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Vaping shops will lose in Michigan's e-cigarette ban, but is public health worth it?

Dr. Daniel Ouellette, a pulmonologist and senior staff physician at Henry Ford Hospital, applauded the e-cigarette ban. "I think that this is a step forward, and I’m really happy to see that my home state is at the forefront of taking this initiative," said Ouellette, who also is an associate professor at Wayne State University's School of Medicine. "For me, as a lung specialist, I think that the only good thing in your lungs is air." Ouellette said the dangers of vaping still aren't fully known. "We know with cigarettes it can take 15- 20 years or more after having started smoking to have an increased risk of cancer," he said. "If we would extrapolate that same kind of data, it’s going to be a couple of decades before we know this for sure about e-cigarettes. "What we do know is that there are some potential carcinogens in the vapor products. We do know that at least potentially there's a risk. Who would want to be 20 years down the road from now and be faced with an epidemic of lung cancer because we didn't act to control and study e-cigarettes?" But he said it's clear that e-cigarettes are highly addictive — and that's especially true for young people whose brains are more susceptible to addiction — and the contents of the e-cigarette cartridges may contain chemicals that are harmful when heated. "One tank or canister of solution for an e-cigarette contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes," Ouellette said. "So people who use these e-cigarettes are going to get addicted to nicotine. That, by itself, is an adverse consequence. Not only will they be addicted to e-cigarettes but also potentially to other tobacco products. "In addition, these e-cigarettes contain propellants, liquids ... in which the nicotine is dissolved. ... There's also the ability to put in other things," such as flavors, cannabinoid (CBD) products and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. "So there are a great variety of dangers that can be posed by the use of these e-cigarettes," he said. 
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Vaping may be bad for teens. But will Michigan’s ban hurt smokers trying to quit?

Banning flavoring in e-cigarettes and similar devices might move the products further away from Michigan teens, but some worry that an all-out ban also strips cigarette smokers of a powerful tool to help them quit. Smoldering for years now, the health debate ignited Wednesday when, in a surprise move, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed banning flavoring in e-cigarettes and other vaping devices in the state. Still, others worry about adult smokers trying to quit cigarettes by turning to vaping, which early research suggests is not as dangerous as combustible tobacco. At Wayne State University’s School of Medicine, clinicians are helping smokers shake the tobacco habit through the use of incentives — gift cards, for example, sometimes alongside tobacco cessation products, like the nicotine patch. David Ledgerwood, a clinical psychologist and director of Wayne State’s Nicotine and Tobacco Research Division, said vaping products can indeed be used to help smokers cut down or quit cigarettes. But Ledgerwood also noted that adolescents and teens are easily moved by marketing gimmicks and flavored products. “There’s a lot of stuff going on there around the development of the adolescent brain. Their role at that age is to break away from their parents, and that’s why you get this rebellious stage,” Ledgerwood said. “This is where they’re going to try out new things and make decisions about where their lives are going to head, and they can make some really smart decisions and really risky decisions,” he said.
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New podcast from Wayne State features stories of Iraqi students studying in Detroit

Twenty one Iraqi college students came to Wayne State for three weeks over the summer to learn about American culture and democracy. They were here as part of the Iraq Young Leaders Exchange Program, an opportunity sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and funded by the U.S. Department of State. While in Detroit, the students worked on leadership and communication skills. As part of the curriculum they put together a podcast. Colleen Ezzeddine is the communication faculty member who worked with the students on the storytelling project. “The podcast will give you an insight into Iraq’s young leaders of today and what’s on their minds,” says Ezzeddine. Each episode features one of the students telling a personal story from their life. Ezzeddine says the topics touch on death, medical challenges, what to do after high school and more. “The students mentioned that they wanted Americans to know that, on one hand they’re just like anybody else. And on the other hand they’re people that have gotten the short-end of the stick in certain situations but that they’re very dedicated, as one of them put it, to ‘make Iraq great again.’”
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Report: Detroit students leave the city for schools that aren’t much better

Detroit students who leave the city to get an education end up enrolled at schools with slightly higher test scores. But that may not be enough of an advantage given some other negative factors associated with that move. Researchers at Wayne State University who have been studying student mobility in Detroit say the suburban schools the students leave for are more likely to have higher discipline rates, more new teachers, and higher teacher turnover. Those other factors “may counteract the benefits of going to a school with slightly better test scores,” said Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, an assistant professor of education at Wayne State. Lenhoff, along with Associate Professor Ben Pogodzinski, recently released two reports on student mobility. One was based on research on students who leave the city, while the other was based on research on movement in the city. The two studied student data from the 2010-11 school year through the 2017-18 school year. The research raised concerns about the 26,000 children who commute to  schools outside Detroit and the many more who move within the city during and between school years. That frequent movement, one report noted, “has created an unstable learning environment for thousands of Detroit resident students, exacerbating many of the challenges faced by students and schools in the city.” Lenhoff’s and Pogodzinski’s research is part of a project funded by the Wayne State University College of Education and the Skillman Foundation.

