In the news

Gig-economy rise prompts FTC chief’s call to alter antitrust law

Gig-economy rise prompts FTC chief’s call to alter antitrust law  Gig-economy workers fighting for higher pay and better working conditions through protests and grassroots organizing campaigns face yet another obstacle in their campaigns: U. S. antitrust law. Federal statutes aimed at promoting competition and preventing monopolies leave out gig workers, classified as independent contractors, from protections for unionizing or other group actions. Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan is pushing to change that through legislation or joint guidance with the U.S. Justice Department, which would be a more straightforward, if legally risky, way of clarifying that current antitrust exemptions for traditional unions can extend to gig workers. The FTCs push joins an ongoing tug-of-war in the U.S. among gig companies, lawmakers, regulators, academics, and legal advocates over the employment status of app-based workers for Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., DoorDash Inc., and others. Companies themselves may not bring suits against workers for antitrust violations, but they have attempted to further insulate themselves from worker activity, said Sanjukta Paul, an assistant professor of law at Wayne State University.  
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Why you shouldn’t use emojis in work messages

Communication is hard. And in fraught or ambiguous situations, or in a context where precision is important, word choice is all important. But what if you aren’t even using words? What does that smiley face even mean? Turns out emoji can mean different things to different people, and the difference appears to really show up as a difference between men and women. For example, the thinking emoji produced a clear split. "Men see that as slightly positive, women as slightly negative," Lara Jones, an associate professor at Wayne State University, tells the Wall Street Journal. In a study published in Computers in Human Behavior, Jones lays out the differences.
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Wayne State receives $3.1 million grant to seek alternative sources of rare earth elements

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at Wayne State University have been awarded a $3.1 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ERCD program to seek alternative sources of rare earth elements critical to advanced military and consumer technologies. The project, Rare Earths from U.S. Extractions – or REUSE – will focus on both basic and related applied research in science and engineering with the goal of developing a U.S. rare earth element supply chain as well as a process of handling waste streams. REUSE is led by two principal investigators, Matthew J. Allen, chair and professor of chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Timothy M. Dittrich, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering.    
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New guidelines help doctors diagnose chest pain – but only if you act

Chest pain is about more than pain in the chest. But when it comes on suddenly, experts behind new guidelines on evaluating and diagnosing it don’t want you pondering nuances. They want you to act – now. “The most important thing people need to know about chest pain is that if experience it, they should call 911,” said Dr. Phillip Levy, a professor of emergency medicine and assistant vice president for research at Wayne State University. “People shouldn’t waste time trying to self-diagnose. They should immediately go to the nearest hospital. And if they’re going to go to the nearest hospital to get evaluated for chest pain, ideally it should be by ambulance.” Levy helped lead the committee that wrote the new guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology.  
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Health experts explain why drinking a gallon of water a day is too much

Hydration is important for health, but drinking a gallon of water a day is unnecessary. “Just like caloric intake and energy expenditure, there is no magical ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to the daily water requirements that everyone needs to ‘stay healthy,’” says Tamara Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise and sport science at the College of Education, Wayne State University. “Although ‘Gallon Challenges’ and ‘8 x 8’ glasses per day recommendations are widely touted by both lay people and health professionals alike, the science behind these recommendations is largely mythical but widely propagated through clever marketing — think bottled water, oxygenated water, vitamin water, alkaline water, etc. — rather than clinical evidence.” 
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Dual degree: Corporate law student seeks to impact community

By Sheila Pursglove  Involved in his family’s commercial real estate business from a young age, Basem Younis learned early on that he had an affinity for numbers. He went on to earn an undergrad degree in accounting and finance from Wayne State University, remaining a Wayne Warrior for JD and MBA studies. His parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon and Syria in pursuit of an American education and the American Dream, always emphasized that education is a powerful and essential tool for nurturing positive change in society.  “They taught me higher education is an avenue to access the type of opportunities that would allow me to help nurture the communities that helped nurture me,” Younis says.  “My undergraduate career helped me realize small businesses are catalysts for thriving communities, as it had proven to be for my parents and my community. Given that many business decisions are influenced in some manner by the law, I decided a formal understanding of the law is essential to meaningfully influence the course of businesses.” Choosing Wayne Law was an easy decision for pursuing a JD/MBA dual degree, he adds. 

