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Health grant aims to benefit older minorities in Michigan

Three Michigan universities are using a $3.5 million federal grant renewal for efforts to improve the health of older blacks and other minorities. The National Institutes of Health grant allows the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research (MCUAAAR) to expand its work through 2023. The center's research and education is led by faculty and staff from Wayne State University, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Black residents have higher rates of diabetes, stroke and other diseases than their white counterparts, officials said. Researchers seek to prevent health disparities. The center has focused on Detroit since its 1997 launch, but the latest grant brings aboard Michigan State and expands work into Flint. Goals include establishing a Healthier Black Elders Center in Flint, based on the one in Detroit. According to Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State, MCUAAAR is a catalyst for widespread change. “It has two major aims,” he said. “Increase the number of diverse junior faculty working in aging and health research, and partner with older African Americans in meaningful ways to improve health and well-being.”

NIH report scrutinizes role of China in theft of U.S. scientific research

Institutions across the U.S. may have fallen victim to a tiny fraction of foreign researchers who worked to feed American intellectual property to their home countries, an advisory committee to the National Institutes of Health found in a report issued Thursday. The report zeroed in on China’s “Talents Recruitment Program,” which the Pentagon has previously identified as an effort “to facilitate the legal and illicit transfer of U.S. technology, intellectual property and know-how” to China. A key qualification for becoming part of the Chinese program, also known as “Thousand Talents,” is access to intellectual property, said M. Roy Wilson, the co-chair of the advisory committee to the NIH director and the president of Wayne State University.

Your smartphone apps are tracking your every move

Research and investigative reporting continue to reveal the degree to which your smartphone is aware of what you’re up to and where you are – and how much of that information is shared with companies that want to track your every move, hoping to better target you with advertising. Several scholars at U.S. universities have written for The Conversation about how these technologies work, and the privacy problems they raise. All of this information on who you are, where you are and what you’re doing gets assembled into enormously detailed digital profiles, which get turned into money. Wayne State University law professor Jonathan Weinberg explains
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Wayne State recognizes two former county stars in football

The Wayne State University football team held its 2018 banquet on Sunday afternoon at The Dearborn Inn. Head coach Paul Winters concluded his 15th season by announcing several individual team honors. Graduate student Shane Hynes was selected as WSU's Special Teams Most Valuable Player for the season. He was named to the Honorable Mention All-GLIAC Team after playing in all 11 contests despite joining the squad just a few days prior to the start of the season. Hynes equaled the second-best mark in program history with an 82-yard punt against Northwood and concluded the campaign with a 40.6 yards per punt average with four inside the 20. He gained two first downs on fake punts, totaling 41 yards against Ferris State and Grand Valley State. During the season, he had 13 kickoffs go for touchbacks. Hynes also served as the holder for PATs and field goals during the final five games. The Defensive Rookie of the Year award recipient was true freshman safety Tieler Houston. He played in all 11 games, starting the last nine contests, and was named to the Honorable Mention All-GLIAC Team. Houston tied-for-sixth in the GLIAC with two interceptions, and was eighth with 50 interception return yards. He tallied a game-high and a season-best 11 tackles (8-3) against Northern Michigan, including one for loss along with his second career interception to earn WSU's Defensive Player of the Week award. He is the second consecutive member of the secondary to earn Defensive Rookie of the Year recognition since Jamiil Williams in 2012 (Myron Riley in 2017).
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UAW grows strike fund, membership as workers head into wage talks

Autoworkers say they’re feeling unappreciated these days. They made wage and benefit sacrifices when times were bad. Now, after record sales, layoffs loom. The shocking announcement by General Motors last month to close four U.S. factories was seen, in part, as a message to the UAW to prepare for cost cuts during next year’s worker contract talks. But the labor union is not without leverage. It has more than $760 million in its strike fund. And officials aren’t afraid to use it. Everyone is watching to see what happens in coming months. These contracts are complicated and the process can be contentious. But it is highly unlikely the UAW would organize a strike to protest anything until the legal agreements allow for such activity, said UAW sources close to the leadership. But these are turbulent political times with all players trying to navigate a “contentious administration,” said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University. GM has angered autoworkers and politicians with its abrupt announcement about expected closures. And sometimes workers simply don’t care about protocol if they feel there’s nothing to lose, Masters said. “Look at the wildcat strikes that occurred among teachers in West Virginia and other states. Those worked,” he said. “There’s a growing militancy among some workers and people who have reached perhaps the tipping point. People take extreme action when they feel there’s no alternative.”
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Wayne State University research examines Muslim response to Trump administration