Wayne State U licenses out therapeutic for PTSD and other CNS disorders

Clinical stage biopharmaceutical company Tonix Pharmaceuticals Holding Corp. has entered into an exclusive license agreement with Wayne State University (WSU) to commercialize a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Developed by WSU professor Aloke Dutta, the licensed technology is a triple reuptake inhibitor (TRI) known as TNX-1600. It simultaneously inhibits the reuptake of three neurotransmitters — serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine — that play a key role in many CNS processes. The technology received funding from a National Institutes of Health grant. “We have developed an innovative triple reuptake inhibitor … based on a unique pyran molecular scaffold to address the current therapeutic needs for PTSD and other neurological disorders,” says Dutta. “Based on our preliminary data, we expect a pharmacological synergy from their potent modulatory effect on the level of monoamine neurotransmitters in the brain, which should facilitate effective treatment of these disorders.”
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Why Michiganians march on Labor Day

For more than a century, whether in peacetime or war and regardless of the weather, the labor movement in Michigan has traded in its working boots for walking shoes and taken to the streets for Labor Day. Detroit's parade, in past years, has stepped off from Belle Isle and later from Grand Circus Park. More recently it has started at Michigan Avenue and headed east from Corktown to downtown. Detroit's first Labor Day celebration took place on Aug. 16, 1884, and attracted a crowd of 50,000 people to Recreation Park, according to the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University. That was a decade before Labor Day became an official national holiday, observed on the first Monday in September. Over those years the celebration would turn into a march rather than just a rally. "In its early years, the parade was used to voice the concerns of a fledgling labor movement and to celebrate the progress made by organized labor," according to a Reuther Library report on Labor Day in Detroit. Kristen Chinery, a reference archivist at the Reuther library, said "parades were very popular" then and to celebrate Labor Day that way was a "natural choice."
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Wayne State’s DetroitEd411 service gives instant access to higher education resources

Got a question about post-secondary education that you need answered right away? With Wayne State University’s newest information service, DetroitEd411, you can access information and resources about vocational training, financial aid, GED opportunities, child care and the like via Facebook Messenger. A collaboration between Wayne State and the Detroit Regional Chamber, DetroitEd411 is meant to support adult learners and promote college attainment and career readiness in Detroit. Search for the service on Messenger and be introduced to Spirit, an innovative blend of artificial intelligence and supervised machine learning, ready to answer all your questions, day or night. “One of the best things about using this adaptive technology is that we’re able to meet people wherever they are and answer questions in real time, without judgment,” says Dawn Medley, Wayne State’s vice president of enrollment management. “The amount of information Spirit is able to provide is limitless, and the database of answers and resources will only continue to grow, adapt and expand as more people take advantage of DetroitEd411.”
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High school sports participation drops for the first time in 30 years

High school sports participation dropped for the first time in three decades in 2018, according to data from the National Federation of High School State Associations released Tuesday. Nearly 8 million students took part in interscholastic sports in 2018, but that number is down more than 43,000 students from the year before. Some of that is natural, said Scott Tainsky, who studies sports economics at Wayne State University. If you think about that decline in football participation as 1 percent a year, that’s nothing to fret over. The United States has five major participatory and spectator sports (football, basketball, baseball, soccer and hockey). They all jockey not only for eyeballs on TV screens, but also for youth players. Football had a great run of growth in the 2000s, and now the numbers — both in participation and in professional viewership — are inching back down. High school football is still in fine shape. It is by far the most popular high school sport: 400,000 more boys participate in football than the next most popular sport, outdoor track and field. But the same issues you’ve heard before about football, injury concerns and cost, are driving more high school athletes away from the sport. “Those aren’t things that are likely to be resolved overnight, but they’re also not things that would cause some precipitous drop going forward,” Tainsky said. In other words, something else significant is going to have to come along to really dent football’s place as the king of high school athletics. Otherwise, Tainsky said, these participation numbers should level out over time.
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Wayne State football team powered by former local stars

