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FTC drops some claims in bid to block Meta’s merger with virtual reality app

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission pulled back in its first preemptive challenge to a takeover by Metal Platforms Inc., dropping some claims from a lawsuit that seeks to block the tech giant’s acquisition of virtual reality app Within Unlimited. The agency, which sued to block the deal on antitrust grounds July 27, said it asked US District Judge Edward Davila Friday to let it remove some allegations about anticompetitive effects in the market for virtual-reality fitness apps. Meta said the FTC’s case is “based on ideology, not evidence” and pointed out that the newly amended complaint drops allegations that its most popular virtual-reality game, Beat Saber, directly competes with Within’s Supernatural fitness app. Stephen Calkins, an antitrust professor at Wayne State University Law School, described the FTC’s move to amend its complaint as “unusual,” particularly in a merger challenge, since those are often expeditated. “On a merger case, it’s not that common because it all happens fairly quickly,” said Calkins, who served as the FTC’s general counsel during the Clinton administration, adding that it is “certainly unusual to do it” within two months.  
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Kids on autism spectrum get physical activity, nutrition support through Detroit program

By Doug Coombe  A Wayne State University community-based program for kids on the autism spectrum is taking off. PLANE, short for Physical Literacy and Nutrition Education, offers adaptive strategies to get kids moving, as well as a nutrition curriculum that shares ways to introduce kids to healthier foods. Dr. Leah Ketcheson, assistant professor and program coordinator of WSU’s Health and Physical Education Teaching program, proposed the idea for PLANE through her 2016 doctoral thesis after teaching adaptive physical education in the Detroit Public School Community School District from 2007 to 2010. “The classrooms of children with autism were the most intriguing but also the most challenging,” said Ketcheson. “I saw that the children with autism were exhibiting significant health disparities when compared to neurotypical children.” With funding from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and in-kind support from WSU, what started as an eight-week summer intensive focused on children’s physical activity and sports has grown into the two-year, year-round PLANE program. Children on the autism spectrum and their families now meet weekly to learn how to successfully integrate physical activity and healthy foods into their lives. Along with Ketcheson, PLANE’s staff includes board-certified behavioral analysts who mentor the coaches who work one-on-one with the children. The coaches are WSU health and physical education, or exercise sports science, majors. “We’ve got all the support systems at Wayne State to make this happen,” Ketcheson said. “I think part of being an effective program is really identifying what your target audience needs. I know that our target audience, our primary stakeholders, are the parents and children with autism. They need direct, individualized support. The way that we can provide that is through the awesome work of our undergraduate and graduate degree programs.”  
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Prominent attorney Eugene Driker, who helped mediate Detroit bankruptcy, dies

Eugene Driker, a prominent Detroit attorney and civic leader who helped mediate the city’s bankruptcy and orchestrate the Grand Bargain that led to the city emerging from bankruptcy, die Thursday. He was 85. Driker, who resided in Detroit nearly his whole life, was among the strongest proponents of the city and its institutions. The son of Ukrainian immigrants, Driker and his partners founded Barris, Scott, Denn & Driker PLLC in downtown Detroit in 1968. He specialized in complex business litigation, counseling to business and non-profits, and alternative dispute resolution. Driker completed his undergraduate degree at Wayne State University and his juris doctorate at Wayne Law. He served for 12 years as a member of the WSU Board of Governors and was a chair of the WSU Foundation. He also was chairman of the Law School Board of Visitors and the first fundraising chair for Wayne Law, as well as a member of the Carl Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy at Wayne Law. “Eugene Driker was a great friend to Wayne State University, and to me personally,” WSU President M. Roy Wilson said in a statement. “He was consistently generous with his time, intellect and support, yet modest about his accomplishments, which were many. His example inspires the entire Wayne State community.”
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How Russia’s latest annexation attempt affects the war in Ukraine

Russian president Vladimir Putin has declared portions of eastern and southern Ukraine as part of Russia. The announcement follows sham referenda held in occupied regions and represents the latest in a series of escalations by Russia against Ukraine. Following the formal annexation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is requesting accelerated membership with NATIO. He previously warned that Ukraine will not negotiate with Russia as long as Putin is in power. Aaron Retish, a history professor at Wayne State University with a specialization in Soviet and Russian history, said the four districts illegally annexed by Russia have always been part of the Ukrainian republic, placing the decision at the forefront of the war. “It gets into a bigger question of what does this mean to be Russian? What does it mean to be Ukrainian?,” said Rettish. “Because there are a lot of people, even Zelensky…whose first language is Russian living in Ukraine. And yet they identify as Ukrainians,” he said. “So, when Putin claims this land as Russian, or says that he is, he is annexing these lands to protect Russians from genocide,” Rettish continued. “This is his own ideology talking about both Russian nationalism and denouncing, or kind of, pushing aside Ukrainian views of national selfhood.”
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Black Michiganders got 60% of monkeypox cases, only 17% of vaccines

