Vikings coming to cultural television

BY JESI MUNGUIA
Cultural shows have always piqued people’s interest. 
These days, you can find a wide variety of shows dealing with foreign cultures and customs. 
Now, next month a new cultural show that will be sailing into your living rooms about.. Vikings. 
The British culture is probably the one you tend to see depicted the most on television. Based on ratings, anything British usually guarantees a hit.
That’s Downton Abbey, the highest-rated Drama in PBS History. 
The series depicts the lives of a family and their servants during the 1900s. 
But not all cultural shows are so prim and proper
The 2007 film, “300” depicts the ancient era of Spartan cultures. 
Now, a new cultural series is coming in March to the History Channel about Vikings.
I think a program like the Vikings can serve a really good educational purpose. 
Dr. Monty Dobson is on the faculty at CMU. He’s a viking historian.  He said cultural series have been a long time trend in media.
“I think in terms of Hollywood and the production of film and popular media. That historical eras are cyclical. Fifteen years ago we had the obsession with Queen Elizabeth and all things elizabethan and you had multiple movies, documentary series, and HBO television series about Henry the 8th. And I think with the vikings and early medieval period were kinda entering a period where that seems to be in fashion and that people are interested.” Dobson said.
Dobson said he first became interested in medieval Europe while working on his master’s thesis at CMU. He later went on to the University of York where the viking culture piqued his interest. 
Dobson’s class is the first medieval viking class at CMU. 
“My own class that I’m teaching this semester on the viking, is nearly full. Which is phenomenal for a place that’s never really had a medieval class scheduled. My students are interested because they see these things in film and they wanna know more so to me that’s exciting. And that’s where I think popular film and popular culture can really be used as a teaching tool, because it hooks peoples interest. Once they’re in the classroom, then we can talk about things that are reflective of the actual culture and how the popular media either get’s it right or get’s it wrong.” Dobson said.
When you hear these viking sounds you can’t help but think of vikings at battles. 
Dobson said, depicting the Viking culture can be challenging. Because it’s removed enough from modern society to be remarkably different. 
He said there are some good docudramas that depict vikings accurately while other popular viking shows don’t, like the movie Thor.
“You get really camped up sword and swashbuckling kind of films where the warriors are running and jumping and fighting for 30 minutes with armies of thousand. These guys would’ve had 70 to 80 pounds of tools and equipment. The reality of  early medieval battle is not doing backflips with your sword it’s several short periods in the day of intense brutal fighting and then people going and laying down to rest because they’re exhausted.” Dobson said.
Dobson said the popularity of movies like The Avengers and Thor, created an interest in Vikings. However, these movies are meant solely for entertainment.
Docudramas like the upcoming Viking series coming out on the History Channel, he said, should be held at a higher standard in terms of accuracy.
“I think with the History Channel with what they did with the hatfields and the McCoys and what seems to be there programming direction. They’re trying to do historically accurate dramatizations and something like that I think we really should expect to adhere to a high level of historically accuracy.” Dobson said.
Next Summer Dobson said he’ll be working on a viking documentary of his own that focuses on their trade networks. 
His goal is to visit archaeological sites to show how the vikings achieved their wide spread trade networks through Europe, Iceland, Greenland and modern-day Russia. 
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Arraignment on animal abuse case

BY JESI MUNGUIA
The woman at the center of an animal abuse case in northern Michigan has pleaded guilty and now awaits sentencing. 
Thirty-five year old Jennifer Elen Tucker-Richard pleaded guilty this week to charges including animal cruelty and abandonment. 
Authorities in January seized 37 dogs and 6 miniature horses from her residence near Hillman. 
Tucker-Richard will face up to four-years in prison for animal cruelty and perform up to 500 hours of community service. 
She has also been ordered to pay fines to Montmorency County. 
According to defense lawyer James Schmier, Tucker-Richard didn’t torture the animals, he contends that she was selling the dogs to make money. 
The animals are still being kept at the Elk Country Animal shelter while recovering from multiple health conditions related to their treatment. 
According to Pauline Handcock, executive director of the animal shelter, the dogs had to undergo numerous medical precedures and treatments since being taken from Tucker-Richard’s home, including skin infections, bladder surgery and “cherry eye” surgery. 
Sentencing is set for April 22 in the 26th Circuit Court in Alpena. 