The Wayne State University football team aims to bounce back from a 2-9 season in 2018, and will look to some former area stars to do it. The following players from the Hometown Life coverage area are on the 2019 roster. James Hill is the most important player on the list this fall for the Warriors. He is the team’s starting running back and rushed for 831 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He also caught 17 passes for 172 yards, making him the team’s second-leading receiver. Marcus Bailey is expected to be more involved in the offense this year, after catching two passes last season. Jacob Mass played in all 11 games and recorded nine tackles and one tackle for loss. Assistant running backs coach Dylan Dunn is also a Livonia native and played football at Livonia Stevenson, where he graduated in 2012. Wayne State opens the season at home on Thursday, Sept. 5, against No. 10 Slippery Rock.
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Uber and Lyft take a lot more from drivers than they say

In July, an Uber driver picked up a fare in a trendy neighborhood of a major U.S. metropolitan area. It was rush hour and surge pricing was in effect due to increased demand, meaning that Dave would be paid almost twice the regular fare. Even though the trip was only five miles, it lasted for more than half an hour because his passengers scheduled a stop at Taco Bell for dinner. Dave knew sitting at the restaurant waiting for his fares would cost him money; he was earning only 21 cents a minute when the meter was running, compared to 60 cents per mile. With surge pricing in effect, it would be far more lucrative to keep moving and picking up new fares than sitting in a parking lot. But Dave had no real choice but to wait. The passenger had requested the stop through the app, so refusing to make it would have been contentious both with the customer and with Uber. There’s widespread belief among drivers that the Uber algorithm punishes drivers for cancelling trips. Ultimately, the rider paid $65 for the half-hour trip. But Dave made only $15. Uber kept the rest, more than 75 percent of the fare, more than triple the average so-called “take-rate” it claims in financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This, according to Wayne State University law professor Sanjuka Paul, who has written extensively on the ride-hailing industry, is a new wrinkle in the independent contractor debate, because it doesn’t align with the arguments the companies make that they merely facilitate interactions between two independent actors in a market. “The economic reality is they, Uber and Lyft, are collecting the fare from the consumer and then making a capital firm decision which, in this case, doesn’t sound like a very bad decision— actually making quite a sensible decision,” she said. “But it shows that they are a firm that is charging consumers and then making decisions with that money, including how to pay a labor force.”
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Lara Spencer apologizes for ridiculing Prince George and ballet, but damage is done

“I screwed up,” said ABC’s “Good Morning America” host Lara Spencer, speaking about mocking statements she made last week about Britain’s 6-year-old Prince George — eldest son of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — and his plans to take ballet at school. That segment was slammed on social media and quickly went viral. Last Friday, Spencer posted an apology on Instagram. In her on-air apology on Monday, Spencer went further, saying her comments were “insensitive and stupid, and I am deeply sorry.” Douglas Risner, a dance professor at Wayne State University who studies the stigmatizing of adolescent boys who dance, said in an interview Sunday that his inbox flooded with emails after Spencer’s report, and like those writers, he also found her segment appalling. She “underscored harmful stereotypes and signaled that harassment and bullying of boys who dance is acceptable. And she projected all of that on a defenseless child,” he said. “She implicated the father, too, implying that he’ll change his mind about this once harassment starts.” In a 2014 study of adolescent boys who dance in the United States, Risner found that 93 percent of his respondents experienced teasing and name-calling, and nearly 70 percent suffered verbal or physical abuse. Teen boys who dance “are at least seven times more likely than the general adolescent population to be bullied,” Risner said. “If this behavior concerned any other activity than dance,” he said, “it would be considered a public health crisis by the Centers for Disease Control.” Risner said bullying and the kind of belittling that Spencer expressed last week ends up excluding men from the field. He estimates that 75 percent of male dance students will quit before their 16th birthday. 
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Arkansas colleges differ in handling of debts

Arkansas' public universities have millions of dollars in student accounts receivable, which is money owed to them by current or former students for various expenses. The schools commonly address the debt by withholding transcripts from students. Where schools differ is in how much debt they allow students to amass before denying those students course enrollments. At Henderson State University, where a budget shortfall and news of as much as $10 million in accounts receivable drew concern from trustees and others this summer, students were allowed to each accumulate up to $4,800 in debt and continue to register for classes. Such leeway is not the norm at the state's public universities, where schools sometimes prohibit students from registering if they have any past-due account balances. Dealing with the debts can be tricky for a school that wants to recoup its expenses but not prevent students from completing their educations and later being able to pay them back. Some schools have seen the value in helping students pay off those debts. At Wayne State University, the school paid up to $1,500 to students who stopped going to classes because of their account balances, according to an Institute for Higher Education Policy report. They were able to enroll in the fall of 2018, and nine of the 56 who enrolled graduated shortly after. The school reported generating more than $200,000 in net revenue through this spring from the initiative.
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On the trail: A dive into Michigan high school recruiting