By Kristen Jordan Shamus  Even though 60% of the people who have gotten monkeypox in Michigan so far are Black, 70% of the doses of the vaccine that can prevent infection or limit symptoms after exposure have gone to white Michiganders. Black residents have gotten just 17% of the doses administered so far in Michigan, new state health department data shows. And when the first doses of Tecovirimat, the antiviral treatment more widely known as Tpoxx, arrived in Michigan, Oakland and Washtenaw counties got them – not Detroit, a majority Black city that has 38% of Michigan’s known monkeypox infections, said Dr. Shira Heisler, a Wayne Health physician and medical director of the Detroit Public Health Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinic. In those early weeks of the monkeypox outbreak, Heisler said she fielded calls from people concerned they might have the virus. Because her clinic was so short-staffed, she didn’t have anyone else to pick up the phone. She was also testing and treating patients with the virus and administering vaccines. Doses of Tpoxx were “only physically available in two neighboring county health departments,” said Heisler, whose STD clinic is the largest in the state. “I had a patient who was immunosuppressed, HIV-positive, was in significant pain from monkeypox…However, there was no way to physically get the Tpoxx to the patient. I physically couldn’t get it for him,” she said. The patient didn’t have access to transportation and no courier service was available. “So I was going to drive there. Me and the epidemiologist were on the phone int the wee hours of the evening to figure it out…There’s no infrastructure, organizational infrastructure to be able to do this.”   
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Generation COVID: Record numbers of youth opt out of college, work

Generation COVID: Record numbers of youth opt out of college, work By Anne Kim Three years into the pandemic, after two years of isolation, shuttered schools and virtual commencements, high school graduates from the classes of 2020, 2021 and beyond - call them the Generation COVID - are shunning college in record numbers. Enrollment is down nearly 10 percent over the past two years, a loss of 1.4 million students pursuing degrees. At TikTok, where variations on the hashtag #NotGoingToCollege have racked up more than 30 million views, young people argue "my career doesn't need college" and talk about starting their own businesses. Overall, just 51 percent of Gen Z teens are now considering a four-year degree, according to a survey this year by the nonprofit ECMC Group - a 20-point drop since May 2020. Student disengagement is a growing concern. As may as 70 percent of Detroit public schools were "chronically absent" during the 2020-21 school year, according to a study by Wayne State University. Schools are rolling out a variety of initiatives to attract new students and retain the ones they have, and viewing the challenges posed by the pandemic as a catalyst for broader reforms. "Higher ed needs to reestablish its value and find ways to highlight the importance and the value of a degree," said Ahmad Ezzeddine, vice president for academic student affairs and global engagement at Wayne State University in Detroit. "We need to adapt to the changing demographics, the changing workforce, the changing workforce." Among other efforts, Ezzeddine says Wayne State launched Warrior 360, which partners at-risk students with success coaches to provide academic and social support. More courses are now online and offered year-round or at night to accommodate working students' schedules. In addition, the university has beefed up its summer camps for K-12 students and outreach to area high schools. "We have faculty go and talk about careers in engineering and science, hopefully planting that seed," Ezzeddine said. 
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Hilberry Theatre to host block of AIDS Memorial Quilt and raise funds for Corktown Health at production of Rent

The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University is proud to present Rent, which is directed by Michael Barnes and runs through October 2. Rent is about falling in love, finding your voice, and survival in the precarious climate of the East Village in 1980s New York City. During the run of Rent, the Hilberry Theatre will host a block of the 54-ton AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is the premiere symbol and living memorial of a generation lost to AIDS as well as an important HIV prevention education tool. A past member of the Hilberry Graduate Company, Alan Harvey, died due to pneumonia caused by AIDS shortly after receiving his M.F.A. diploma. Theatre and Dance at Wayne will be dedicating the run of Rent to Alan, and the quilt will serve as a demonstration that the themes covered in Rent are not only relevant to the present, but are close to home as well.  
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Detroit’s average commute is stuck at pre-pandemic levels – despite 4 times the telecommuters

By Minnah Arshad  Even with four times as many Detroiters working from home since 2019, commuters are still on the road for about as long as they were before the COVID-19 pandemic began. According to the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of remote workers in Detroit increased from 3.5 percent in 2019 to 15.1 percent last year. However, the average commuting time for Detroit workers has remained stagnant at around 25 minutes, according the bureau’s estimates. “Even something like a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic hasn’t had that profound of an effect on drive times,” said Jeff Horner, an urban studies and planning professor at Wayne State University. “There’s always going to be a relatively long commute, because we live in this sprawled-out city.”  
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The economic case against unpaid domestic work