‘Bolgergate’ grand juror gives itself more time to investigate

BY RICK PLUTA
Michigan Public Radio Network
A one-judge grand jury has granted itself more time to investigate a party-switch and election-rigging scandal that includes state House Speaker Jase Bolger. The investigation was supposed to wrap up this week.
Almost everything about the grand jury’s inquiry is secret. In fact, the order extending the investigation was signed and filed 20 days before it was made public by the Ingham County Circuit Court. 
Judge Rosemary Aquilina is looking into whether any laws were broken as House Speaker Jase Bolger and state Representative Roy Schmidt plotted Schmidt’s jump to the Republican Party last year and also to avoid any serious opposition when he ran for  re-election. 
A Kent County investigation found the episode was unethical, but not illegal. 
This inquiry was requested by state Democratic Party leaders. The extension allows the grand jury to continue to call witnesses and subpoena records through August 22nd.
Copyright 2013, MPRN

State House panel votes to accept federal dollars to set up healthcare exchange

BY JAKE NEHER
Michigan Public Radio Network
State lawmakers are a step closer to establishing a state web site where people can shop for health insurance. A House panel approved the plan Wednesday.
Lawmakers are weighing whether to accept more than 30 million dollars from Washington. That money would be used to set up a healthcare exchange through a partnership with the federal government.
Many Republicans in Lansing have been uneasy about the idea of setting up any kind of exchange, which is required under the federal healthcare law.
But House Appropriations Chair Joe Haveman said it’s time to be realistic.
“This is a mistake for our country. Nevertheless, it is the law. And let’s implement the law in the best way we can for Michigan taxpayers.” Haveman said.
Haveman said the alternative is to give all control of the exchange to the federal government.
The bill now goes to the House floor.
Copyright 2013, MPRN

Snyder names new justice to Supreme Court

BY RICK PLUTA
Michigan Public Radio Network

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Governor Rick Snyder has named a circuit judge from Macomb County to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court. 
David Viviano is Macomb County’s chief  judge. He ran once as a Republican for county prosecutor. As a candidate, Viviano opposed abortion and same-sex marriage and favored the death penalty. He said those questions did not come up when he interviewed for the job of state Supreme Court justice.

“This position, I find professionally to be very challenging and hopefully also to be very rewarding.” Viviano said.
Viviano said he wants to update court technology so it’s easier for people to interact with the legal system.
He will have to run for the job next year in an election. He replaces Justice Diane Hathaway, who resigned last month in a scandal.
Copyright 2013, MPRN

Kildee urges Congress to avoid sequester

Saginaw
and Flint’s representative in Congress is urging his colleagues to take
immediate action to avoid an automatic series of budget cuts that take
effect March First.

Representative Dan Kildee said the so-called sequester will have real consequences in Michigan.

“We
can’t pretend that these cuts are just numbers in a budget. If
sequester is allowed to happen, Michigan alone stands to lose 31,000
jobs in just six months.” Kildee said.

Kildee wants to see a mix of spending cuts and revenue enhancements, instead of mandatory across-the-board cuts.

One way to do that, he said, is cutting taxpayer subsidies for oil companies.

“In
a time of record oil profits, and $4 a gallon gasoline, it baffles me
that our country continues to subsidize companies like Exxon Mobil and
BP.” Kildee said.

However, some Republicans say eliminating those subsidies is the same as raising taxes, something they are not willing to do.

Bipartisan support for non-cooperation with detention without charges

BY RICK PLUTA
Michigan Public Radio Network

Republicans and Democrats are supporting a bill that said state and local law enforcement in Michigan should not cooperate if federal authorities try to detain someone without a warrant. The measure just cleared a state Senate committee with bipartisan support.

Both the Bush and the Obama administrations have claimed the wartime authority to detain some suspects indefinitely without filing criminal charges. The Michigan legislation is a response to that.
   
State Senator Rick Jones, a Republican, sponsored the bill.

“We’re asserting here today that the federal government will not grab somebody and hold them without charges and, if they do, we will not assist them.” Jones said.
    
The American Civil Liberties Union hopes if enough states enact non-cooperation laws, the Obama administration will reverse the policy.
 
Copyright 2013, MPRN