Scott Wooster, a recruiting coordinator and offensive line coach at Wayne State University, said social media can help those in his line of work get an early character evaluation on a player based on what they post. The coach also noted that social media can hurt the evaluation of a player in more ways than one. “Because of all this attention you can get on social media, I think some young men have fallen in love with recruiting and don’t necessarily love football,” he said. “You better love football, because you’re going to spend a lot of time with it at the college level.” While there have been copious number of changes to recruiting over the years, one thing that has stayed constant in Wooster’s job is where he starts his evaluation of a high school player. “To me it all starts with the coach,” Wooster said. “I think any program worth their salt, that’s how they’re going to operate too. For the kids, don’t just be the best player on your team — be the best young man on your team. … Do everything your coach says so that when we go in there, your coach says, ‘Yeah, that’s the guy.’” Wooster said he makes contact with every coach in his recruiting area, which includes both Oakland and Macomb counties. He physically visits 80-90 percent of the schools to make sure he and his staff aren’t relying on what they see on Twitter or recruiting databases. Wooster said there are some myths when it comes to recruiting. “I think one of them is you need a recruiting service to get recruited,” he said. “It all goes through the high school coach for us.” Running hand in hand with recruiting services are recruiting combines, places where kids can go with hopes of getting more eyes from D-1 scouts. Wooster believes it’s best to stay away from those types of camps. “Don’t waste your money on the combines and all that kind of stuff,” Wooster said. “Instead, have that honest conversation with your high school coach about what level they see you playing at. Then go to those camps, go to the camps; where that (college’s) staff is going to be there. That’s the way to get recruited.”
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Deiontae Nicholas back for last hurrah, seeks to lift Wayne State from doldrums

Sometimes the hardest part of football is figuring out when to let it go. After injuries limited him to playing in only seven games in the past two seasons, that time seemed to be drawing nigh for Wayne State’s Deiontae Nicholas. Nicholas was a redshirt senior and after a productive five years, he was poised to hang up his cleats for the final time, after an injury in the third game ended his year. Not quite. “After (the injury) happened, for the next two or three months, I was convinced that it was my last year and I was done,” Nicholas said. “Thoughts kept creeping back and things like getting accepted into grad school and teammates talking about our season not going well and next year being better. “Being around the team the rest of the season motivated me to give it another shot.” Nicholas got a medical waiver for a sixth year of eligibility and gets another shot to help Wayne State improve of its dismal 2-9 finish last season. In some ways, the sour taste from a poor showing helped motivate Nicholas to give it another shot.
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As Michigan school librarians disappear, this program allows teachers to fill in

Amid a sharp decline in the number of Michigan school librarians, a new program was started this summer to use teachers to help fill those roles. The Experimental School Library Media Specialist program allows already certified teachers to be recognized by the state as school librarians after they’ve taken just five additional classes, or 15 credits, at Wayne State University. The number of full-time certified librarians in Michigan has dropped sharply in recent years. Only 8 percent of schools have a librarian today; the figure has declined roughly 73 percent since 2000. The number of people trained to be librarians has fallen sharply, too, so much so that librarians are on the state’s “critical shortage” list even as the number of available jobs shrinks. The program’s website says impending retirements among the remaining librarians will open up jobs to new librarians. The program was granted temporary permission from the Michigan Department of Education to allow teachers to add a new area of expertise in less time than usual. Teachers are typically required to take 20 credits in order to add a new area of expertise. This is not the state’s only effort to combat educator shortages by reducing credentialing requirements. With districts in some areas struggling to hire teachers, lawmakers allowed for new teachers to lead classrooms after taking 300 hours of online classes.
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A Wayne State University Theater Ensemble Performs Original Play in Scotland

Exploring topics such as race, gender, sexuality, and mental health, members of the Freedom Players — an ensemble formed out of Wayne State University’s Black Theater and Dance Program — went no holds barred this month when they performed their honest and original play, I Am, at the Scotland-based Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The trip marked the first time WSU students have attended the month-long, city-wide celebration, and their play was one of more than 50,000 performances showcased during the festival’s run. Following their experience across the Atlantic Ocean, Hour Detroit spoke with Billicia Hines, artistic director of the Black Theatre and Dance Collective at WSU, about the decision to attend this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, how it felt to bring their heartfelt work to an international audience, and the unforgettable impression this experience has had on the young Freedom Players.                                                    
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With new leadership in Oakland County, what’s next for regionalism?