By Sarah Todd and Amanda Shendruk  Daily living is a lot of work – and the world relies on the unpaid labor of women to keep households functional. Women spend an average three to six hours per day on cooking, cleaning, watching over small children and ailing relatives, and any number of other domestic tasks, compared to men’s average of anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. Some economists warn that paying women for household work could wind up encouraging them to drop out of the labor force. A 2021 study by Yulya Truskinovsky, assistant professor of economics at Wayne State University, supports this concern. “Often, we think we prefer to have a family member take care of [relatives] rather than a stranger or a professional. But at the same time, compensating people for providing care is pulling them out of the formal labor market,” Truskinovsky said. “If we don’t kind of design compensation in a way that mimics the formal labor market, then I think there are a lot of costs.”  
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Moot Court chancellor remains committed to public service work

By Sheila Pursglove  A rising 3L at Wayne State University Law School, Dominica Convertino’s interest in the legal field stems from her passion for politics and public policy; and she hopes to combine these interests by pursuing a career in administrative law. Convertino spent more than five years working as a senior banker. During those years, her passion for public policy and law grew further. “While I loved helping my clients find solutions to their financial troubles, I began observing that many of my clients’ problems were indicative of larger, systemic failures,” she said. “I came to realize policymakers can mitigate the effects of harmful financial practices through common-sense regulatory schemes. From there, I became very interested in the intersection of the financial industry and the law.”
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Detroit Equity Symposium pushes for more equity in corporate Detroit

Detroit-area companies and business leaders met at Wayne State University to discuss how to bring greater diversity, equity and inclusion to Detroit’s corporate community during the Detroit Equity Symposium on Sept. 27. The group discussed issues like the corporate racial wage gap and cited a recent study that showed Black Detroiters between 2010 and 2019 saw an 8% increase in median income compared to 60% for white Detroiters. In attendance at the symposium were Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, Bishop Edgar L. Vann and Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson.  
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New series highlights the importance of African American led institutions

Beginning October 4 on Detroit Public Television (DPTV), a new series will highlight stories of African Americans in a way that goes beyond a lens that distorts and mischaracterizes the community. Making Black America, hosted by history professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., seeks to demonstrate the vast social networks and organizations created by and for Black people throughout American history. As part of the series, WDET has teamed up with DPTV to host a town hall on Tuesday, September 27 at 7 p.m. The event will occur in Wayne State’s Community Arts Auditorium and focus on the history and future of Black fraternities and sororities, as well as their connection to Detroit. Admission is free.
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Trying to build generational wealth? Start saving early

By Rasha Almulaiki  Economists have long lamented the shrinking of the American middle class. In Detroit, the economic crises of the Great Recession, the COVID-19 pandemic and the persistent instability of an accessible real estate market has exacerbated the strain on the growing socio-economic divide between the top one percent and the struggling majority. In an economic climate that is steadily growing stronger, residents need to think about ways to build generational wealth to sustain themselves and the future of their family’s financial health. Ranjan D’Mello, professor of finance at Wayne State University, discussed how Detroiters can begin securing their future. “The idea is that you have to begin saving early,” said D’Mello. “For those that spend on things they don’t really need, there must be restraint and a long-term goal in mind.”  
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Digital Inclusion Week will highlight digital inclusion efforts and promote digital equity across the country

Organizers of Detroit Digital Inclusion Week believe Detroit can become a national model for digital inclusion. The group is set to launch five days of events, workshops, and panel discussions aimed at getting more Detroiters connected than ever before. Some of the events, including a keynote panel discussion and academic research symposium will be hosted at Wayne State University’s Student Center Building. The events run October 3-7.  
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Xylazine, the newest killer street drug in Michigan: What you need to know

A non-opioid animal tranquilizer for which there is no antidote is being mixed into Michigan street drugs, making the already deadly supply more dangerous, according to toxicologists and researchers. Xylazine, a fast-acting central nervous system depressant that is not approved for human use, is showing up largely in fentanyl, the ultra-potent synthetic opioid that is mixed into heroin and pressed into counterfeit pills and responsible for more overdose deaths than any other drug. Adding xylazine to fentanyl, which is also a depressant, increases the already high odds of overdose. In Michigan, xylazine has turned up in toxicology screenings of almost 200 people who have died from drug overdoses since 2019, said Varun Vohra, who is director of the Michigan Poison and Drug Information Center at Wayne State University.  
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Lt. Gov. Gilchrist II to speak at Detroit Equity Inc. Symposium

Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, along with Bishop Edgar L. Vann, Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson and corporate leaders from some of Detroit’s largest corporations and nonprofits, will speak at the Detroit Equity Symposium on September 27 from 8:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Wayne State University’s Student Center Building. The goal of the event is to discuss ways we can work together to increase equity and inclusion in Detroit’s corporate community and release a report, funded by the Kresge Foundation, that shares best practices to provide a road map for collective efforts moving forward. The Symposium is supported by Henry Ford Health, the Detroit Regional Chamber, The Skillman Foundation, and HAP. Registration is free.