had as president a man who was cheerfully ignorant of foreign policy? A man who had said he was hot to invade Iraq and avenge his father, or complete his father's mission, and who said from his Texas ranch the day after the terrorist attacks that he "thought Saddam had done it." 

We almost did. I mean, of course, George W. Bush, the former governor of Texas, the guy who now does TV commercials for Halliburton. You may have forgotten this, but he almost became president. He would have, too despite losing the popular vote, if Al Gore hadn't won Florida by a mere 9,547 votes on Nov. 7, 2000.

In fact, there's a political scientist at Harvard who claims that if Florida hadn't been forced to clean up its election procedures in 1999, Gore might well have lost. One of the counties used something called a "butterfly ballot" in which it was very easy to cast a vote for the wrong candidate, and much of the state used out-of-date punch cards, like the ones that sabotaged Detroit's returns in the 1970 election.

Today, Middle East experts are pretty unanimous in saying that the best thing Gore did was to insist that al-Qaeda was, essentially a well-endowed, nihilist band of half-cult, half-killer thugs, and needed to be treated like an outlaw gang, not a nation-state.

When President Gore said that in 2001, he drew howls of protest from the Republicans, and some of their wackier members in Congress even threatened impeachment.

They said our limited invasion of Afghanistan was too weak a response. Probably the low point came when Vice President Joe Lieberman resigned.

But the strategy worked. Republicans weren't happy that it took nine months to isolate and kill Osama bin Laden in his cave. But they can't deny that the starch seemed to have gone out of al-Qaeda after that. Nobody ever wins praises or prizes for a negative. Yet it has to be observed that there was no real infringement on civil liberties in the months and years that followed.

No curtailment of freedom — no prison camps here, just holding pens in Afghanistan. The Afghan war and the mild recession that followed did produce three years of budget deficits that were mild by Reagan standards. But the stock market barely retreated, and by 2006 the budget once again struggled into balance.

Al Gore did make mistakes — or at least found out he couldn't please everybody. The economic rebound was strong enough by 2004 that he became the first Democrat since LBJ to win more than 400 electoral votes, burying challenger Newt Gingrich.

But in 2008, Mitt Romney managed to win the presidency in a close election by charging that the Democrats under Gore had neglected domestic concerns. He couldn't touch him on foreign policy. 

Gore's Nobel Peace Prize that year was the least surprising award in the history of the award once the United States' new respect among the Arab nations helped him broker the deal with Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livni that resulted, finally in a Palestinian state. Yet Americans still wanted a change after two Democratic presidents, and Romney cleverly figured out how to appeal to them.

He managed to narrowly defeat Vice President Evan Bayh by arguing that the top priority should be a national health care system like the one he had inaugurated as governor of Massachusetts.

Bayh agreed, but wanted a largely single-payer health care plan. Republicans, of course, said that was socialism.

Romney is a minority president, of course; the "True America" ticket of Ron Paul and Richard Shelby got 8 million votes, largely from libertarians and those who don't think Mormons are Christians.

But the Republicans captured Congress, and so now we have Romneycare. Interestingly, the only Democratic vote in favor of it in the U.S. Senate was cast by a charismatic second-term senator from Illinois with the unlikely name of Barack Obama. 

There are those who say we should keep our eye on him.

 

Well, that's not the world we have today. But we can dream. 

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