In early August, Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson died, leaving a vacancy at a post he held for 26 years. The longtime Republican executive was known for, among other things, promoting Oakland County at all costs. He often said that if something was good for Detroit and other counties, but bad for Oakland County, he would oppose it. He also stymied efforts at regional transit and was criticized for fanning animosity between the suburbs and city with his incendiary language. Many are hoping that new leadership will increase regional cooperation, which is desperately needed. “We’ve got a labor market that is regional, but don’t have a transportation system that reflects that geography,” says Robin Boyle, professor emeritus at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Wayne State University. “We don’t think about the metropolitan area when it comes to two of the most important elements that make up lives: our work and our ability to move around.” David Coulter was named the new Oakland County executive this week—it will be the first time in half a century that Democrats will lead the county. Since 2011, Coulter had been the mayor of progressive, LGBTQ-friendly Ferndale. During his tenure, he improved the city’s bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Rising housing prices and an eclectic mix of businesses have helped it become one of the trendiest cities in Oakland County. Boyle adds that whoever is in charge will ultimately serve their constituents first. Much like Patterson. “We have a culture in Southeast Michigan that doesn’t look beyond the immediate municipality that you live in,” he says. “That includes Detroit, that includes small communities everywhere from Grosse Pointe and Downriver to northern Oakland County. “This could be an opportunity to make a change, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
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How to make sure your water filter really removes lead

A problem with high levels of lead in Newark’s drinking water led the city last year to distribute water filters to residents. But that plan hit a snag this week when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alerted the city that drinking water in two of three homes it tested still had high levels of lead, despite the filters. The EPA advised Newark residents to stop drinking tap water and urged the city to supply bottled water instead (though that solution also ran into problems when the city learned some of the water had passed its expiration date). Filters certified to remove lead must undergo rigorous testing by NSF or other labs. The Water Quality Association, for instance, tests the filters with water contaminated at 150 parts per billion—10 times higher than the EPA’s action level of 15 ppb. Researchers in Flint even pushed filters to the extreme, testing with water contaminated to 1,000 ppb, and found they still removed all lead from the water. The filters distributed in Newark were activated carbon filters certified to remove lead. But not all filters can do that. “Activated carbon has a lot of surface area with nooks and crannies where chemicals can stick,” says Shawn McElmurry, a Wayne State University professor who did extensive field research during the Flint water crisis. “But it’s not infinite.” To add to the chaos, McElmurry says there could be other contaminants in the water competing for those attachment sites. And if some of those contaminants have more mass or energy, they could knock some lead loose—like throwing softballs at your Velcro wall of tennis balls. Faucet-mount filters, like those used in Flint and Newark, typically cost $20 to $40 and require several installation steps that can go awry. “These filters are not easy to get onto the faucets,” McElmurry says. “We found that a lot of people in Flint with arthritis or poor motor function in their hands couldn’t attach them.” 
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Scientists discover new state of matter

A team of physicists has uncovered a new state of matter—a breakthrough that offers promise for increasing storage capabilities in electronic devices and enhancing quantum computing. The discovery, reported in a paper, “Phase signature of topological transition in Josephson Junctions,” or arXiv, was conducted with Igor Zutic at the University of Buffalo and Alex Matos-Abiague at Wayne State University. The work centers on quantum computing—a method that can make calculations at significantly faster rates than can conventional computing. This is because conventional computers process digital bits in the form of 0s and 1s while quantum computers deploy quantum bits (qubits) to tabulate any value between 0 and 1, exponentially lifting the capacity and speed of data processing. Researchers analyzed a transition of quantum state from its conventional state to a new topological state, measuring the energy barrier between these states. They supplemented this by directly measuring signature characteristics of this transition in the order parameter that governs the new topological superconductivity phase. Here, they focused the inquiry on Majorana particles, which are their own antiparticles—substances with the same mass, but with the opposite physical charge. Scientists see value in Majorana particles because of their potential to store quantum information in a special computation space where quantum information is protected from the environment noise. However, there is no natural host material for these particles, also known as Majorana fermions. As a result, researchers have sought to engineer platforms—i.e., new forms of matter—on which these calculations could be conducted.