Wayne State University’s Department of Communication presented research Nov. 27 that examines the effects of the Trump administration on North American Muslims. At the presentation, Stine Eckert of WSU’s journalism program introduced three doctoral candidates and contributors to the studies, Jade Metzger-Riftkin, Sydney O’Shay-Wallace and Sean Kolhoff of the Department of Communications. Eckert, a former Al Jazeera producer, said her previous studies incited an interest in Muslim identity; and though many studies based in number-based research found how Islamophobic rhetoric causes an increase in hate crimes, she wanted research based in conversation. “As I developed this project the Trump campaign came along,” Eckert said, “I didn’t plan for that; nobody did. It happened to be in this time that we started this research. So it kind of just fell into my lap to then ask more specifically, in this moment of heightened concern, particularly for people who claim that as part of their identity, what does that mean?” She said the study covered the time period of the latter half of the Trump campaign, the election season, before his inauguration and into the first 100 days of his presidency.
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Hall of Famer Trammell takes time to give back

The whirlwind year had finally slowed down for Alan Trammell after his Hall of Fame induction in July, his number retirement in August and his season traversing the Tigers' farm system. Now, in the middle of December, he's on the move again. Trammell will finish up his annual baseball camp with former teammate Lance Parrish this weekend. This is what he likes to do. It is evident as he fields grounders on the basketball court of Wayne State University's Matthaei Center, trying to demonstrate the proper technique to kids ranging from grade school to high school, just as he does on the Minor League fields across the Tigers' farm system. And as the game embraces the next wave of stars and their enthusiasm, Trammell hopes to reinforce the basics. The camp is in its ninth year, and now ranges from basic sessions for all ages to specialized sessions for advanced hitters, shortstops and catchers. Wayne State head coach Ryan Kelley and his players help throughout the weekend.
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Bills flying in lame-duck frenzy could be unconstitutional, legal experts say

Republican lawmakers may be violating the state constitution with fast-tracked bills in the lame-luck Legislature that curb the powers of incoming Democratic officeholders or water down proposals backed by Michigan voters, legal experts say. "They're just going crazy," said Robert Sedler, a Wayne State University law professor. Sedler, who has taught at Wayne State since 1977 and wrote a book on American constitutional law, cited a range of problematic bills — from a package the Senate passed Thursday to strip enforcement of campaign finance laws from the secretary of state to one that restricts the incoming governor's choices to head the Michigan State Police, and bills that meddle with legislation and constitutional amendments backed by Michigan voters. "In the 40 years that I've been here, I have not seen any such effort to curtail the powers of the governor and the executive branch," Sedler told the Free Press Thursday.
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Why do so many people fall for financial scams?

In hindsight, David carter sees the deal differently. The 63-year-old has a Master’s degree in technology. A successful career meant he found a six-figure salary offer perfectly plausible. He knew from reading newspapers that tech stocks were up and the job market was hot. So when an email offered him a job with a Swiss firm at a $100,000 salary, he took it. Carter never saw a penny. Instead he owes $80,000, which he is paying off from his retirement savings. The job was too good to be true. All he had to do was use his credit card to buy iPhones and iPads. He started in June, buying them at Best Buy and Walmart and sending them from his home in Maryland to an address in California. The company paid his credit-card bill—for a few weeks. In July those payments were voided. His bank said the debts were his. The company’s website vanished. The people he had spoken to stopped answering the phone. Peter Lichtenberg, a psychologist at Wayne State University who was one of the first to examine psychological vulnerability to fraud, argues that prevention and treatment should take their cue from medicine. He points to a technique called “motivational interviewing”, which involves asking questions designed to help people come up with their own solutions and which has been shown to help get alcoholics into treatment. Questions could be crafted to open fraud victims’ eyes to what is going on, for example by asking them to explain what is happening in their own words, and then to discuss any similarities with articles they have seen in the press.
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Want more easy protein? Go eat a bug

In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations issued a lengthy report, "Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security." In the foreword, the authors say: “It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people." In 2018, the total is 7.6 billion. "To accommodate this number, current food production will need to almost double." The report details how edible insects may be a solution. "Being able to use our resources more efficiently is going to be key to making sure there is food available for everyone," says Julie Lesnik, Ph.D., an assistant professor of anthropology at Wayne State University, whose research focuses on the evolution of the human diet, especially eating insects. She organized a conference for professionals, Eating Insects Detroit, in 2016. "Any way to reduce our reliance on livestock is a key part of that," she says. "We don't have nearly the insect biomass here, in the continental U.S., as in the tropics," Lesnik says. "In Europe, insects are not a very widespread food. Meat is a big part of the traditional ancestral European diet."
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Opinion: Lawmakers pull a 'bait and switch'

Robert Sedler, a constitutional law professor at Wayne State University, opined about the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature passing bills “that would amend significantly – or more accurately gut completely – the minimum wage and sick leave laws that the Legislature enacted in response to an initiative proposal just prior to the 2018 election.” Sedler continued: “In accordance with Art. II, sec. 9, the Legislature responded to the initiative petition by enacting the initiative laws without change or amendment. But at the same time, the Republican leaders stated that they were enacting these laws only to prevent the people from voting on the initiative and that after the election they would amend the laws to make them more favorable to business interests. This “bait and switch” strategy shows utter disdain for Michigan voters and for the Constitution. The plain language of the Constitution and the structure for legislative initiative that the Constitution establishes is absolutely clear. The initiative law has come from the people, not the Legislature. This being so, it is not like other laws. It is not a law that the Legislature can amend at will. Under the Constitution, once an outgoing Legislature has enacted a law in response to an initiative petition, and prevented the people from voting on the initiative, that Legislature cannot amend the initiative law in the same legislative session. Sedler concluded: “We live under a Constitution and the rule of law. The Legislature should have respected the Constitution and allowed the minimum wage and sick leave laws to take effect without change or amendment.”
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Finley: Thank you, Don Pilette, and RIP