Fast food burgers, fries, and pizza may leave you full of phthalates

By Huanjia Zhang   As Americans devour a fast-food burger in the car or gobble up a chicken burrito in front of the TV, some may bite into phthalates, according to a new study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. This is the first study to directly measure the amount of phthalates present in common fast foods in the U.S. and adds to mounting evidence linking phthalate exposure to fast food consumption. Phthalates are a group of synthetic chemicals widely used to make plastic more flexible, and are ubiquitous in a host of plastic products, ranging from toys to personal care products. Phthalates have been shown in human and animal studies to disrupt the endocrine system. Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of eight phthalates in children’s toys and child-care products in 2017, the plastic industry is able to replace the prohibited phthalates with slightly tweaked plasticizer chemicals. “A chemical isn’t a problem until it’s proven dangerous,” said Douglas Ruden, a toxicologist who studies phthalates at Wayne State University, who noted the ongoing tug-of-war between scientists trying to assess the health and safety of potentially harmful new plasticizers and their evolving successors. 

How Wayne State's medical school became the first in the U.S. to require plant-based nutrition education

By Megan Edwards  Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit is the first college in the United States to introduce a mandatory plant-based nutrition unit into their curriculum for first-year medical students. The four-week “Rooting for Wellness” learning module, launched in 2019, utilizes recorded lectures, online quizzes, cooking demonstrations, guest lecture panels, and a vegan community fair to teach students about the critical connection between nutrition and disease prevention. The curriculum’s creators recently published a report in the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention about the success of the program and how other universities can follow their lead.  “I’ve always been passionate about community advocacy, nutrition, and the promotion of preventive medicine, but was disappointed by how sparingly these topics were covered in med school,” said Lakshman Mulpuri, a co-founder of Rooting for Wellness and student at the university. “I was in awe of the incredible stories of patients who had empowered themselves with a whole-food, plant-based diet. I knew that these stories and the science behind them needed to be shared with my fellow fledgling physicians.” 
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Phoenix rising? Pontiac on the edge of a recovery

One hundred years ago, riding north up Woodward Avenue from Detroit to Pontiac was a voyage from one successful urban landscape to another. Fast forward to 2021, and Pontiac is struggling to reinvent itself after decades of poverty and decay. As quickly as Pontiac shot to stardom so too did its urban light dim, a victim of changing ideas of urban living and changing fortunes to the American automobile industry. Just as Detroit has begun to reinvent itself in the last decade as a model of urban renewal, so too is Pontiac working to develop itself as a new and vibrant city. Some believe the key to turn Pontiac into a city people want to come to is a mix of both private and public sector growth. Carolyn Loh, professor of urban planning at Wayne State University, notes that one of Pontiac’s biggest challenges is “the hollowing out of the city government that has happened over long periods to time, exacerbated by periods of emergency management…So if you offer people the choice of where they can live, if you have a city that can’t fulfill the mandates of city government, it’s a less desirable place to live…” 
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“Buy it when you see it.” Retailers dread holiday shortages

By Mae Anderson  As the holiday season approaches, many businesses are concerned about inventory. This year, store shelves at businesses may be a little sparse because of bottlenecks in the global supply chain. The global supply chain has been impacted by a multitude of problems, from factories having to close due to COVID-19 surges, lack of containers to ship items in, backups at ports and warehouses, and a shortage of truckers. While bigger retailers like Walmart and Target have the power to buy their own containers, use air freight, and take other steps to make sure they get inventory, smaller retailers are at the mercy of vendors, who are increasingly suspending delivery guarantees and sometimes not communicating at all. In addition to a surge in shipping costs, vendors have reported delays because of backed up shipping ports. Kevin Ketels, a lecturer in global supply chain management at the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University said that normally, there’s no wait for container ships to unload and that such delays are major.  
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How the 1% tricks you into thinking climate change is your fault