Detroit News editorial editor Nolan Finley wrote a memorial tribute about Don Pilette, and his Wayne State University memories. “In the winter of 1976, I was sitting in Don's news editing class at Wayne State University, a journalism major in my junior year, uncertain whether I'd be able to complete my degree. The small auto factory where I'd worked since high school, and which was providing the paycheck I needed to pay for college, had shut down. I was out of work and out of money, and on the brink of giving up. At the end of class, Don, who was then the national editor of The Detroit News, asked if anyone was interested in a copy boy's position at the newspaper. The duties, he explained, would fall mainly into the messenger/clerk category, but it would provide valuable exposure to the newsroom. I was amazed to look around the room of roughly 20 students and find that mine was the only hand in the air. Two weeks later I walked into the Detroit News to begin what is now 42 years in the newspaper business. Don continued to teach and mentor me after I arrived. Perhaps he didn't want to get the blame if I flopped.” “He (Pilette) kept teaching even after he retired from The News in 1992, at Wayne State and the University of Michigan-Dearborn. That was his joy. Wayne State named its journalism lab in honor of Don, who taught there for 37 years. I'm one of countless journalists in this town and across the nation who benefited from Don Pilette's wisdom. And from his helping hand.”
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The road not taken

Jeffrey Horner, a senior lecturer in urban studies and planning at Wayne State University, has studied the effects of freeways that cut through Detroit’s largely residential Black Bottom neighborhood and Paradise Valley, a mostly commercial district, east of the city’s central business hub downtown. “The I496 (Lansing) expressway, much like I375 in Detroit, went where it did because it was the most politically defenseless area, by far the most African-American district in the city,” Horner said. The pattern repeated itself around the country as the interstate highway system spread. Horner thinks the breakup of a black community and resulting diaspora was a mixed blessing at best. “I’m not questioning that it’s a good thing for Lansing to be integrated, but the loss of black districts and dispersal of the African- American community was also a loss,” Horner said. “In Detroit, we not only lost people’s homes, but a lot of the black-owned businesses. I’m not so sure that this was necessarily a good thing.” Horner said today’s urban planners have taken these hard lessons to heart. “Everyone is getting the importance of community now,” Horner said. “That whole thread is coming from the slowdown of suburban growth.” Many of Horner’s students loathe the isolation of the suburbs and want to live where they don’t need a car. They long for walkable, close-knit neighborhoods like Lansing’s lost I496 enclave. “It’s really changing fast, at least in Detroit,” Horner said. “Local community building is something that’s been lost, starting with the building of all these freeways.”
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What is Wayne State’s role in building Detroit’s future?

Wayne State University powers a big part of Detroit’s economy, and has always done so. But as the city changes, Wayne State is also crafting its vision for the future - both as an institution of higher learning, and as a critical part of Detroit’s economy and culture. The goal at WSU is to be a very different place by 2040. But how to get there? A master planning process for the university begins today, and the university is inviting students, faculty, staff and community to give input. Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson spoke with WSU professor of urban planning, Robin Boyle, about the event and Wayne State’s role in Detroit.
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These three women are changing the way we think about education

There are currently over 13 million children in the United States at risk of going hungry, an issue that not only leads to sickness and decreased attention spans, but can set back whole classrooms, leading to community­wide deficits in test scores and more. Suzanne Baker, an anthropology professor at Wayne State University, has been able to make a substantial impact on their lives. Baker is one of 10 unpaid volunteers who run Blessings in a Backpack­-Livonia, an organization that buys and packs weekly grocery bags full of easy-­to-­make meals such as cereal, canned veggies and peanut butter to tide kids over for the weekend. “When I was younger, I wanted to change the world,” Baker said. “We do a lot of volunteerism in our family. But this was the first [time] where I thought, ‘I’m not just going to volunteer. I have the capacity, and there’s a need here...I gotta do this.’” By sending qualifying students home with accessible food to tide them over, Baker and her fellow volunteers are helping set up a whole generation of kids in her community to succeed against the odds.
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Fairview's Wagner signs with Wayne State

Fairview senior Mercedes Wagner said she’s always dreamed of playing basketball at the collegiate level and she made those dreams a reality on Tuesday by signing to play at Wayne State University, an NCAA Division II school in Detroit. Wagner was in contact with several schools during the recruiting process, but said Wayne State ultimately felt like the right fit. It was at an AAU tournament earlier this summer in Louisville, Kentucky when she first appeared on the radar of the Wayne State coaching staff. Wayne State was originally there to see another player, but when they noticed Wagner starring as a member of the Glass City Fury, they couldn’t look away and got in touch soon after.