Africa has 54 countries, more than one-quarter of the 195 nations on the planet today. The continent is also home to roughly 1.3 billion souls, more than one-sixth of the human population. And despite comprising a large chunk of the community of Homo sapiens, however, Africa is responsible for less than four percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Life being unfair, that isn't going to spare Africans from suffering as a result of man-made global warming. A recent study revealed that Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and the Mount Kenya massif in Kenya are going to lose their glaciers — the only ones on the entire continent. Losing these iconic natural landmarks isn't the worst thing that will happen to Africa because of climate change — there will be extreme weather events, rising sea levels, economic devastation and more — but there is a melancholy symbolism to their impending disappearance. Climate change isn't a problem caused by all people equally; it is caused mostly by the rich, and since we live in a capitalist world, the suffering will fall disproportionately on the poor. Climate scientists, sociologists and economists are largely in agreement on this point. "The problem is structural and systemic," Dr. David Fasenfest, an American sociologist and associate professor at Wayne State University, told Salon by email. "Capitalist society is geared towards waste and destruction in order to promote consumption while producing at the lowest cost. That requires power and that means without strict restrictions most of the time we use 'dirty' forms of energy like coal that pollutes and promotes climate change." 
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The serious consequence of exercising too much, too fast.

Every 365.25 days, when the Earth completes a full orbit around the Sun, we humans have the opportunity to hit the reset button and become fitter, finer versions of ourselves. As usual for January, social media is humming with advice on how to eat better, exercise regularly, lose weight and remain healthy. We feel particularly invincible at this time of year, armed with renewed vigor and motivation to purge ourselves from previous indulgences and our couch-potato ways. The New Year is also the time when our overzealous, instant-gratification selves emerge, and we do too much exercise too soon to make up for lost time. Exhaustive muscular work, especially following a period of inactivity, can cause mechanical and chemical disruptions to muscle cell membranes which trigger the muscle cells to burst. 
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'It's like a haunting.' Many COVID-19 patients deal with PTSD, depression & more after recovery

By Alex Bozarjian  Researchers are learning more about how severe cases of COVID-19 can impact a person's mental health in the long term. A study conducted in Italy found that 30% of patients who recovered from COVID-19 developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). "This brain goes to fight or flight mode, and people have nightmares, people have flashbacks, and these flashbacks are as if I am there, I see things, I hear things--I feel the touches," Dr. Arash Javanbakht said. He researches stress, trauma and anxiety at Wayne State University. He said there are a lot of layers to recovery after COVID-19. It can either be mental or physical. 
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Air and noise pollution linked to increased heart failure

Exposure to air pollution and road traffic noise over several years may increase the risk of heart failure, according to new research from a large observational study. The study examined more than 22,000 female nurses based in Denmark, aged 44 and older, over a period of 15 to 20 years to evaluate the impact of exposure to small particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, as well as road traffic noise. The results showed that increased exposure to these pollutants after just 3 years was tied to a substantially increased risk of new heart failure. With emissions standards now in place to combat pollution, it is interesting that the researchers thought to explore air pollution as a heart failure risk, says Ileana L. Piña, MD, a heart failure transplant cardiologist and professor of medicine at Wayne State University. "You think of respiratory illness in cities where there is a high level of pollution, but you don't think of heart failure," says Piña, who was not a part of this study. "Next I think we need to link up what it was in that polluted air that actually caused the trauma." 
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Why metro Detroit's mortgage companies have big profits, sagging stocks

Metro Detroit's two mortgage company giants — Rocket Companies and United Wholesale Mortgage — have experienced big profits, growing market shares and high industry rankings since going public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet their stock prices remain stuck in the toilet. The sagging stocks have led to much shareholder grousing, including on online message boards, and in the case of Rocket, the slump has attracted shareholder lawsuits and could even affect how much future philanthropy its founder and chairman Dan Gilbert can give. Detroit-based Rocket Companies, the nation's No. 1 mortgage originator, which has more than 15,000 employees in downtown Detroit, closed Thursday at $16.90, below its August 2020 initial public offering price of $18. Rocket's stock briefly spiked in March to over $40 per share on speculative trading that many compared to the Reddit-induced GameStop rally from early in the year. It then hoovered between $22 and $25 for a couple months before dropping to more or less current levels in early May, after the company issued guidance about shrinking profit margins. "There are very few businesses that are more sensitive to rate increases than UWM and Rocket," said Matthew Roling, executive director of the Office of Business Innovation at Wayne State University's Mike Ilitch School of Business. "You have nowhere to go but up for rates. And more than anything else, that’s what is weighing so heavily on UWM and Rocket." 
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The Great Resignation: Michigan continues to grapple with ongoing worker shortage

The worker shortage is so bad there’s a new term for it: "The Great Resignation." Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows August set a record: 4 million people quit their jobs. That’s 3 percent of the workforce. Mark Gaffney is on the board of Wayne State University, teaches labor and business, has decades of AFL-CIO and teamsters union leadership experience and is on the Detroit mayor’s workforce board. "When a worker says to their employer, 'I’d like to talk to you about at least part of the week being remote,' my advice to that employer is, you better listen," said Gaffney. He says business owners are learning they have to up the ante to avoid the Great Resignation. What if they say they can't afford higher wages?  "Well, if it’s a restaurant and I’ve noticed a couple of them have done this, reprint that menu, and moderately raise the prices. That’s going to work out for you," said Gaffney. 
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Experts say Michigan's "bipartisan success" on no-fault reform is really a "bipartisan failure," as people lose care

When Michigan lawmakers, the mayor of Detroit, and the governor of the state gathered on Mackinac Island on May 30, 2019 to celebrate her signing the just-passed no fault insurance reform bill into law, the mood was almost giddy. It sometimes sounded like a family reunion, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer praised the fully bipartisan effort to make sweeping changes to Michigan’s auto insurance system. "When we see one another as people, as Michiganders, we can focus on getting things done," Whitmer said. “When we see one another as Michiganders first we are capable of great things, and it doesn't stop today." Governor Whitmer has since asked the state Legislature to fix the law. But Wayne State University Law Professor Wayne Miller, an expert on no-fault, said Whitmer never should have signed it in the first place because she knew — or should have known — that it would have a devastating effect on auto accident patients. He said he and other no-fault experts were called to the governor’s office a day before the vote happened. "We thought we were being called in for an emergency conference, like, 'We’re close to a deal, we want your input and we want you to look at what we’ve drafted.' It was nothing like that," he said. "It was a done deal."Instead of a meeting with the governor’s top negotiator, a staff member handed them a copy of the final bill. Bluntly put, everyone flipped out when they saw what was in it. "We said, 'Oh my God,'" Miller recalled, because they could immediately see that the bill would destroy Michigan’s entire system of care for catastrophic car accident survivors — not just previous survivors, but all those going forward. 
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Edible insects: NOVA takes a tasty look at insect foods that could benefit our health and our warming planet

From crunchy crickets to nutty fly grubs, NOVA takes a tasty look at insect foods and how they could benefit our health and our warming planet. From Thailand to Texas, insect farmers are showing how the tiny critters stack up as an environmentally friendly alternative to beef protein and can, pound for pound, deliver better nutritional value than the finest steak. But will Americans overcome the “ick” factor and share the appetite of many cultures around the world for insect feasts? Wayne State University Associate Professor Julie Lesnik said, “Our brains run on fat. That extra fat in their diet contributed to supporting this little bit larger brain.” 

Law student strives to ‘bridge the gap’

Growing up, Shanice Leach was always interested in shows and movies about mysteries, true crime, and criminal justice.  “At first, I thought I wanted to do forensic science or forensic psychology but then I was introduced to the legal side through my law and public safety class in high school,” says Leach, who earned her undergrad degree in criminal justice and corrections from Wayne State University and is now a student at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.  “I love the idea of being able to help people when they are going through a tough time in their life—bridging the gap between the community and the legal system is extremely important to me.” After graduation, Leach spent 9 months as a domestic violence advocate for the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Project (AmUS) in Detroit, where she enjoyed the community interaction. Helping more than 800 victims of domestic violence receive assistance in their time of need, Leach said her work consisted of emergency planning and helping victims file personal protection orders.
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WDET’s new transmitter goes live. So long, static on Detroit public radio

The static and buzz had become so severe at Joan Isabella's house in Farmington Hills that she had stopped listening to WDET-FM (101.9) on the radio. Since she is the station's program director, the annoyance must clearly have been considerable — and the relief was evident Tuesday as the public radio mainstay's new, $150,000 transmitter, funded by the Kresge Foundation, replaced one machine that's old enough to drink and a backup that's nearly old enough to run for president. As WDET served celebratory donuts and cider in the shadow of its 550-foot-tall Midtown tower, Isabella and other staffers said the lengthy replacement process helped tell a tale of both the condition of the station's city and the devotion of its listeners. Under previous and prescient leadership, said General Manager Mary Zatina, the station made significant digital investments in the past few years, crafting platforms such as podcasts and music on demand and hiring staffers to oversee them. While a new transmitter might seem like a giant step toward the past, she said, "We think about 80% of our listening happens on traditional radio. While people might have been well-intentioned to think about a digital future, we're not there yet."